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Mets 5, Marlins 2; rotting alone in the NL East cellar

After getting swept in Thursday’s doubleheader, the Fish all but assured themselves a last-place finish for the first time since 2013.

MLB: Game Two-Miami Marlins at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Bearing some similarities to Game 1, the Marlins jumped out to an early lead against the Mets in Thursday’s nightcap, but couldn’t make it hold up. Michael Conforto’s two-run double put the home team ahead in an eventual 5-2 final.

  • Jeff Brigham: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (79 pitches)
  • Jason Vargas: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (94 pitches)

Miami’s lineup had limited production against each of the four Mets starting pitchers in the series. Amusingly, the only one that they defeated was NL Cy Young frontrunner Jacob deGrom on Tuesday.

The man on the mound for New York in this contest, Jason Vargas, spent the whole 2018 season—when healthy—struggling to suppress home runs. Miguel Rojas must’ve seen the scouting report and took a big swing in a hitter’s count, resulting in this no-doubter to left field in the top of third inning.

Rojas is now tied for fourth on the Fish this season with 11 home runs. Credit to him for adding a new facet to his game, but more than anything, that just speaks to the dearth of power bats in the organization.

So Jeff Brigham had a 2-0 advantage to work with. Though the rookie right-hander didn’t survive the fifth inning and ultimately got charged with a loss, the final line doesn’t tell the whole story. Brigham showed why he was able to perform so well in the high minors.

As the 26-year-old acknowledged postgame, he simply failed to “execute” pitches against the soft underbelly of the Mets lineup. Brigham had both Tomás Nido and Vargas in two-strike counts in the fifth, but missed his spots badly, resulting in a home run and line-drive single, respectively. Don Mattingly decided that he couldn’t be trusted to navigate the meat of their order for a third time.

In a puzzling decision, Jarlin García received the call from the ‘pen, inheriting two baserunners with only one out and the score at 2-1. Dating back to early May, he’s frankly been among the worst pitchers in the majors.

Despite the lefty-on-lefty matchup, Conforto had no trouble picking up this center-cut slider and smoking it into the gap:

To put some numbers behind it, García owns an atrocious 9.51 ERA over his past 17 Marlins appearances (15 as a reliever). He’s allowed more extra-base hits (20) than strikeouts (17). The trust that Mattingly still has in him is inexplicable.

The Miami bullpen as a whole is unable to generate swinging strikes. Drew Rucinski, for example, boasted a solid 20.8 percent strikeout rate in the season’s first half, but has seen that figure plummet to 12.5 percent since returning from a disabled list stint. That pitch-to-contact style burned him in the seventh inning, as the Mets manufactured two insurance runs on soft contact.

Lewis Brinson was the only Marlins player to reach base multiple times. However, that didn’t lead to any legitimate scoring changes in the middle or later innings.

With a weekend series upcoming in Philly, the Fish are 1-5 so far on this penultimate road trip of the season. Friday’s probables are Wei-Yin Chen and Zach Eflin with first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

September 13, 2018 win probability chart (Game 2)
Courtesy of FanGraphs

Attendance: 22,640