Normally I would be saying: The Mets have only played five games, it’s a long season, the bats will come around, etc, etc. But until they figure out how to score some runs for their ace, two-time Cy Young award winner (Should have three Cy Young awards) starter, Jacob deGrom, we will be thinking, here we go again.
We need not go into the books to list all of the great performances by deGrom over the years, where he left with a lead or was down by a run, only to see the bullpen implode or the offense sleepwalk. Here is what other teams see. Put your best pitcher vs deGrom, score any way you can, one run will do as the Mets ace will be hard to score on let alone hit. You will strikeout a dozen times but you will now have the Mets players right where you want them. That being, under a lot of pressure to score for the best pitcher in baseball and not let him and the fans down, again.
That pressure is for real. It is something I have seen my whole life with ballplayers. They will feel crushing anxiety at the plate and on the mound. More than they would feel during any other at-bat or relief appearance. Why? Because they will sense what we all feel could be coming, another heartbreaking loss for the Mets and another wasted outing for deGrom. Hey, Miami’s 6’5” 23-year-old Trevor Rogers pitched a great game going six innings with three hits and 10 strikeouts. But the Marlins bullpen can be hit.
Look at what they were looking at in the top of the 9th inning. deGrom had just given them another Cy Young caliber outing. one run, five hits, no walks, and 14 strikeouts over 8 complete innings. Then Edwin Díaz comes in to keep it a one-run game with the heart of the Mets batting order due up in the bottom of the 9th. What does he do? I call it the “Double two-step Charlie belly flop.” Diaz, who has one of the nastiest sliders out there, throws two 90 something fastballs to leadoff hitter Starling Marte who doubles, and then two more fastballs to Jesús Aguilar who singles to center. Driving in Marte for a two-run lead.
The next two Marlins are put out with sliders and I’m thinking, ok we have the top of the order coming up. The Mets can still pull this out. But no, here comes another barrage of fastballs. Five out of the next seven pitches and poof, the Mets are down 3-0 in the 9th inning.
But not to fear, there is hope. The boys from Queens have the best part of their order coming up. Francisco ($341 million) Lindor, Michael (Soon to be multi-millionaire) Conforto, and equally gifted powerhouse Pete Alonso. Will they feel the squeeze? The trepidation? The butterflies of being the guys who couldn’t get it done again this time? Ok, I’ll make it short. Lindor lines out on the second pitch to second, Conforto grounds out to second and Alonso is called out on strikes to end the game. Sorry Jacob, hopefully, things will be better next Thursday.
Right now the Mets need to find a leader. Is it Lindor, Alonso, Dominic Smith? They need someone who can light a fire under their butts in these situations. The ’86 Mets had that fire. Just go down that lineup and remember how they were able to rally when they needed to win. It has to come from the players. Manager Luis Rojas? Don’t blame him for another flop, he just got here.
When scouts look for prospects that can one day play in the big leagues, they look at a player’s athletic abilities. Can he hit, can he field his position, can he run the bases and cover a large area in the field, does he have power, what kind of arm does he have. But the most important piece of the puzzle is what is his makeup. Does he have desire and passion for the game, does he have that fire in his gut. When will we see that in this club? This is not an isolated case of another wasted performance by their ace. This has been going on for a few years now and if they can not figure it out this year, there will be no playoffs or World Series on the horizon. There will only be a mud puddle where there should be a fire.
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