Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Steve Gelbs Vending Machine Burrito Part Of The Season Is Over For Now

The Mets went into their first road trip of the season in a very trepidatious position. Having gone 1-5 against the Brewers and Tigers, there lurked the very real possibility that they returned home 3-10 or 2-11, and the 2024 season would have been hanging off a cliff by its fingernails.

But as it turns out, that early season disaster might have just been a vending machine burrito like the one that Steve Gelbs subjected himself to on Saturday for some reason on the air. He cleansed through it and he's okay now. (Though I really didn't need the detail he provided on the air today, but I guess there's a subsection of people that enjoy hearing about the interaction between truck stop sushi and the lower intestines.) 

The Mets righted the proverbial ship and went 4-2 on this road trip against two good teams, Cincinnati and Atlanta. Might have gone 5-1 had Carlos Mendoza's entire bullpen not been hanging out in cryogenic chambers on Saturday, but to have the one successful comeback from 4-0 down in Atlanta and the one attempted comeback from 6-0 down, including two runs against the closer is good evidence that this team is going to grind through the adversity that comes their way. (Since they're the Mets, there will be more than their fair share of adversity.) Perhaps the Braves are wondering about us a little bit after that.

Throw in a crazy 16-4 victory today and you have a 5-7 team that has righted the ship a bit. The Braves helped us out on this one a few ways: After the rainout, they could have skipped Alan Winans and went with Max Fried on his regular turn. Instead they pushed everyone back and gave us Winans. Then, they made a bunch of errors. Then, they showed a little bit of hubris in the top of the 7th, playing the infield back with the bases loaded down by 4 runs with nobody out. They were confident in their ability to come back even at 8-3, and that's most likely correct. But 10-3 was a bridge too far as Francisco Alvarez drove home a run on a ground out and Jeff McNeil drove in two with a single. From then, the Braves wove the white flag as the Mets scored two in the 8th and four in the ninth off of Luis Guillorme. Amazingly, that was Guillorme's Braves debut. Not on a double switch, not a start to rest a regular ... but pitching in a 12-4 game. Did the Braves get him to be their clubhouse mascot or something?

(Speaking of, this above picture you see is what I got when I went to my AI source and typed "Mascot Mr. Met runs angrily carrying the Braves tomahawk". This is the monstrosity I got. I don't know why AI continually gives mascots teeth, but at least it's not Blooper, who is the vagrant hitchhiker of mascots.)

Nimmo has gone from ice cold to scorching hot. McNeil is starting to bang it. Pete Alonso swung at a fastball three feet outside this week but other than that, his approach has been better than it ever was last year. DJ Stewart hit a couple of key home runs which has dimmed the candles on my prayer circles for JD Martinez's cortisone shot. Francisco Lindor has earned every penny of his contract just for whatever he did to Brett Baty in Puerto Rico, because Baty looks like he's taken a stranglehold on third base for the Mets. Francisco Alvarez is Francisco Alvarez. And if Harrison Bader would kindly stop getting thrown out at second by 15 feet stretching for doubles, then this becomes a dangerous lineup.

as far as the pitching goes, I wasn't sure about Adam Ottavino and Drew Smith coming back to the 7th and 8th spots, but they have proven what I've always said about relievers being unpredictable. They're having solid seasons so far. Smith's stuff and his pitch selection have improved, and Ottavino has done his best to adjust to his problems with runners on base (and part of that adjusting is ... not letting runners on base.) Edwin Diaz is Edwin Diaz. The rest of the bullpen is hanging in admirably. If one of those can become our Darren Oliver (Reed Garrett? Maybe?) Then that'll bode well for the fact that the starters probably won't have much more length than 5 and 2/3's. If Jose Quintana and Sean Manaea can stay effective, if Luis Severino and Adrian Houser can stop scaring the brain matter out of me, and if Kodai Senga's posterior capsule could just go ahead and heal already, that would be nice.

The saying goes: "You can't win pennants in April. But you can sure lose them." The Mets were a bad road trip from losing their shot at the third wild card. But just as Gelbs' truck stop burrito worked it's way through him, the Mets' horrific start worked their way through them and, at least for now, the nausea of that first week has passed. You should still have your Gas X at arm's length.

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