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 Phillips, Matt 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.
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.
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.
If we’re being honest, this isn’t the greatest Mets lineup even when the team is healthy. It’s full of guys who certainly can all hit the ball out of the ballpark, but it’s also full of players with poor on base percentages. When you lose Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes to injury the problems become even more exacerbated.
Now, the Mets have the pitching to win games no matter who is in the lineup. We saw that in 2015 as the pitching and Curtis Granderson kept the team afloat playing near .500 ball until reinforcements arrived.
In those games the Mets did win, they needed their pitcher’s to be great. At the state the Mets offense is now, the 2017 Mets are back to that point. Yesterday, Jacob deGrom was good.
He was mowing the Nationals down for the first three innings until his wildness caught up to him in the fourth. A Daniel Murphy single was bracketed by walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loading the bases.
The Mets got a bit lucky as the Nationals third base coach sent Murphy on the ensuing RBI single by Matt Wieters.
In the fifth, the Nationals got to deGrom again. Adam Eaton and Trea Turner hit back-to-back one out doubles to make it 2-0. After Harper was just told to go to first base (essentially what the new intentional walk rule is), Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single to make it 3-0.
The Nationals wouldn’t score again in the sixth thanks in large part to Granderson:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 22, 2017
After getting the first two out, deGrom got in trouble again issuing yet another walk, this time to Eaton, and then allowing a single to Turner. At this point, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin to get the Mets out of the jam. Somewhat surprisingly, he did by striking out Harper.
Overall, it was a tough day for deGrom who issued a career high six walks. He was obviously ramped up early getting it up to 98 MPH and recording a lot of strikeouts. The early adrenaline wore off, and deGrom was left throwing 94 MPH and missing his spots. This was an uncharacteristic start for deGrom. His final line was 5.2 innings, eight hits, three runs, three earned, six walks, and 10 strikeouts.
Given the current state of the Mets offense, 3-0 might as well have been 30-0. This game was no different.
For the second time this season, the Mets offense was no-hit through five innings. This time, it was done by Gio Gonzalez. Though the Mets offense looked overmatched and lifeless, they would break through in the sixth.
Michael Conforto didn’t help the narrative he can’t hit left-handed pitching by striking out and going hitless on the day. Where Conforto didn’t come through, a hobbled Asdrubal Cabrera did hitting an RBI single to make it 3-1. That was as close as the Mets would get.
Jay Bruce and Neil Walker had back-to-back strikeouts ending the Mets only rally of the game. The offense then made a struggling Nationals bullpen look like the 1990 Nasty Boys.
Blake Treinen, Enny Romero, and Koda Glover did their best Norm Charlton–Rob Dibble–Randy Myers impersonation to slam the door shut on the 3-1 victory.
With that, the Mets are 8-10 and are in fourth place 4.5 back. They’re having trouble beating the Phillies and can’t even hit a poor Nationals bullpen. It’s still April, so it’s still early, but things do not look good right now.
Game Notes: Cabrera tried to leg out an infield single in the fourth. He was noticeably hobbled, and he came out to take his position right before the first pitch of the fifth inning. For the second day in a row, an injured Yoenis Cespedes informed the team he was too injured to pinch hit. Once again, Travis d’Arnaud was limited to pinch hitting duty. T.J. Rivera got the start at third base over a healthy Reyes. He was 0-3.
When you are 36 years old and playing out of position in center field, fans are going to question whether you are done. They are going to call for the younger player to play over you. They will tend to overlook all that you have done for a team and focus on what best helps the team to win now. Baseball is cruel that way, and baseball is being cruel to Curtis Granderson right now.
Through his first 15 games, Granderson hit just .143/.197/.214 with no homers and four RBI. It is an especially slow start for sure, but it isn’t the first slow start of his career. In fact, using OPS+ as a barometer, April has been Granderson’s second worst month of the season. In his relatively short time with the Mets, we have seen that play out:
- 2014 April: .136/.252/.216
2014 Final: .227/.326/.388
- 2015 April: .231/.362/.321
2015 Final: .259/.364/.457
- 2016 April: .247/.347/.471
2016 Final: .237/.335/.464
With the noted exception of last year, Granderson typically grows stronger as the season progresses. Granderson is aware of it himself telling Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, “I’m not sure if it’s the transition from spring to the beginning of the season. If it’s the timing of the games, more day games to more night games. The weather. The inconsistency of playing [time in spring training]. … I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s a different view [when you’re hitting]. You have fewer things out there in spring training and you have more things during the season.”
No matter what the reason, Granderson has always figured things out. More importantly, Granderson has been there when the Mets needed him most. In 2015, when he was really the only major league caliber bat in the lineup, he helped keep the team afloat. In June of that season, Granderson hit .291/.371/.544 with seven homers and 11 RBI.
In the 2015 World Series, when most of the Mets lineup was struggling, Granderson was trying to will the Mets to victory hitting three home runs in that series. All three of those home runs gave the Mets the lead.
Last season, with the Mets desperately fighting to get back to the postseason, Granderson stepped up. He was moved out of the lead-off spot in the order to the cleanup spot where he would finally provide Yoenis Cespedes the protection in the lineup the team was seeking all season. From the cleanup spot, Granderson hit .321/.440/.605 with six homers and 18 RBI. In September, when the Mets were making their real push to claim a Wild Card spot, Granderson hit .302/.414/.615 with eight homers and 21 RBI.
Simply put, the Mets do not make the postseason in 2015 or 2016 without Granderson. Fortunately, the Mets allowed Granderson to fight through his slumps, especially his April ones, to be the contributor they both knew he could be, and more importantly, become the one the Mets needed. Granderson has a well established track record. More to the point, he has been an important part of the Mets that should not be overlooked . . . especially right now.
Yoenis Cespedes has a hamstring problem, and no one knows when he will be able to return to the lineup. Lucas Duda is on the disabled list as is his primary backup Wilmer Flores is as well. This means Jay Bruce will be playing first base for the foreseen future. It also means regardless of Granderson’s struggles, he will play everyday.
Just like in 2015 and 2016, the Mets need Granderson to step up. Last night, he did just that. Granderson had his best game of the season by far. He was 2-4 with a run, two RBI, a walk, and a home run. His first RBI was a two out RBI single. The second was a game tying solo homer to the second deck. On top of his hitting, Granderson had a nice game in the field including making a sliding catch by the wall.
Once again, Granderson is stepping up when the Mets need him, and based upon his Mets career, we can expect Granderson to continue to improve. Come October, it’s likely the Aptil struggles will be forgetten. It’s likely we will be once again thankful Granderson is a Met.
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.
One of the best things to come out of the past offseason was Major League Baseball shortening the stint on the disabled list from 15 days to 10 day. Presumably, that change made it easier for teams to place their players on the disabled list to allow them to recover. Someone should tell that to the Mets.
Last night, with the Lucas Duda injury and Wilmer Flores infection, Jay Bruce was forced to play first base for the first time since he played three games there in 2014. That also put Juan Lagares in the position of being the team’s lone back-up outfielder and middle infielder. Lagares was initially signed by the Mets as a shortstop, but he has not played the middle infield since he played six innings for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats as a 20 yeard old in 2009. To put it in perspective how long ago that was, back in 2009, Citi Field just opened, and Daniel Murphy was considered a left fielder.
When Cespedes had to leave the game with a hamstring injury after running the bases in the fifth inning, the Mets were in trouble. If the game were to go deep into extra innings, the Mets were likely going to have to consider which infield position other than first could Kevin Plawecki handle. They might have followed through with the plan to put Zack Wheeler at first base like it was contemplated during the 16 inning game. If things got bad enough, the team might have had to lean on Jacob deGrom‘s experience as a collegiate shortstop.
Simply put, this is unacceptable. Year-in and year-out the Mets find themselves in this position, and they are more than willing to play with short benches with players not even available to pinch hit. Worse yet, they ask players to do too much.
Last year, the Mets saw Asdrubal Cabrera deal with a knee injury all season. From the middle of May until the end of July, he was hobbled and struggling. Over that stretch, he hit .232/.285/.436. The Mets finally put him on the disabled list so he could rest his knee. He responded by becoming the 2015 Yoenis Cespedes and willing the Mets to the postseason hitting .345/.406/.635 over the final 41 games of the season.
Speaking of Cespedes, the Mets were also stubborn about putting him on the disabled list. On July 8th, he suffered an injured quad. He would not go on the disabled list, and he would not play in another game until July 17th. When he did play, he was noticeably hobbled. From July 17th to August 3rd, Cespedes hit just .205/.302/.318 in 14 games before the Mets finally put him on the disabled list. When he came back, he hit .259/.335/.490 over the final 38 games of the season.
Then there was Michael Conforto. We are not quite sure when he was injured, but we do know that he received a cortisone shot in June of last year. Clearly something was bothering him as Conforto went from the best hitter on the team in April to a guy who hit just .174/.267/.330 for the rest of the year. Instead of a disabled list stint, the Mets treated him to multiple demotions to Triple-A, where he absolutely raked, and being stuck to the bench for far too long stretches. Perhaps if the Mets put him on the disabled list, his second season would have gone much differently, and the Bruce trade might not have been necessary.
You would think the Mets would have learned from that, but they clearly haven’t as they are already repeating the same mistakes.
While it is not ideal with six of the next nine games coming against the Nationals, the Mets can definitively get away with Bruce at first with an outfield of Conforto-Lagares-Curtis Granderson from left to right. While it does not have the offensive punch you would like, that is a really good defensive outfield. On the infield, the Mets could recall T.J. Rivera, who showed the Mets last year he has a place in the major leagues. The Mets could even get bold by calling up Gavin Cecchini to play second and moving Neil Walker to third. At a minimum, it would get a struggling Jose Reyes out of the lineup. It could also allow the Mets to pick and choose their spots with Reyes to allow him to be an effective pinch hitter or pinch runner in late game situations.
The overriding point is the Mets have talent on the 40 man roster even if Duda and Cespedes went on the disabled list. With the Mets throwing Noah Syndergaard, deGrom, and Matt Harvey, the Mets can still win a fair share of those games to keep the team afloat until Duda and Cespedes are ready to return to the lineup. In fact, the team might be better off because you’d rather have two healthy sluggers mashing all season than two injured players trying to find a way to produce to their normal levels.
That is something that didn’t work last year, and we can’t expect it to work this year. It’s about time the Mets learned how to properly utilize the disabled list and field a team of healthy players.
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.
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.