- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

A Mets Riddle

So if Jason Vargas [1] pitches well — and I mean “pitches well,” without any ironic amplification, subtle disparagement or other snobby little digs — and the Mets lose anyway, what sound does a Met fan make at 1 in the morning?

If you’re me, it’s a long, drawn-out sigh.

Vargas pitched well. Hyun-Jin Ryu [2] pitched better. Ryu was Jacob deGrom [3] 2018 good, and the Mets had no chance. They were beaten basically from the beginning: Vargas’s second pitch became a Chris Taylor [4] liner to left, which J.D. Davis [5] chose to make a valiant but ill-advised dive for. It turned into a triple, Max Muncy [6] doubled Taylor home, and that skinny run was enough for L.A. to win.

Everything else was wishful thinking, followed up with a comical ninth, in which Pete Alonso [7] was actually not hit by a pitch, as every replay on the planet showed. Alonso even sheepishly strolled back to home to retrieve his bat, in effect testifying for the prosecution. In a very MLB 2019 development, the umpires ignored that and him to listen to their fellow umps in Chelsea, who were apparently a bit stir-crazy after midnight and doing Whip-Its, as they confirmed the original erroneous call.

It didn’t matter: Todd Frazier [8] struck out against Kenley Jansen [9], flinging his bat at the ball he couldn’t hit for good measure, Carlos Gomez [10] flied out, and the Mets had lost [11].

An old but useful cliche about baseball is that April and May are about figuring out what you have, June and July are about figuring out what you need, and in August and September you go for it. So what do the Mets have? To be honest, I don’t really know. They’re deeply dysfunctional, but they’re also surprisingly fun. (Now there’s a slogan!)

What hasn’t worked? At various points, a fair amount. The starting pitching has been all peaks and chasms, which is a hard-working way to be mediocre. The vaunted closer just had the worst night of his career and has had some other less-than-stellar ones. The defense is atrocious, full stop. The health has been oh-so-Metsian — in addition to everything else, I now get to hold my breath when Michael Conforto [12], one of my favorite players in many years, smacks into walls. The manager is a serial dunderhead, a problem that won’t be solved by infield drills, team doctors or reversions to the mean.

And yet, well, that starting pitching has had peaks. Some of the spaghetti-at-a-wall arms in the bullpen have stuck. Alonso has been a daily delight. Conforto has unlocked his great potential and been allowed to play unmolested, unless you count the shoulders of teammates. Jeff McNeil [13] has resumed being Jeff McNeil, hitting machine. Amed Rosario [14] has had some baffling defensive lapses but made enormous strides as a hitter. Dom Smith has matured into a truly useful piece of the roster. Davis has outhit his glove. The Mets have squeezed some heroics out of their Proven Veterans™, with Gomez and Rajai Davis [15] playing hero and Adeiny Hechavarria [16] more than filling in for Robinson Cano [17].

I don’t think that adds up to enough to win anything — too many holes, no faith in the people who’d have to pay for fixing them — but it’s made for an interesting team, one I still want to watch after they rip our hearts out [18]. Or after they’re stymied and expire with a sigh far from home in the middle of the night.