New York Mets boot Steven Matz from the rotation, Seth Lugo takes his place

The New York Mets rotation is in shambles. Noah Syndergaard was lost in March to Tommy John surgery, Marcus Stroman opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, Michael Wacha is out with shoulder inflammation, David Peterson is also on the injured list and Rick Porcello and, most notably, Steven Matz have struggled.

Matz, according to Mets’ manager Luis Rojas, has been demoted to the bullpen. He has a 9.00 ERA in five starts and 23.0 innings. His place in the rotation will be occupied, from now on, by Seth Lugo, starting on Thursday.

“Seth has been a starter for us in the past, and with the ability for him of navigating through a lineup, his repertoire and command, we’re going to go that way with him,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “That’s the route we’re taking right now, is for him to start more and stretch him out.”

The Mets’ pitching wild card

Lugo has always preferred to be a starter, but he was considered such a big part of the bullpen that the New York Mets always chose to leave him there. He is now going to be a starer out of necessity.

He has 31 starts in his career, but the last time he took the ball to start a game was on June 25, 2018. He needs to be stretched out, which could take a few games.

The Mets needed Lugo in the late innings of Wednesday’s game, and given that he was slated to pitch today, Rojas chose not to use him as Dellin Betances and Edwin Díaz blew a two-run lead in the eighth. Thankfully, Michael Conforto saved the day with a two-run homer in the ninth.

“We blew a save opportunity there, but Díaz did a good job coming right back showing what he can do,” said Rojas, referring to Díaz striking out the side in the ninth. “We trust our ‘pen; we trust the guys that we have there.”

New York Mets: Steven Matz’s struggles have team looking for alternatives

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The start of the 2020 MLB season has been nightmarish for New York Mets‘ starters. The issues started long before the first game: Noah Syndergaard went down with Tommy John surgery in March.

Marcus Stroman nursed a left calf strain and then decided not to play because of COVID-19. Michael Wacha went down with right shoulder inflammation, then Jacob deGrom had some neck tightness and had to miss a start.

Now David Peterson, the rookie who has pitched very well for the New York Mets, is going to the injured list as well.

Only Steven Matz and Rick Porcello haven’t suffered any ailments, but they haven’t been particularly effective.

Matz, in particular, has been torched almost every time he takes the hill. In five starts and 23.0 innings, he has a horrific 9.00 ERA and has been worth -0.3 fWAR. His WHIP stands at 1.57.

Will the Mets replace Matz?

If it weren’t for the Mets’ litany of injuries in the rotation, Matz probably wouldn’t make his next scheduled start as he works on some things. However, there probably are too many absences for that plan to take place. Yet, the team still is undecided.

“We’re still discussing with him things that we want to fix, things we want to work with him [on] … things that we’re working for him to translate into the game,” Rojas said. “We’re not committed either way yet.”

Seth Lugo, one of the best and most reliable relieves in the National League, remains a possibility to start in Matz’s next turn. Lugo has starting experience but the Mets have said they prefer him as a reliever. Yet, the need for a starter is evident.

“It’s something to think about. Seth can do different things,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “We’re not committed with him yet to do something as an opener or something as a starter yet, but that’s something that, you never know. His versatility can definitely help us to do some things different from the bullpen in the future. We’ll see.”

New York Mets: Fifth Inning Struggles Haunt Matz in 6-2 Loss

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

New York Mets starter, Steven Matz, came into his start with a renewed game plan after a rough start to his season. It worked for Matz through four innings, but everything came crashing down when a five-run fifth inning knocked him out of the game.

Matz took some velocity off his fastball in exchange for an increase in his accuracy. He sat around 91-93 with it and threw more changeups during his start. The only hit and run Matz allowed through the first four innings of the game came on a Jean Segura second-inning home run.

Matz ran into quick trouble during the fifth inning when two soft singles set the Phillies up with first and second with no one out. He walked Alec Bohm to load the bases and start to run away from his game plan from early in his outing. After getting Scott Kingery to lineout, he walked Andrew McCutchen to walk in a run. Rhys Hoskins blew the game open with a bases-clearing double followed by a Bryce Harper double, ended Matz’s night.

The outing inflated his ERA to 9.00 on the season, and his nine home runs are the most allowed by any pitcher this season. He tried to overthrow the ball once he got into trouble, and it ended up hurting him and brought his stats back to the norm in 2020 for Matz.

Nola Dominates

The Mets struggled all night with Aaron Nola as he shut them out for seven innings. When the Mets had early chances against him, he squashed them quickly. Nola retired the last 13 batters he faced and recorded eight strikeouts during his outing.

The only scoring from the Mets came from Dominic Smith. His two-run home run was his sixth of the season, and it leads the Mets. Smith’s hot start put into question how long Pete Alonso can continue to play every day. Through just over a third of the season, Alonso is only hitting .214, and his power is non-existent in the rare circumstance that he makes contact.

On Sunday, Rick Porcello tries to help the Mets prevent a sweep. He faces off against former Met Zack Wheeler at 1:05 p.m. ET from Citizens Bank Park.

New York Mets: Pitching Fails in 16-4 Loss to Nationals

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

It was fitting for the New York Mets to lose 16-4 when the found out Marcus Stroman was opting out for the rest of the 2020 season. To make matters worse, the scoring outbreak came against the worse scoring team in baseball, the Washington Nationals.

Steven Matz had nothing against the Nationals for the second straight start. He was lit up for eight runs in 4.1 innings, allowing three home runs on the night. After pitching a terrific first inning, it was all downhill after that. Matz consistently left his pitches up and over the plate and rarely threw inside with any success.

The issue is not Matz failing to pitch inside enough; it is missing inside in the wrong spot. If he misses inside off the plate or low, then no one can hit the ball solidly. Matz’s starts in the rotation are numbered as he continues to struggle.

7-Run Fifth

Matz and Paul Sewald combined for an eight-hit, seven-run fifth inning, which put the game out of reach. Believe it or not, Sewald pitched worse than Matz, allowing six runs and six hits in this two-out stint. At least Drew Smith and infielder Luis Guillorme were the only relievers to record a 1-2-3 inning.

Jeff McNeil was a bright spot for the Mets offense recording three hits and a double. Brandon Nimmo also recorded a homer in the ninth off Sean Doolittle. The home run off a left-hander is an encouraging sign for Nimmo. He has been struggling both in the power department and against lefties.

The Mets attempt to allow less than 16 runs on Tuesday as Rick Porcello attempts to outduel a healthy Max Scherzer, who is coming back from a hamstring injury. The first pitch from Citi Field is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets Series Preview: Washington Nationals (8/10-13)

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

The New York Mets continue their march towards the .500 mark as they welcome in the Washington Nationals for a four-game series at Citi Field. The Mets come off a series win over the Miami Marlins during the weekend. The Nats lost the first two to the Baltimore Orioles before Sunday’s game was suspended.

Probable Pitching Matchups: 

Monday, (8/10) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Patrick Corbin (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (0-2, 5.66 ERA)

Tuesday, (8/11) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Max Scherzer (0-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (1-1, 6.92 ERA)

Wednesday, (8/12) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Anibal Sanchez (0-2, 7.84 ERA) vs. TBD

Thursday, (8/13) @ 1:10 p.m. ET: Austin Voth (0-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. David Peterson (2-1, 3.78 ERA)

Michael Wacha’s injury and Marcus Stroman‘s opt-out for the 2020 season makes more of a mess in the Mets rotation. The role of Steven Matz and Rick Porcello heightens even more as they need consistent starters to step up behind Jacob deGrom. Matz and Porcello have two completely different starts against the Nats their first time out. Matz struggled to get through three innings, while Porcello made it look easy through his seven-inning start.

Playoff Hunt?

Throughout the struggles of the first 16 games, the Mets still sit in the second spot of the Wild Card race. The Mets want to be over .500, but the new playoff format gives the Mets hope to rebound and contend after their bad start.

One of the key reasons for their turn around is the emergence of the rookie, Andres Gimenez. He has risen from the last man on the roster to someone the Mets cannot afford to keep on the bench. Thanks to Robinson Cano‘s injury, he cemented himself at second base and is hitting .333 through his young career. A matchup against Corbin and Scherzer is going to be good tests for the young prospect.

Matchups to Lookout For

Patrick Corbin vs. Amed Rosario: 3-for-22 (.136), Double, 2 Home Runs, Walk, 3 Strikeouts

Patrick Corbin vs. Michael Conforto: 8-for-22 (.364), Double, 5 Home Runs, Walk, 6 Strikeouts

Steven Matz vs. Starlin Castro: 8-for-25 (.320), Double, Home Run, 6 Strikeouts

Steven Matz vs. Juan Soto: 6-for-13 (.462), Double, Triple, 4 Strikeouts

New York Mets: Matz Struggles, Kendrick Dominates in 5-3 Loss

The first two starts for New York Mets starter Steven Matz had promise that he could step up as their two starter. His third start of the season disrupted the momentum he was building. The Washington Nationals took advantage of Matz’s inability to pitch inside and knocked him out of the game after three innings to win 5-3.

Matz struggled to control his four-seam fastball throughout the start. Despite throwing 78 pitches in only three innings, he did not walk anyone. The Nationals worked him into deep counts and continued to put the ball in play against Matz. He allowed seven hits, five runs, and two home runs.

Solo home runs from Howie Kendrick in the first inning, and Josh Harrison in the second got the Nationals out to an early 2-0 lead. The Nats tacked on three more runs in the third, and it was all they needed on the night. Kendrick led the way with four hits, which brought his average to an even .300 on the short season.

Despite Matz’s struggles, the Mets bullpen hurled six shutout innings to keep the Mets in the game. The combination of Paul Sewald, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, and Edwin Diaz only allowed three hits. It was most encouraging to receive good outings from Betances and Diaz, who the Mets need to pitch well if they want any chance to turn around their season.

Conforto Stays Hot

The Mets needed offensive production from their outfield as three-quarters of their starting infield is dealing with injuries. Robinson Cano landed on the 10-day IL, while Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario are day-to-day. Michael Conforto came into the matchup with Nationals starter, Patrick Corbin, with ten hits, including four home runs. His two-run home run was their only base hit on the night and opened up their scoring.

Pete Alonso struck out twice on the night, but his RBI single provided the third Mets run. He still is in the midst of a season wide slump, but at least recording one hit and a walk is a step in the right direction. Moving Alonso down in the order would strengthen the Mets offense until he starts to return to his 2019 form.

Andres Gimenez was the only Mets to record multiple hits on the night. He replaced the injured Rosario at shortstop and made a couple of solid defensive plays as well. The play of Gimenez has quickly moved him from the 30th man on the roster to a player they cannot afford to send back to their training site.

The Mets continued their lousy baseball in the eighth when Brian Dozier was thrown out as second base while the Mets had the tying run at the plate. Dozier attempted to advance when a ball trickled away from Yan Gomes, and after being called safe, the replay review overturned the call.

The Mets also left ten runners on base, despite recording ten hits on the night. Their lack of ability to record any hit other than a single is halting their offense.

This sums up the Mets’ horrible start to the season as another veteran makes an unexcused mistake. Mickey Callaway may longer be the manager, but his presence remains with how this year’s team plays.

On Wednesday, Rick Porcello tries to get the Mets a split of the two-game series. He has his work cut out for him as he faces Nationals ace, Max Scherzer. The first pitch is at an unusual 6:05 p.m. ET from Nationals Park.

New York Mets Series Preview: Washington Nationals (8/4-8/5)

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets and Washington Nationals face off for the first time in the 2020 season. This matchup accounted for a few of the best games in all of baseball during the 2019 campaign. In 2019, the Mets were 12-7 against the World Series champions.

The Mets come off a series loss against the Atlanta Braves, where they took the last game of a four-game series. Washington has not played a game since July 30 due to COVID-19 precautions but are 3-4 on the season.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (8/4) @ 7:05 p.m. ET: Steven Matz (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (0-0, 1.42 ERA)

Wednesday (8/5) @ 6:05 p.m. ET: Rick Porcello (0-1, 13.50 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (0-1, 2.84 ERA)

The Mets hope they can take advantage of any rust that has built up on the Nats during their extended pause. One of the benefits of the break is allowing them to line up their pitching staff in their favor. The Mets offense started to wake up, which is a good sign with the Nats aces coming up.

Infield Issues

The Mets are dealing with quite a few issues in their infield. Injuries to Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, and Robinson Cano all make them questionable to play in the series. McNeil suffered a back injury during Monday’s batting practice, but his is the least severe of the trio. Neither Rosario nor Cano’s leg injuries seemed significant, but the DH could allow the Mets to put Cano in the lineup without further injuring him. Andres Gimenez figures to play shortstop in game one if Rosario can’t play.

Pete Alonso is the only starting infielder who is healthy but is struggling mightily with the bat. He walked in his first three at-bats on Monday but is still only hitting .167. Alonso taking three walks, shows an adjustment in his approach after swinging at too many pitches outside of the strike zone. He is an aggressive hitter, but the sooner Alonso understands that pitchers do not want him to swing the bat, the better hitter he will become. With the added patience, Alonso can easily become a hitter whose on-base percentage ranks 100 points higher than his batting average.

Porcello Struggles

Hopefully, Rick Porcello can rebound from his first two starts with the Mets. He struggled to have any command with his secondary pitches and missed multiple times over the middle of the plate. The Mets desperately need him to pitch better with no Marcus Stroman return on the horizon. Despite not allowing a hit to the first batter of an inning, his ERA still sits at an inflated 13.50.

Matchups to Lookout For

Steven Matz vs. Trea Turner: 8-for-25 (.320), 3 Doubles, 2 Walks, 2 Strikeouts

Rick Porcello vs. Howie Kendrick: 10-for-31 (.323), 3 Doubles, 9 Strikeouts

Patrick Corbin vs. Michael Conforto: 7-for-19 (.368), Double, 4 Home Runs, Walk, 6 Strikeouts

Max Scherzer vs. Michael Conforto: 10-for-31 (.323), Double, 4 Home Runs, 3 Walks, 13 Strikeouts

New York Mets: Vazquez Outslugs the Mets Offense in 4-2 Loss

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

For the second straight night, the New York Mets could not figure out a way to quiet the bat of Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. He terrorized the Mets with two home runs, which provided the three of the four runs the Red Sox needed to escape Queens with a two-game sweep. Just like Wednesday’s loss Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes failed to tie the game in the eighth inning.

The Mets would love that type of day from anyone in their lineup as all they could muster was three hits off Red Sox starter Martin Perez. Jeff McNeil provided two of them, and one of his hits brought in the only two Mets runs.

Struggling Offense

The biggest issue for the Mets is their inability to drive in runners with scoring position. They went 1-for-10 in those situations, leaving nine runners on base. There were too many strikeouts when a ball put in play could have resulted in a run. For such a powerful lineup, the Mets are struggling to make solid contact, and when they do, all they hit are singles.

The Red Sox had a game plan to neutralize the Mets’ power with breaking balls, and it paid off. When the Mets laid off or continued to foul off the breaking balls, they surprised them with a fastball and left them flat-footed.

Battle of the Lefties

Martin Perez and Steven Matz both did not have their best stuff but pitched well enough to deserve victories. Matz went 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs while striking out three batters. The two homers from Vazquez were the only extra-base hits Matz allowed.

Perez worked around trouble all night but kept the bats neutralized. Over 5.2 innings, he battled through two hits and four walks. Perez also struck out five on the night, a number higher than usual for him.

Bullpen Good, Diaz Bad

The Mets bullpen rebounded from their hiccups in Wednesday’s loss. Drew Smith and Jeurys Familia combined for 2.2 hitless innings in relief of Matz. They each struck out two batters, and both looked like they were in midseason form.

Manager Luis Rojas turned to Edwin Diaz for the first time since his blown save on Saturday. Diaz looked awful and had no command of the strike zone. He walked two batters, hitting one, and allowing once run. It looked even worse when Paul Sewald came in two easily get the final two outs of the inning.

It was the same Diaz from 2019, and he looked mentally drained already. Once either Brad Brach or Jared Hughes returns from the COVID-19 injured list, there is no reason for Diaz to remain on the roster. Especially when the roster shrinks, there has to be a real consideration of removing Diaz and sending him to MCU Park to figure himself out.

The Mets hope to turn things around in Atlanta against the Braves. The same matchup from Sunday Night Baseball returns as Rick Porcello takes on Sean Newcomb in game one of their four-game weekend series. The first pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET from Truist Park.

 

New York Mets: The Home Series Preview Against the Boston Red Sox

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets got themselves back on track in Fenway Park with back to back victories to open up their four-game, home and home series with the Boston Red Sox. They revived their offense and received two good starting pitching outings from the back of their rotation. The Mets try to take the series as it shifts back to Citi Field.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Wednesday, July 29 @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Thursday, July 30 @ 7:07 p.m. ET: Martin Perez (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (0-0, 1.50 ERA)

The Mets are 3-2 thanks to two solid starts from Michael Wacha and David Peterson. After Rick Porcello struggled against the Atlanta Braves, significant questions were surrounding the starting rotation. Though those questions still linger, they have quieted thanks to Wacha and Peterson combining to allow three runs over 10.2 innings pitched.

Take the Sweep

The Mets have an excellent opportunity to sweep a struggling Red Sox team, who has lost four straight. The best two starters in the Mets staff will throw the final two games and were both impressive in their two starts against the Braves. deGrom has a career 3.46 ERA against the Red Sox, his highest against any American League team (min. 10 IP). Matz is making his first career start against the Sox.

The Mets are changing their lineup around for game one of the series as Andres Gimenez makes his first start at shortstop, and Rene Rivera does the catching for deGrom. Dominic Smith also makes his first start of the season in left field as manager Luis Rojas opts for offense over defense in the outfield.

Also, keep a lookout for the defense of Jeff McNeil at third base. He already has three errors through five games, the most he has made at any position in his career. Throwing has been the issue for McNeil, and despite Pete Alonso messing up a couple of scoops, his errors come when he does not put enough on his throws.

Matchups to Lookout For

Nathan Eovaldi vs. Yoenis Cespedes: 4-for-12 (.333), Double, 2 RBIs

Martin Perez vs. Yoenis Cespedes: 5-for-15 (.333), Double, Triple, RBI, 2 Walks,

Dellin Betances vs. Xander Bogaerts: 3-for-21 (.143), Double, 2 RBI, 8 Strikeouts

New York Mets: Diaz Returns to 2019 Form in 5-3 Loss

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

It seemed like a game straight out of 2019. Edwin Diaz looked all but certain to lock down a save in back to back games, but a Marcell Ozuna solo home run changed things. The New York Mets fell to 1-1 on the season as they could not respond to the three runs the Atlanta Braves scored in the top of the 10th.

Things ran smoothly for 26 outs, but the Mets could not buckle down the 27th. Steven Matz gave the Mets six strong innings, only allowing one run while striking out seven. The bullpen trio of Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, and Justin Wilson got the game to the ninth inning. Diaz retired the two and three-hitter, but he could not sneak a fastball past Ozuna. After he deposited the ball over the right-field fence, the flood gates opened.

Extra Innings Rules

Once the Mets could not push across a run in the bottom half of the ninth, the Mets saw new extra-innings rules for the first time. The Braves took full advantage of the runner on second as Dansby Swanson lined a ball up the middle to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. After Ender Inciarte grounded out for the fourth run, Williams Contreras hit his first big league pitch into the right-center field gap to make it a 5-2 game.

Since manager Luis Rojas put in the defensive team when they had the lead, there was a lot less offense than the starting lineup. They managed only to score one run but left the tying run at first base.

Though Diaz smiled through the pain, it did not hide what happened. It was the exact way he blew saves during the 2019 season, where all it took was a home run to blow the game. Rojas voiced his confidence in Diaz saying the ball was coming out of Diaz’s hand well. Though it was a good pitch, the 2019 history is hard to ignore.

Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario recorded five of the eight Mets hits after they were no-hit for the first 4.1 innings. Max Fried was as solid as the Braves could have asked for, giving up only two runs in five innings pitches.

The silver lining for the Mets that Pete Alonso finally recorded a hit after looking completely lost through his first handful of at-bats.

The Mets send Rick Porcello to the mound for Sunday night baseball in hopes of taking two out of three. It will be a 7:08 p.m. start and face off against another lefty, Sean Newcomb.