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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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When TBD Means DOA

Well, that wasn’t much fun.

The Mets were forced to start TBD — again! So they turned to Jerad Eickhoff — again! And it didn’t go well — again!

Eickhoff, you may recall, had already been DFA’d twice by the Mets this year. He opted for free agency, but signed another minor-league deal and reported for duty Tuesday night. Only to get absolutely battered — two-run double in the first, two-run homer to Ozzie Albies in the second, two-run homer to Abraham Almonte in the third. That was a heck of string to see up there on the scoreboard, but Eickhoff went back out in the fourth and gave up a grand slam to Austin Riley.

Mercifully, that was it. Definitely for the night, probably for the year, possibly for a career.

It gives me no joy to say that, and I don’t blame Eickhoff for having doused various fires with what turned out to be lighter fluid. (OK, I did pen a quick Twitter poll asking if he more resembled a palooka or a tomato can — tomato can won — but that was the frustration talking, and not my finest moment.) Eickhoff’s dedicated much of his life to playing baseball, and when he had another chance to do that, he took it. Of course he did — wouldn’t you? After the game was over, he called the results “frustrating,” which is a word you hear from pitchers a lot, but also “embarrassing,” which isn’t. If that was the end for Eickhoff, it’s a last chapter I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The question is how the Mets thought this might work, and why they didn’t have any other plan. But if I squint, I can see that one too. Carlos Carrasco should return this weekend, and both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard threw pitches at Citi Field on Tuesday in something vaguely like anger. Given that, should the Mets have paid a premium for the shortest of short-term rentals to get through one last TBD? If they should have opted for some other internal option, whom did you have in mind? Or should they have gone way outside of the box and called Bartolo Colon? Maybe Ollie Perez? Should Jon Matlack have reported early for his Mets Hall of Fame induction? Matlack’s 71 but what the hell, he’s left-handed, right?

(By the way, how the hell is handsome, lanky cardboard god Jonathan Trumpbour Matlack a septuagenarian? That can’t be right.)

Luis Rojas, at least, thinks the era of TBD is over, telling the scribes that “looking forward definitely feels better in the next week or so, knowing that names are gonna be in that starter’s spot.”

Is he right? I sure hope he is. Rich Hill‘s here, Carrasco’s coming, and deGrom hopefully isn’t far from returning (again). And with the bats showing at least fitful signs of life, another starter is probably the Mets’ top priority at the trade deadline. Still, it’s been a helluva year: I mean, David Peterson‘s probably done until 2022 because he broke a bone in his foot walking around the clubhouse. And it’s not even August.

The Mets didn’t want to get held up for a marginal starter or overpay ahead of the deadline or wreck some poor Double-A kid’s development, so they rolled the dice that they might outhit Eickhoff’s limitations. And hey, Monday’s strategy was reliever roulette, and that actually worked. I grumbled about Eickhoff getting pinata’ed, but I get how the Mets wound up where they did.

But still, punting a game at the end of July against a team entirely too close to you in the standings would make anyone grumble. Given everything that’s befallen the Mets this season, I can imagine deGrom or Carrasco or Hill or Taijuan Walker or Marcus Stroman or Tylor Megill or maybe all of them winding up back on the IL because this is tight or that’s fatigued or the clubhouse floor wanted more blood and souls as tribute. In which case the season might come down to a game or two, as many a season does. Maybe even against the last team on the 2021 schedule, the one we’ll wish we’d beaten on a sultry night in the era of TBD.

16 comments to When TBD Means DOA

  • Eric

    It was the pitching equivalent of batting Mayberry cleanup against Kershaw.

    Did Eickhoff even get in a pre-game routine? Or was he contacted and signed day of and he took the mound cold?

    Offense still too inconsistent. Starting staff with question marks throughout.

    • mikeL

      in the postgame presser eikoff reported that he threw a ball at the wall or fence outside his apartment complex (which was it?? with one the ball bounces back, could keep one engaged – like mcqueen in the brig in great escape) one step
      above throwing darts at the local bar while planning for a wicked hangover.
      hard to believe, yes, A FIRST PLACE TEAM PLAYING THEIR RIVALS IN LATE JULY could go that route.
      this made seasons past lacks of depth look bottomless!

      there wasn’t anyone at coney island looking good they could have summoned on equally short notice?

      yes, if the mets fall short by 1 game we’ll remember last night.

  • chuck

    At least Matlack threw complete games.

    I watched the whole game in anticipation of a position player being trotted out for the ninth. Instead I got a bad excuse to look on eBay.

  • open the gates

    Actually, I was there, and it was the pitching equivalent of starting Luis Guillorme on the mound. Except that Luis would probably have pitched better.

    I know, harsh, but I paid my money. I’m entitled.

    So I told my kids and their friends on the way to Citi, we got this guy pitching against the Braves’ ace, we’re probably going to lose, let’s just have a good time. And we did. But that’s no way to see a ballgame.

    Parenthetically, it was nice to see Brandon Drury have a monster day at the plate, even if it made no difference at all to the outcome.

  • open the gates

    Thanks, Jason. It’s all good. A bad night at Citi is still better than a good night most other places.

  • 9th string catcher

    Can’t blame Jered for this at all. The guy was ice cold and has been bounced around by the Mets since he got here, getting dfa’d for Robert Stock of all people. Then he’s thrown against a division rival who need every game they can win. Awful decision, and another dfa is looming. I feel bad for the guy.

    If you didn’t want to bring someone up from aaa, why not try for another bullpen game with whoever didn’t pitch Monday? Probably could have gotten a bullpen side inning out of one of the starters. As it turned out, it was half a bullpen game anyway.


  • chuck

    “…possibly for a career.”

    Ah, hell, you reminded me that I was at Shea for the last pitch Jose Lima ever threw as a major leaguer. Dontrelle Willis hit it. To steal a line from Greg, if it hadn’t hit a sign NASA would be tracking it.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Terrible organizational failure last night. Yes, countless injuries, but they’ve known that for weeks and Jake out now for two weeks–and still had no decent arm to call up–after trading prospects in past etc. Yes, I would have rather seen an AA young arm who sometimes impress and it’s bullshit claim when they say they don’t want to wreck a young guy’s progress. Given that every pitcher has speeded past last year’s innings already you need to stock AAA with 5 plausible starters and also relievers. Remember last night when race is tight in late Sept.

  • dmg

    Would Colon really have been much worse?
    What blame there is for last night really ought to include the front office, which has been hoping lightning strikes every time there’s a TBA or opener game. You can’t win a division, let alone a playoff series, without doing more on that front. We all remember how 2006 turned out when the Mets didn’t have Pedro or El Duke and had to go with freaking Ollie Perez.
    Rich Hill was a decent get, but they should have picked up at least another arm within the last month. Moreover, this series was a chance to bury Atlanta, and they haven’t treated it with the urgency it deserves. Instead, the Braves will be buying at the trade deadline, not selling or staying on the sidelines.

  • Eric

    Last night’s giveaway loss makes the doubleheader game-1 2-0 loss look worse.

    Agreed. The entering optimism that the Mets could knock the Braves into sell mode this week is all but gone. Even if the Mets manage to win the surprise rookie and struggling all-star’s starts, the Mets have shown enticing vulnerability to the Braves over the 1st 3 games on offense and pitching. The Nationals may be on the fence about trying for a run, but the Braves and Phillies have to believe 1st place is within their reach and the Mets grip on it is shaking.

  • Seth

    Problem is, the Mets didn’t have a great record against the Braves this season, even going into this series. This could have been a chance to make a strong statement.

  • open the gates

    A few observations regarding the other pitchers. Anthony Banda was kind of fun. Comes out to the anthemic James Bond music (Bond = Banda, get it?), and you see this guy with geek glasses who looks like an accountant, who then proceeds to make mincemeat of the opposing batters. Given it was serious garbage time, but still. This guy could be a comer. Drew Smith looked pretty good too. Yennsy Diaz got some very loud outs, and was lucky to give up only two runs in a couple innings. Plus, I had to remind my kids that no, this is the “other” Diaz.

  • Dave

    The front office was taking a pounding on Twitter over Eickhoff starting (but then again, everything and everybody takes a pounding on Twitter), but what were the options? The day after a doubleheader with a nightcap bullpen game, so an opener and parade of relievers was out. Carrasco’s return date has been a moving target. They started the season with depth by adding people like Lucchesi and Yamamoto, but they got hurt, deGrom is hurt, and they just added Hill, but my understanding of trades is that they require the complete cooperation of another team, you can’t just make them unilaterally. And there’s zero major league ready talent in the farm system (which is on the previous regime). So I can’t point a finger at the FO. I’m sure they tried every possibility, but among the many things that don’t grow on trees are quality major league starting pitchers, so Eickhoff was the best they could do. One game, you move on. But for chrissake, don’t invite him back.

    I remember as a kid seeing Matlack in the yearbook as a prospect and thinking “wow, there’s a guy who was born in the 50’s, just like me.” I’m from the opposite end of the decade, but it seemed pretty cool at the time, because all those other young men were born in the 30’s and 40’s. Now it means we’re both old.

  • Richard Porricelli

    Ive been telling the many Mets fans that I know that this team can be caught.. No doubt the Braves or Phillies are a winning streak away from pulling even..Eickhoffs ass had to be out there.You shake the dice with him! TBD is just that way..

  • Eric

    The Mets’ division lead reminds me a lot of the Nationals’ 2015 division lead in size and character.