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Bullpen, Once Again, Halts Mets Momentum on Sunday

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The Mets had momentum in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Christian Scott was throwing a one-hitter into the sixth inning, Brandon Nimmo clubbed a two-run homer in the sixth to tie the game, and the Mets had an opportunity to win three of four games against the Pirates.

But as it’s done all season, the bullpen halted the momentum. Abruptly as well.

With two outs in the sixth and 77 pitches thrown (he was on a pitch count), Scott was pulled for Eric Orze by Carlos Mendoza.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Orze—making his major league debut—couldn’t record a single out. He walked Bryan Reynolds to start his relief appearance, then allowed consecutive hits to Oneil Cruz and Rowdy Tellez to put the Pirates in front 3-2.

Mendoza had seen enough and opted to pull Orze in favor of Adrian Houser. The righty had been lights out in June, pitching to a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, and Mendoza hoped the righty could secure one final out to send the Mets to the seventh.

Unfortunately, Houser mirrored Orze’s performance. Nick Gonzales doubled to right field to bring in both Cruz and Tellez, later coming around on a wild pitch.

The Pirates’ barrage didn’t end there. Joshua Palacios launched a no-doubt homer to right field, rounding to the bases to extend the Pirates’ lead to 7-2. The Mets, who were tied 2-2 and one out away from the seventh, trailed by five runs in the blink of an eye.

The Mets couldn’t recover from the bullpen implosion in the sixth, and eventually fell to the Pirates 8-2, earning a series split with the Pirates. The game marked the end of an eight-game stretch on the road where the Mets went 4-4, mostly due to the bullpen failing to get important outs.

Two games specifically came in Washington on July 3 and the opening game against the Pirates. In D.C., the Mets held a 5-0 lead over the Nats, but Tylor Megill and the ‘pen squandered the lead.

In Game 1 against the Pirates, Luis Severino was pulled in the seventh inning after loading the bases with the Mets trailing 4-2, but Jake Diekman allowed a grand slam to Reynolds to put the game out of reach.

Both losses were gut punches. And they came against teams chasing the Mets in the wild-card race. But failing to meet expectations has been a theme of the Mets bullpen throughout the season. Especially recently.

Since June 23, the Mets bullpen has pitched to an 8.12 ERA, blowing two five-run leads and losing four games in which the Mets were either tied or winning. It’s been the biggest hole on this 2024 roster and something that was addressed after the loss to the Pirates on Sunday.

Speaking to the media after the loss, Nimmo on the inability to lock down wins.

“Definitely some games that got away from us,” Nimmo told the media. “But honestly that’s the story of the year so far. We haven’t been able to lock down wins. And that’s a problem. We’re hoping to address it.”

Addressing the bullpen will certainly be a top priority for David Stearns. Outside of Dedniel Núñez and Sean Reid-Foley, nobody in the ‘pen has an ERA under 3. That’s not a recipe for success.

Edwin Díaz returning from his 10-game suspension and Reid-Foley eventually from his injury will help, but at least one arm is needed to bolster a postseason-hopeful team. It’s so apparent that Nimmo petitioned Steve Cohen and the front office to make moves to help the Mets torrent offense.

Still, even with the bullpen struggling, and help potentially weeks away, Nimmo kept things positive. He acknowledged the tough road stretch and pointed out the Mets faced quality pitching.

“Honestly, going into this series we knew we were going to face really good pitching, even with the Nationals. So I was kinda thinking like, I know everybody thinks we were supposed to go 6-2 on this road trip, but honestly, 4-4 is not the worst would have loved 5-3. But with the pitching that we faced and the offensive production that the team’s put up, I think coming away with it we can still look at it positively.”

While the Mets went 4-4 against the Nationals and Pirates, Nimmo’s perspective was factual. The Mets faced tough pitchers in MacKenzie GoreJake IrvinPaul SkenesLuis Ortiz, and Mitch Keller, yet still averaged a respectable 4.13 runs per game.

The talent is there with this team, which they showed during an outstanding 16-8 June against worthy opponents. But there’s still work to be done. The Mets come home to face the Nationals again with a 44-45 record. They still remain out of the third wild card spot, and if they want to be buyers at the deadline, they’ll need to finish the first half of the season strong.

The post Bullpen, Once Again, Halts Mets Momentum on Sunday appeared first on Metsmerized Online.


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