A group of Triple-A pitchers and a lineup of mostly Triple-A hitters faced the best team in baseball Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. The results were predictable.
In the first game of a twin bill, the Mets were walloped by the Atlanta Braves, 21-3. Daniel Vogelbach’s three-run homer off right-hander Michael Tonkin put the Mets (52-54) on the board in the bottom of the eighth to prevent a second shutout in as many days. They couldn’t even manage a hit off of shortstop Nicky Lopez, who pitched the ninth.
It was a meaningless game in the grand scheme of the season, but it did cast a harsh spotlight on the club’s lack of organizational depth. The trade deadline was used to address that depth, but it’s clear there is still a long way to go, especially at the upper levels of the system. Other teams in baseball have long questioned the Mets’ ability to scout its own system and this game did little to answer those questions.
Denyi Reyes was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to start the first game. The soft-tossing right-hander was tagged for five earned over 4 2/3 innings. It was an exceptionally inefficient start with Reyes using 109 pitches.
It wasn’t much better after that with right-hander Reed Garrett, a 30-year-old journeyman minor leaguer, getting tagged for six earned runs on four hits and two walks over 2 1/3 innings. Left-hander Josh Walker gave up home runs to Matt Olson and Sean Murphy to make it 13-0 in the eighth. The homegrown lefty took the mound right as it started to rain. By the time Danny Mendick, an infielder, got the final out of the inning in place of Walker, the rain had tapered.
To make matters worse, the Braves (74-41) used right-hander Allan Winans, a former Mets farmhand who was left unprotected during the 2021 Rule 5 Draft. He won his first MLB decision Saturday against the team that drafted him in 2018. Winans (1-0) shut out the Mets for seven innings, limiting a pieced-together lineup to only four hits and two walks while striking out nine.
The five runs allowed by Reyes came on eight hits and four walks. He struck out four and hit one batter.
The Mets were without Brandon Nimmo (left quad contusion) and Francisco Lindor (right side tightness). With outfielder Starling Marte (right groin) on the injured list, the Mets were forced to use reserves. It didn’t go well. Vogelbach, Jeff McNeil and Omar Narváez each went 2-for-4, with Narvaez collecting a double and Vogelbach a home run. Atlanta mostly pitched around Pete Alonso.
The second game is slated for 7:15 p.m.