The New York Mets are in a dogfight with the defending champion Braves in an effort to win their first National League East title since 2015. The Mets held onto first place for most of the season, but thanks to the Braves playing at a historic clip since June, the Mets find themselves on the outside looking in.
This is not only because of how the Mets have played. The Braves seemingly never lose unless they play against the Mets. This has made virtually every day a must win, which is impossible to do in this game.
The Mets are still a great team and have been playing alright even with some injuries, but they could be playing better. They haven't played up to their standards lately especially against some of the worst teams in the National League.
1) Justified NY Mets fan complaint about the team right now: Buck Showalter's Managing
Buck Showalter was hired this past offseason to be the Mets manager. For the most part, he's been better than anyone could've expected. He's had this team gelling from day one and has been a big reason why this team has played like a team that can win 100+ games.
A big reason why I did not want him this past offseason was his history of bullpen management. I always turn to the baffling decision to not use Zack Britton in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game. The Orioles were locked into a tie with the Blue Jays and despite having a 0.54 ERA, he could only watch as Ubaldo Jimenez served up the walk-off home run to Edwin Encarnacion.
This season, I haven't loved how Buck has used the bullpen. I've found him to be too passive at times, turning to guys he probably shouldn't in spots they shouldn't be in, but gave him the benefit of the doubt thinking he'd turn to his best arms in September.
This has not happened. The Mets have found themselves down by one or two runs late multiple times down the stretch and instead of turning to reliable arms like Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, or Edwin Diaz, he turns to the worst arms the Mets bullpen has to offer like Joely, Bryce Montes de Oca, and Adonis Medina.
This has caused games that were within reach for the Mets to fall out of reach late. He's done this with his top arms being as rested as they've been all season.
It's impossible to know if the Mets would win those games or not, especially with how inconsistent the offense has been of late, but we'll never know since these decisions have put close games out of reach
I worry come playoff time he will have the same conservative attitude. I worry he'll be thinking about tomorrow or thinking about the ninth inning when the game hangs in the balance in the eighth.
I love how he's used Edwin Diaz in the eighth inning at times, but that sense of urgency has seemed to have disappeared. He's been overworking his low leverage arms and has cost the Mets multiple winnable games down the stretch.
Showalter is not the problem, but he hasn't pushed the right buttons either. It's justifiable to say he's done a good job overall but has to improve his bullpen management. The Mets bullpen is not deep enough for him to keep being so conservative with the 'pen down the stretch.