It’s never good when, in the realm of Mets history, there’s a statement about you that ends: “… for the first time since Randy Jones.”
Randy Jones was at the end of a very good career when he donned the Mets uniform in 1981 and 1982. He went 8-18 with a 4.69 ERA in his Mets career. But on May 23rd against Houston, Jones threw a shutout at the Astrodome to go 6-2. So it had to be a shock to the system for everybody when Jones couldn’t get out of the second inning in his next two starts against those same Astros and the Atlanta Braves at Shea. He gave up five against Houston in one and a third, and gave up four against Atlanta without getting an out. Until Monday night, that was the last time a Mets pitcher couldn’t get out of the second inning in two straight games. (Jones’ next start was only two and a third innings long, and two starts later, he couldn’t get an out against Montreal. He won one more game the rest of that season and as it turns out, his career.)
Similarly, Zack Wheeler had come into this last two games on good notes, going at least six innings in five of his previous six starts, going seven in his last start in Texas. But then came the eight runs given up against the Cubs, and last night, seven runs in two innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He gave up two home runs to Cody Bellinger, and that was it. In retrospect, while none of us saw it then, Jones’ age and knee problems caught up to him in his two short starts in 1982. With Wheeler, at a different point in his career as Randy Jones, we certainly didn’t see these last two starts coming. But maybe we should have, as he hadn’t pitched in two seasons and he had an innings limit in the low 100’s. Maybe one has nothing to do with the other, but perhaps we’ll look back at the end of this season and look at this as the start of the “uh-oh” when it comes to Wheeler.
But it’s certainly a continuation of the uh-oh moment of this Mets season, which is the demolition of the starting rotation. The one that was supposed to dominate for years to come. Instead, the Mets rotation has hit the bottom: They’ve lost a game where the lineup hung six runs on Clayton Kershaw. Home runs by Jose Reyes, Jay Bruce, and the first in the career of Gavin Cecchini should have been reasons for renewed hope. Instead they were mere reminders of how the strength of the Mets has become their biggest problem. I would have rather lost 7-0. Instead, Monday’s 10-6 loss feels like one that got away.
Today’s Hate List
Look, I know Reyes had two home runs last night, but up in the eighth as the tying run against a pitcher that walked two batters and threw a wild pitch, can he take a pitch? One???