This might have been an important day for the 2022 Mets. I don't think it is overstating the fact. Although the Mets remain in the first place, dropping two games to the Houston Astros with Trevor Williams pitching and Carlos Carrasco at the plate isn't going to change my overall feelings about the team. The 5-3 loss showed some cracks that the Mets need to examine and decide what they will do to fill them.
After leading off his day by walking to Jose Altuve, Carrasco surrendered bullet after bullet in the first inning. Michael Brantley reached the top of the wall to bring back an Altuve home run. Then bombs to Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Yordan Altuve made it 4-0 before Cookie got a hit. It was noticed that Carrasco only hit 91-92 on that gun after hitting 93.3 mph when he came in. This made me nervous that he was not himself. After giving up another homer in the third to Alvarez and pitching to more batters, Carrasco left the game with lower back tightness. It has been a good season for the Mets, with Scherzer coming back sooner than expected.
The Mets are thankfully going through this injury anxiety now, not September, which was something the Mets couldn't do about when it came to Petey and El Duque. All the minor injuries show the importance of a mid-rotation anchor to ensure they don't have guys like David Peterson lugging a heavier load. In 2006, Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez were hurt, and the Mets had John Maine, Oliver Perez and Steve Trachsel as back-up to Tom Glavine.
The Mets have the opportunity to trade for a starter or some bullpen help (which is something they will need to fortify the existing ones, which isn't bad... Yoan Lopez and Tommy Hunter did a great job keeping the Mets in this game after Cookie left), as well as a big bat at DH. This last option is essential as the Mets failed to score in crucial spots where a hit would have tied the game or given them a lead. Eduardo Escobar was the one to score. He did this after Ryne Stanek had reduced the Mets' lead to 5-3. In the 6th, Escobar popped the ball up and left the bases loaded. Rafael Montero struck out with two outs. It's not a shame to lose battles against those two great Astros players, but it's how Escobar has appeared. This slump is not like any other. He is swinging at the pitches in the dirt, looking at his eyes... he presses. Perhaps he needs to take a few days off to breathe and step back.
J.D.'s performances are another reason to give bats a renewed priority. J.D. Davis and, to a lesser degree, Dom Smith are two reasons to provide another bat with a continued emphasis. Recently, Davis has been easy for me to pitch to in big spots. High fastballs and sliders away. It's not fair or reasonable to put too much faith in Dom Smith to pick up any work. The Mets must look at the situation and decide if outside help is the best option. The Mets need to be cautious. There are many holes for a team with their record. They aren't huge holes, and renting large pieces wouldn't be foolish. Billy Taylors can't help but lament Melvin Mora's loss and Jason Isringhausen's loss. These trades were made to provide a temporary fix during playoff seasons. Mora and Isringhausen both had long and successful careers. Is it worth taking the chance on a stopgap that may or may not be successful, such as trading a chip like this, Bret Baty, or Mark Vientos? In the case of Bordick and Taylor, it may or may not work.
Billy Eppler will have a lot of work ahead of him. He's not going to sink the ship by any means. But he will have to balance risk and reward with a farm system he isn't familiar with. Brodie Von Monorail traded Jarred Kellynic, and I think a part was because he wasn't one of his choices, so it didn't matter. Pete Crow Armstrong, a Brodie man, suffered the same fate. The 45 GMs in place after Brodie and Billy probably didn't know who Armstrong was. I'm not being facetious, but you get my point. They didn't like him, so he was more disposable. This group will be more intelligent about this and won't take silly stuff like that into account. In part, the Mets spent money off-season to ensure they didn't leave the farm system empty. That means Eppler won't be able to trade. He will have to do his research and rely on his friends to help him. Eppler was able to see a bit of the road today. He'll be fine, I hope.