The bullpen can't be blamed for this one. There was never a lead for them to blow.
Jacob deGrom handcuffed the Rockies for eight innings before three members of the Mets' bullpen danced around trouble in the ninth to secure a 2-0 shutout victory for the home team.
It's always hard to tell exactly how well an opponent is pitching when the Rockies are doing their typical sleepwalk thing on the road, but tonight I think deGrom can be credited for a least a good portion of it. He's been the Mets' best pitcher since he was called up in May, and he had all of his pitches working while getting stronger as the night progressed. Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado each recorded doubles early, but deGrom got out of both of those jams and retired the last 14 straight Rockies he faced.
It's not just the Rockies who've recently been stymied by deGrom either. This is the third consecutive outing the rookie hasn't allowed a run. His scoreless innings streak now stands at 21, and his ERA has plummeted to an impressive 2.62.
Here's what he's done over his last 13 starts:
#Mets Jacob deGrom is 8-2 with 86⅓ IP, 1.77 ERA, 0.996 WHIP, 9.07 K/9 (25.8 K%), & .210/.261/.274 against over his last 13 starts.— Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) September 10, 2014
Then there's also the fact that the Rockies actually made some noise in the ninth when he left the game before coming up empty. Charlie Blackmon led off the final frame with a hit, and after Michael Cuddyer struck out chasing a pitch out of the zone, Justin Morneau singled up the middle and Nolan Arenado walked to load the bases.
This is where Terry Collins may have saved the game for the Mets. He correctly realized Jenrry Mejia didn't have it and pulled him to play lefty / righty match ups. It worked like magic as the Mets also then exposed the biggest holes in the swings of Corey Dickerson and Wilin Rosario.
First, Josh Edgin got Dickerson to strike out on a pitch he chased above the letters and couldn't catch up to, and then Jeurys Familia got Rosario to roll over on a slider on the outside part of the plate to end the ballgame.
Dickerson's weakness is sort of new and something teams have only recently started using as a full attack plan, so it's fair to give him time to adjust, but Rosario's inability to anticipate something other than a fastball when he comes to the plate with runners on base is absolutely mind boggling. Not surprisingly, he has the third lowest WPA of any hitter in the National League this season. This is a hitter who's consistently impatient, consistently unaware of how the opponent is going to attack him, and consistently fails to execute with runners in scoring position.
Major league pitchers get paid a boatload of money NOT to throw a hitter like Rosario fastballs he can drive, especially with men on base. Even Jacob deGrom, who pitched brilliantly for most of the night, found out the hard way what happens when you do in the second inning of this game as Rosario took an outside fastball the other way into the gap in right center. Until Rosario proves he can handle some of these off speed pitches, his ability to hit towering moonshots off fastballs won't matter most nights.
Meanwhile, Christian Bergman pitched six pretty strong innings for the Rockies. He wasn't overpowering, and he probably got some help from the weakness of the Mets lineup, but Bergman stayed true to the one thing he does best, and that's not walk opposing batters. Since his stuff is limited, the Mets scratched out a couple of runs against him in the fifth and sixth, but he never let the game get out of control, and that instantly makes him less frustrating to watch than a handful of other arms we've seen on the mound in purple pinstripes this season.
I don't want Bergman in the starting five next season, but he's the type of cheap depth I can live with as a seventh or eighth starter.
* * * * *
Not that it really matters at this point, but I'm obligated to alert everyone that this loss mathematically eliminates the Rockies from post season contention. Anyone with a brain however knows that this team's been realistically eliminated from post season contention since June. But hey, next year's opener is just 209 short days away. Actually, that's too long to wait for my next Tulo fix.
The good news though is that tomorrow's game is a Tyler Matzek start (5:10 p.m. MT). Those have been fun lately. Not only that, but his remaining games (four if the Rockies let him pitch to the finish line) are the most important as far as getting an idea of how the Rockies are going to look next season.
We're getting close to reaching a tipping point with Matzek. Each strong outing clustered together makes it harder and harder to chalk up his recent success to a hot streak. If he finishes the season on his current trajectory, it gets more and more likely that we're watching a pitcher take a legitimate step towards becoming a reliable major league arm. He's a very good reason to tune in tomorrow night.
In some ways, this is the beginning of the 2015 season.
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