Mets remain focused on positives after loss

June 16th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Officially, the top of the fifth inning Wednesday lasted nearly 32 minutes, as the Mets used three pitchers and the Brewers sent 13 batters to the plate while scoring seven times, taking advantage of an uncharacteristic potpourri of Mets mistakes. It was tied for the Mets’ worst inning of the year, which became the key to their 10-2 loss at Citi Field.

“I don’t know if it was sloppy,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We self-inflicted some things. We’ve done that before and overcome it. Tonight [against Corbin] Burnes, there wasn’t much room for error.”

The long fifth inning did offer plenty of time for musings, such as these:

has developed into maybe the Mets’ best overall player. Even in a nine-run game on Wednesday, Nimmo hustled around the bases to secure a leadoff triple in the sixth. He made a nice catch up against the wall the following inning, on the heels of his sensational, diving grab in Tuesday night’s win. The numbers don’t necessarily reflect Nimmo’s value to the Mets, as (aside from his National League-leading five triples) nothing really jumps off the page. But Nimmo is proficient in every area, including center-field defense and his ability to hit lefties -- the two most notable deficiencies in his game earlier in his career. He’s really worked to make himself better.

“It hasn’t been a skyrocket to it,” Nimmo said. “It’s been more like a stepping stone, just trying to climb these stairs and get a little bit better each year.”

• The Mets are going to have to juggle lots of roster moves in the coming days, as David Peterson, and are all scheduled to go on paternity leave (in that order). If the timing works with Peterson, who pitched the first four-plus innings of Wednesday’s loss, the Mets won’t necessarily need to rejigger their rotation. Lugo is a trickier situation, given that the Mets don’t know exactly when he’ll need to leave. Same with McNeil, though the Mets have an easy replacement at second base in Luis Guillorme.

• Speaking of Guillorme, is there a better utility man in baseball? Known throughout his early career for his defense, Guillorme has developed into an excellent hitter in his own right. The most striking stat may be the fact that he entered Wednesday’s play as one of 11 Major Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances with more walks than strikeouts. That used to happen all the time, but doesn’t anymore due to the difficulty of hitting high-velocity pitching. The last Met to do it over a full season was José Reyes more than a decade ago.

• One of Showalter’s most overlooked traits as a manager is his ability to see the whole picture. On nights such as Wednesday, when the Mets stood little chance of coming back from eight runs down, Showalter shied away from his high-leverage relievers. He’s been aggressive in getting star players off their feet during the later innings of blowouts; on Wednesday, it was Francisco Lindor's turn to sit the final two innings. A night earlier, Showalter lauded the work of Drew Smith, whose clean ninth inning in a four-run game allowed the Mets to avoid even warming up closer Edwin Díaz. It may not seem like much, but those things add up over a full season.

• Will the real Lindor please stand up? Check out the star shortstop’s topsy-turvy season:

First 23 games: .281/.369/.472
Next 15 games: .143/.231/.268
Next 14 games: .352/.422/.574
Last 11 games: .156/.208/.245

There’s little question that Lindor goes as his plate discipline goes. If he can find that more consistently, the type of results the Mets expect from him should follow. But can he?

• When returns later this month from left hamate surgery, the Mets will welcome him back with open arms. McCann, who is in the 96th percentile of pitch framing according to Statcast metrics, owns a 2.67 catcher’s ERA in 21 games. Compare that to Tomás Nido (4.33) and Patrick Mazeika (4.31) and a pattern starts to become clear.

That may not be entirely fair to Nido and Mazeika, who have earned many of their starts with three of the Mets’ top six pitchers on the injured list. But did throw almost exclusively to Nido early this season, and McCann’s skill behind the plate is undeniable. He’s a bigger missing piece than many folks realize.