The team came from behind tonight, closing out with a ground ball DP, aided by a stellar first game this season by Zach “Tommy John” Wheeler, who missed not one but two seasons to TJ surgery, and whose arm and career are held on with scotch tape.
Last night, when they beat the Marlins 8-6, they reached a 9-1 record, the best in the team’s 57-year history. They are now in a six-game winning streak, and undefeated (6-0) on the road, heading home.
Thus, the SNY studio announcers, longtime PC house guy Gary Apple, and former Mets pitcher and AA hire, Nelson Figueroa, have brought out the winning clichés: The players “have bought into the program” of rookie manager Mickey Callaway.
People—especially the cliché-mongers following sports—overinterpret success and failure alike.
The Mets got big-time help from Marlins manager, Don Mattingly, who pulled his rookie starter, Jarlin Garcia, after six no-nit innings and a mere 77 pitches.
A huge factor in the Mets’ early success is that the team is much healthier than it has been in a few years. The young guns who were supposed to give the team the best starting rotation in baseball, are together for the first time ever: Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndegaard, Steven Matz and Zach Wheeler. This situation will not last. Thus, Callaway will eventually have to plug in guys like Gsellman and Lugo. Therefore, he must not rely on them, let alone abuse them, out of the bullpen
Speaking of Gsellman, the team got an eighth inning from Robert Gsellman, in which he struck out the side with a slashing sinkerball that ran 93-95 mph, and broke extremely late across the strike zone, which reminded the Mets announcers of closer Jeurys Familia’s sinkerball.
Those pitches reminded this observer of the brilliant, hard, late-breaking sliders of Mets crazy lefthander Oliver Perez, and righthander John Maine in 2007, when both men went 15-10. They complemented each other perfectly. Maine had a brilliant first half, before faltering, while Perez faltered early, but was a killer down the stretch.
Unfortunately, Maine’s arm fell off not far down the road, and Perez’ head fell off, though it did not become “disengaged” from his body.
Mickey Callaway has been relying on former starters like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo to often pitch two innings per game, while pulling his starters after five innings. The last two games he left his starters in for six and seven innings, respectively. If Callaway goes back to babying his starters, he will blow out his bullpen long before the All-Star break, something Mets fans have seen Callaway’s predecessor, Terry Collins do.
Thus, down the road, Callaway must consistently push his starters to go six to eight innings per start, and to throw the occasional complete game.
The test of this team will be how it deals with injuries. That test is here, with Travis D’Arnaud’s UCL (elbow) injury, and Kevin Plawecki’s bruised hand form getting hit with a pitch in tonight’s game. But that’s nothing, compared to the gut check they’ll get, when their starters start going down.
Should anyone call me a pessimist, I’ll just respond, You’re not a Mets fan.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.