New York Mets need to stop batting the pitcher at number eight

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 16: Noah Syndergaard
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 16: Noah Syndergaard /

The New York Mets are batting the pitcher eighth nearly every game. This needs to stop right away.

I’m beginning to believe New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway is a stubborn man. When something doesn’t work, he doesn’t seem to have the ability to adjust.

Before the season began, Callaway said Jeurys Familia would sometimes pitch earlier than the ninth inning. Sometimes, the Mets closer would get the ball in the seventh or eighth inning. Callaway hasn’t been true to his word. I don’t blame him. This bullpen doesn’t have too many reliable arms.

The much more egregious problem I see with the Mets at the moment is the starting lineup. While I understand and appreciate the strategy of batting the pitcher eighth, it doesn’t work when your catchers are Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.

The reason why some managers opt to hit the pitcher eighth is to give their team two leadoff hitters. Callaway will put Amed Rosario in the nine-spot, helping to turn over the lineup. It hasn’t been too effective with Rosario struggling. More importantly, it’s letting rally killers Lobaton and Nido bat too early in the order.

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When Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki are in the lineup, I can accept a starting pitcher batting eighth. As weak as they are on offense, they are not automatic outs. I can’t say the same for Lobaton and Nido. You cannot find a worse catching tandem in MLB right now than this pair.

Granted, the Mets are stuck using them due to a lack of internal options. However, this doesn’t excuse Callaway’s continued decision to bat them seventh on a regular basis.

The Mets have a decent lineup one through six. On a typical night, they could send a professional hitter like Jay Bruce or Adrian Gonzalez to the plate in that spot. I’m not a big fan of either, but at least they can rope a ball into the gap and get something going.

Once Lobaton or Nido step up to the plate, all hope is sucked away.

If Rosario was hitting in that spot instead, at least there’s some chance he gets a hit. Even an infield single will do.

There’s no way of avoiding the catcher spot in the lineup. The Mets can at least move it down one spot in the order. They are handing a bat to this pair a little too early each night and it’s going to hurt the Mets plenty.

Another concern, what happens when Noah Syndergaard singles and then Rosario rips one down the line? I don’t want a pitcher’s legs in front of Rosario’s speedy pair. The Mets need to let Rosario run loose. A pitcher on base in front of him will only hurt his chances of legging out a triple.

By putting the pitcher in the number eight spot, the expectation is that he is a run scorer. I don’t want to see any of these starters racing second to home.

When Plawecki does return, I can get behind the pitcher batting eighth again. Until then, the pitchers need to go back into the number nine spot.

Callaway does seem to have his eye on making changes. In Saturday’s horrible loss, Jason Vargas took the nine-spot. It had no effect on the game because, as we witnesses, Vargas threw up a dud. In close games, I do see it making a difference.

Next: Steven Matz lacks confidence, now what?

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It’s a small change to make and one the Mets should undertake. Is asking for a traditional batting order too much?