Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
"That's one I'd like to have back," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Tuesday night after the latest Mets loss, when his decision to pull Noah Syndergaard backfired.
It was another Mets loss where the bullpen couldn't hold a late lead. And another Mets loss where Callaway's early hook of his starter helped to open the floodgates.
As Syndergaard stood on the mound in apparent disbelief, muttering at himself over not being allowed a chance to finish the seventh inning, most watching were in disbelief as well.
Syndergaard, who hadn't given up much hard contact all night and who was in a groove after allowing two runs in the fourth inning, was at just 103 pitches. Of the last 12 batters Syndergaard faced, the only two non-outs were due to an error on Pete Alonso and another play (leading off the seventh), where Alonso awkwardly played a Pablo Sandoval grounder that turned into an infield single.
While discussing his decision to pull Syndergaard, Callaway talked about how Evan Longoria -- who was due up -- had "a little bit of success" against Syndergaard in his career. That "success" was three hits (none for extra bases) in 10 at-bats with five strikeouts.
Callaway also talked about Seth Lugo, who replaced Syndergaard, being able to hold runners better. That really shouldn't have been a concern since it was Mike Yastrzemski who was on first base, not Rickey Henderson.
Everyone knows what the result of Callaway's seemingly-early hook was, but how he reached that decision is far more concerning. It can be argued that pulling Syndergaard in that spot showed a complete lack of awareness of not only the situation and potential ramifications, but how his starting pitcher was throwing the ball and feeling on the mound.
Syndergaard didn't hide his irritation at being pulled after Callaway reached the mound, saying "let me finish it." But the double-switch had already been made. Syndergaard was somewhat toned down after the game, but still referred to what Callaway did as a mistake.
While the choice to pull Syndergaard in that spot was bad enough on its own, it also caused a snowball effect.
There's always a chance Syndergaard would have given up the lead had he been allowed to stay in. But if he had gotten that final out, things would have been set up perfectly for the Mets, who would have been able to hand Lugo the ball to start the eighth inning before hopefully turning to Edwin Diaz in the ninth.
Instead, Lugo entered in the middle of an inning, gave up the lead, and then pitched the eighth as well -- throwing 29 pitches total -- meaning he'll likely be unavailable on Wednesday night when Jason Vargas gets the start.
The choice to lift Syndergaard and turn to Lugo early also meant Diaz simply holding things where they were in the ninth (when he struck ouf three batters) and led to Robert Gsellman -- who has pitched in five of the team's last seven games -- being tasked with pitching the 10th inning instead of getting a night off. Gsellman got tagged for five runs and -- like Lugo -- is almost certainly unavailable on Wednesday night.
Yes, it's true that Brodie Van Wagenen didn't hand Callaway a lockdown bullpen. But it's also true that Callaway hasn't managed that bullpen (or the rest of the roster) properly, with Tuesday night's odd decision being just the latest example.
On one hand, Callaway should be commended for basically owning up to his mistake. But on the other hand, his lack of conviction almost seems worse than the mistake itself -- one that helped to drop the Mets back to four games under .500 and led to whispers about how much "foreseeable future" Callaway might have left to turn things around.