The New York Mets play a game of craps whenever their fifth spot in the rotation comes around, and Joey Lucchesi has crapped out for them every time. It was clear from the outset that Lucchesi had nothing, and manager Luis Rojas relied on him too long in the 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite the loss, another story became the topic of discussion from the loss.
In a surprising move after the offense started to wake up, hitting coaches Chili Davis and Tom Slater were fired. Hugh Quattlebaum and Kevin Howard will replace them on the coaching staff. The move tells us two things: Steve Cohen is not messing around, and this is a warning shot to Rojas.
NOLAN. That is all. pic.twitter.com/OSDLXYMMkL
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 4, 2021
Lucchesi allowed a well-struck leadoff triple in the bottom of the first, and hard contact riddled his start. He allowed a run in each of the first two innings, including a home run to the light hitting Harrison Bader. In the third inning, Lucchesi retired the first two in order and looked like he would settle in.
The Cardinals did not go down easy as back-to-back singles set the table for Nolan Arenado. A questionable foul tip call prevented Lucchesi from recording a strikeout, and it gave Arenado all the life he needed to execute. Arenado burned the Mets and launched a mammoth three-run homer to knot the game at five. The Cards were not done as two consecutive doubles put them in the lead 6-5. It knocked Lucchesi out of the game with an ugly six earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched.
When the fifth spot in the rotation comes up over the weekend, they may need to look elsewhere. Robert Gsellman and Sean Reid-Foley saved the Mets bullpen by combining for 4.1 shutout innings and allowing only two hits. They are not stretched out to start, but their 2-3 innings would be better than what Lucchesi could provide.
Carlos Carrasco is expected to return next week, but the Mets could also push up his return date. Instead of throwing another simulated game, the team could be better off with 4-5 innings from Carrasco. It will be a perfect tune-up before he pitches full outings.
It has been a rare occurrence for the Mets offense to have nothing to do with why they lost. Pete Alonso led the way with three hits, including two doubles and a walk. Kevin Pillar also homered in his second straight game, replacing an injured Brandon Nimmo. They hit better with runners in scoring position by going 2-for-8 but left nine on base. Francisco Lindor continued his cold streak and has not recorded a hit in 21 consecutive at-bats.
The Mets attempted a rally against Cardinals closer Alex Reyes, who was a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities. As usual, Reyes lacked control by allowing two walks, giving Dominic Smith a chance to tie or give the Mets a lead. During Alonso’s at-bat, the stadium lights magically went out for about 30 seconds which foreshadowed Mets’ fate. Smith worked a full count but just missed a hanging curveball, flying out and allowing the Cardinals to take game one of the series.
Make a Move
A good manager puts players in the best position to succeed for a better chance at positive results. For the second consecutive night, Rojas failed to do that. On Sunday, it was using Edwin Diaz when he did not need to and leaving him in the game when he clearly did not have his best stuff.
Tonight it was leaving Lucchesi to pitch in a matchup he had no chance of winning against Arenado. He was hitting .333 against lefties this season and .320 over his career against southpaws, with elite power. Lucchesi had his back on the ropes, and Gsellman was a right-handed option in the bullpen. If Rojas does not adjust soon, he will pack his bags along with Davis and Slater.