It’s no secret that the New York Mets aren’t playing very well. After racing off to an 11-1 start, the Mets have dropped 11 of their past 17 games. The Mets may have hit rock bottom yesterday, when they looked completely lifeless in an 11-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves completed a three game sweep of the Mets in the process, shutting them out for 18 consecutive innings and knocking the Mets out of first place. There is plenty of time left in the season for the Mets to turn things around, but they need to snap out of this funk soon. Here are three moves they can make right now to help speed up the turnaround.
- Remove Matt Harvey from the roster
There hasn’t been a more useless pitcher on the staff of late than Matt Harvey. After getting demoted from the rotation, Harvey created a public relations fiasco by laughing and cursing at reporters who questioned him about his first relief appearance. Harvey has actually been worse out of the bullpen, pitching to a 10.50 ERA, including yesterday’s five run meltdown in relief of Jason Vargas. After the game, Harvey wanted to focus on the positive, which came in the form of one strikeout of Ronald Acuna. There is also the matter of a Page Six report that indicated Harvey drove from San Diego to Los Angeles to party even though he had a game the next day.
The Mets weren’t happy at the report despite GM Sandy Alderson’s public assertion that he wasn’t surprised by it. SNY analyst Nelson Figueroa didn’t mince words after yesterday’s game, saying that Harvey simply isn’t a major league pitcher right now. Harvey’s fall from grace is dramatic, but the Mets can’t afford to let him try and resurrect himself in the bullpen if he is going to cost them games. A mop up role is too much responsibility for Harvey right now as his inability to get deeper into the game yesterday forced the Mets to burn Jerry Blevins and Jeurys Familia to close out a blowout loss. Harvey is also causing distractions off the field, so the Mets need to offer Harvey an ultimatum: accept a trip to the minor leagues or be released. Dumping Harvey would be a sad end to what was, at one point, a brilliant start to his career but the Mets need to do what is best for the team, not Matt Harvey.
2. Play Brandon Nimmo A Lot More
The Mets’ most productive hitter spends most of the time on the bench, which is absolutely ridiculous. Brandon Nimmo was expected to get most of the playing time in center field in April, but Michael Conforto’s quick return sent him back to a reserve role. Despite getting limited opportunities to contribute, including a ridiculous demotion to the minor leagues, Nimmo has been incredibly productive when he has gotten a chance to play. Nimmo is batting .294 with an OPS of 1.008, which is the best on the team, in just 41 plate appearances.
The Mets have wasted a lot of at bats on Adrian Gonzalez, who is batting just .196 since April 13th, when they could easily open more playing time for Nimmo by shifting Jay Bruce to first base. Bruce has been working out there recently, although he has made it clear in the past that he is not a fan of playing first. There is no reason that Bruce can’t play first base twice a week, opening up two starts for Nimmo, who would also give the Mets a much needed leadoff hitter. Nimmo could also be used to spell Conforto, Bruce, or Yoenis Cespedes on occasion, creating more at bats for him. Even if scouts believe that Gonzalez will eventually turn it around, there is no reason for him to start five times a week while Nimmo barely plays.
3. Shift Seth Lugo Back To The Rotation
A lot of people have forgotten that Seth Lugo was the Mets’ fifth starter out of camp. A rainout allowed the Mets to skip Lugo’s first scheduled start, allowing him to work out of the bullpen, where he has been pitching ever since. While using Lugo in relief is a good idea in theory, his role is a bit redundant as a multi-inning reliever when the Mets already have Robert Gsellman and Paul Sewald capable of that task. The Mets’ starters outside of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have an ERA over six, so the team needs to find a way to stabilize the rotation.
The best way to do that would be to give Lugo a shot at a spot in the starting rotation. The guy who should be on notice is Steven Matz, who has been terrible for most of the season and can be sent to the minor leagues to work on his issues. Vargas has been terrible over his first two starts, but he will get a bit more rope to play with since he has a two year contract and is coming off a lengthy absence due to injury. Lugo has the potential to help stabilize the back of the rotation, opening up a bullpen spot for a promising young player like Jacob Rhame or a second lefty like Buddy Baumann or Fernando Abad.