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Simulating the 2020 Mets: A rough week against the Marlins and Braves, April 20-26

It’s time to catch up with my simulated 2020 Mets.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets - Game Two Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

After a bit of a delay in posting about this simulation, we’re back. If you’re not familiar, I’ve been running the Mets as both general manager and manager in a simulation of the season in Out of the Park Baseball. Coming off a weekend series that saw my Mets drop two of three to the Brewers, including a 21-0 loss in which both Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha got rocked, the team is 12-10 and has Monday off to start the baseball that runs from April 20 to 26.

Trade alert: I forgot to mention this in the previous installment of this series, but coming off the Porcello-Wacha disaster, I dipped into the trade market and was able to get Mike Minor from the Rangers, giving up only minor league infielder Cody Bohanek in the process. Apparently the game’s trades can be a bit weird, with some players being impossible to get and others being fairly easy. If you’d like to imagine that I gave up a better minor league player, feel free, but bringing in Minor will allow me to get Porcello and Wacha out of the rotation.

Roster alert: On the off day of April 20, I successfully claim Steve Cishek off waivers from the Cubs and designate Brad Brach for assignment. Knowing that Brach grew up a Mets fan, I wanted him to stick around, but he had been brutal in his outings and seemed like the obvious pitcher who had to go at the time.

Since this post covers a total of six games, each game will be written up a bit more concisely, and I’ll just link to the images of box scores for most of the games for anyone who would like to see them.

April 21: Mets vs. Marlins

Marcus Stroman starts the series opener and has a bad outing, giving up three runs in the first and six runs in total over the course of six innings. Michael Wacha throws a pair of scoreless innings in relief, and Matt Harvey throws one scoreless inning, too. But the Mets score just one run in each of the eighth and ninth innings as Caleb Smith goes eight innings on just 95 pitches.

Final: Marlins 6, Mets 2

April 22: Mets vs. Marlins

Trade alert: I’m able to get Greg Holland in exchange for just Eduardo Nunez, and I pull the trigger on that move in an attempt to further bolster the bullpen. While I’m not looking to drastically alter the roster, I don’t want this whole exercise to merely be a simulation of what would happen without having any fun with my own twists. To recap, my pitching staff includes Holland, Matt Harvey, Steve Cishek, and Mike Minor, none of whom were likely to end up on the Mets in real life. To make room for Holland, I designate Matt Adams, who has been ice cold, for assignment.

As for the game on this night, despite jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the Mets lose again. Mike Minor’s first start as a Met goes very poorly, as he gives up nine runs, eight of them earned, on twelve hits—four of which are home runs—over the course of 6.1 innings. Trailing 9-4 in the ninth, the Mets eke out a couple of runs, but that’s it. And the worst news: Pete Alonso got hurt in this one.

Final: Marlins 9, Mets 6

April 23: Mets vs. Marlins

Roster alert: Brad Brach is claimed by the Orioles. Pete Alonso is placed on the 10-day injured list. I call up Robert Gsellman.

Having dropped two of three to the Marlins and fallen to 12-12 on the season, things aren’t feeling so great. But Jacob deGrom gets the ball in the series finale and dominates with nine strikeouts, no walks, and just three hits allowed in eight innings of scoreless work that took only 107 pitches. Dom Smith’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first was more than enough, but the Mets tack on a run on a Brandon Nimmo double in the fifth and another run in the seventh. Edwin Diaz strikes out the side and issues one walk in a scoreless ninth.

Final: Mets 4, Marlins 0

April 24: Mets at Braves

Steven Matz and Mike Foltynewicz duel it out, and neither team scores until the Mets break the ice with three runs in the top of the seventh. J.D. Davis’s two-run single was the highlight of that inning. Matz cracks in the bottom of the seventh when he gives up a solo home run to Ronald Acuna Jr. and gives way to Seth Lugo with two outs and runners on first and second in that inning.

Lugo loads the bases when he hits pinch hitter Adam Duvall with a pitch, but he gets Ender Inciarte to fly out to end the inning. Perhaps from an overload of playing OOTP, I end up forgetting to get pinch hitter Jarrett Parker out of the lineup, so he records an out in the eighth as a pitcher before giving way to Steve Cishek, who throws 1.1 scoreless to finish the game and notch the save. I guess the three-batter minimum wasn’t in effect here. Also, whoops, glad that worked out.

Final: Mets 3, Braves 1

Box score: batters / pitchers

April 25: Mets at Braves

Noah Syndergaard gets rocked in this one, giving up six runs, five earned, on eight hits in just two innings of work. Michael Wacha comes in to eat some innings and throws one scoreless, but the Mets rally for five runs in the fifth to make things close, and part of that involved pinch hitting for him.

Rick Porcello takes over for the bottom of the fourth and proceeds to give up three runs to make things not-so-close again, and later in the game, both Steve Cishek and Matt Harvey give up a pair of runs. The Mets don’t score again.

Final: Braves 13, Mets 5

April 26: Mets at Braves

Roster alert: Jed Lowrie is back!

Jed Lowrie hits a run-scoring double in the top of the first and leaves the game immediately with an injury. Marcus Stroman is great until he falters in this one, putting up six sharp innings with just one run allowed in the bottom of the fourth. But in the bottom of the seventh, he gives up three more runs, putting the Mets down 4-1. Jeff McNeil scores on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth, but that’s all for this one.

Final: Braves 4, Mets 2

My Mets are back at .500, this time with a 14-14 record, far behind the NL East-leading Braves, who are 20-10.

Rich Resch’s take: First of all, hats off to McShane for his out-of-the-box bullpen management. Fans were surely questioning the decision to have Jarrett Parker start the bottom of the eighth inning on the mound, and I’m still not sure which advanced metric McShane used to determine this strategy, but there’s a reason he’s the manager and we’re all just spectators.

The acquisitions of Minor, Holland, and Cishek are all solid moves with little downside. The early returns on Minor are obviously not positive, but he should have a relatively long leash in the rotation, considering how badly Porcello and Wacha have struggled. It’s a shame to see hometown hero Brad Brach go, but at this point we’re just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks. No one will be surprised if one or both of Holland and Cishek are wearing other uniforms this time next month.

It’s nice to see Dom Smith continuing to produce, and he’s going to need to keep it up now that the team will be without Pete Alonso for at least the next ten days. Outside of Smith’s performance, and stellar outings from deGrom and Matz, there’s really not a lot of positive takeaways from these two series.

Pitching has been inconsistent, but the staff has mostly done their part to keep the team in position to win games. The hitting, on the other hand, has been absolutely anemic to the point where you wonder if some of these players are hiding injuries. It’s still early, but at 14-14 and six games back of the Braves, fans are starting to question whether this is much more than a .500 ball club.

It was nice of Jed Lowrie to drop by.