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Luis Guillorme Mets uncorks a throw from third base to home plate in Philadelphia 2021

Luis Guillorme Mets uncorks a throw from third base to home plate in Philadelphia 2021

Mets fandom is emotional and irrational, so it’s understandable that lots of fans are up in arms and/or panicking after Monday’s Opening Day loss to the Phillies. But they shouldn’t be.

To make this pretty neat and simple before going in for a more detailed look, here’s what happened…

The Mets didn’t score enough runs, and a tenuous 2-0 lead in the eighth inning became a 5-2 deficit because setup man Trevor May had a bad outing and Aaron Loup couldn’t bail him out. It happens.

The poor outcome was also mixed with the decision to lift Jacob deGrom after 77 pitches and the fact that Dominic Smith didn’t play (more on both of those situations below).

That Monday night felt like so much more than one loss is due in part to the extra four-day wait fans had to endure before the first game and to the fact that Mets seasons past have often crashed and burned due to bad bullpens. A little PTSD is normal.

But here’s why Monday’s loss is not a sign of things to come and why fans should not be panicking. It’s a bit absurd that this has to be said after just one game, but here it goes anyway…

The Jacob deGrom decision was sound

When deGrom finished the sixth inning by blowing a 100 mph fastball by Bryce Harper, he had 77 pitches. And it seemed he could pitch the seventh and perhaps even the eighth. But he was replaced by Miguel Castro, who pitched a scoreless seventh.

While the reflex of many fans has been to lambast the decision to pull deGrom and place blame on Luis Rojas, there are two problems with that reflex…

First, Rojas is not making the decisions when it comes to deGrom’s workload and limits. That’s to take nothing away from Rojas. But those types of decisions about Cy Young pitchers with enormous contracts are not made by field managers.

Second, deGrom agreed with the decision to come out of the game. And he was at ease and happy in the dugout after being removed.

Yes, deGrom likely wouldn’t have thrown anyone under the bus had he not agreed. But he came out because of the Mets’ 10-day layoff, the fact that his season debut was delayed four days due to COVID-19 postponements, and because he’s coming back to pitch Saturday on regular rest. The Mets were being careful with the best pitcher in baseball. Would you prefer the alternative?

Trevor May is not a bad reliever

Unless you think Trevor May is going to give up runs every time he pitches and become a bad reliever, his appearance on Monday night can be chalked up as May simply not having it.

After striking out the first batter he faced with his nasty fastball/slider combo, May ran into trouble. And after Aaron Loup was summoned, he hit Bryce Harper and allowed an eight-hopper through the infield off the bat of J.T. Realmuto before the Luis Guillorme/James McCann misplay that cost the Mets the game.

Had May simply pitched well, the Mets almost certainly would’ve won. And the narrative on Tuesday would be about deGrom and the new and improved bullpen.

If this becomes a trend for May, worry. But there’s no indication that will happen, and things will get easier once Seth Lugo returns.

The Mets were understandably rusty

In the first few innings against Matt Moore — who was making his first big league start since 2019 — the Mets looked like a team that hadn’t played in a week.

They were late on fastballs they should’ve been pounding and struck out four times in a row at one point.

In the middle innings, the Mets found their stroke a bit, but they were still off. And that’s to be expected for a team that had its schedule thrown off in such a big way due to unforeseen circumstances.

A bright spot was Jeff McNeil, who roped the ball all over Citizens Bank Park with nothing to show for it. He seems close to a total breakout.

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One thing Mets fans should be miffed about was that Dominic Smith was not in the lineup and Brandon Nimmo hit eighth (with Kevin Pillar leading off and playing center field).

Again, this is not on Rojas. At best, the lineup choices are made collaboratively with the front office.

And the choice to sit Smith and hit Nimmo eighth was curious, at best.

Let’s hope the Mets don’t outsmart themselves again when they make the lineup for Tuesday night.

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