It is tough to judge a manager based on just one season in the big leagues. It is even more challenging to evaluate them in a 60-game shortened season, but Luis Rojas has been through it all in his first season with the New York Mets. This team has underachieved drastically in all areas in what was a year of high expectations with a strong lineup and pitching staff.
It’s hard to fault a manager when there are so many injuries to key players. Before the season even started, the Mets lost their second-best pitcher in Noah Syndergaard and had their third-best pitcher, Marcus Stroman, opt-out. They also had Yoenis Cespedes opt-out after his rough start to the season.
Rojas dealt with injuries to nearly his entire starting rotation and three-quarters of his infield in Robinson Cano, Amed Rosario, and Jeff McNeil. To Rojas’ credit, he has done a terrific job of replacing these players with some younger players in Andres Gimenez, Dominic Smith, and Luis Guillorme.
Rojas has yet to admit it, but he has clearly replaced Amed Rosario with Gimenez at shortstop. Smith has become an everyday player, and Guillorme has received a fair share of playing time after making the roster as an extra infielder.
He has also done a good job of staying positive throughout the year. His team went through a plethora of devastating losses in the opening half of the season, and Rojas has done well with getting his team ready the next day. For an inexperienced manager, that is an area he showed he could handle.
Also, Rojas has stuck with Edwin Diaz even after all of his rough outings he had at the beginning of the season. He blew a save in the second game of the year and was replaced as the closer. Diaz was also horrific with coming in the game with base runners on. However, Diaz has responded terrifically in his last seven outings. He has pitched eight innings and allowed no runs and two hits. Diaz has also struck out 17 hitters in that span as Rojas has adjusted to how he uses the former All-Star.
The biggest difficulty this season has been his bullpen management. Whether it came from him or above him, moving Seth Lugo to the rotation handcuffed him in the bullpen. It seems whatever button he chooses in the bullpen is the wrong answer.
Rojas also has been hesitant to let his starters go deep into games. He has gone to his bullpen early in games and went through a time of overusing his top relief pitchers.
Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, and Justin Wilson have all had rough seasons leaving Rojas without many late-game choices. He is going to need to find someone to step up before it gets too late. It may not be a popular or obvious choice, but Rojas needs to find a way to close out games. Diaz is currently holding down the closer role and as mentioned he has been great in September.
Even when Rojas had a healthy roster, he was very reluctant to keep the same lineup. Rojas had no set lineup early in the season, which affects getting players accustomed to their role. He used three different leadoff hitters in the first three games but has not been afraid to bat any hitter in any spot of the lineup.
With Steve Cohen purchasing the Mets, the new owner will certainly play a factor in the managerial position. However, that decision will likely come from either Brodie Van Wagenen or another general manager.
With 11 games to play, New York will need to make a run if they want to make the playoffs. Van Wagenen has said on numerous occasions that missing the playoffs with extra teams would not be acceptable. That run starts on Thursday as the Mets play the final game of their series with the Philadelphia Phillies. New York basically has to win out if they want to make the postseason.
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