MIAMI — Already, the speculative whispers outside the organization — from fans, from national and local media, from those with other teams — have grown to a steady murmur: Is Mickey Callaway in danger of getting fired?
If this keeps up, those conversations will be happening inside the organization, too.
The Mets lost to the Marlins, 8-6, on Friday night. They are 20-23 and only treading water during what is supposed to be an easy chunk of their schedule. Jacob deGrom was bad, giving up seven runs (six earned) in five innings to by far the worst-hitting team in baseball. Pete Alonso homered twice and J.D. Davis once, but multiple late rallies weren’t enough.
In the seventh, Robinson Cano jogged, barely, toward first base on a rally-ending double play. Cano, who declined to speak to reporters, said through a team spokesman that he didn’t know there was only one out in the inning because the Marlins Park video board indicated that there were two outs. Callaway said Cano proactively approached him to apologize.
“We fought back the last couple nights, but we got to do a better job of putting ourselves in a position where we don’t have to fight back,” Callaway said. “It’s something that we’re not doing right now.”
It doesn’t help the Mets’ big picture, of course, that many of their best players have underperformed: Cano, Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo, Wilson Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Todd Frazier.
But the Mets can’t fire those players, really. When teams that expect to win don’t, it’s often the manager who turns into the fall guy, deserved or not.
Asked Friday afternoon if Callaway’s job is in danger, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen talked around it — and didn’t exactly offer a vote of confidence.
“Our job is to support Mickey and the coaching staff and support the players and we expect to win,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable for that.”
How does Van Wagenen evaluate the job Callaway has done?
“Mickey has been accountable for what we all want,” Van Wagenen said. “I want to make sure I’m doing the same and I know our players feel the same way. We’ve experienced adversity, we’ve played well at times, and Mickey knows what’s in front of us and we’re looking forward to doing just that in games here over the next couple of weeks.”
About those couple of weeks: The Mets are about halfway through a 13-game stretch in which they play only the Marlins (11-31) and Nationals (18-26). After winning three in a row, the Mets have lost three in a row. They have two more games in Miami, then four at home against Washington and three against the Tigers, another losing team.
Van Wagenen, in discussing the state of the team, referenced this schedule soft spot repeatedly.
“We have high expectations we were very vocal about when the season started,” Van Wagenen said. “We have not lowered our expectations, and we want to hold ourselves accountable to win games. We recognize this is an important part of our schedule, and we anticipate getting on a roll here and trying to make a run at this thing.”
That roll did not start Friday. Miami’s Trevor Richards allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings and DeGrom gave up multiple runs in three straight innings, a stretch capped by Jorge Alfaro’s 456-foot homer to center. He said he lost all feel for his pitches after the second inning.
“I really don’t know,” deGrom said of his inconsistency. “I tried to go inside, it’s down the middle. I tried to go away, it’s down the middle. There’s definitely work to do.”
Compare Friday to deGrom’s first two starts against Miami this year — 14 innings, eight hits, one run (earned), two walks, 22 strikeouts — and it tells you a lot about how things have gone for the Mets lately.
The Marlins, who entered with a team OPS lower than that of the Mets’ pitchers, had totaled six runs in their previous six games.
All in all, not a good night.
Callaway, for his part, said he doesn’t think about his job security.
“All I’m worried about,” he said, “is improving players.”
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