Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets. Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry. However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes. When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.
With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right? Let’s take a look:
Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation. In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.
The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer. Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well. Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.
Things changed at the tail end of 2017. Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become. d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September. As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.
VERDICT: 2018 – if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close
2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez
In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI. He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.
Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.
VERDICT: 2015 – Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw
We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.
For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.
VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one
This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.
Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.
VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy
Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015. After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores. Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half. Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.
Rosario is the future of the Mets. Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate. However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better. He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time. For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.
VERDICT: 2018 – Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high
Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets. Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting. Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup. He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist. Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.
With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets. To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player. This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.
VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.
From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers. They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits. In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well. Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.
The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player. Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder. Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015. Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.
VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important
When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then. Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.
VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then
2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald
Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen. This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year. Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness. One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.
When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins. Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.
VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside
For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015. When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived. Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.
Right now, Callaway looks like a genius. He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth. He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late. His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire. However, the season isn’t even a week old. Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.
Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series
If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation. The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager. Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw. However, in reality, it’s not. That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.
That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager. If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level. If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.
Believe it or not, there are just five pitchers who remain from the Mets 2015 Opening Day roster. Those five pitchers are Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, and of course, Rafael Montero. That’s right, Montero was on the 2015 Opening Day roster, and in case you forgot, he was once again on the Opening Day roster last year.
And you know what? Montero is going to be on the 2018 Mets Opening Day roster as well.
The Mets have given us a clear indication this will happen. Right after the season, the team outrighted pitchers Erik Goeddel and Tyler Pill from the 40 man roster. They claimed Burch Smith in the Rule 5 Draft, and he was immediately sent to the Kansas City Royals for cash. To make room for Major League signings this offseason, the Mets designated Kevin McGowan, Chasen Bradford, and Josh Smoker for assignment.
Put another way, the Mets have had plenty of opportunities to extricate themselves of Montero, and they continuously refuse to do so whether it is out of stubbornness, hope, or really, just plain lunacy. Fact is, while no Mets fans believe in him and his 5.38 ERA, the Mets still believe in him and want him here.
If the Mets truly do want to see their continued investment in Montero pay off for them, then the team is going to have to put him on the 40 man roster because he is out of options. That means Montero gets one more last chance. I’d list what chance number that is, but like most Mets fans, I’ve lost count.
This means, the Mets are going to have to hope Montero’s .376 BABIP last year was largely the result of a truly poor defensive team. They will have to hope his being the second best starter on the team, Jason Vargas included, in not yielding barrels translates to success. (Statcast). They’re also going to have to hope, as noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, he continues to yield the fewest hard hit balls on this pitching staff.
If this does happen, and Montero FINALLY attacks the zone like he has shown in Double-A and below, the Mets may have something. Their patience may finally be rewarded and, frankly, applauded. However, it is much more likely we will see more of the same, which should create heat on Sandy Alderson because he parted with quality pitcher after quality pitcher in order to hold onto Montero.
Regardless of your opinion on Montero and the likelihood of his being successful, he’s going to be on the Opening Day roster. There are bullpen spots open, and Montero is out of options. At this point, we can only hope the stubborn refusal to DFA him will pay off.
On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family. With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.
Jamie Callahan – One day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.
Gavin Cecchini – He made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors. That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.
Yoenis Cespedes – With Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.
Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.
Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.
Jacob deGrom – With him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.
Phillip Evans – After winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.
Jeurys Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad. It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.
Erik Goeddel – No matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.
Ty Kelly – He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.
Juan Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.
Kevin McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.
Rafael Montero – For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.
Tomas Nido – Even with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.
Brandon Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.
Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.
Neil Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him. Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.
Jacob Rhame – He’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.
Rene Rivera – After failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.
Fernando Salas – Despite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.
Paul Sewald – As a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.
Dominic Smith – He finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)
Josh Smoker – After the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.
Noah Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.
Adam Wilk – Because Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.
Zack Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what. We should all be so lucky.
Dan Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.
Mets Fans – Well, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.
When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals. With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:
East – Boston Red Sox
Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)
Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.
RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)
Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.
RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)
Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.
OF Chris Young (2014)
After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.
Central – Cleveland Indians
First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)
Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007. He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.
RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)
Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.
RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)
Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons. Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.
West – Houston Astros
DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)
Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform. Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.
C Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)
Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)
Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team. Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.
Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)
Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark. While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.
Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)
Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick. He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)
Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.
Wild Card – New York Yankees
RHP Luis Cessa
Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
Wild Card – Minnesota Twins
Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)
While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.
RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)
“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse. There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.
RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)
Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability. He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.
East – Washington Nationals
OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)
De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets. He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)
Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.
2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)
Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase. Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant. Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.
LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)
Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season. He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract. Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.
Central – Cubs
Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)
“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.
C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)
Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners. It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.
West – Dodgers
Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)
Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers. Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.
OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)
Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform. He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most. Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series. His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.
3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)
Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible. Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.
Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)
Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.
Wild Card – Diamondbacks
RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)
Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed. While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.
Wild Card – Rockies
Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League. Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.
Well, the good Rafael Montero we had seen become one of the Mets most reliable starters turned back into the Montero of old. In his four innings of work, Montero had allowed seven hits, two walks, and five earned runs.
The Marlins went to work against him right away with a Dee Gordon lead-off double. For a moment, it seemed like Montero would get out of the inning unscathed, but he would allow a two out RBI single to Marcell Ozuna. After a 1-2-3 second and Montero retiring the first two batters of the third, it seemed as if Montero had settled in and was ready to go deep into the game.
That was until a two out walk to Christian Yelich got the rally started. Yelich stole second and scored on Ozuna’s second RBI two out RBI single of the game. For a moment, it seemed as if Jose Reyes could make a play on the ball, but it went right by him. After a Justin Bour two run homer, the Marlins were up 4-0, and it became an easy game for Jose Urena and the Marlins.
The Mets would make things look better than they were. Travis d’Arnaud would hit a pinch hit RBI single in the fifth scoring Kevin Plawecki. Brandon Nimmo would hit a seventh inning homer to pull the Mets to within a manageable 5-2 score. It seemed like the Mets would have a chance with Chris Flexen pitching two scoreless innings in what might have been his best outing in a Mets uniform.
It was all for naught as the Marlins would play Home Run Derby against Erik Goeddel in the eighth. He allowed homers to A.J. Ellis, Miguel Rojas, and Giancarlo Stanton to turn a 5-2 lead into a 9-2 lead. For Stanton, it was his 56th homer of the year. Too bad for Stanton, he no longer has games against the Mets in his chase of Roger Maris.
To that extent, the Mets had maybe one win in what was a putrid sweep at the hands of the Marlins. The Mets will now get a day off, and they will come home for the last home series of the season. For the first time in two years, that does not involve a loss in a postseason series.
Game Notes: Amed Rosario missed his third straight game with a gastroenteritis.
For three and a half innings, the Mets had fight, and they were actually leading the Cubs 1-0. They were in that position for unlikely reasons.
The first is Travis Taijeron, who has struggled mightily since he was called up, delivered his first non-HR RBI as a major leaguer. That rally got started due to a Juan Lagares hustle double to start that inning.
At the time the run was scored, you figured it wasn’t going to be enough for Robert Gsellman who was flirting with disaster only to be bailed out by some good defense and good luck.
In the first, the Cubs had bases loaded and one out. With Willson Contreras having been ruled to have gone out of the baseline to avoid a Jose Reyes tag, Ian Happ grounded into an inning ending double play.
The Mets turned their second double play in the third with Travis d’Arnaud throwing out Ben Zobrist after a Kris Bryant strikeout for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Before you get too excited by d’Arnaud, Zobrist was running at maybe half speed.
Through three Gsellman was well over 60 pitches, and despite him throwing three straight scoreless innings, he was laboring. For those three innings, he bent. In the fourth, he broke.
The Cubs tied the game on a Jose Quintana perfectly placed sacrifice bunt down the first base line. It not only allowed himself to reach safely, but he moved Jason Heyward to second. More than that, Kyle Schwarber scored on the play.
He scored because Dominic Smith somehow got a late break and still tried to get Schwarber at the plate. Many will disagree, but trying to get Schwarber wasn’t a bad play because a better throw gets him.
From there, the Cubs played Home Run Derby blowing the doors off the Mets. The first was a three run homer by Bryant off Gsellman.
By the time the fourth inning was over, the Mets were down 4-1, and Gsellman had thrown 93 pitches. His final line in the loss was 4.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts.
In sum, the Mets would use four relievers to pitch the final four innings. All of them, Milone, Smoker, Jacob Rhame, and Chris Flexen, would pitch an inning and allow a run. They all contributed to the 8-3 loss.
If you’re looking at a positive from this loss, Asdrubal Cabrera was 3-4 with a double. However, the contributions of Reyes and Cabrera don’t mean much in what should be a 90 loss season.
Other than Cabrera, you’re looking at Lagares and Amed Rosario each making terrific plays in the field. Short of that, there’s not much to be enthusiastic about in this loss. That is unless you think d’Arnaud throwing out a base runner and his fifth inning sacrifice fly was a big deal.
Reyes got things started in the first with a double off Reds starter Robert Stephenson. Naturally, Reyes was hitting lead-off because they need to see if he, rather than today’s clean-up hitter Brandon Nimmo, could be the lead-off hitter of the future. Fellow prospect, and third place hitter in the line-up, Cabrera, would boost his chances of being on next year’s team with a sacrifice fly.
After the Mets fell behind 2-1, Reyes and Cabrera showed what this young team is capable of doing by hitting a pair of singles. Reyes then scored when run producer Nimmo came to the plate and singled a ball off of the pitcher to tie the game at two.
From there, the Mets failed because they simply just didn’t have enough players who played with as much fire and passion as Reyes and Cabrera. That was evident by the Mets going 1-11 with RISP and the team leaving eight men on base. That would never happen with a lineup full of Reyeses and Cabreras.
In the third, the Reds took the lead for good on an Amed Rosario miscue. Billy Hamilton found himself on second after a lead-off single and a stolen base. If we’re being honest, there’s just no way Travis d’Arnaud is ever going to throw out Hamilton. Joey Votto then hit a grounder to Rosario. Rather than take the sure out at first, which would have been the second out of the inning, Rosario rushed the play throwing off balance pegging Hamilton in the leg. Hamilton then scurried home.
Certainly, Terry Collins can no longer justify playing Rosario at shortstop when he has both Reyes and Cabrera available to play there. Nope, that error and a .240 batting average needs to be put on the bench so the Mets can win some games.
They weren’t going to win this one with the way deGrom struggled, or at least struggled for him. The Mets ace would allow four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks. While he would take the loss, deGrom would strike out five. With those five strikeouts, he now has 206 on the season, which is a new career high.
After deGrom’s relative struggles, we saw the bullpen struggle as well. Jeurys Familia allowed a homer to Votto. While you hate seeing the Mets give up a crucial homer, it was alright in this instance as Votto hit the home run for a six year old boy undergoing chemotherapy:
Joey Votto will just make your day. pic.twitter.com/dGj8wFzB63
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 31, 2017
It’s a reminder that even with the Mets doing incredibly stupid things, the strife we face across the country, and the flooding in Houston, there are still good things and good people in this world. To that end, Votto saved the day in what was an otherwise typically lousy and wasted Mets performance.
This was one of those days that makes you question why exactly the Mets are sticking with Terry Collins right now?
He also continues to make just poor decisions with his pitching. If you didn’t know any better, you’d expect Collins gets paid by the bullpen move, and he gets paid double for each double switch.
He really pressures his pitching staff. Today, Collins took that to an absurd level.
Even knowing Seth Lugo would be limited to 75 pitches in the second game of the double header, Collins ripped through his bullpen.
Part of that was Tommy Milone only lasting 4.1 innings. The bigger part of that was Collins managing the game like it was Game 7 of the World Series to try to protect a five run lead.
What was really irritating was Collins first ripped through the guys who could give him multiple innings – Hansel Robles, Rafael Montero, and Josh Smoker. The trio combined to pitch one inning with 35 pitches.
With all Collins histrionics, the Mets still blew the 5-0 lead. They got there because Cabrera and Flores hit a pair of homers.
Rosario has 4 homers, 3 of them in the 8th inning or later, 2 to give the Mets a lead in a tie game.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 27, 2017
The Mets would hold onto the 6-5 lead with AJ Ramos getting the sixth out save to preserve the rare Mets Sunday win. Of course, to get the rare win, you needed a play you rarely if ever see.
Murphy ripped a liner above a leaping Cabrera. Travis Taijeron, who had some on in one of the multitude of double switches, overran the ball, and Jackson broke towards home.
Juan Lagares adeptly backup up Taijeron on the play. He then made a strong throw to Cabrera, who in turn, made a strong throw to Travis d’Arnaud. With the tag, the Mets cut down Jackson, and the Mets won the game on your typical 9-8-4-2 put out.
After this game, the question was whether the Mets pitching staff had enough bullets left to pull out a win in the nightcap. The answer was a resounding no.
The Mets had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second game.
Lagares knocked in the first run on an RBI double. He then came home to score on a Brandon Nimmo two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. It was short-lived.
After Lugo went 3.2 innings allowing two runs, Smoker came on, and he kept the Nationals at bay in his 1.1 innings of work.
Then came Robles in his second appearance on the day. After getting a Murphy line out, the Nationals had a runner on first with one out.
Robles continued by walking the first four batters allowing the Nationals to not only tie the game, but also take a lead. On the bright side, Collins double-switched Smith out of the game meaning he was willing to sacrifice development to win this one game.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Erik Goeddel pitched the eighth, and Lind took him deep to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead. The insurance run loomed large with the Mets rallying in the ninth off Sean Doolittle.
d’Arnaud led off with a pinch hit single, and Gavin Cecchini singled to move d’Arnaud to second. With a 0-2 count, Reyes dropped a single right in front of Taylor allowing d’Arnaud to score to pull the Mets within one.
The tomfoolery ended with a Lagares line out to Alejandro De Aza.
Collins did everything he could to win both ends of the double header even if it meant eschewing his main responsibility right now- developing players. He didn’t care what he did to the bullpen. For all that effort, he just had a split to show for it.
Game Notes: Kevin McGowan was activated for the second half double-header as the 26th man. He would not pitch.
Like he has most of his career, Cespedes has failed to hustle this year. While deemed acceptable when things are going well, this becomes an issue for everyone.
When he comes to Gsellman, he basically said as much. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When he was told Sandy Alderson said he needed to pitch better, Gsellman replied he didn’t care.
On the field tonight against a very good Diamondbacks team, they were both very good.
Gsellman was reminiscent of the pitcher we saw last year. He mostly kept the ball out of the air preventing him from being victimized by the long ball. With a much better defense behind him, which somehow included Wilmer Flores making some nice plays at third, Gsellman went deep into the game.
In the odd chance the ball was in the air, the outfield got to those balls. This included Cespedes making not one but two hustle plays in the outfield.
With the defense playing well behind him, and his sinker working, Gsellman arguably had his best start of the year. His final line was 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Even with that terrific outing, he still didn’t get the win because the Mets offense continued to squander their scoring opportunities against Taijuan Walker.
The Mets could bring home Brandon Nimmo after he lead-off the top of the first with a double.
Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith lead off the second with consecutive singles. Amed Rosario struck out. After Kevin Plawecki intentionally walked to load the bases, Gsellman struck out, and Nimmo lined out.
Flores came up in the third with runners at first and second with one out, and he grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
Plawecki’s two out double in the fourth didn’t amount to anything with Gsellman hitting it back to the pitcher.
Plawecki came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs. It would be runners on second and third after Rosario stole second. David Hernandez came on for Rubby De La Rosa, and he got Plawecki to tap it back to him to end the inning.
Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth.
Travis d’Arnaud, who came on for Plawecki in a double switch in the top half of the inning, hit a lead-off double. Nimmo then sacrificed him to third.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto then earned walks to load the bases putting the game in Cespedes’ hands. As noted above, he played this game with a different energy than he has been playing with for most of the season.
Cespedes battled back from 0-2 against Archie Bradley to rip an RBI single past a diving Jake Lamb to tie the game.
It only tied the game because David Peralta nailed Cabrera at the plate. It’s a tough play to pin blame on anyone. With it being so close, it was a good send by Glenn Sherlock. Likely, Cabrera would’ve been safe if his leg was on the ground instead of in the air. You can’t blame Cabrera because that was just tough luck.
In any event, after a Flores foul out, this was now a battle of the bullpens.
The Mets went to Erik Goeddel in a rare second straight day of work to pitch the 10th. In a rare appearance on consecutive days. We saw the reason why he rarely does this.
The homer snapped a Meys bullpen 17.2 streak of not allowing an earned run.
Mets still has a chance in the bottom of the 10th with the heart of the lineup due up against Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney.
Conforto got the inning off on the right foot hitting an opposite field lead-off home run to pull the Meys within 3-2. That’s as close as the Mets got as Rodney set down Cespedes, Flores, and Smith to end the game.
The main thing that really stood out today was the Mets played with a different energy. At this point in the season, it’s all we can reasonably expect. Well that and better situational hitting.
When that happen, we will see a much better brand of baseball much like we saw tonight.
The Mets got to Cessa first with Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes hitting a pair of third inning homers. What was interesting with the Cespedes’ homer was his homer was against one of the two prospects the Mets traded to get him in 2015.
Unfortunately, the Mets bats went completely cold after this leaving Montero and the pen to hold a 2-0 lead. Most of that was due to Chad Green, who pitched 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings, after coming on for a hurting Cessa with one out in the fifth.
For his part, Montero cruised into the fourth. All of his pitches were working, especially his fastball which was clocked in the high 90s. However, he would walk consecutive batters helping load the bases with one out.
Montero got out of the inning without further damage, and he was back on cruise mode. That was until he left one over the plate against Aaron Judge who went opposite field to tie the game in the sixth.
That closed the door on Montero who pitched a fine game. His final line was six innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
Terry Collins went to Hansel Robles, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Then, like Collins always does with Robles, he pushed the envelope with him. It’s all the more puzzling when you consider that not too long ago Robles couldn’t even feel his fingers.
Hicks led off the eighth, and we soon found Robles pointing to the sky.
After the homer, the Yankees had a 3-2 lead, and Collins overreacted like he always does. Collins went into super matchup mode using Jerry Blevins for a batter, and then bringing in Erik Goeddel. Goeddel was greeted with a Sanchez home run.
In fact, you question a bit where the effort level was with some of the Mets players. In the eighth, Asdrubal Cabrera walked on a 3-2 pitch that ricocheted off the umpire. Instead of busting it to first to see if he could get into scoring position with two outs, he took his time. When Cespedes struck out in the next at-bat, the ball would get away from Sanchez, but he couldn’t be bothered to try to go to first.
The Mets blew a winnable game, but there’s a silver lining. The Wilpons got their wish that they didn’t have to pay Jay Bruce to beat them. Instead, they paid Collins and a bullpen to do that.
Game Notes: Granderson’s homer was his 69th in Yankee Stadium since 2010. That trails just Mark Teixeira.