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.
As if the Mets weren’t injured enough, the team had a new rash of injuries heading into tonight’s game.
Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda went on the disabled list. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes didn’t, but they couldn’t start. At least d’Arnaud was available to pinch hit. To make matters worse, Asdrubal Cabrera is now dealing with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the lineup, and Jacob deGrom woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
With deGrom waking up with a stiff neck, he missed tonight’s start, and he probably needs someone to start for him tomorrow.
With so many people out of the lineup, the Mets needed someone to step up. The Mets had people stepping up all over the place tonight.
First was Matt Harvey who was the surprise starter. Harvey gave his team a chance to win pitching seven innings. His final line was seven innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Harvey pitched well, but he was tripped up by the long ball. In the first inning, he grooved one to Bryce Harper who launched it for a two run homer. It was a strange site to see when you consider Harper couldn’t get a hit off pre-TOS Harvey. The third run off Harvey came off a Jose Lobaton solo shot in the fifth.
Despite the two homers and the makeshift lineup, Harvey had a no decision.
.@mconforto8 stays 🔥!
2-1 Washington | End-1 pic.twitter.com/RK74WLFI9C
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 21, 2017
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 22, 2017
It was a terrific night for Granderson. Coming into the night, he was hitting .143/.197/.214. Just like he’s done in his entire Mets career, Granderson stepped up when the Mets needed him most going 2-4 with a run, two RBI, one walk, and the home run.
The Mets nearly took the lead in the seventh. Zack Wheeler hit for Harvey and hit a pinch hit double. The Mets would load the bases, and the Nationals would go to Oliver Perez, who got Bruce to line out to end the inning.
Cabrera then pinch hit for Addison Reed and drew a walk. Given his hamstring issues, Collins sent out Kevin Plawecki to pinch run for him. No, it didn’t make sense to do this and force the pitcher’s spot to come up earlier in the lineup, but nothing in this inning made much sense.
In the long run, Blanton worked his way out of the inning. Another side effect of the inning, Collins’ mechanations led to the pitcher’s spot coming up three spots earlier in the lineup. He did that in a game where the Mets had a short bench. Just an inexcusable move.
The Mets certainly could’ve benefitted from better managing as the pitcher’s spot did come up in the bottom of the 11th with the Mets down 4-3.
The Mets were down 4-3 because Jeurys Familia is still rusty. Keep in mind, he only made two relief appearances in the minors before his suspension was over.
After Josh Smoker allowed a lead-off double to Harper, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Familia entered the game. He threw a wild pitch allowing Harper to go to third. It didn’t matter much as he issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to force in a run. Familia settled down after that, but it was too late. The Nationals took the lead.
Shawn Kelley came on in the 11th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. With that, the Mets fought valiantly, but still lost. They’re now under .500, and who knows who will be healthy enough to play tomorrow.
Game Notes: Daniel Murphy‘s 19 game hitting streak came to an end. He was 0-4, and he was intentionally walked in the 11th. Apparently, Reed wore the wrong hat during his appearance.
For a multitude of reasons, the Mets needed this one. They needed to snap the four game losing streak. They need to capitalize on all game against the Phillies if they have any designs on winning the NL East. Overall, they needed to get back on track.
That starts with Robert Gsellman who was very good tonight. He looked more like the pitcher he was at the end of last year. Coincidentally, that pitcher had a 2.37 ERA against the Phillies last year.
For a moment, it appeared the Mets would give Gsellman a first inning lead. Jay Bruce hit a two out double off Vince Velasquez. Despite Glenn Sherlock giving him the stop sign, Yoenis Cespedes tried to score and was nailed at the plate.
With Cespedes not scoring there, the game remained scoreless through the first three until the Phillies would finally get to Gsellman. It started with Gsellman hitting Aaron Altherr, who went from first to third on an Odubel Herrera single. Altherr then scored on a Maikel Franco groundout. Gsellman bore down and got out of the inning without any further damage.
The Phillies touched up Gsellman again in the fifth with Velasquez hitting an RBI single scoring Cameron Rupp who hit a leadoff single.
Duda was hurt when Gsellman threw a ball into the runner. The ball and Cesar Hernandez arrived at the same time. Gsellman was charged with the error, and Duda suffered a hyperextended elbow.
Later that inning, d’Arnaud was injured while trying to throw out Hernandez. On the pitch, Altherr struck out and moved towards home plate. Altherr’s bat hovered over home and d’Arnaud’s hand collided with the bat. d’Arnaud tried to argue with Home Plate Umpire Chad Whitson it was interference, but d’Arnaud’s pleas fell on deaf ears. d’Arnaud would stay on through the sixth, but he would have to leave the game as well.
Just like that the Mets were down both two runs and two players.
In the sixth, the Mets would stage a two out rally after Curtis Granderson‘s GIDP seemingly killed a potential rally.
Asdrubal Cabrera would get the two out rally started with a two out single. Cespedes followed with a walk. Bruce then:
PHI@NYM: Bruce hammers three-run homer to right https://t.co/cUXsNHns95
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) April 20, 2017
It was a huge home run, and it put Gsellman on the long side. Unfortunately, Gsellman would not get that win.
Gsellman started the eighth inning due to game conditions. With Rene Rivera leading off the inning with a single, the Mets having a short bench, and with the right-handed Altherr due to lead-off in the top of the eighth, Terry Collins stuck with Gsellman. Considering how well Gsellman was pitching and how tired the Mets bullpen has been, it was probably the right move.
Despite it being the right move, Altherr hit a bloop double to lead-off the inning. Collins wasted no time, and he went to Jerry Blevins who couldn’t quite get out of the jam.
Herrera grounded out pushing Altherr to third. Then Blevins got a huge strikeout of Franco. Michael Saunders then lined a single that dropped right in front of a sliding Cespedes tying the score at three.
It was a shame Gsellman wouldn’t get the win. He was the first Mets starter to pitch into the eighth. He only allowed six hits, three runs, three earned, and one walk with seven strikeouts.
Gsellman wouldn’t get the win, but Hansel Robles, who came on for Blevins, would.
Cespedes would lead-off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Luis Garcia. Bruce then followed with his second home run of the game:
In what may be his last save attempt as the Mets designated closer with Jeurys Familia eligible to return from suspension tomorrow, Addison Reed recorded his fourth save. He allowed a run due in part to Franco’s one out triple, but Reed would shut the door on the 4-3 win.
Game Notes: Jose Reyes was 0-2 and is now hitting .096. Granderson is 0-11 in his last 11 ABs. Neil Walker still doesn’t have an extra base hit from the left-hand side. Six of Bruce’s 14 homers with the Mets have come against the Phillies.
Last night, the score was tied 2-2 entering the 10th inning. With the heavy bullpen use of his key relievers, Terry Collins was certainly justified in pulling Addison Reed after one inning. However, for some reason, Collins decided the move that best helped the Mets win that game last night was to bring in Rafael Montero. It was the latest incident in what has been a bizarre fascination with him.
There was a time back in 2014 where Montero was regarded as the Mets best pitching prospect. In fact, he was better regarded than Jacob deGrom. Believe it or not, the belief was justifiable. Back then, Montero was a three pitch pitcher that had a fastball he could get into the mid 90s. With that, he had a pretty good change-up and slider. In fact, he still does. However, what set Montero apart back then was he had exceptional control. That control has escaped him, and as a result, he’s not even a shadow of the highly touted prospect.
During his time with the Mets, we have seen Montero get chance after chance after chance. It’s a mixture of his talent, injuries, and just pure stubbornness to move on from him. Last season, Montero was the first player cut from Major League camp in Spring Training. He struggled so much in Triple-A, he was actually demoted to Double-A. However, due to the Mets pitching staff becoming a M*A*S*H* unit, he was called up to the majors. He rewarded their faith by pitching to an 8.05 ERA and a 2.053 WHIP in nine appearances, and somehow, he probably wasn’t even that good.
After that season, he is still somehow with the organization. In the offseason, the Mets had to make multiple 40 man moves to accommodate free agent signings. The Mets would DFA Ty Kelly. In separate deals, they traded both Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa for cash. Each one of these players has either had some measure of major league success, had some value to the team, or had some level of promise.
It’s just not the Mets front office. It’s also Collins. Last night, he had a well rested Sean Gilmartin, and instead he went with Montero. Keep in mind, Gilmartin has had success with the Mets as a long reliever. In 2015, Gilmartin made 50 appearances going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.186 WHIP. That season is better than anything Montero has ever done in the majors.
Arguably, Gilmartin on his worst day is better than what you can expect from Montero. Montero entered the game and did what you expected him to do . . . he lost it. In 0.1 innings, he allowed three hits and four runs. The only out he recorded was on a sacrifice fly hit to the right field wall.
Including last night’s game, Montero has made 30 appearances and 12 starts going 1-7 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP. On the season, Montero is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA and a 3.600 WHIP. His BB/9 is an almost impossibly high 10 .8. It is all part of Montero not being the same pitcher the MEts thought he was. It continues the trens of Montero getting worse each and every season.
The Mets shouldn’t even wait for Jeurys Familia to be available on Thursday to send Montero to Triple-A. Send him on the first plane back. Bring up Paul Sewald for a day if you want an extra bullpen arm. If you want to lengthen what is a short bench, call up Matt Reynolds, which as an aside, may not be a bad move considering the poor defensive options the Mets have at third base. Seriously, the Mets should do anything . . . literally anything because anything is better than having to see Montero pitch in another game.
The only run scored off Wheeler was a first inning Odubel Herrera solo home run. From there, Wheeler was far from perfect and battled himself and the Phillies. The second inning was his only 1-2-3 inning.
In the third, Cesar Hernandez singled to lead-off the inning, and he stole second on a horrendous throw by Travis d’Arnaud. The throw was to Neil Walker who wasn’t even the middle infielder covering on the play. Wheeler then issued a walk to Herrera to put runners on first and second with one out.
Wheeler would depart after five innings and 99 pitches. His final line was five innings, four hits, one run, one earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts.
He’d leave on the long side due to a Mets first inning rally.
Michael Conforto, leadoff man extraordinaire, would earn a leadoff walk off Phillies starter Zach Eflin. Yoenis Cespedes then earned a one out walk of his own. Conforto would then score on a Jay Bruce RBI single.
Cespedes went to third on the play, and he would score on a wild pitch during the Walker at-bat. It’s a good thing Cespedes scored there because the Mets offense would do nothing from there on out.
For the rest of the game, the Mets only amassed three more hits and no one would reach third. This is troubling considering Eflin’s career ERA is 5.54 and the Phillies have a mediocre bullpen.
In the sixth, Hansel Robles struggled issuing a one out walk to Tommy Joseph and hitting Cameron Rupp. At this point, I’m sure Rupp has had enough of Robles. Terry Collins did as well lifting him for Josh Smoker with two outs in the inning.
DFA Reyes PHI@NYM: Galvis reaches on Reyes' dropped ball https://t.co/VdSB1ghzWp
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) April 19, 2017
A hustling Rupp went to third and the slow jogging Galvis would only go to first. It would cost both teams.
Jerry Blevins came on for Salas, and his steak of stranding 11 batters would end. Andres Blanco ripped a double into left field. It would have scored two, but upon replay, it was determined to have hopped the wall for a ground rule double. With that, it was a 2-2 instead of a 3-2 game.
The Reyes error cost the Mets a run, and Galvis’ lack of hustle cost the Phillies. Had Galvis ran, he might’ve been in second. If he was on second, he scores on a ground rule double.
Blevins got out of the jam, and Addison Reed mowed down the Phillies in the ninth.
In the ninth, Reyes drew a two out walk and took off initially on a pitch in the dirt. He stopped half way and was only safe because Hernandez pegged him in the back with a throw. It wound up not mattering as d’Arnaud grounded out to end the inning.
With Reyes’ horrible game and Collins double switched Rafael Montero into the game with Wilmer Flores taking over at third and batting fifth (pitchers spot when Juan Lagares was double switched into the game in the seventh).
For some reason, Collins has been loathed to use Sean Gilmartin no matter how much the bullpen could use some length or how much Montero struggles. It costs the Mets.
Saunders led off the 10th with a single off Montero. Even with him having to freeze on a rope hit in his direction, he went to third on the Joseph single. Then, for some reason, Collins didn’t bring the infield in.
It didn’t really matter. Rupp hit a deep sacrifice fly which would be the only out Montero would record. Galvis would follow with a single putting runners on first and second.
Aaron Altherr then hit a pinch hit RBI single to center. On the play, Lagares made a good throw home, but d’Arnaud couldn’t corral it.
On a night where many Mets struggled, perhaps no one struggled more than d’Arnaud. He was 0-4 with the two miscues. What am I saying? Reyes and Montero were worse.
In any event, Collins was finally forced to go to Gilmartin. Gilmartin pitched reasonably well, but the two inherited runners scored when Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t have enough range to get a ball hit up the middle. While Cabrera is as sure handed as it gets, he really lacks range.
With that, the Mets had a frustrating and downright embarrassing 6-2 loss dropping them to .500. It’s their fourth consecutive loss.
Game Notes: Walker still doesn’t have an extra base hit as a left-handed batter this year. Conforto was 0-4 with the one walk, one run, and two strikeouts. Collins had his excuse not to play him tomorrow.
It was a Matt Harvey start, so you knew the Mets offense was not going to produce any runs. In Sunday’s game, the Mets took it to the next level getting no-hit by Dan Straily and a bunch of exhausted Marlins releivers for 7.2 innings before Neil Walker finally broke up the no-hitter.
With that the Mets once again spoiled a terrific Harvey start. Over six innings, Harvey allowed seven hits, two runs, one earned, and two walks with five strikeouts. Better than that, Harvey’s fastball velocity improved yet again. He was averaging 95 MPH on his fastball, and he was hitting 97 on the gun. He used his slider more, and it is becoming a weapon for him yet again.
The Marlins would get to Harvey immediately with Dee Gordon bunting his way one and then going to third when Harvey threw away a pickoff throw. Gordon then scored on a Christian Yelich groundout. In the sixth, the Marlins would strike again on a Marcell Ozuna RBI double scoring Yelich. Justin Bour tried to score on the double as well, but Yoenis Cespedes relayed to Jose Reyes to nail him at the plate. Between Cespedes’ arm and Travis d’Arnaud‘s ability to get down a tag, it’s amazing that anyone scores on a ball hit to left field.
At that point, the 2-0 lead could have been 10-0 for all that mattered with the Mets bats looking lifeless. Then in the ninth, the Mets bats came to life courtesy of David Phelps. The rally started with a d’Arnaud one out single and continued with a Wilmer Flores‘ two out single. With Giancarlo Stanton making an error trying to field the ground ball, d’Arnaud and Flores were able to move into scoring position.
Asdrubal Cabrera then pinch hit for Hansel Robles, and he tied the game with an RBI single. It was an amazing comeback considering where the Mets were offensively for the first eight innings. It is a pattern we have seen with the Mets not just in this series, but over the course of the season. This has been one of the more positive signs from the early season.
Unfortunately, a seemingly innocuous move to begin the top of the ninth set the stage for another disappointing Mets loss at Marlins Park. The Marlins double-switched J.T. Riddle into the game for Brad Ziegler and had him batting ninth.
Addison Reed came on to pitch in the ninth, and he didn’t have it. He allowed a lead-off single to Ozuna, who was then cut down at the plate when trying to score on a Miguel Rojas RBI double. This time it was the relay of Cespedes to Cabrera to d’Arnaud that got him out. Again, it is amazing that anyone would run on Cespedes in left.
Like the prior two games, the Mets heroics just set them up for heartbreak. Riddle, who was just substituted into the game to start the ninth, hit a walk-off home run to end the game. And with that, the Mets have once again suffered a brutal loss to the Marlins. It’s another walk-off loss at Marlins Park:
Since Marlins Park opened in 2012, the Mets have lost 26 games there. Incredibly, today was the Mets' 11th walk-off loss at Marlins Park.
— Ed Leyro (@Studi_Metsimus) April 16, 2017
Nice to know, the Marlins are once again prepared to be a thorn in the Mets side. The remaining 12 games promise to be not much fun.
Game Notes: Another hitless game for Reyes who is now hitting .087. Over his last five games, Jay Bruce is 6-25 with no extra base hits. Flores got the start with Cabrera getting a day off. Josh Smoker and Robles each pitched a scoreless inning in their first appearances since going to the whip on Thursday’s 16 inning game.
The Marlins had no chance against deGrom who had all his pitches working. His velocity was back as well with him even hitting 99 on the gun. Through seven innings deGrom had only allowed four hits, which includes the two solo home runs, and one walk while striking out 13 batters.
After seven innings, deGrom had thrown 97 pitches, and with a 4-2 lead, he seemed poised to win the game.
You knew Conley wasn’t going to have it when he walked Jose Reyes to lead-off the game. By the way it’s interesting that it only took Reyes to be good in one hand for him to reclaim the lead-off spot on the team. It should be noted after the leadoff walk, he went 0-3. Still, Reyes would score on a Neil Walker double giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
The Mets tied the game in the seventh on a Curtis Granderson RBI triple. The ball tipped off Christian Yelich‘s glove with Yelich trying to emulate a catch Juan Lagares made earlier in the game. Granderson scored on Michael Conforto‘s sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.
When Asdrubal Cabrera hit a solo home run in the eighth, it seemed as if the Mets’ 4-2 lead would be enough to win the game. It wasn’t.
To much consternation, deGrom didn’t start the eighth. However, it was a very defensible position considering deGrom was already at 97 pitches and his having season ending elbow surgery last season. It was also a very defensible position to use Fernando Salas in the eighth inning. That’s the reason the Mets signed him in the offseason. He was to be the eighth inning guy until Jeurys Familia returned from his suspension. At that point, Salas would become the seventh inning guy.
As happens in baseball, Salas didn’t have it. It’s part of being a reliever. Sometimes you just don’t have it. It also happens when you lead the majors in appearances this season. In fact, dating back to September 1, 2016, his first game with the Mets, Salas is the most heavily used reliever in all of baseball. He was bound to struggle sooner rather than later.
What was strange with Salas was how quickly it just happened. He made quick work of Ichiro Suzuki and Dee Gordon to begin the inning. Then he issued a four pitch walk to Miguel Rojas. Believe it or not, this was Salas’ first non-intentional walk as a member of the New York Mets. This set the stage for a matchup against Yelich. Now, it should be noted Jerry Blevins was warming up just for this situation. If you are going to have Blevins warming up, this is the exact situation you bring him into the game. Plain and simple.
Instead, Collins elected to go with Salas. Note, Salas pitching to Yelich wasn’t a bad move per se. Salas is your guy for this spot, and he did make quick work of the first two batters. However, Blevins was already warming in the pen. If he’s up, bring him in, get out of the jam, and give Addison Reed a two run lead. Instead, Collins left in Salas, who gave up the game tying home run to Yelich. He then gave up a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton. To add insult to injury, Collins brought in Blevins to get out Bour to get out of the inning.
And with that, the Mets 4-2 lead became a 5-4 loss. Sure, you can’t completely pin the loss on Collins as he made some defensible moves. That was at least until he left a warm Blevins in the pen. You could argue that doesn’t mean Salas should give up a home run. You’d be right, but you’d also ignore the simple fact that Collins didn’t put his team in the best position to win. Because of that, this loss is on him.
Perhaps knowing that, he was angry and downright rude to the beat reporters after the game. In the video, Collins explained every reason for his decisions, omitting some key facts:
Terry on Salas. Pulled deGrom to be cautious as team wants to be with starters. pic.twitter.com/fPSPYQIvrw
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) April 16, 2017
Look, we all agree the starters should be protected, but that doesn’t mean you ruin the arms and the careers of the relievers. There’s a balance, and the fact that Collins doesn’t see that is downright frightening. It’s probably the reason why we saw him run through damaged relievers like Tim Byrdak and Jim Henderson in his career. Apparently, Collins only protects the arms of those pitchers he deems more valuable.
That’s not right, and it needs to stop. Another thing that needs to stop is the faulty logic. If Collins was that concerned over Blevins, under no means do you have him warming up. You either want him rested, or you want him pitching. If you want him pitching, get him in the game against the big left-handed threat in the lineup. Afraid of Stanton, get Reed up. He’s the most rested reliever in that bullpen. Considering how the long games has wrecked havoc on the bullpen, it actually made sense to go with Reed for a four out save.
Right now, Collins is picking and choosing who to abuse and who not to abuse. It is having a tangible effect on the effectiveness of the relievers. It may soon have an effect on their health. We have seen this before with Collins. Hopefully, we won’t see it again. On that front, no one should be hopeful.
Game Notes: With the left-handed Conley on the mound, Collins went with a Yoenis Cespedes-Lagares-Granderson outfield to start the game. Rene Rivera got the start over Travis d’Arnaud giving d’Arnaud two days off after he caught 16 innings. Mets have now lost four of seven to the Marlins. Last year, the Mets were 12-7 against the Marlins.
Looking at this Mets team since 2015, one thing has been perfectly clear: this team is built on pitching, and it will only go as far as the pitching carries them. In 2015, when their starters were healthy and able to last the season, the Mets were able to win the National League Pennant. In 2016, with three of the arms going down, the Mets were still good enough to enter the postseason as the top Wild Card.
The Mets have been fortunate because the pitching has been cheap. It was not until recently that Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom entered their arbitration years. Noah Syndergaard won’t be arbitration eligible until after this season. It is interesting because it is after this season that things begin to become murky. Harvey and Wheeler are scheduled to become free agents after the 2018 season with deGrom becoming a free agent the season after that.
With the Mets success rising and falling on their pitching, it begs the question why haven’t the Mets selected at least one or two pitchers and come to terms on a contract extension. The common refrain among Mets fans is the team should keep Syndergaard and deGrom and join them in a rotation that one day may also feature Robert Gsellman, Justin Dunn, and Thomas Szapucki. For now, even with the clock ticking, the Mets aren’t making a move.
While it may not make sense to most Mets fans, in a report by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the New York Mets have advised why they have not entered into contract extension discussions with any of their young pitching:
As GM John Ricco explained, “[GM] Sandy [Alderson] has not said let’s be aggressive in that area, and that [injuries] is the biggest reason.”
Fact of the matter is each one of these pitchers have an issue. Harvey, deGrom, Matz, and Wheeler have all had Tommy John surgery. Harvey, deGrom, and Matz all had season ending surgery last year. Even someone healthy like Syndergaard dealt with bone spurs last year. Point is, the Mets pitchers have not been exactly healthy, nor do they inspire confidence they will be healthy going forward. To that end, the Mets relative inactivity has been understandable.
2. Lack of Urgency
As noted in Sherman’s piece, the Mets do not have a pending free agent until the after the 2018 season, and Syndergaard isn’t a free agent until after the 2021 season. Honestly, this reason is a bit disingenuous. With Harvey’s pending free agency many expect this is Harvey’s last season in a Mets uniform as the team does not want to risk him walking in free agency and the team getting nothing in return for him.
3. Pitchers Aren’t Interested In Extensions
According to Ricco, who would know this better than fans, extension discussions are typically begun by the player and his agent. Again, with fans not being in the business, it is hard to challenge him on this. With that said, it is hard to believe the Mets would be willing to let all their pitchers go to free agency without so much as initiating contract disucssions with them. Frankly, it is harder to believe when you consider back in 2012, the Mets pounced on an opportunity to give Jon Niese a five year contract extension.
As noted in Sherman’s piece, when you give a contract extension to one player, it is going to have ripple effects. As Ricco said, “You would have to manage personalities because if you do [an extension] with one, how does it impact the others?”
Now, this is a bit of an overstatement on Ricco’s part. Entering into contract extensions with the pitchers should be part of an overall plan. For example, when Omar Minaya was the General Manager, he was faced with Jose Reyes‘ pending arbitration in 2006, he agreed with a four year pact with his shortstop. Minaya then quickly moved and locked up David Wright to a six year deal. While Alderson is dealing with more than just two players, Minaya’s actions certainly show if the team has a plan an executes it, there should be no issues.
It is something Mets fans don’t want to hear, but it is a reality. After this season, the Mets will have Reyes, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and Fernando Salas as free agents. The team will have to decide on options for Jerry Blevins and Asdrubal Cabrera. In addition, all of the Mets marquee starting pitchers will be in arbitration thereby escalating their salaries. Furthermore, Jeurys Familia will also be owed a lot of money in arbitration if he has another stellar year. Long story short, the Mets will have to spend some money this offseason.
In order to do that, the Mets need to have the money. As Ricco explains, “Once you’ve locked in [on an extension], you do limit flexibility in some ways.”
Now, it is easy to say the Mets can plug in Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith next year, but at this point, it is not known if they will be ready to be 2018 Opening Day starters. Putting forth such a plan would be folly, especially for a team that can still compete for a World Series.
Overall, the Mets concerns over not extending their pitchers have some merit, especially when you consider the injury issues. Still, the longer the Mets wait, the more expensive each of these starting pitchers will become. As they become more expensive, the chances of locking up more than one of them significantly decreases. Sooner or later, the Mets are going to have to take a chance on a couple of these pitchers if they have designs of competing for World Series over the next decade. With Harvey being a free agent after next season, the sooner the Mets begin executing a plan, the better.
Hansel Robles had pitched in three straight games and four out of the last five. In his last appearance, he appeared gassed. As such, even with Robert Gsellman not getting out of the fifth and the game going deeper and deeper into extra innings, Terry Collins did all he could do to keep Robles out of the game.
Rafael Montero, Fernando Salas, Addison Reed, and Josh Smoker all pitched more than an inning. For his part, Smoker threw a career high three innings. With the bench already empty, Jacob deGrom pinch hit for Smoker in the top of the 15th necessitating the pitching change.
With Robles as the last man standing, he was the obvious choice. Despite him looking absolutely gassed, he managed to pitch two scoreless and pick up the win. It almost didn’t happen.
This meant Collins was going to have to use a pitcher in the field. The natural choice was probably deGrom, who was a collegiate shortstop, but that wasn’t Collins’s choice. Instead, Collins decided that Zack Wheeler would’ve entered the game to play first base.
It seemed like the Mets 16 inning win had everything, but apparently it did not. That’s a good thing because Rivera pitching was likely not going to go well. Wheeler at first might’ve gone even worse.
Lucky for everyone involved, Robles not only took the ball, but he earned the win. He gave his team a chance to win. He gave his team a chance to keep catchers from pitching and pitchers from playing first base.
Given the fact that it was his second start since missing two plus years due to Tommy John surgery and the fact that the Mets were down to five starters with the Steven Matz and Seth Lugo injuries, Zack Wheeler‘s start had more importance attached to it than usual.
After a 13 pitch scoreless first inning, things were looking good. He was hitting his spots, and he was hitting 97 on the gun. Then again that’s what happened in his first start. The real test was from the second inning on.
Wheeler passed the test with flying colors. He maintained both his velocity and control. While he was getting the benefit of some excellent pitch framing from Travis d’Arnaud, Wheeler put the ball where d’Arnaud put his mitt.
Wheeler put together a stretch of eleven straight retired. That ended in the sixth when he finally started to struggle with his location and velocity.
There were runners on first and second with one out. Wheeler reached back and got a huge strikeout of Howie Kendrick, but Wheeler lost it all and walked Odubel Herrera. After 5.2 innings, Collins went to Hansel Robles.
Third straight day of pitching or not, Robles made a horrendous pitch to what amounts to the Phillies only real power threat. The first pitch hung down the middle of the plate, and Maikel Franco launched it for a grand slam.
The grand slam put somewhat of a damper on what was a terrific start for Wheeler. His final line was 5.2 innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, one walk, and four strikeouts.
Arguably, it was the best Wheeler has ever looked in a Mets uniform. Certainly, it was his most important start. The effort earned him a well deserved and long awaited win.
The Mets offense was humming once again even if Vince Velasquez was pitching pretty well.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 13, 2017
Like a true lead-off hitter and table setter, Conforto was in the middle of the next rally.
The fifth inning started with d’Arnaud getting hit by a pitch, and like the smart player he is waiving off Ray Ramirez:
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) April 13, 2017
Wheeler tried to bunt him over, but the Phillies walked him instead. Velasquez then walked Conforto to load the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera, the same player who had an 0-32 streak with RISP last year, came to the plate.
Cabrera delivered with a two RBI single making him 5-5 with RISP to begin the season. Conforto then scored on a Cespedes sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. As noted above, the Mets needed all of those runs.
Fortunately, the rest of the Mets bullpen locked the game down. Jerry Blevins, Fernando Salas, and Addison Reed combined to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings to preserve the 2.2 innings, the 5-4 win, and the series sweep.
The Mets certainly got healthy in Philadelphia, and they have momentum as they take their rejuvenated talents to South Beach.