It’s almost impossible hard to believe that for much of May, the New York Mets owned the best bullpen ERA in the National League. From May 1 through May 26, Mets’ relievers posted a 2.68 ERA in 74 innings pitched.
In 20.1 innings since May 27, their bullpen has an unsightly 12.93 ERA. Over the last week, the club has endured a number of brutal performances from a number of different relievers, which have resulted in a number of downright demoralizing defeats. Tonight, it was Robert Gsellman’s turn to be the goat, as he entered in a tie game and exited with his team down by three. The end result was a brutal loss to the San Francisco Giants in the series opener.
Long before the bullpen’s meltdown, the game began as a rematch of the 2016 National League Wild Card game, and both starting pitchers were dealing early on as they were on that fateful October night. Noah Syndergaard—making his 100th career appearance—only needed 18 pitches to get through the first two innings and kept the Giants off the board through three, while Madison Bumgarner continued his dominance against the Mets into the sixth. Coming into the game, the Giants’ lefty had allowed just three earned runs in 46 innings at Citi Field.
Jeff McNeil returned to the lineup after missing twelve games with a hamstring issue and immediately blooped a single over Joe Panik’s head in his first at-bat. McNeil would finish the evening with just the one hit in five at-bats while striking out two times. Bumgarner hit Pete Alonso with the next pitch he threw to put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Michael Conforto followed with a first-pitch pop up before J.D. Davis grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Mets were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the game and left eight runners on base.
After three relatively quick and uneventful innings, Syndergaard faltered in the fourth. The trouble started with a leadoff walk to Evan Longoria. Brandon Belt followed with an opposite field single on a pitch that was down and away. Two batters later, Kevin Pillar singled to score Longoria with the game’s first run. After walking Brandon Crawford, Syndergaard surrendered a bloop hit to Steven Duggar, which drove home San Francisco’s second run of the inning. Syndergaard recovered to strike out Bumgarner and retire Panik to close out the inning.
Syndergaard once again stayed away from his slider, which has been a common theme in his recent starts. He mostly stuck to his sinker and his four-seam fastball while also going to his changeup from time to time. He went to his slider for a bit in a third inning at-bat against the opposing pitcher, and the results again weren’t there for Syndergaard. He fell behind early before walking Bumgarner, although he was able to work around the free pass. He had trouble putting opposing batters away, although he ended up finishing the night with four punch outs. Only Dwight Gooden and Jacob deGrom recorded more strikeouts in their first 100 appearances with the Mets.
After going quietly in the fifth, all signs pointed to another quiet night for the Mets’ offense. However, the team finally broke through in the sixth when Pete Alonso—who else?—crushed a solo home run to left field to get his team on the board. Alonso hit his 20th home run in his 59th career game, which is faster than any other Met in history and puts him just six home runs behind behind Darryl Strawberry’s record for homers by a Mets rookie. It also helped the team tie a record by homering in 11 straight games at Citi Field. Following a Conforto fly out and a Davis walk, Wilson Ramos strode to the plate and connected on a two-run home run to help the Mets jump ahead. Prior to this outburst, the Mets had managed just two home runs in 53 innings against Bumgarner.
Given the Mets’ recent bullpen woes, a one-run cushion hardly felt safe. Syndergaard settled down after his rough fourth and did not allow a hit in the fifth or sixth innings while working around an Alonso error. Staked to his first lead of the day, Syndergaard allowed a lead-off single to pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval, but followed that up by retiring Panik and Mike Yastrzemski. Mickey Callaway emerged from the dugout to pull Syndergaard, much to his starter’s noticeable chagrin. Despite the right-hander’s objections, Callaway removed Syndergaard after 103 pitches and entrusted the lead in his beleaguered bullpen.
The decision backfired spectacularly, as the normally reliable Seth Lugo immediately surrendered the lead. Longoria singled to advance Yastrzemski to third with two outs. The next batter, Brandon Belt, drove a double over Conforto’s head to bring home the game-tying run. Conforto was able to quickly get the ball in to McNeil, who threw a perfect relay home to cut down the go-ahead run. However, the damage was done, and both teams were back to square one.
The Giants and the Mets failed to score in the eighth and ninth, which sent things into extra innings. It was there that things completely fell apart for the Mets. Gsellman took the mound and gave up a single to pinch hitter Tyler Austin before walking Belt. Stephen Vogt followed with a two-run double to put the Giants up by a pair. After Gsellman retired Pillar and intentionally walked Crawford, he served up a double to Duggar which made it 6-3.
Callaway finally removed Gsellman in favor of Hector Santiago, but things didn’t improve much from there. Santiago gave up a double Sandoval, which brought home San Francisco’s fourth and fifth runs of the inning. Yastrzemski would add one more run-scoring single for the Giants’ sixth and final run of the tenth. The Mets feebly attempted to come back in the bottom half of the frame with two-out singles from Conforto and Davis, but Ramos lined out for the final out of the game.
With the loss, the Mets fall to four games below .500 with a tough June ahead of them. After facing the Giants, the Mets will have to deal with the Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies, which makes the next two games absolutely crucial. The Mets will try to recover on Wednesday night as they send a suddenly rejuvenated Jason Vargas to the mound against Tyler Beede for a 7:10pm start at Citi Field.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Wilson Ramos, 41.6% WPA, Pete Alonso, 18.3% WPA, Edwin Diaz, 12.1% WPA
Big losers: Robert Gsellman, -48.4% WPA, Hector Santiago, -43.2% WPA, Michael Conforto, -15.3% WPA, Carlos Gomez, -15.0% WPA, Amed Rosario, -12.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -43.2% WPA
|Total batter WPA: -6.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilson Ramos two-run home run in the sixth, 36.7% WPA.
Teh sux0rest play: Steven Vogt two-run double in the tenth, -13.0% WPA,