MIAMI – Offered a chance to dispute any notions that Mickey Callaway could be on the hot seat, New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen talked his way around the issue Friday.
“Our job is to support Mickey and the coaching staff, and support the players, and we expect to win,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable for that.”
Hours later, Callaway’s troops dropped a game to the worst team in baseball.
The offense did little until the seventh inning against the woeful Miami Marlins, the defense made costly errors, and the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, suffered through one of the worst days of his career in an 8-6 setback.
Not exactly the type of effort that makes a manager look good.
“I don’t think about that,” Callaway said when asked if he wonders about his job security. “All I’m worried about is improving the players.”
It’s not an overstatement to say this is an important series for the Mets considering the opponent, the schedule, and the team’s standing.
The Mets (20-23) are in the middle of a 16-game stretch against the Marlins, Nationals, and Tigers, a schedule that should be helping this team get above .500.
Three straight losses dropped the Mets to 3-3 in this stanza, and they became the first team this year that lefty Trevor Richards (1-5) earned a victory against.
The worst-case scenario for the Mets would be a sweep this weekend in south Florida since it would only intensify the external chatter for a managerial change.
Team sources insisted recently Callaway was not on the hot seat and it was more of an external topic than an internal one, but the Mets are struggling again.
"Mickey has been accountable for what we all want. I said from the beginning, I want to make sure I’m doing the same and I know our players feel the same way,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ve experienced adversity, we’ve played well at times, and Mickey knows what’s in front of us. We’re looking forward to doing that in games over the next couple of weeks.”
A managerial change would appease some of the fan base, but reality is this is a Mets team that has noticeable flaws and has underachieved.
The rotation has not lived up to its reptuation, and the bullpen struggled in April.
DeGrom had produced three straight fantastic starts before Friday’s implosion, and now owns a 3.98 ERA through nine starts.
The Marlins scored two in the third inning following an error, added another two runs in the fourth, and Jorge Alfaro’s two-run blast in the fifth inning gave Miami a 7-1 advantage.
DeGrom (3-5) yielded seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in five innings, and said he could not locate his pitches. Too many ended up in the middle of the plate.
“Felt good the first two (innings), and things got out of control,” deGrom said. “Tonight’s on me. I did a terrible job out there. These guys did nothing but battle and it got out of hand.”
Pete Alonso, one of the bright spots, homered twice Friday, and J.D. Davis also added a two-run blast. The Mets loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning while trailing, 8-5, but were only able to tally one more run on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Nimmo.
The acquisition of Davis from the Astros is one of the few offseason moves that has panned out so far. Earlier in the day, Van Wagenen designated slumping outfielder Keon Broxton for assignment. Broxton was acquired from Milwaukee in January in a three-for-one deal.
“Any good team should want to win more games than they lose for sure, and we have high expectations. We were very vocal about that when the season started,” Van Wagenen said. “We have not lowered our expectations, and we want to hold ourselves accountable to win games. That’s what we’re looking to do tonight. We recognize this is an important part of our schedule. We anticipate getting on a roll here and trying to make a run at this thing.”
The Mets still have 10 games left in this easy stretch, and perhaps Friday will prove to be nothing more than a rough night for an ace. Steven Matz returns from the injured list Saturday, and Noah Syndergaard pitches Sunday. And, ya know, they are playing the light-hitting Marlins.
However, it shows how far the Mets have fallen since starting the season 5-1 that two games in Miami can almost be considered must-wins for the manager.
“We fought back the last couple of nights, but we got to do a better job of putting ourselves in a position where we don’t have to fight back,” Callaway said. “It’s something we’re not doing right now and we got to do a better job.”