The Mets did not have a manager for Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Giants.
Buck Showalter was away from the club to deal with a minor medical procedure, leaving his coaching staff to manage by committee. The Mets, both from the public relations side and the coaching side, were pretty coy about who exactly would be calling the shots. As they left the world wondering who their acting manager would be, one of the most visible players on the team assured everyone that the order of hierarchy in the clubhouse is still very clear.
“Well, I know who our manager is, it’s Buck,” Pete Alonso said. “But he gave us the marching orders so everyone knows their job. I think we’re going to be alright.”
Showalter is often seen toting a bat with him and cracking wise at anything that moves. His absence left the Mets without their avuncular guiding light.
“He’s such an old school baseball guy,” Alonso gushed. “He loves being at the yard. I know for him it’s probably difficult (not being here), but he’ll be right back at it on Thursday. I want to wish him well.”
Without Showalter, the Mets did not hold their typical manager press conference prior to Wednesday’s game against the Giants. If not for COVID-19, which hit the Mets fairly hard in the early part of the season, bench coach Glenn Sherlock would have been the obvious substitute teacher. Outfielder Mark Canha was activated off the COVID IL — Matt Reynolds was designated for assignment to make room on the roster — and started in left field on Wednesday night, his first game since April 13. Sherlock, however, was still dealing with the virus, leaving a hole in the manager’s spot on the bench.
“He’s not just going to say, ‘See ya later,’” Alonso ribbed. “For the people that are in charge, he gave them the talk. I feel like Buck is the guy that makes the decisions, but he gets informed by a lot of the different coaches (anyway). This is just going to be another day.”
After the game, it was confirmed that pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, hitting coach Eric Chavez and acting bench coach Dick Scott collectively assumed the manager role.
Another tragedy of Showalter not being at Citi Field on Wednesday was that he was unable to provide a scintillating update on which of his players are making their way back from injury. Instead, the Mets’ media relations team gathered reporters for a makeshift media scrum and divulged that Taijuan Walker threw three innings and 45 pitches during an extended spring training game in Jupiter, FL. He is going to fly from there to Arizona to meet up with the team for their weekend series against the Diamondbacks, where his timetable for a return will be reevaluated.
No teams have gotten more from their starting pitchers so far than the Mets and Giants.
Through the Mets’ first 12 games and Giants’ 11, the teams ranked first and second in Wins Above Replacement by starting pitchers. The Mets’ starters have been truly out of their mind, posting a 1.56 ERA, while the advanced statistics suggest that the Giants’ 2.86 will come down with better batted ball luck.
The two teams on display at Citi Field this week are also the only ones in Major League Baseball whose starting pitchers are striking out more than 28% of opposing hitters. Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco all sit above 30% for the Mets while their stiff competition from San Francisco also has been fanning everything in sight.
In his first two starts as a Giant, Wednesday’s starting pitcher Carlos Rodon sent an ungodly 46.7% of the men who stand across from him back to the dugout with a K. He added eight strikeouts to his total on Wednesday. Alex Cobb, who struck out four Mets in his 4.1 innings on Tuesday, was at a robust 35%.
THAT WAS THE OLD ME
Coming into Wednesday night’s game, the Mets had 120 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. They recorded 26 hits in those 120 chances (.277 batting average), and thanks to three home runs and six doubles, were tied for the National League lead in RBI with runners in scoring position and leading the whole senior circuit in wRC+ (143) in that situation.
This is already a stark departure from the Mets we saw last year, who had a 95 wRC+ with runners in scoring position, meaning they were five percent worse than the average team. Their .238 RISP average from last season was one of many aggravating features of the 2021 Mets. Two of the new acquisitions — Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar — have seemingly taken it upon themselves to leave the franchise’s past in the past.
Marte is 4-for-14 (.286) with a double and a dinger in his at-bats with runners in scoring position. The brolic outfielder batted eight runs in during those 14 at-bats. Escobar has had fewer opportunities — just five official at-bats — but those have led to three hits (two of which are doubles) and four RBI. The switch-hitting infielder, who leads the team with a 20.8% walk rate, has also drawn four free passes with runners in scoring position.
Of course, not all that glitters is gold.
The Mets went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position in their Wednesday slip-up against San Francisco.
Luis Guillorme shaved his beard.
The utility infielder had become one of the more recognizable faces on the team thanks to his thick, black facial hair. That’s all gone now.
“This is a me decision. At the end of the day it’s my beard, I’m going to do whatever I want with it,” said Guillorme, who went 1-for-2 with a walk in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. “It worked.”