Jorge Lopez Was Wrong, But Did Tell the Truth About the Mets

Tension reached a boiling point at Citi Field last night, where Jorge Lopez's meltdown was the latest episode in a brutal month for the Mets.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Jorge López #52 of the New York Mets reacts as Andy Pages #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run on a Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers single during the 10th inning in game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on May 28, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

The worst F******* team in baseball. Whether Jorge Lopez meant for it to come out that way or not, the man was not wrong. The New York Mets are about to cap off a month where they have undoubtedly been the worst team in Major League Baseball.

While it feels like a lifetime ago, the Mets put together a fantastic season back in 2022, where they won 101 games. That is why their collapse last June was so surprising, as the Mets went 7-19, cratering to the point where they became one of the most aggressive sellers at the deadline.

Now here we are, about to enter June again, and the Mets are closing in on an even worst month in 2024. Where they have matched that 7-19 mark through May so far, with two games left to play.

Yesterday marked the latest of a series of calamities at Citi Field for the Metropolitans.

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The Mets were looking to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the game was tied at three runs apiece entering the top of the 8th inning.

The Mets turned to Adam Ottavino, who promptly gave up a home run to Will Smith to lead off the inning. Over the next seven batters, the Mets would allow five more runs on four hits (three of which went for extra-bases) and two walks.

Jorge Lopez relieved Ottavino mid-inning and gave up a two-run shot to Shohei Ohtani.

Facing Freddie Freeman next, Lopez got frustrated when he did not get a strike call on a checked swing, and his complaints to the umpire led to a quick ejection.

On his way off the field, Lopez untucked his jersey and before climbing down the Mets dugout steps, launched his glove into the home crowd in frustration.

It was a moment that perfectly encapsulated the feeling that must be raging within that dugout. Even more so, for a frustrated fan base that has often felt the need to smash their TV watching this team over the past month, or at least throw their remote into a plush couch cushion, this act of exasperation could be understood. Provided some remorse was expressed after the fact.

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Well, when it comes to expressing remorse, Lopez had other ideas.

There has been some debate about what Lopez said, and that he may have been taken out of context due to English being his second language. Whether he was saying he is the worst teammate in MLB, or the Mets are the worst team in MLB, there is plenty of truth in the words he spoke.

Lopez can’t throw a fit on the field and launch his glove into the stands. No matter how bad things get, the Mets are still a professional organization that has to set a line when it comes to the conduct of their players.

If Edwin Diaz launched a glove into the stands, the Mets aren’t cutting bait with him, but when you are a reliever on a one-year, $2 million deal, who has pitched to a 6.23 ERA over your last 15 appearances, you become a pretty easy guy to get thrown under the bus.

Combine the action, with the comments made after the game, and it became an easy decision for the Mets to DFA Lopez. This could have been exactly what Lopez was hoping for though, as this series of events was almost akin to a scene from the 1997 hit movie, Titanic.

In the movie, the main antagonist (played by Billy Zane) picks up a crying child and takes her to the lifeboats as his ticket to leave the sinking Titanic after the crew had instructed to only let women and children on the lifeboats.

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Whether intentional or not, Lopez used his glove and subsequently his mouth to get on a lifeboat and get off the sinking ship that is the New York Mets.

On a day where the Mets opted to put their struggling closer Diaz on the IL with shoulder impingement, they are now down two arms in an already thin bullpen.

Also, Pete Alonso left Wednesday’s game after getting hit on the hand, and while initial x-rays came back clean, the Mets are still not out of the woods from him avoiding an IL stint as they await CT scans.

Things could get worse before they get better for the Mets, which is why Francisco Lindor held a 20-minute player’s only meeting after the loss. After which, Lindor stood in front of the media and conducting an 11-minute masterclass of how you handle the New York media during a crisis.

If you look closely at the video, you can almost see the face of the Mets last captain David Wright, who used to hold similar post-meltdown sessions with the media as the face of plenty of struggling Mets teams.

At a time where not a lot has gone right for the Mets, seeing their $341 million player stand so accountable to the media was certainly a PR win. Especially after the circus created by Lopez.

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Lindor said all the right things about trying to hold guys accountable and create a process that will lead to better results. Considering the fact that the Marlins and Rockies are both sitting at .500 this month, the Mets are due for some positive regression at some point.

Climbing out of the cellar into contention feels like it is out of the cards, but it is still early enough in the season that the Mets can’t throw in the towel. They have two months left before the deadline, where the Mets could become very aggressive sellers once again.

If Lindor and company want to avoid that fate again, the clock is ticking on pulling themselves out of the hole they have created so far.

Why Have the Mets Been So Bad?

Through the month of May, the Mets have been bad at pretty much every facet of the game.

If you look at their pitching staff as whole, the Mets’ 4.72 ERA in May is the worst mark in all of baseball. Now they have gotten poor performances from their rotation, as well as their bullpen, but five blown saves in their seven chances and eight in their last 14 has really stood out during this recent nose-dive in the standings.

Technically the Mets have gotten worse production from their starters (4.84 ERA) compared to their relievers (4.53 ERA), but everyone can share in the blame for what has gone wrong this month.

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On offense, the Mets rank 21st in runs scored, 20th in wRC+, and collectively have the 8th-worst fWAR among all teams with their position players. According to Defensive Runs Saved, the Mets have the worst team defense in baseball.

In their player’s meeting, people could have certainly pointed fingers in any direction and found someone culpable for this poor play.

How Can the Mets Pitch Better?

Objective number one for the Mets is to find some answers in their bullpen with Diaz on the IL and Lopez now off the team. The Mets are desperate for some pitchers who can handle leverage situations at the end of games, and are running out of good options outside of Reed Garrett and even he has been far more pedestrian over his recent string of appearances.

David Stearns has gotten credit for being able to build good bullpens in the past, so he will have to find some answers in the Mets minor league system that can put an end to the bleeding if this team stands any chance of getting back on track.

While they haven’t pitched well this month, the starting rotation seems to be in far better shape moving forward after getting both Tylor Megill and David Peterson off the IL over the past few weeks.

Peterson made his season debut on Wednesday, allowing three runs (two earned) over five innings pitched. In Game 1 of the series vs. the Dodgers, Megill pitched seven scoreless innings for the first time in his career, striking out nine.

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With Megill and Peterson back in place, the Mets feature a pretty solid six-man rotation that also includes top prospect Christian Scott and veterans Luis Severino and Sean Manaea, who have each pitched to a sub 3.50 ERA so far.

Jose Quintana is the one sore spot in this rotation right now. But he is a veteran who could snap back into form at any time and give the Mets a quality start.

When Kodai Senga returns off the IL, the Mets rotation will certainly get stronger, but setbacks in his rehab have put a real question mark on his timetable for return.

In the meantime, the Mets will roll with this new six-man rotation for some time, while also featuring Jose Butto and Joey Lucceshi in Triple-A, who can always return to make some starts if need-be.

With a starting lineup that still includes good players with Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Harrison Bader and J.D. Martinez, the Mets could string together some wins and be much better in June, they just have a huge hole to climb out of first.

If Alonso is Out, What Will the Mets Do?

It sort of feels like we are burying the lead with this, but that is because we still don’t know if Pete Alonso will need a stint on the injured list or not.

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If there is one player who all eyes are going to be on over the next two months, it is Alonso, who is set to be a free agent after the season, and could represent one of the highest-profile former All-Stars who could be moved at the deadline.

Alonso missing time now could put that in jeopardy, but considering his track record as a run producer, as long as Alonso shows himself to be healthy by the end of July, there will be suitors for his services. The Mets just have to decide whether they want to pull the trigger and deal a guy who is beloved by their fan base.

If he were to miss time in the interim, Mark Vientos would likely start in his place at first base. This would allow both Vientos and Brett Baty to get in the starting lineup on a consistent basis, giving the Mets front office time to evaluate their young talent to aide in their decision on Alonso.

Baty has been great defensively at third base this season, but has really struggled with the bat. Vientos spent most of this year in Triple-A, and was recently promoted to platoon with Baty and provide the lineup with a lift offensively.

Early returns have been good with Vientos, but there is real question as to how he would fare as the everyday third baseman from a defensive perspective.

Without a backup middle infielder on the roster, the Mets were heading towards making a decision between the two players soon, but now they could delay that and start both in the same lineup. This would represent a small silver lining to losing a player like Alonso for any period of time.

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With better play from their veterans and youngsters alike, the Mets lineup certainly has enough talent to win games, with or without Alonso. Especially since Francisco Alvarez is set to begin a rehab assignment in Double-A Binghamton later today.

When Alvarez went down with a thumb injury that required surgery in April, the Mets were 11-8. In his absence, the Mets have gone 11-25 over their last 36 games.

Not to say that Alvarez being out is the sole reason for their slide, but when you consider that backup Omar Narvaez has hit .125/.146/.150, with a -14 wRC+ and -0.6 fWAR in 19 games played, the Mets are clearly going to be better when they make that switch on their roster soon.

While you can certainly make the argument that losing Alonso is more significant than Alvarez, the impact that the young catcher has on the pitching staff could swing the case in his favor when it comes to keeping the Mets on track.

If Alonso avoids an IL stint, or just has to endure a brief one, the Mets could find themselves in much better shape in a few weeks when they have their entire starting lineup healthy together for the first time this season.

Are the Mets Going to Be the Worst Team in Baseball in 2024?

If you have watched baseball over the past month, you may be inclined to say yes, the Mets are the worst team MLB has right now. But the talent on the roster suggests that this team is at least better than that.

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They will likely play closer to .500 throughout the rest of this season, and might find themselves finishing this year around the same 75-win mark we saw in 2023.

Only time will tell how much better this team will get, but they simply cannot get any worse than they have been in the month of May.

Maybe all it takes is one gloved launched into the stands for the Mets to snap out their freefall. Or maybe it is just another footnote in a long line of embarrassing moments to come for the 2024 Mets.

All we have to do is tune into the Mets game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 7:10 ET tonight to figure it out which it is going to be.