Considering how the season has progressed, and the ebbs and flows of the season, when the All Star rosters are announced, it should come as no surprise that the Mets will likely have just one representative on the National League roster. In some ways that is quite odd as the Mets do have some strong candidates to be a representative on the All Star Game roster.
The natural choice for the selection has long been Michael Conforto. Conforto jumped out of the gate to start the season, and for much of the season, he was the second best outfielder in the National League. However, he has slumped in the Month of June. His slump has coincided with a back issue, and now, he is on the Disabled List with a bone bruise on his hand. His numbers are still terrific with him hitting .285/.405/.548 with 14 homers and 41 RBI, but the struggles have opened the door for someone else to be considered.
The other Mets player that has been outstanding from the beginning has been Jerry Blevins. No one baseball has made more appearances than Blevins this year. In his 42 appearances, Blevins is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, and a 12.7 K/9. In what has mostly been a horrendous Mets bullpen, Terry Collins has been able to go to him time and again to get the big outs. With his stats, and the fact he’s done it more than any other reliever in all of baseball, he should naturally be an All Star. However, LOOGYs rarely make the roster leaving the door open for someone else.
Fellow bullpen arm, Addison Reed is having another outstanding season for the Mets. Bounced between set-up man and closer, Reed has done everything the Mets have asked him to do. Through it all, Reed has made 40 appearances, more than any other closer in baseball, and he is 0-2 with a 2.59 ERA, 14 saves, a 1.104 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. Few teams have as consistently dominating an arm in the bullpen, and Reed should be awarded with an All Star appearances.
Another outstanding and consistent arm that deserves to be an All Star is Jacob deGrom. For those of us that forget, deGrom was the story of the 2015 All Star Game, and he would have been an All Star last year if he did not step aside for his teammate Bartolo Colon. It’s time they now find time for him. Since working and figuring things out with John Smoltz, deGrom has been the most dominating pitcher in baseball. Over his past four starts, he is 4-0 with a complete game, 0.84 ERA, 0.719 WHIP, and an 8.7 K/9.
More than that, deGrom’s 125 strikeouts are fourth in the National League, and his 10.8 K/9 is the third best. What will likely hold him back is the poor May deGrom had. Overall, the ace is “just” 8-3 with a 3.55 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9. That May will likely open the door for another Mets player to be named an All Star.
That brings us the second most likely selection in Jay Bruce. Right now, Bruce is on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season. The slugger is having a career year hitting .264/.335/.524 with 20 homers and 55 RBI. For what it is worth, those are better numbers than what Bruce put up last year when he was named an All Star.
Overall, with the Mets playing much better of late, the team has much more viable All Star candidates than initially presumed. And that is even before we discuss Curtis Granderson having been the best hitter in the National League in the Month of June and his outstanding stats since May 1st.
At the moment, it appears like Conforto is the likely nominee, and he is well deserving. However, he should be joined by one or two of his teammates on this roster.
Pitchers are built differently. We need not look any further than R.A. Dickey who was born without a UCL. With that in mind, why do teams and pitching coaches implement similar routines for everyone? What works for Nolan Ryan could lead to him being able to pitch a record 27 major league seasons whereas Sandy Koufax couldn’t lift his arm after 12 years in the majors.
For a Mets rotation that has battled both season ending injuries and under-performing, the rotation has received advice from sources outside of the coaching staff to help them improve as pitchers.
Last year, Noah Syndergaard was going through a period of a dead arm where his issues with bone spurs might have been overblown. In a four start stretch, he was 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP. The last start was particularly awful with him lasting just 4.2 inning. The stretch would cause the Mets to hold him out of the AllStar Game.
Looking for answers, Syndergaard looked no further than Bartolo Colon for guidance. The answer was to change how he was throwing bullpens. As Syndergaard said, “I think I am going to take a page out of Bartolo’s playbook, he doesn’t throw bullpens, he takes it really light on his arm where every fifth day he feels as fresh as can be.” (Kevin Kernan, New York Post).
With the new bullpen routine, Syndergaard returned to form. He finished the season going 8-5 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP. He would pitch for the Mets in the Wild Card Game, and he would be great pitching seven brilliant shut out innings.
Like Syndergaard last year, Jacob deGrom was looking for answers. He had consecutive outings where he couldn’t even pitch into the fifth inning. He allowed 15 runs on 18 hits. His respectable 3.23 ERA turned to a worrisome 4.75 ERA. That’s when he began texting with John Smoltz.
The Mets ace came up with the idea to text Smoltz because he had overheard Smoltz talking about throwing two bullpens between starts. The end result was a change in his routine with deGrom saying, “I talked to John Smoltz about it and he said he threw two bullpens for 10 years. It helps me feel comfortable on the mound, keep a feel for my command.”
The routine paid immediate dividends with deGrom throwing the second complete game of his career. He followed that up with two eight inning gems making him the first Mets pitcher since Johan Santana in 2010 to pitch eight plus innings in three consecutive games. In the three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs on 12 hits. He’s lowered his ERA over a full run. He’s back to being Jacob deGrom.
Looking at it, both Syndergaard and deGrom are different pitchers with different issues. Syndergaard found less bullpen sessions helped him whereas deGrom needed more. It makes sense that different routines would work for different pitchers . . . for different people. This should be a guiding principle for pitching coaches and Mets pitchers going forward. It’s not the team’s plan that is best. It’s the plan that fits you individually that is the way to go.
When you have a magical season like the Mets had in 2015, there are a number of players that step forward to have remarkable seasons. For the Mets, one of those seasons came from the unlikeliest of sources in Sean Gilmartin.
With the return of Matt Harvey and the signing of Michael Cuddyer, the Mets were letting the baseball world know 2015 was going to be their season. There was just one small problem. They never could quite get the LOOGY they needed. Jerry Blevins was supposed to have that role, but he broke his pitching arm. Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich would join him on the disabled list. The team traded for Alex Torres, but he was a disaster. That meant the only real lefty they had in the bullpen was Rule 5 pick Gilmartin.
Except, Gilmartin wasn’t a LOOGY. In essence, Gilmartin was a pitcher. In fact, prior to joining the Mets, Gilmarting had spent the entirety of his minor league career with the Braves as a starting pitcher. As a starter, Gilmartin had neutral to almost reverse splits. To that end, he wasn’t the guy you wanted as the LOOGY. Still, Gilmartin knew how to pitch, and when he was given the opportunity, he showed that to the Mets.
It took about a month and a half, but Terry Collins finally figured out Gilmartin’s role. Gilamartin becaume the long man out of the pen. It may not be the most glamorous of bullpen jobs, but it is of vital importance. You need a pitcher who can go out there and keep his team in the game. If there is an injury or a starter that just doesn’t have it, you need the long man to give the team an opportunity to make the comeback. In extra innings, you need the guy who can go out there and reliably soak up two or even three innings and put up zeros. Mostly, you need someone reliable who can save the bullpen.
Gilmartin was exception in that role. During the 2015 season, Gilmartin made 18 multiple inning relief appearances accounting for 37% of his relief appearances. Beginning on May 20th, which was really when he was made the long man, Gilmartin made 16 multiple inning relief appearances over his final 33 relief appearances of the season. Essentially, half the time Gilmartin was used for multiple innings about half the time thereby saving the bullpen. Namely, Gilmartin was saving Jeurys Familia, who Collins used over and over again because he was just about the only guy Collins trusted out there.
In Gilmartin’s multiple inning appearances, he was dominant. When he pitched multiple innings, he pitched 32.2 innings going 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA, and a 0.704 WHIP. Perhaps the key to this was the fact Gilmartin grew stronger as he pitched. He did his best work between pitches 26 – 50 limiting batters to a .161/.235/.194 batting line.
As for a highlight, pick one. There was his first career win. The Mets found themselves in a rare slugfest after Dillon Gee was bounced after 3.2 innings having allowed eight earned. Torres wasn’t much better. Gilmartin was the first pitcher to enter that game to put up multiple scoreless innings. He stabilized the game, and he put the Mets in position to win.
There was the July 19th 18 inning game against the St. Louis Cardinals. At that time, the Mets were so inept offensively, you could load the bases with no outs and start the batter with a 3-0 count, and the Mets still couldn’t score a run. Gilmartin came on in the 14th inning, and he pitched three scoreless to give the Mets a chance to win that game, which they eventually did with two runs in the 18th.
On August 24th, Gilmartin was overshadowed every which was possible. The Mets were off and running afte rthe team obtained Yoenis Cespedes. It was David Wright‘s first game since he came off the Disabled List, and he homered in his first at-bat back with the team. Lost in the shuffle was this was the rare poor start for Jacob deGrom with him being unable to get out of the fourth. Gilmartin came on and pitched 3.1 scoreless to give the Mets a chance to come back from an early 7-2 deficit.
More than that, Gilmartin got his first career hit and run scored. His sixth inning single got yet another rally started. He scored on a Daniel Murphy three run homer, the Mets lead had actually expanded to 12-7.
Ultimately, it was Gilmartin’s August 24th relief appearance that was the essence of what it means to be a long man in the pen. He not only went out there and saved the bullpen by tossing 3.1 innings, but he also gave his team a chance to win. It was a tremendous effort that was overlooked because Wright played in his first game in four months, and the Mets overcame a five run deficit to blow out the Phillies.
Initially, Gilmartin was left off the postseason roster, but after Erik Goeddel‘s struggles in the NLDS, the Mets did the right thing and put Gilmartin back on the roster. He’d make just one appearance pitching 0.2 scoreless in Game Two of the World Series. Part of the shame of that World Series was there were multiple occasions to bring on Gilmartin. Instead his role had gone to Bartolo Colon, who just wasn’t as effective in the role as Gilmartin.
After the 2015 season, the Mets wanted to use Gilmartin as a starter. With a loaded major league rotation, that meant Gilmartin started the year in Vegas. He was doing well there until the Mets started messing with him. With the bullpen not having the effective long man that Gilmartin was in 2015, this meant the team had to call him up to the majors on multiple occasions. This meant Gilmartin would have to fly cross-country, and the Mets would insert him into games despite his not having had full rest. He’d develop a shoulder injury. It may not have been enough to need surgery, but Gilmartin was never the same.
Instead of putting Gilmartin in a position to succeed, the Mets messed around with him until the point they felt his was expendable. For some reason, with this Mets team again needing a Gilmartin in the bullpen, they refused to give him a chance instead going with Josh Smoker and Neil Ramirez and their pair of ERAs over 7.00.
Gilmartin deserved better than this. He was a good pitcher who had a significant impact on a pennant winning team. It disappointing the Mets never again put him in a position to succeed. With that said, getting designated for assignment by the Mets was probably the best thing for his career. He will once again have an opportunity to be a good major league pitcher.
While the Mets have overlooked his importance, and fans have become frustrated with him, there are those that never forgot what he once meant to this team. Personally, I will always be grateful for his 2015 season, and I hope him nothing but success. He’s still a good pitcher, and he should soon remind everyone of that.
Thank you and good luck Sean Gilmartin.
Once Saturday’s game is over, Terry Collins will become the Mets all-time leader in games managed. With this, he will be above Gil Hodges, who may have owned the record himself if not for his sudden and tragic passing. He will surpass Bobby Valentine, who was the first Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive postseasons. Finally, he passes Davey Johnson, who led the Mets to the greatest stretch in team history.
All of the aforementioned managers have had better records then Collins, who owns the Mets mark for most losses as a manger. It leads to the question, why is it Collins lasted longer in New York than either Valentine or Johnson? The answer is a complicated one for a man who has led the Mets over a complicated time period.
Collins took the helm for the Mets after the disastrous Jerry Manuel Era. After bad mouthing his boss, Willie Randolph, he talked his way into the managerial job, and he oversaw his own collapse. Despite that, the Mets decided to retain him as the new team manager as the Mets opened up a new ballpark. In his two full seasons as Mets manager, his teams were 149-173. This was despite having talented rosters with players like David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran.
The Manuel Era was done in by a number of issues. First, the team was not built well for the then cavernous Citi Field. Second, high priced veterans like Luis Castillo and Jason Bay were playing up the standards of being an average major league player, let alone their contracts. Third, the team deal with a number of injuries – some of which were exacerbated by Manuel’s decision making. Mostly, the mix of manager, ballpark, and roster were doomed from the beginning. It was time for new blood across the organization.
This was the stage upon which Collins entered as the Mets manager in 2011. The team was mostly a mix of veterans nearing either the end of their contracts or their careers and some interesting players who could be talented major league players. In the early part of Collin’s tenure, the Mets were teams that overachieved in the first half of the season, and then with trades, injuries, or players coming back to earth, the Mets would fall apart as the season progressed.
During the early part of Collins tenure as Mets manager, no one realistically believed the Mets were going to be contenders. As a result, judging him by wins and losses seemed counter-intuitive. Rather, you want to look at managers like this through the prism of their ability to get the most out of the talent on their roster. Specifically, you want to see them develop some young players.
Things almost came to a head in 2014. The Mets first real prized free agent acquisition of the Sandy Alderson Era, Curtis Granderson, was struggling. The other, Bartolo Colon, was the staff ace, which meant Zack Wheeler was not progressing like the organization would have liked. There were also struggles from Dilson Herrera, Travis d’Arnaud, and others. It was not how the Mets envisioned this season would go, and if not for the Wilpons intervening, it would have been a different manager that led the Mets to the 2015 pennant.
It’s unsure to pinpoint the exact reason Collins survived. The biggest skeptics will pinpoint Collins was due money, and the Wilpons, who were dealing with the Madoff scandal, were loathe to pay two different managers. It’s possible Collins was saved because the Mets were not exactly under-performing. There were also some positive signs for the team.
Lucas Duda not only won the first base job, but he hit 30 home runs. Daniel Murphy was a first time All-Star. Jenrry Mejia showed he was closer material. Wheeler had a strong finish to the season. Jeurys Familia looked like a closer in waiting. Juan Lagares won a Gold Glove. Jacob deGrom was a surprise Rookie of the Year. Matt Harvey had just been the All Star Game starter the previous season, and he was set to return in 2015. R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young Award that allowed the facilitation of the trade to bring over d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. Overall, you could see young pieces who could be part of the Mets’ future. These were players who were cultivated under Collins. It should also be kept in mind Collins created a certain atmosphere in the clubhouse that partially led to Wright signing a contract extension in 2012. Overall, the pieces for a future contender were there, and they were all cultivated under Collins.
There’s another factor that is not often discussed with Collins is the fact he’s a good human being. Time and again with Collins we hear little things he does that mean so much to people. He has reached out to grieving Mets fans to offer his condolences. He’s stopped the team during Spring Training to assemble them to spend some time with sick children. He struck the right chord between honoring Jose Fernandez and trying to keep the Mets team competitive in that three game set. That’s a harder job to do than we all give him credit. Having a man like this around your team and leading young men is always a good thing.
And yet, there are plenty of instances where you look at Collins’ tenure and wonder how he’s lasted this long. His usage of Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, Johan Santana, Jim Henderson, and others have had a negative impact upon their ability to stay healthy. Certainly, it can be argued these pitchers’ arms were ruined by Collins.
There has also been his over-reliance on his veteran players. Despite Collins mantra that you hit you play, it really has only every been applied to young players. It has twice taken a litany of injuries to get T.J. Rivera in the lineup. Collins never would put Michael Conforto back in the lineup last year no matter his raking in Triple-A and his wrist being healthy. Instead, he watched Jay Bruce continue to flail at the plate. This year, we see him keeping Reyes and Granderson in the lineup despite their both hitting under the Mendoza Line.
More to the point, Collins allows the question to be asked over who exactly is in charge. There are always reports Alderson dictates to him what should be done instead of Collins being allowed to manage the team as he wishes. Collins allowed Reyes to pull himself from the last game of the 2011 season to preserve his batting title. One of the lasting images of the 2015 World Series was Harvey telling him not to pull him from the game.
That World Series is certainly one that will haunt the Mets. Collins made a number of questionable moves throughout that series which did not put his team in the best possible position to win. Given how the Mets are struggling now, it does beg the question whether that was this core’s best opportunity to win a World Series. But it’s more than that. We have consistently seen Collins ignore reliever’s workloads and splits when making pitching changes. He will send Wilmer Flores up there to pinch hit against right-handed pitchers even with other players still on the bench. Overall, it is his in-game managing that leaves a lot to be desired.
Despite all of that, Collins is still here. He has survived a lot to get to this point. There was the Madoff scandal. There was a rebuild that took a year or two longer than initially advertised. He has consistently tried to hold a team together that has seen a number of injuries, brutal losses, and disheartening losing streaks. He oversaw the transition from the Mets being a last place team to a team that almost won a World Series.
The Terry Collins’ Era will forever be a complicated one in Mets history. To a certain extent, it does not matter that he is the manager who has managed the most games in Mets history. That is mostly the result of circumstance. Arguably, the circumstances have dictated Collins remain on for as long as he has. Say what you will about the man, but he has always been accountable, never left you questioning his loyalty to the players or fans, and he has had the pulse of his clubhouse. If nothing else, Collins is a leader of men, and as a man, you are hard pressed to find a better human being in baseball.
It does not matter if you believe someone else should have this record. It’s Collins’ now. He deserves everyone’s congratulations for it, and he deserves the respect of Mets fans for his tenure.
In honor of it being May the Fourth, i.e. Star Wars Day, here is a list of Mets players re-imagined as Star Wars characters:
Rey – Michael Conforto
Both were abandoned in the desert despite having great skills. Now, their opportunity has unexpectedly arrived, they are ready to be great like everyone once expected them to be.
Jyn Erso – David Wright
They have both sacrificed everything to be a part of this and to lead everyone to victory. It’s heartbreaking what happened to them. It’s incumbent on everyone to succeed and be victorious to honor their legacy.
Han Solo – Curtis Granderson
They were once great, but now they are older and are barely holding on at this point. As we know, it ends badly for both of them.
Luke Skywalker – Zack Wheeler
We thought both had disappeared and were never to be heard from again. Despite all odds, they have been re-discovered, but they may be here for the end of something (Jedi, Five Aces) than contributing to it.
Snoke – Ray Ramirez
They are both trying to oversee the destruction of everything, and we don’t know why they want to do it.
Jar Jar Binks – Rafael Montero
The question isn’t just why they are still here, the question is why did they exist in the first place.
K-2SO – Matt Harvey
While it may have been the opposite years ago, they are now the ones taking the bullets for everyone. It’s only a matter of time before they break down.
C3PO – Steven Matz
Both are constantly broken down, and we still do not know what is going on with their arms.
Jabba the Hut – Bartolo Colon
Both are massive, and both are now the enemy.
Saw Gerrera – Noah Syndergaard
Literally, no one thought what they were doing or how they were going about things was a good idea. Yet, they did them anyway, and now they are gone leaving others to scramble to do the job we once they were best suited.
Poe Dameron – Seth Lugo
Both played extremely important roles in the beginning of the saga (Poe – new trilogy, Lugo – aces getting injured). We are now just awaiting Lugo to return when he is needed again just like Poe did.
Finn – Jay Bruce
They were both told to do things a certain way, and it just wasn’t working for them. Now, the are in much better situtations, with people who realize who they really are, and they are thriving.
Galen Erso – Sandy Alderson
They were the ones with the grand plan, and they put all the pieces in place. However, they are now watching as things are falling apart all around them. Both need a miracle. Galen got his. We’ll see about Sandy.
Wickett – Wilmer Flores
Both are considered cute and cuddly, but they are warriors that will tear you to shreds . . . especially if you are a left-handed pitcher.
Death Star – Fernando Salas
Both were thought to be completely indestructible, and yet every time we see them they are getting blown up by the opposition.
General Leia Organa – Jose Reyes
They’re both back looking to recapture past glory. Sadly, we don’t think things are going to work out for them like we once thought it would.
Yoda – Yoenis Cespedes
Believe it or not, Cespedes is smaller than everyone, and yet, like Yoda he is the most powerful. Also, with his constant leg issues, he hobbles around like Yoda does.
Maz Kanata – Dan Warthen
Wedge Antilles – Lucas Duda
Time and again, their contributions are overlooked. Wedge took part in blowing up both Death Stars. Duda was the first base man for the pennant winner and one the Mets cannot adequately replace when he’s not on the field. Despite all of that, no one seems to want to give them credit for their contributions.
Obi-Wan Kenobi – Jacob deGrom
Princess Leia said it best when she said, “Help me Jacob deGrom, you’re my only hope.”
May the Force Be with You and Lets Go Mets!
It’s a good thing the Mets won this game because they were sloppy, and they looked like a Little League team. Case in point – look at this “hustle” from Jose Reyes:
Oh this is definitely worse than thinking there are two outs, Jose. pic.twitter.com/zTHCoOIsay
— Rising Apple (@RisingAppleBlog) May 4, 2017
Right there, Reyes turned a routine fly ball off the bat of T.J. Rivera into an inning ending double play.
Reyes had yet another issue in the field. In the third, he helped the Braves get on the board by throwing off line. Instead of an out, Adonis Garcia reached safely. He got some home town scoring with him being awarded a hit on the play.
Reyes wasn’t the only one with gaffes.
It should be noted that as much as his team wasn’t helping him, Jacob deGrom wasn’t helping himself much either.
The aforementioned run allowed in the third was started with deGrom issuing a lead off walk to Dansby Swanson. Still, he should’ve gotten out of the inning unscathed because Garcia should’ve been the third out.
In the fourth, he enduced Jace Peterson to hit into a double play leaving the Braves with a runner on third and two outs. deGrom then walked Swanson again. By the way, Swanson entered the game hitting .158/.214/.232. The two runners would come to score on an Emilio Bonifacio triple.
The Braves got to deGrom again in the fifth. Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp led off with back-to-back singles. deGrom then issued yet another walk, this time to Tyler Flowers, to load the bases. Two runs scored on an ensuing Peterson RBI double. The Braves wouldn’t score another run in the inning, but that wouldn’t prevent deGrom from issuing yet another walk to Swanson.
Once the fifth was over, deGrom was done for the night having thrown 109 pitches. His line was ugly allowing eight hits, five runs, five earned, and five walks, and five strikeouts. It broke deGrom’s stretch of ten strikeout games.
And despite all this, the Mets actually won the game. They won the game because the Braves pitching was that bad.
Right away, the Mets went to work with Michael Conforto hitting a lead-off double. Asdrubal Cabrera and Walker each hit RBI doubles to make it 2-0. As noted above, Walker then ran the Mets out of the inning.
The Mets got to work again in the third. Cabrera reached on a hit by pitch, and Walker walked. Curtis Granderson then hit a huge double to make it 3-1.
It was a huge night for Granderson. After asking for a day off to help him get his swing straight, Granderson was 2-5 with three runs, two doubles, and an RBI.
Reyes and Rene Rivera hit RBI singles to make it 5-1. Again, as noted above, Reyes ran, actually he walked the Mets out of inning.
Fortunately, the Mets wouldn’t run out of the inning in the fifth. After knocking Colon out of game tagging him with five runs on seven hits, the Mets beat up on Josh Collmenter.
Granderson’s second double of the game set up runners in second and third with one out. It should be noted that Glenn Sherlock held up Walker despite it looking like he could score. So far, from what we’ve seen from Sherlock is he is much more cautious than Tim Teufel. After a number of bad sends last year, this is somewhat of a refreshing change.
Despite the hold, Reyes and Walker would score. Reyes scored on a Rene single, and Walker scored on a TJ RBI double. Then, deGrom knocked in both Rivera’s to make it 9-3.
After deGrom struggled through the fifth, he turned it over to the bullpen to preserve the 9-5 lead. Josh Edgin, who has been terrific of late, pitched a scoreless and hitless sixth, which included a strikeout of Freeman. Addison Reed had his first good inning in a while with a scoreless seventh.
Watching the game, Reed was clearly not happy having pitched the seventh even if he was pitching to the Braves 3-4-5 hitters. Reed being upset is certainly understandable because Terry Collins has shown himself to be a paint by numbers manager when using the bullpen. Using Reed in the seventh was the smart move, but it was an uncharacteristic one.
The Mets finally blew things open in the eighth when they finally got to Eric O’Flaherty. The rally SHOCKINGLY started with Conforto getting a hit off the left-handed pitcher. Despite reports to the contrary, he can actually do that.
The Mets then loaded the bases, and it looked like the team wasn’t going to take advantage with a Walker shallow fly out to center, and a Granderson fielder’s choice. That’s when Reyes blew the game open with a bases clearing double. He then scored on a Rene RBI single to make it 13-5.
After a TJ double, Rene scored on a Juan Lagares RBI pinch hit single. Conforto came back up in the inning, and hit a two RBI double up make it 16-5.
Things were going so well, Fernando Salas even pitched a scoreless inning. It wasn’t easy, but it was a scoreless inning, which is important to note when he allowed a run in his previous four appearances.
The Mets bats absolutely came alive and finally destroyed a poor Braves pitching staff. Every starter reached base at least twice. Mostly, they took advantage of their scoring opportunities:
The Mets are 13 for 19 with runners in scoring position tonight. pic.twitter.com/0kKoF8tnU3
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) May 4, 2017
Fact is, with all of the Mets starters struggling or injured, the offense will have to carry the team to some wins. This is an important first step until the pitching figures it out.
Game Notes: Travis d’Arnaud missed the game after his wrist injury blew up again.
With Noah Syndergaard‘s torn lat, it is once again time to revisit the Mets decision to allow Bartolo Colon to depart in free agency. It is a moment that has been revisited on multiple occasions. It was first addressed when the Mets allowed him to go to the Braves without so much as an offer. It was addressed when Steven Matz and Seth Lugo suffered injuries. Its been addressed with every struggle Robert Gsellman has had on this young season. So why not just get it out of the way for good and for all.
The Mets were correct in their decision not to re-sign Bartolo Colon.
For those clamoring for the popular player, do you know what his stats are this season? They’re not good. Through five starts, Colon is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. He’s averaging 5.2 innings per start. The only intradivision team he has handled well was the Mets. Against the Marlins, he pitched four innings allowing six runs on seven hits. Against the Phillies, he allowed four runs on 11 hits. For a Mets team that needs a stabilizing force in the rotation the can eat up innings and get some quality starts, Colon has shown that so far he is not really the answer.
If you want to argue, he certainly is a better pitcher than that, you may have an argument. However, his 77 ERA+ and his 4.40 FIP suggest you don’t have much of an argument. You could say that it’s early, but is it ever early for a 44 year old pitcher?
But this overlooks what was the real issue at the time Colon hit free agency. The Mets could not guarantee him a rotation spot. Last year, Gsellman was 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 169 ERA+, and a 2.63 FIP. Lugo was 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 152 ERA+, and a 4.33 FIP. On top of that, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Matz had successful surgeries and looked to be ready on Opening Day. Furthermore, Zack Wheeler was on track to be ready to be on the Opening Day roster. If everyone is healthy and in peak form, Colon was realistically the seventh or eighth best pitcher on the staff. Simply put, there was no spot for him.
Colon knew that too. That’s why he took the Braves one year $12.5 million deal. He took the deal because the Braves were guaranteeing him a rotation spot that would permit him to chase down Juan Marichal and Dennis Martinez to become the winningest Latin born pitcher in major league history. Colon chose the path with the best contract and the clearest path to the record over returning to the Mets or going to another contender.
This is no shot at him. Last year, Colon took less money and risked getting demoted to the bullpen in order to chase that elusive World Series. He just wasn’t as eager to do that this time. The Mets also weren’t eager to bring him back with their pitching depth.
Instead, the Mets used that $12.5 million this offseason. That money helped the Mets to build a bullpen. Jerry Blevins was signed for $5.5 million. Fernando Salas was signed for $3 million. Addison Reed received a $2.55 million raise, and Jeurys Familia received a $3.325 million raise. As much as the bullpen has struggled to start the season, imagine it right now without Blevins. So overall, it is not as if that $12.5 million wasn’t spent on pitching this offseason. It was. It was just spent on a bullpen that Colon was not willing to pitch in to start the season.
So no, the Mets shouldn’t be second guessed for letting Colon go to the Braves. Rather, the Mets should be questioned as to why the choice for fifth starter is between Rafael Montero or Sean Gilmartin. Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa were traded to the Orioles for cash considerations in separate deals this offseason. Scott Feldman signed with the Reds for $2.3 million. There are a number of pitchers available who could have provided a little extra depth including the player everyone loves to hate, Jon Niese. Say what you want about him, but he’s much better than Montero.
There’s also the matter that the Mets knew this could happen. Once the Mets opened the season with Lugo and Matz hurt, the team’s depth was gone. As reported by Kristie Ackert in the New York Daily News, Sandy Alderson backed off signing a pitcher like Doug Fister because he was willing to wait until late May or June for them to be healthy. Alderson willing took a gamble with the pitching depth, and he lost.
Overall, the Mets aren’t in trouble because they didn’t re-sign Colon. They are in trouble because the team purged the non-Montero options they had in the organization, and they were willing to wait almost two months to have quality major league pitching depth.
With Wednesday’s start, Bartolo Colon faced off against many of his former teammates including his former catcher Travis d’Arnaud and his fellow rotation mate Jacob deGrom. Overall, in Colon’s three years with the Mets, he has made many teammates, and during the course of the season, he will face many of them.
What is interesting about Colon is that he has played with many former Mets before he even put on a Mets uniform. In fact, Colon’s teammates with other teams have ties to the Mets dating back as far as 1984. In total, Colon has played with 71 former or current Mets in a location other than New York. Can you name those players? Good luck!
Kevin Mitchell Dwight Gooden Tony Fernandez Jason Jacome David Segui Paul Byrd Carl Everett Edgardo Alfonzo Carlos Baerga Jeff Tam Masato Yoshii Octavio Dotel Shawon Dunston Shane Halter Orel Hershiser Rich Rodriguez Jerrod Riggan Rick White Matt Lawton Tom Martin Kane Davis Steve Reed Roberto Alomar Mike Bacsik David Weathers Gary Matthews Graeme Lloyd Cliff Floyd Karim Garcia Matt Ginter Ricky Gutierrez Brian Daubach Danny Graves Ramon Castro Darren Oliver Julio Franco Ricky Ledee Jose Valentin Endy Chavez Jon Adkins Sandy Alomar Aaron Sele Scott Schoeneweis Tony Armas Luis Ayala Gustavo Molina Ricardo Rincon Brian Schneider David Justice Fernando Tatis Lance Broadway Alex Cora Francisco Rodriguez Chris Carter Raul Valdes Jason Bay R.A. Dickey Willie Harris D.J. Carrasco Jack Egbert David Aardsma Collin Cowgill Aaron Laffey Carlos Torres Chris Young Buddy Carlyle Eric O’Flaherty Jerry Blevins Curtis Granderson Yoenis Cespedes
Baseball and fandom is a funny thing sometimes. It gives you chances of redemption, but ultimately you are what you are. We would see that tonight with Bruce and Montero in the Mets disappointing 12 inning 3-1 loss to the Braves.
In the fifth inning, it was the guy Mets fans didn’t want to see go in Bartolo Colon against the guy Mets fans didn’t want to see return in Jay Bruce. Colon was by far the most popular of the two. You could even argue Mets fans don’t like Bruce.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 6, 2017
And yet, when Bruce sent a Colon pitch over the right field wall, and the Mets took a 1-0 lead, Mets fans were thrilled.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 6, 2017
The Mets needed that home run too. Colon was dealing. Now, it wasn’t unusual to see Colon have a good game, but it was unusual to see him at the velocity he was sitting at during the game. Unlike his time with the Mets, Colon was sitting in the low 90s, and he got it up to 94 multiple times.
While Colon’s velocity was surprising, Jacob deGrom‘s wasn’t. After offseason surgery, he was back in the upper 90s and hitting 98 on the gun. Watching tonight, deGrom was back both in terms of velocity and results.
On the night, deGrom pitched six brilliant scoreless innings. His final line was 6.0 innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. However, he did not get the win.
After an impressive Opening Day appearance, Hansel Robles struggled tonight. He allowed a hard line drive off the bat of Nick Markakis that Bruce played into a triple. It took Bruce forever to get to that ball.
Two important points about the double. First, it was definitively deep enough to tie the game, but it was a ball a right fielder should catch. Second, Asdrubal Cabrera pulled a Chuck Knoblauch and absolutely deked Phillips as he got to second base.
The hesitation by Phillips was enough to keep him from scoring on a play he should have scored on. It kept the score tied 1-1.
Edgin’s outing was particularly encouraging. He was locating well, and he ended the tenth by striking out Mets killer Freddie Freeman.
After the Mets wasted a one out Bruce hustle double in the tenth, the Mets turned to Rafael Montero in the eleventh.
Things didn’t start well when Montero issued a lead-off walk to Matt Kemp. Mets killer Brandon Phillips followed with a one out single, his 37th consecutive game with a hit in Flushing, putting runners at the corners. Then something interesting happened. Montero bore down.
He got ahead of Garcia, and he kept Garcia off balance eventually inducing him to hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
Montero’s luck ran out in the 12th. He gave up a lead off single, and he loaded the bases with one out. While he got Dansby Swanson to ground out, he allowed Kemp to hit the go-ahead two run double after Freeman was intentionally walked.
It was a three double game for new Met killer Matt Kemp on a team of Mets killers. However, that really killed the Mets was an offense that couldn’t hit a poor Braves bullpen.
Game Notes: Mets starters have yet to allow a run this year. Jose Reyes had struggled to begin the season. He is now 0-9, and he made an error in the eighth inning. Neil Walker is also looking for his first hit. Michael Conforto made his first punch hitting appearance of the year flying out to deep center. In the tenth, Duda was intentionally walked; that is, he was assigned first base.
With Noah Syndergaard slated to go on Monday, this marks the sixth straight year the Mets have had a different Opening Day starter. Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, and Matt Harvey each got a turn, but they never got the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter in a subsequent season. Hopefully with Syndergaard, this year begins a long run of Opening Day starts for a pitcher that is on threshold of being an all time great.
If Syndergaard does that, he will join nine other Mets pitchers who have made multiple Opening Day starts. Can you name them? Good luck!