Was It Worth The 13 Innings?

One thing that has become abundantly clear about Yoenis Cespedes in his short time with the Mets is he is prone to leg issues.  It’s really not any fault of his own.  He does all he can do each and every offseason to address it.  After a 2016 season where he dealt with a quad injury, he changed things up, and he went heavy on the Barwis Method.  Unfortuantely, it didn’t prevent him from having any leg issues this season.

It may be hard for Mets fans to admit, but Cespedes is far from invincible.  The player that dominated in August 2015 could go down any minute with a leg issue.  Knowing that, it should be incumbent upon the Mets, who are obviously aware of the issue, to act with precaution with Cespedes.  That goes double when you consider Cespedes could very well be the most important player on this team.

Last year, Cespedes was hobbled by the quad.  The Mets response to his injury was for him to skip the All Star Game.  He did not play in a game for a stretch of 9 games.  He returned to the lineup and hit a very un-Cespedes like .205/.302/.318 in 14 games before the team finally acknowledged he had to go on the disabled list.  Essentially, the Mets messed around trying to get the bare minimum from Cespedes for about a month before they realized the leg injury wasn’t going to get any better, and he wasn’t going to be able to perform to the normal Cespedes standards.

AFTER THAT, you would think the Mets would treat Cespedes’ leg injury different this year.  They saw how it affected the way he played last year.  The disabled list has gone from 15 to 10 games meaning Cespedes could have been available five games sooner this year.  Before Thursday’s game, he was winching while taking batting practice.  Despite this, the Mets ran him out on the field.  Putting it plainly, it was a dumb decision.

We all know what happened from there.  Cespedes hit an opposite field double, and he aggravated his injury approaching second base.  The best hitter on a team struggling offensively had to be helped off the field.  At this point, no one knows when, or even if, he will return.  All of this so Cespedes could play 13 innings after the Mets discovered he had a hamstring injury.

Every game Cespedes is unavailable to play is another game the Mets offense is compromised.  More than any other player, the Mets needed to protect Cespedes, and they didn’t.  What is infuriating is Terry Collins‘ comments after the game, where he said, “He did all the things that were required to get in the lineup.  It just happens. It’s easy to say you should have put him on the DL. Well you know what? Every time you turn around for every little thing, if you keep putting guys on the DL, we can’t run anybody out there.”  (Mike Puma, New York Post).

I’m not sure how a player who winces while swinging the bat during batting practice “did all the things required to get in the lineup.”  At this point, it is fair to question is all that was necessary for Cespedes to get into the lineup was his ability to put on the correct uniform combination for the day.

And yes, when you have injured players, you put them on the disabled list.  Certainly, you protect someone like Cespedes who is vitally important to your team.  We saw it just last year!  When Cespedes has an injury like this to his legs, he’s compromised as a hitter.  You’re not getting Cespedes out there.  It’s an unfortunate truth.  You’d be better off letting him sit 10 games than allowing what happened yesterday to happen.  Because the Mets did this, they got 13 innings out of Cespedes, which in turn might have cost them a couple of months for Cespedes.

Once again, this team has completely botched an injury situation.  This is one everyone.  It’s on Cespedes for not asking out of the lineup.  It’s on Collins for putting him in the lineup.  It’s on Ray Ramirez for being Ray Ramirez.  It’s on Sandy Alderson, who is ultimately the one responsible in these situations.  Because none of these people made the right decision, the Mets are in real trouble now.  And all they got in return for this unnecessary risk was 13 innings.

Trivia Friday – Games Out of the Division

With the injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal CabreraTravis d’Arnaud, Wilmer FloresSeth Lugoand Steven Matz, the Mets have not jumped out of the gate quite like we all expected.  Entering this three game set with the Nationals, the Mets are 5.5 games out in the division.  If they suffer another sweep at the hands of Daniel Murphy and the Nationals, they will fall to 8.5 games out.

And yet, this is not the worst the Mets have ever had it.  In each of the six times they have won the division, they have trailed at some point in the season.  There are multiple occasions where the Mets trailed in the division by double digit games.  Can you name each deficit overcome by the Mets when they have won the division?  Good luck!


Season Is On The Brink

On any given day, any of the following would have been the worst thing to happen to the Mets.  First, there was the announcement Noah Syndergaard needed to have his start skipped with bicep issues that radiate up to his pitching shoulder.  Then Matt Harvey goes out in his place, doesn’t have his typical velocity, and he can’t get out of the fifth inning.  Just when you thought things couldn’t go any worse, Yoenis Cespedes had to be helped off the field in the fourth inning after hitting a lead-off double.

Anything else that happened today didn’t matter because the Mets just might’ve seen their season flash before their eyes.  

It doesn’t matter that a poor decision not to throw home in the second inning seemed to finally wake up Jose Reyes who would subsequently nail two runners at home and hit a home run. It doesn’t matter Neil Walker seemed to wake up offensively. It doesn’t even matter that Jay Bruce continues to hit well. 

What matters is the Mets are faced with the very real prospect of losing Syndergaard and Cespedes for a long time. It also matters that Harvey took a big step back from the pitcher who was gradually getting stronger to start the year. Hopefully, there’s nothing wrong with him. The way things are going with the Mets right now, you shouldn’t have much hope. 

Overall, the offense isn’t hitting, and the pitching is getting further compromised. 

With all the talk about how the Mets fleeced the Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey must’ve smiled with this win. Not only was he able to pitch on a game Syndergaard wasn’t, but Travis d’Arnaud was also 0-2 with a strikeout against him. By the way, Wuilmer Becerra is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to play the field this year. 

Yes, you do that trade 279,684,800,441,574,796 times out of 100, but at least in this game Dickey felt vindicated. He must have felt further vindicated with the Braves leaping the Mets in the standings leaving the Mets in last place. Unless things start to change, it’s hard to argue the Mets won’t stay there for a while. 

Game Notes: Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning and has not allowed a hit to the Mets since his first disastrous outing. The Mets have not had a lead in over 56 innings. They have no lost 10 of their last 11. 

Patrick Mahomes Could Thrive In New York Like His Father Did

Tonight is a jam packed sports night.  For Mets fans, no matter how bad things are, you are turning into the game against the Braves if for no other reason than to see Noah Syndergaard  pitch.  For Rangers fans, it is the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Ottawa Senators and their old friend Derick Brassard.  However, as we all know the first round of the NFL Draft will get the largest share of publicity.  The NFL gets the lion share no matter what it is doing.

The NFL Draft does present someone of an intriguing possibility for Mets fans.  One of the top QB prospects in this draft is Texas Tech Patrick Mahomes.  He has quite the pedigree with him being the godson of former Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins.  Oh, and Patrick Mahomes is the son of former Mets reliever Pat Mahomes.

Unlike his son, Mahomes wasn’t really on anyone’s radar heading into the 1999 season.  Through six major league seasons, he was 21-28 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.627 WHIP.  After a poor 1997 season, where he was only able to pitch in 10 games for the Boston Red Sox, Mahomes found himself pitching for the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japanese Leagues.  In his eight starts and two relief appearances, he was far from impressive going 0-4 with a 5.98 ERA and a 1.510 WHIP.  Still, Mahomes must have done something right in that stint as the Mets signed him to a minor league deal in the offseason.

With Josias Manzanillo struggling to start the year, there was an opening in the Mets bullpen in 1999.  Mahomes was called up, and he took complete advantage of his opportunity.  Mahomes became the long man in the Mets bullpen, and he thrived in that role.  While the long man in the bullpen is an overlooked role on most teams, it was vitally important to that 1999 team.

Al Leiter and Kenny Rogers were the only pitchers who averaged more than six innings pitched, and Rogers didn’t come to the Mets until July.  One of the team’s better starters, Bobby Jones, was injured leading to a revolving door of fifth starters.  Top options in Jason Isringhausen and Octavio Dotel had the talent, but they couldn’t go deep into games.  Overall, the team needed a good long man.  Mahomes was that and more.

During the season, Mahomes would make just 39 appearances, but he would pitch 63.2 innings.  It should be noted Mahomes was partially able to pitch those innings because unlike most relievers Bobby Valentine could trust him at the plate.  During the 1999 season, Mahomes was 5-16 with three doubles and three RBI.  However, we all know Valetine kept going to him because of the results Mahomes got on the mound.

In Mahomes’ 39 appearances, he had a 3.68 ERA and a 1.272 WHIP.  As a result of his terrific pitching, he finished the season with a perfect 8-0 record.  Considering it was the steroids era, those are truly impressive numbers.  Considering where he was just a season ago, they are inspiring.

Mahomes would continue pitching well into the postseason where he had a 2.25 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP in eight innings over four appearances.  Notably, Mahomes pitched four shutout innings in at epic Game 6 of the NLCS which permitted the Mets to get back into the game.  What was once unfathomable when Leiter gave up five innings in the first inning, the Mets took the lead in the seventh inning.   While the Mets did not win that game, they were in that position because Mahomes stepped up big in that spot.  That was a theme for him during the 1999 season.

So to that extent, we know that big game ability is in the Mahomes gene pool.  We also know the ability to play in New York in high pressure situations is as well.  To that end, maybe, just maybe, Patrick Mahomes would be a fine fit with either the New York Giants, as Eli Manning’s successor in waiting, or the New York Jets as the latest franchise quarterback.

The talent is there.  In a recent Peter King MMQB column, Mahomes was compared favorably to Brett Favre.  With talent like that and his background, there should be no doubt Mahomes can thrive in not just the NFL, but also in New York.  His name may not get called tonight, but it will likely get called on Friday.

Whatever the future holds for him, the best of luck to Mahomes.  His father was one of the players that made one of the most enjoyable seasons in Mets history happen.  Hopefully, wherever Mahomes lands, he can provide those fans the same joy his father provided Mets fans.  With any luck, that will be with the Giants.

Gsellman, Mets Needed Another Day Off

Robert Gsellman was initially supposed to be skipped tonight so Noah Syndergaard could pitch. The Mets later announced the announcement was a mistake, and Gsellman would indeed get the start. 

Someone forgot to tell Gsellman. 

In a long first inning, Gsellman did not get a batter out until he faced Dansby Swanson, the eighth batter in the lineup. At that point, the Braves were already up 5-0. 

In that brutal first inning, Gsellman allowed walks to Ender Inciarte (lead-off) and Freddie Freeman. Right-handed batters Brandon PhillipsMatt Kemp, and Tyler Flowers (double) took advantage of Gsellman living on the outside corner by going opposite field for their hits. 

The defense wasn’t much help either. Gsellman pulled Jay Bruce way off the bag on an Adonis Garcia dribbler. Yoenis Cespedes had a chance to nail Freeman at the plate on a bad send by Ron Washington, but Cespedes’ throw was well up the third base line. 

Before any of this, Inciarte and Phillips nearly pulled off a double steal. Travis d’Arnaud‘s throw was late, but he got credited with a caught stealing as Phillips overslid the bag. Had that not happened, the first inning could’ve been much worse. 

Not that it mattered much anyway. When Julio Teheran and his 2.21 ERA against the Mets gets to bat before he pitches, the game is over. This one was. 

Worse yet, it was a sloppy game from the Mets. The team had three errors before they got their first hit. 

The Mets had their chance in the fourth loading the bases with no out. All they got was one run off a Neil Walker sacrifice fly. The rally ended after that with Curtis Granderson and d’Arnaud popping out. 

What is even more maddening during that rally was Terry Collins having Fernando Salas warm up in the pen in case Gsellman’s spot in the lineup came up. Why Collins would warm up his seventh inning guy as opposed to Hansel Robles, who has the ability to eat some innings. 

With d’Arnaud making the last out, Gsellman went back out for the fifth. Three hits, one run, and no outs later, Collins was forced to go to Josh Edgin, who did a terrific job getting out of the jam. 

Don’t worry, after Edgin pitched 1.2 good innings, Collins brought in Salas to help Edgin get out of the two on two out jam. Nothing like taking a relieved on pace for 90+ appearances and having him warm up twice in a game. Even better, Salas stayed on to pitch the seventh. 

Speaking of overworked pitchers, Jerry Blevins pitched as well. He had to bail out Salas who ran into trouble himself allowing three hits and two runs to make it 8-1. This led to the overworked Robles coming in. 

The Mets moved some deck chairs, scoring a run in the seventh, but at 8-2 who cares?

We can get on the Mets offense all we want, and they deserve it. However, Gsellman cannot give up five runs in the first inning. Even if he did, he needs to give the Mets some length. Just a bad loss all around. 

Game Notes: At 8-12, the Mets are four games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2014 season. The Mets have the fewest at-bats with RISP in baseball. Bruce was 2-2 with two walks. 

Bullpen Needed This Rest

One of the ongoing jokes during yesterday’s rain out was that despite the rain out, Terry Collins had Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas warming up in the bullpen in case the game started on time.  As with most jokes, this one did have a twinge of truth to it.

So far this season, the Mets bullpen has been going on an unsustainable rate.  Mike Marshall holds the single season record for appearances by a reliever with his making 106 appearances for the 1974 Dodgers.  The Mets record for appearances is Pedro Feliciano with 92 appearances in 2010.  This was the reason why Gary Cohen dubbed him Perpetual Pedro.  Interesting enough, Felicano’s record is tied for fourth all-time with Marshall, who had 92 appearances for the 1973 Expos.  Right now, the Mets bullpen is set to challenge these records at an alarming rate.

Blevins is on a pace to make 102 appearances this season.  Hansel Robles is on pace to make 94 appearances this season.  Addison Reed and Salas are on pace to make 85 appearances this season.  Josh Smoker is on pace to make 77 appearances this season. Obviously, this would be career highs for each of these pitchers.

If they are to keep up this pace, Blevins would be second all-time for single season appearances by a reliever, and Robles’ 94 appearances would tie the now standing second place position.  Looking over the record list, no one has made more than 74 appearances in a season over the last five years.  The bullpen’s usage is unprecedented in terms of how many appearances these relievers are making.  It is utterly amazing that the current pace of these relievers would put them at the top five appearances made by a reliever in single season over the past five seasons.

When you combine the appearances with the amount of times these pitchers warm up, they are going to be on fumes.  Certainly, we have seen some diminishing returns already from Salas.  The rest of the bullpen may not be too far behind him.  This bullpen needs a rest and the subsequent rain out helped.  However, they need more help.

They may receive some help now that Jeurys Familia has returned from his suspension.  Certainly, he is the reliever Collins’ trusts most, and he will likely be the one Collins over uses next.  More than Familia, the bullpen can use some length from their starting pitching.

Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom are the only relievers averaging at least six innings per start.  Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman are averaging just over five innings per start.  This means every night the bullpen needs to pick up at least 3-4 innings.  With the Mets having already played four extra inning games to start the season, it has been much more than that.

The relative lack of length from the bullpen is understood.  Harvey and deGrom are coming back from season ending surgeries last season.  Wheeler has not pitched since 2014.  Gsellman has not thrown more than 159.2 innings in a season.  Really, you’re only workhorse right now is Syndergaard.

However, sooner or later something is going to have to give.  The starters are going to have to give more length, or Collins is going to have to trust some of the other guys in the bullpen more.  It’s understandable he hasn’t when Josh Edgin is a LOOGY with a 3.68 ERA, and his former long man, Rafael Montero, managed to get worse.  The long story short here is someone has to step up.  Otherwise, the bullpen may not last very long.

 

Reynolds Is Here To Replace One Of The Many Injured Or Under-Performing Players

Betsy Helfand of the Review Journal reports utility player Matt Reynolds has flown to New York presumably to join the Mets. As of this moment, the Mets have not announced a corresponding move. Normally, in these situations, you can surmise what the corresponding move will be. However, given the current state of the Mets, we really have no idea what that move will be.

First and foremost. Yoenis Cespedes has been injured, and he has insisted that he could play today. Before letting him do that, the Mets were supposedly going to really make Cespedes test out that hamstring to make sure he is healthy enough to play. It is possible Cespedes is not healthy enough to play, and as a result, the Mets are going to move him to the disabled list.

If not Cespedes, it’s possible the Mets could move Asdrubal Cabrera to the disabled list. The shortstop has been clearly hobbled and limited. After each play on the field, he noticeably winces, and he takes time to get back to his position. Over the last two games, there have been multiple instances where you question if he could continue playing in the game. Given how he’s played, it’s possible he could be headed to the disabled list.

Then again, this is the time of year Travis d’Arnaud usually heads to the disabled list. On Wednesday, he hit his arm on a bat trying to throw out a base stealer. In every game since, Terry Collins has penciled his name in the lineup only to remove him afterwards when d’Arnaud said he couldn’t throw (insert your own joke here). With him not being able to do more than pinch hit for a solid week, it’s possible the Mets move him to the disabled list.

Then again with the way things are going, it’s possible someone got hurt on an off day. It wouldn’t be the first time in franchise history. You never know with this team.

Maybe the aforementioned players are healthy and ready to go, and the Mets are just moving the deck chairs due to some under-performing players. Although he has received limited opportunities, T.J. Rivera is just 1-10 on the season with no extra base hits or RBI. Maybe the move will be for Kevin Plawecki, who once again looked over powered by major league pitching in the one game he played. Save for Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce, you can really make a case for any one of the Mets players to be sent down or designated for assignment. With that said, no one really believes at this juncture that either Jose Reyes or Curtis Granderson will suffer that indignity yet.

It’s also possible Reynolds is here as a precaution. There is so much wrong with the Mets in terms of injury and under-performance. The Mets may look to see how Cespedes, Cabrera, and d’Arnaud respond to the off-day, and if any one of them can’t go, Reynolds will. At this juncture, we just don’t know.

Ulimately, Reynolds getting called-up to the majors is a microcosm of the 2017 season.  He’s here because we don’t know who can play.  We don’t know who’s too hurt to play, and we don’t know who’s capable of playing at this level.  Sooner or later, this is nonsense is going to have to end.

Asdrubal Cabrera Needs To Be Placed On The Disabled List

To watch Asdrubal Cabrera play for the New York Mets is to respect him.  While he may not have the best range at shorstop, he has shown tremendous instincts, and he is as sure-handed there as anyone in baseball.  While his stats don’t jump off the page at you, he is a gamer.  He practically willed the Mets to the postseason last year by being the best hitter in all of baseball to close out the season.  Mostly, Cabrera is willing to play injured, not just hurt, injured.

We saw it last season with him.  He dealt with a knee injury all last year, and it affected both his range and his offense.  He never complained or asked out of the lineup.  Instead, he went out there and grinded.  Eventually, it became to be too much for him.  That was evident with his struggles at the plate.  From the middle of May until the end of July, he hit a paltry .232/.285/.436.  This forced the Mets to put him on the disabled list to rest his injured knee and whatever else ailed him due to his compensating for the injury.  As we know, he came back a completely different player.  He came back a difference maker.

Right now, Cabrera looks worse than he did at any point last season.  Like the pro he is, he is going out there any playing.  He’s playing because the rest of the team is injured, and the Mets have limited options.  He’s playing because that’s what he does.  Cabrera goes out there and plays everyday trying to help his team win.  Even in his injured state, he’s doing that.  On Saturday, he had the Mets lone RBI.  In the field, he’s still showing he has steady hands.

However, with each and every play, it seems Cabrera takes a little longer to be able to get back to the dugout.  It takes him a little longer to get to his position.  His already limited range has worsened.  He’s gone from being a difference maker to a contributor.  As his leg worsens, he will likely become further limited and may once again put up numbers like he did before he was placed on the Disabled List.

It doesn’t make sense to handle Cabrera the same exact way he was handled last year.  We know he is willing to play through injuries, but we also know he has a limit.  At a certain point, he’s not going to be able to contribute much of anything.  Playing a player up until that point doesn’t help the player, and it doesn’t help the team.  Worse yet, playing injured players creates the chance that the injury could worsen requiring a longer stint on the disabled list.  If the Mets were to lose Cabrera for more than a short Disabled List stint, they would lose one of their better players.

The Mets owe it to Cabrera to let him get healthy and contribute the way he is capable of contributing.  They owe that to the team as well.  It’s time to let Cabrera get healthy because once he is, the Mets are a much better team.

Juan Lagares Should Be More Than This

When a team is riddled with injuries like the Mets have been, what most people focus on is how it negatively impacts the lineup. The converse of that is an injury creates an opportunity for another player. With Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores on the disabled list and Yoenis Cespedes unable to play the field, it forced the Mets to play Jay Bruce at first base and put Juan Lagares in center field. This was Lagares’ opportunity to fight for a bigger role on the Mets.

And there was one there. It’s no secret Curtis Granderson has been struggling to begin the season. Through 18 games, he is hitting just .149/.205/.254 with one homer and six RBI. With the Mets being unable to trade Bruce, Granderson is miscast as a center fielder. His -1 DRS ranks him 16th among players with at least 90 innings in center field this year. His -23.0 UZR/150 ranks 23rd among center fielders with at least 90 innings. Long story short, it has not been a good start to the season for Granderson. With him being 36 years old, there have been more than whispers if he’s not the same player anymore.

While it may be only slightly ajar, the door was open for someone to stake a claim for a spot in the outfield. We saw Michael Conforto do just that. On the season, he is hitting .361/.432/.722 with four homers and eight RBI. He’s also made a series of outstanding defensive plays in left and center field. With Granderson and Jose Reyes‘ struggling, Conforto may just have cemented himself as the team’s lead-off hitter.

Lagares did not make a similar push. While it is inarguable that Lagares is by far the team’s best defensive player, he still does not do enough to play every day. In his 2014 breakout season, Lagares had a 102 OPS+. Given his glove, you could keep a player like Lagares in the lineup everyday with league average bat like his. The problem is he’s regressed every season since. Since that 2014 season, Lagares is merely a .250/.289/.356 hitter with a 77 OPS+. There’s really no amount of defense that can keep a bat like that in the lineup. Certainly, not with a National League team.

Yet, we have seen glimpses of Lagares being a competent hitter. We saw it in 2014. We saw it again in the 2015 postseason. In that postseason, Lagares hit .348/.375/.435 with two doubles and two stolen bases. That may not be his true talent level, but it shows you he’s capable of being at least a decent hitter.

Unfortuantely, he hasn’t to begin the year. So far this season, he is 1-18 with his lone hit being a single to break up Gio Gonzalez‘s no-hitter on Saturday. Again, Lagares seems to be regressing, which means once Cespedes returns, Lagares will once again be limited to being a defensive replacement late in games and getting starts against left-handed pitching. Given the comments made post-game, that will happen on Tuesday.

There was an opportunity for Lagares to be more than that. He had an opportunity to show the Mets he could be an everyday player. As an everyday player, he could live on highlight reels and win additional Gold Gloves. That won’t be happening because rather than take advantage of the opporutnity, Lagares reinforced the notion that he isn’t an everyday player.

At Least The Mets Were Competitive 

When Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam in the first inning with no outs against Zack Wheeler, it seemed like the game was over. The Mets have shown nothing of late to suggest they could score four runs, let alone the five it would take to take the lead. With Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals, the loss appeared to be a near certainty. 

At least the Mets made this one interesting. 

Michael Conforto, who is cementing his spot as this team’s lead-off hitter, hit Scherzer’s second pitch of the game for an opposite field home run:

He also made a nice play in the field:

The Mets would narrow the gap to 4-3 on a Neil Walker third inning two run home run. 

The game remains close because Wheeler was great after the first inning. After the first inning, Wheeler allowed just one hit and issued just two walks. He had a manageable pitch count, and he was able to pitch seven innings throwing just 101 pitches. 

Wheeler’s final line was seven innings, four hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. 

It’s hard to say a guy who gave up a first inning grand slam deserved a better fate, but Wheeler probably did. At a minimum, you could argue that one day the hitters need to bail out a starter. With this offense, that’s wishful thinking. 

Any hopes were dashed when Ryan Zimmerman absolutely crushed a two run homer off Josh Smoker in the eighth inning making it 6-3. That would be the final score. 

The first showdown with the Nationals led to a sweep. Regardless of the Mets health, that’s a bad sign for the 2017 season. 

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera is injured, and he stumbles after each play he makes. He looks more injured than he did last year. Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t catch again, but he pinch hit yet again. Kevin Plawecki got his first start of the year.