The New York Mets are off to a disastrous start. It was an uphill battle before the season even started with Edwin Diaz’s season-ending knee injury and Justin Verlander being placed on the injured list.
Through seven games the Mets are 3-4, but they were swept in a three-game set by the Brewers – outscored 19-0 in the first two games – after winning three of four from the lowly Marlins.
They had a chance to salvage a win in Milwaukee on Wednesday but the bats were quiet while the bullpen broke down.
WFAN’s Evan Roberts of the Audacy Original Podcast “Rico Brogna” had a few criticisms for Mets manager Buck Showalter and his bullpen usage during Wednesday’s series finale in Milwaukee.
“Let’s start criticizing Buck because I got a few things,” Roberts said. “I got a few things to be angry about with this manager.”
Firstly, after the Mets took a 6-4 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Roberts assumed that Peterson would come out of the game. He didn’t have his best stuff and his command wasn’t great with five hits allowed, five walks, and five earned runs to complete the trifecta.
“He struck out Willy Adames to end the fourth inning and I pointed to the sky and said ‘Great. It’s not a complete disaster. Get his a– out the game,’” Roberts said. “And for some reason, I don’t know why, you can’t give me this lefty-lefty garbage, Buck Showalter to allow David Peterson to start the fifth inning against Christian Yelich.”
Roberts acknowledged that Peterson struck out Yelich twice already, but the third time through the order is a different animal.
“I don’t care what he did to Yelich in the first and third inning because I’m thinking to myself, ‘Christian Yelich, though he’s not the same guy he was in 2019, if you give him a third at-bat against David Peterson he’s probably ripping a single,’” he said. “Now instead, David Peterson couldn’t find the strike zone and he walked him on five pitches. At that point, Buck takes him out.”
That was a batter too late, Roberts opined, and things kept going downhill with the bullpen later in the game.
Drew Smith allowed one run in one inning of work and John Curtiss pitched two scoreless innings to keep the game tied. That brought the game to the eighth inning with the Mets’ best two relievers available. Unfortunately, Showalter may have used them in the wrong order.
“The bottom of the order is coming up and Buck goes to David Robertson. And when he does this, I’m very very confused because I’m not a believer, as much as I wanted this game (Wednesday), that David Robertson should be asked to get six outs. I’m not that crazy,” Roberts said. “So when Buck after the game says ‘Yeah, I wasn’t going to ask him to get six outs. It’s early in the season.’ I agree with him.”
Roberts understands that some may disagree and criticize Showalter for not leaving Robertson in to get six outs, especially after a 12-pitch 1-2-3 inning in the eighth. However, he turned to Ottavino and that was the ballgame.
“When he goes to David Robertston, I thought ‘What? Is he really going to ask him to get two innings?’” Roberts said. “He’s going to his best reliever to face the bottom of the order in the bottom of the eighth inning? It didn’t make any sense to me. You go to Adam Ottavino first, then you go to David Robertson. I want Robertson to face better hitters. Now if Ottavino runs into trouble, you want to break glass in case of emergency and go to Robertson with guys on base in the eighth inning? Absolutely… I totally get the Ottavino-Robertson thing, I just didn’t like the order of it.”
Mind you, Yelich is 0-for-5 with four strikeouts against Robertson in his career and Adames is 1-for-5. Those were the first two hitters due up in the ninth.
“Last year I would love when Buck did that, when he would flip-flop Ottavino and Edwin Diaz, but it always made sense when he did it,” Roberts said. “I don’t see the matchups making any sense. I don’t see who’s coming up making any sense. I don’t understand the order of Robertson-Ottavino.”
Of course, this may not have been the reason that the Mets lost the game, but they would’ve been positioned well in the top of the 10th with Brandon Nimmo as the zombie runner on second base with the heart of the order due up.
“It annoyed me. It’s not the reason they lost necessarily – I guess it could be the reason they lost – they lost because their bullpen blew a lead,” Roberts continued. “They lost because David Peterson was really ineffective. And they lost because as much as the offense showed us something in this game, it went to sleep after the fifth inning and did nothing against the Brewer bullpen.”
The Mets were fortunate to have someone like Diaz last year that they could turn to in the ninth inning along with their setup men, and that’s how it was supposed to be this season with Robertson as added insurance. Now, Showalter and the Mets are going to need to mix and match in the later innings to optimize the bullpen.