A season is 162 games, so there can be many lows. In April, we were behind by as many as 3 1/2. Then after taking the division lead on May 2nd, they would lose it again by the end of May. Then we were up 3 1/2 again on June 25th, but would lose 4 straight, 6 of 7, and 8 of 10 through July 14th. On July 27th, we were 2 1/2 games back. We’ve lost 3 straight 9 times, including 4 straight 4 times. You get the idea.
We’re a very flawed team. We’re relying on a bullpen with little recent track records of success and health. The starters, before this season, hadn’t inspired much confidence. Remember, our staff ace was taken to arbitration because he wanted $2.4M and the Braves thought he was so unreliable that he was only worth $2.3M. One of our starters was released in Spring Training by the worst team in baseball. And so on and so forth.
This game was a lot of what we’ve seen recently. The starting pitcher pitched well enough to win and somehow avoided issuing a free pass, so that was great, but little else was. Ronald Acuna provided the only run, though Freddie Freeman is starting to get hot again. The bullpen gave up 5 ER in 3 IP. And while some fans are clamoring for the pitching prospects to be included more consistently in the relief game plan and for Sam Freeman and Luke Jackson to stay far from it, it was Freeman who put out the fire and Bryse Wilson reignited it as he got knocked around in the 9th.
One big problem is that the bullpen is hot garbage right now. The bullpen ERA for September is now 5.67, and we are using an average of 4+ relievers per game. 6 guys have exceeded career highs in appearances. And the theory that we were uniquely positioned to provide reinforcements that other teams could not couldn’t have proven to be any more untrue. For two different reasons, the starting pitching prospects have not helped. One has been ineffectiveness; Wilson and Max Fried have pitched very poorly, and Allard probably would be if they used him. One has been lack of use; Kyle Wright has only given up 1 R in 5 IP but has been used once in the last 12 days.
We need a win today. We need to win 2-3 of the remaining 7 against the Phils, and we need to take at least 1 against New York. If we can do that, then we’ll probably be ok. If you had predicted this team to have been .500 for the season, you would have been ridiculed on this website, I assure you. So enjoy that your team has a division lead in late September, because you could be cheering for the Mets.