The Mets’ pitching struggles have contributed to a 35-40 record this season, and the team decided to go in a different direction Thursday. The Mets announced prior to their 7-4 loss to the Cubs that pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez were relieved of their duties.
Phil Regan was named the team’s interim pitching coach and Ricky Bones becomes the interim bullpen coach. Jeremy Accardo joined the staff in the newly created role of pitching strategist.
“This attempt is pretty simple. Our goal here is to try to get better as an organization -- we want to improve every day,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “As we have evaluated the season so far, we have fallen short of a variety of things as a team, and we all have to look at ourselves for that shortcoming and we have to make the best decisions we can in this moment to improve our stock.
“By adding all three of these gentlemen to the staff, we feel we have added a very good blend of experience, a very good blend of teachers, of people that are capable of processing information, and most importantly people who are able to work collaboratively with the existing coaching staff to put the players in the best position they can to succeed.”
Regan, 82, had been serving as the Mets’ Minor League assistant pitching coordinator since 2016. Bones, 50, served as the Mets’ bullpen coach from 2012-18 before Hernandez took over prior to this season. Accardo, 37, most recently served as the Mets’ Minor League pitching coordinator.
The Mets own a 4.71 ERA, which ranks 20th in the Majors. The team has finished a season with a higher mark just twice in its history: in 1962, the team’s inaugural season, and 2017.
“Dave is a tremendous pitching coach. The bottom line is that the results weren’t there,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “We’ll all continue, at all times, to look ourselves in the mirror, try to improve upon our process, and that’s the reason we brought in three guys to replace two. Our process is going to get a little more in depth and it’s going to take three guys to do it.”
The bullpen in particular has underperformed, ranking in the bottom five in the Majors in ERA. Since the start of June, the Mets’ bullpen has been the worst in baseball.
Jacob deGrom is the only pitcher in the Mets’ rotation with an ERA below 3.50, at 3.26, and Jason Vargas is the only other starting pitcher below 4.00, with a 3.74 ERA.
“It definitely caught everybody by surprise,” Vargas said. “I have a long relationship with Dave. It goes beyond baseball. We’ve had the chance to share some pretty memorable moments together. I have the utmost respect for him. He’s one of the main reasons I’ve been able to get things back on track.”
Eiland had been the Mets’ pitching coach since the start of 2018, when Callaway’s tenure began. He previously served as pitching coach for the Yankees and Royals.
Van Wagenen did not go into specifics when addressing Eiland’s shortcomings as pitching coach, and despite the flurry of moves, the GM reiterated that Callaway’s job remains safe.
“As you’ve heard from previous conversations and comments that I’ve made publicly, Mickey has my full vote of confidence. He’s our manager,” Van Wagenen said. “This is a scenario where we want to continue to give Mickey the best resources and the best coaching staff to be able to help him achieve our goal."
Lockett struggles in Mets debut
With Noah Syndergaard hobbled with a right hamstring strain, Mets rookie Walker Lockett got his first opportunity with the Mets since coming over from the Indians via trade in January.
The rookie right-hander started out strong, striking out two in his first two innings of work and had a 3-0 lead, but he ran into a buzzsaw in the third inning. Lockett gave up five hits and six runs while recording only one out in the third.
“The first two innings I was able to get ahead, keep the ball down and get ground balls. I think that’s why I had success the first few innings,” Lockett said. “Third inning, leadoff [hit] didn’t help. Got hit around a little bit. Left the ball up a little bit. Just didn’t bounce my way.”
“The ball started getting up just a tad," Callaway said. "A couple of inches and they barreled him up. It happened fast. I thought he was cruising and looking great until that point.”
The right-hander was 0-3 with a 9.60 ERA in four career appearances (three starts), all of which came with the Padres in 2018. He was 1-1 with a 3.69 ERA in six appearances (five starts) for Syracuse this season.
The Mets optioned left-hander Daniel Zamora to Syracuse in a corresponding move. Zamora has no record, but carried a 5.68 ERA in 12 appearances for the Mets this season.