OK, so that little speech about patience? Today was why it needed to be said.
Today when the Mets rudely interrupted their own romp over the Phillies by blowing a five-run lead.
Today when the mangy zombie Phillies rose up and justified Ruben Amaro Jr.’s dingbat refusal to admit the obvious, disemboweling our bullpen and then shambling off to victory.
Today when Wilmer Flores failed to throw out Ben Revere with two outs in the seventh, making an error (Philadelphia translation: “infield single”) that led to two runs in a game the Mets would lose by one. That would be the same Wilmer Flores who managed to get tagged out between second and third in the first, short-circuiting the potential for a bigger inning.
Today when Zack Wheeler had great stuff (go back and look at the unhittable fastball on the inside edge that he used to fan Domonic Brown in the second) but as usual spent too many pitches in employing that stuff, leaving him north of 100 pitches in the sixth and tired. That let Brown have his revenge, turning a 6-1 laugher into a far less amusing 6-3 contest and igniting the Phils’ comeback.
Today when the Mets’ normally reliable bullpen was anything but. Josh Edgin was superb, facing Ryan Howard, Grady Sizemore, Brown and Wil Nieves and fanning them all. But the guys on either side of him — Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia — were not superb. Black let the Phils back into the game on Chase Utley‘s two-run triple, while Mejia surrendered first the tying and then the winning run.
So, yeah, patience. We knew there were doubts about Flores’s ability to play shortstop, hailed the Mets’ sensible decision to let him prove it one way or the other, and today we had to watch while he made a critical flub. We know Wheeler is still working to harness his stuff and not be undone by his own pitch count, and today he couldn’t do that. We’re aware that our bullpen, while much improved, is still made up of young guys in roles that are new to them, and today two out of three of them failed the test.
When you’re investing in the future and taking stock of what you have, things like that are going to happen. You’ve got to nod and shrug and wait for more data. And most of all, you’ve got to be patient.
Separate but very related: I’ve been preaching for months that the Mets have a surplus of starting pitchers and ought to trade one for an impact bat. And I still believe that. But today was a harsh lesson in how quickly a “surplus” can get eroded down to nothing. Jacob deGrom is headed to New York to have a sore shoulder checked out. Jeremy Hefner‘s comeback from Tommy John surgery may or may not have hit a snag, depending on what turns out to be wrong with his forearm. And starter-turned-closer Mejia revealed he’s been struggling with a hernia for a while and will need surgery at some point. Biff bam boom, three pitchers with health issues.
The more baseball you watch, the more you realize patience isn’t just a virtue. It’s a necessity.