When Will Rafael Montero Ever Pitch?
With the Mets bullpen on fumes from a very short Steven Matz start and Logan Verrett making a spot start in place of an injured Jacob deGrom (our prayers are with him and his family), the Mets recalled Rafael Montero to add a fresh arm to the bullpen mix. The Mets needed an extra arm after the bullpen pitched 7.1 innings on Monday without any contributions from their long man. It was a waste of a move. At this point, it’s clear Montero is in Terry Collins’ doghouse, and Collins won’t use him until he’s burned out all of the other arms on the bullpen.
On Wednesday, Collins controversially pitched Jim Henderson despite him having problems locating his pitches and throwing more pitches he ever had in one game the previous night. Collins then proceeded to use Hansel Robles, who pitched 2.2 innings on Monday. Collins went to four relievers that day to preserve a 2-1 win.
On Friday, the Mets had a four run lead. Collins first turned to Antonio Bastardo to get out of a sixth inning jam. He then have way to Robles for 0.1 of an inning. At that point, the Mets had a four run lead in the eighth inning. Collins turned to Addison Reed to get the last six outs. Reed got five and allowed two runs in the process. Collins decided to let Jeurys Familia pitch for the fourth time in four games. Despite allowing a run, he recorded the save.
At no point in either of these games did Montero so much as warm up.
An argument can be made for not using Montero Wednesday because of how close the game was. The Mets were in the midst of a frustrating losing streak, and Collins wanted his best arms out there to get the win. With that said, there’s no reason why Montero didn’t pitch on Friday. After Bastardo got out of the jam, the Mets had a four run lead. That was the perfect spot for Montero.
Instead, Collins asked both Bastardo and Reed to pitch over an inning. He asked two middle relievers to pitch more than an inning rather than asking the long man in his bullpen to pitch more than an inning. Collins was ready, willing, and able to once again tire out his bullpen rather than putting Montero in a game to preserve a four run lead. At this point, it’s fair to say either Collins doesn’t trust Montero, has him in his doghouse, or both.
It’s strange to think it’s reached this point when Collins has tried to get the most out of Montero.
Last August when things were starting to take off for the Mets, Collins drove to Port St. Lucie to have a conversation with Montero in order to tell him the Mets still needed him. At that time, Montero was dealing with shoulder issues. The Mets insisted there was nothing wrong while Montero felt like it prevented him from pitching. Montero tried to make that comeback, but he would have a setback in a rehab start. His season was over.
In Spring Training, Collins again took time to deliver a special message for Montero. As Tim Rohan of the New York Times reported, Collins told Montero, “Get your act together. We haven’t forgotten about you. We still want you.” Collins gave him the start in the Mets first Spring Training game. Montero allowed the first five guys to reach base. In total, he allowed four runs, four hits, and two walks in one inning of work. Montero would not pitch in another game, and he would be in the first group of Spring Training cuts.
At this point, the Mets need Montero. He’s gotten his act together with some mechanical adjustments in Triple-A. However, it’s too little too late. Collins has either forgotten him or doesn’t want him anymore.