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The relief pitcher the Mets owned the most

Jeff Shaw was one of the game’s top closers from 1997 to 2001, his 194 saves were fourth-most in the majors behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and Robb Nen. Shaw excelled with the Reds and Dodgers, was a two-time All-Star, and saved 43 games in 2001, his final MLB season.

But against the Mets, he was something else -- very hittable.

Shaw was 0-8 with a 5.80 ERA and 1.43 WHIP against the Mets. Though he had 10 saves, he also blew five save chances, so there was no fear factor when he came in to pitch.

Shaw allowed four runs and seven hits in three innings against the Mets in his first appearance, a start, against them for the Expos in May 1993. That was a harbinger of things to come.

His first defeat wasn’t entirely his fault, though mostly so. On May 4, 1995, Shaw escaped a ninth-inning jam but then loaded the bases in the 10th. Shaw was hooked for lefty Bryan Eversgerd, who yielded a first-pitch pinch-hit grand slam to Todd Hundley.

He’d take another partial-fault loss 11 days later when after allowing the tying hit to Bobby Bonilla in the eighth inning, he exited for Ugueth Urbina, who allowed Edgardo Alfonzo’s game-winning two-run single.

The following season, Shaw was with the Reds but his Metsian struggles carried over across the Canadian border.  That April 23, Chris Jones beat him with a walk-off 444-foot two-run home run in the 10th inning. The 1995 and 1996 seasons were rough for Shaw when it came to the Mets. He allowed 15 earned runs in 14 innings. The 1997 season was better, five appearances, no losses and only one run allowed in 4 1/3 innings pitched.

Had the 1998 Mets made the playoffs (too soon!) one of their big thank yous could have been to Shaw. Yes, he saved five games against them, but he also lost four.

On April 24, he allowed a tying double to Edgardo Alfonzo and a go-ahead ground out to Butch Huskey on an 0-2 pitch in the eighth inning. On August 1, the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning at Shea Stadium. Matt Franco tied the game with a home run and Alfonzo brought home the winning run with a double.

On August 28, the Mets rallied from 4-0 down, tying the game on John Olerud’s three-run homer in the seventh, and then won it when Mike Piazza scored the winning run when Eric Karros’ throw home pulled Charles Johnson off home plate in a bid for an out (it was Piazza’s first game in Dodgers Stadium as an opponent and ended at 2:08am eastern)

The next day, Shaw tried to close the ninth inning with a one-run lead but failed. It was his fifth appearance in six days. With two outs and nobody on, Tony Phillips walked and Alfonzo got Shaw again with a two-out, two-strike go-ahead home run. Alfonzo went 4-for-6 with two doubles and a home run against Shaw that season.

Shaw’s last loss to the Mets came in 2000, a game in which he couldn’t protect a one-run ninth inning lead at Dodgers Stadium. Todd Zeile singled in the tying run at which point Shaw was yanked for Terry Adams, who walked in the go-ahead run and then gave up a grand slam to Todd Pratt for good measure. This was the fifth straight game in which Shaw allowed a run and resulted in his being removed from the closer role for a little less than three weeks.

My biggest takeaway from all of this is that Shaw’s 0-8 wasn’t entirely his fault. He was overused in some spots, the victim of unfortunate circumstances in others. It’s more like he was 0-and-6-and-three-sevenths (or some other odd fractional combo).

Nonetheless, the stats are what the stats are. He’s 0-8 against the Mets for his career. The only pitchers with worse 0-fors are Pete Falcone and Dick Selma, both of whom pitched for the Mets at one point in their career. Each was 0-9.

One more note about Shaw. He retired at age 35 off that 43-save season. He did so not because of injury (or poor performance vs the Mets!), but because he wanted to spend more time with his family. When his 3-year, $15 million contract with the Dodgers expired, he was done.

You probably Shaw vaguely particularly when the Mets play the Brewers and his son, infielder Travis Shaw, long coached by Jeff, comes to bat. The younger Shaw was a Mets-killer in 2017 and 2018, hitting .365 with 12 RBI and a walk-off walk against them. It went better for the Mets in 2019 when he went 1-for-19 against them.

At least for one year, the Mets dominated him like they dominated his father.

2000 Fleer Tradition Baseball Card #285 Jeff Shaw


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