Jacob deGrom

I Still Have Hope . . . Sandy Shouldn’t

After a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, fans could allow themselves hope for the 2017 season again.  Yes, the Giants are a dreadful team, but there was a lot to like about the Mets in that series.  If you dig deeper, there is still things to like about this Mets team.

Jacob deGrom is in a stretch where he has gone at least eight innings in three consecutive starts.  This could be the best stretch of his career, which is certainly saying something.

Rafael Montero has now had three consecutive strong outings allowing just two earned runs over his last 14.1 inning pitched. In this stretch, he not only finally looks like a major league pitcher, he looks like a good major league pitcher.

Curtis Granderson has been the best hitting National League outfielder in the month of June (204 wRC+), and he’s been hitting .297/.408/.595 with 13 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 23 RBI since May 1st.

Jay Bruce has been resurgent hitting .315/.358/.629 with four doubles, eight homers, and 17 RBI.  He’s on pace for his first 40 home run season and just his second 100 RBI season.

While acting unprofessional about the switch to second base in the clubhouse, Asdrubal Cabrera has been nothing but professional on the field going 7-14 in the series and playing a very good second base. 

Lucas Duda is flat out raking hitting .375/.474/.813 over the past week, and as we know when Duda gets hot like this, he can carry the team for a long stretch.  Just ask the 2015 Nationals.

Lost in all of that is Yoenis Cespedes being Cespedes, Addison Reed being a dominant closer, and Seth Lugo stabilizing the rotation.  There is even the specter of David Wright returning to the lineup.  When you combine that with the Mets schedule, this team is primed to reel off nine straight wins.

If the Mets were to win nine straight, they would be just one game under .500.  At that point, the Mets will be red hot heading to another big series in Washington.  Last time the teams played there, the Mets took two of three.  After that is a bad Cardinals team before the All Star Break.

Combine this hypothetical Mets run with a Rockies team losing six straight, and the Mets are right back in the mix with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 for a shot at the postseason.  Last year, the Mets were under .500 as late as August 19th, and they still made the postseason.  Throw in a potential Amed Rosario call up, and you really have things cooking.  Why not this year’s team?

Well, that’s easy.  The bullpen is a mess.  You have no idea when Noah Syndergaard and Neil Walker can return if they can return at all.  Jose Reyes is playing everyday.  The route to the postseason partially relies upon Montero being a good major league pitcher, and the Mets calling up Rosario.  At this point, those are two things no one should rely.

As a fan?  We should all enjoy the ride for as long as it will carry us.  As Mets fans, we have seen miracles.  We saw this team win in 1969.  We saw a team dead in the water in 1973 go all the way to game seven of the World Series.  We watched a Mookie Wilson grounder pass through Bill Buckner‘s legs.  We saw Mike Piazza homer in the first game in New York after 9/11.

As fans, we can hold out hope for the impossible.  We can dream.  Sandy doesn’t have that luxury.  He needs to look at the reality of the Mets situation and make the best moves he possibly can.  That includes trading Bruce, Duda, Granderson, and any other veteran who can get him a good return on the trade market.

That still shouldn’t stop us from dreaming.  Who knows?  Maybe Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, and Dominic Smith can led the Mets to the postseason after Sandy is done selling.

Mets Should Be Angry They’re Terrible, Not at Puig Homers

Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot.  Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base.  Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate.  Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident.  Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview.  That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field.  More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played.  Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:

1.  They Can’t Pitch

The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets.  It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year.  That ERA is just inexcusable.  There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible.  Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.

2.  The Defense Is Terrible

The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball.  Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th.  At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th.  Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore.  Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers.  Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position.  Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.

3.  They’re Always Injured

Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List.  For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June.  The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries.  In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one.  If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.

4.  They’re Under-Performing

So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances.  Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100.  Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average.  Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP.  Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.

Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard.  After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94.  There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0

We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified.  Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing.  That’s on all of them.

5.  They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games

It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races.  They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own.  Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces.  In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22.  It is one thing lost six of seven.  It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.

If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves.  They are allowing the homers.  They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis.  They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.

For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).  Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.

Eight Players The Mets Should Protect

With the NHL having their expansion draft tonight, each of the pre-existing 31 teams will sit and wait to see which one of their players will be selected to became an inaugural member of the Vegas Golden Knights.  With the Golden Knights being required to select one player from each NHL team, each franchise is going to see a player depart their franchise.

Occasionally, there have been discussions MLB will expand.  Whenever that happens, each MLB team will have to go through the same exercise each NHL team just did.  If that were to happen, it would be interesting to see exactly who each MLB team would protect.

In terms of the NHL draft, teams can protect somewhere between eight to 11 skaters and one goaltender depending on who the team decides to protect.  Given an NHL has a maximum roster size of 23 players, the 8 – 11 paradigm is a good framework for a potential MLB expansion draft.

Assuming MLB lands upon eight players, it would be interesting to see who the Mets decided to protect.  Now, where the Mets are lucky is players with less than two service years are automatically protected.  As such, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and any other young player you would consider protecting are already protected.  With that in mind, here are the eight players the Mets should protect should such a draft take place:

1. RHP Noah Syndergaard

Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022

Last year, Syndergaard emerged as the ace of the Mets staff with a repertoire that has never been seen by a Major League Starting pitcher.  He has a fastball that tops off at 100 MPH and a slider that he can throw in the mid 90s.  He also has a swagger on the mound, and he gets up for the biggest games.  Again, like Cespedes, this is a no-brainer even with his lat injury this year.

2.  LF Michael Conforto

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

Conforto has been around for only three years, but it has been a whirlwind.  In 2015, he was a budding superstar.  In 2016, he had a wrist injury, struggled, and was demoted to Triple-A multiple times.  In 2017, he has emerged as an All Star.  Even with a rough June, there’s reason to believe in Conforto being a budding superstar, including but not limited to his ability to hit left-handed pitching.  Conforto is a foundation piece and should be the Mets right fielder for decades.

3. LF Yoenis Cespedes

Remaining Contract: 3 years $87.5 million

Given the fact players with no trade clauses must be protected in an expansion draft, the Mets would be required to protect Cespedes.  Even if that wasn’t the case, the Mets need to protect Cespedes.  He’s been a superstar with the Mets hitting .286/.354/.565 with 56 homers and 146 RBI since joining the team.  More than that, he puts fans in the seats.  You have to protect him at all costs.

4.  RHP Jacob deGrom

Free Agent: 2021

After an injury riddled year, and some ups and downs this year, deGrom has rediscovered himself, and he’s back to pitching like an ace.  That is evident with his being the National League Pitcher of the Week last week.  We also saw what deGrom was made of during the 2015 NLCS when he outpitched both Clayton Kershaw and Zack GreinkeThere are only a handful of the pitchers on the planet that can do that, and when you have one of them, you don’t let them go.

5.  LHP Steven Matz

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

When Matz is healthy, he has the potential to be an ace.  Before his bone spur issues arose in late June last year, Matz was 11-3 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9.  In his return from season ending surgery, he has pitched well lasting seven innings in both of his starts.  Overall, when he’s healthy, he’s terrific, and he’s not someone you part with so easily.

6. RHP Jeurys Familia

Free Agent: 2019

When you consider the Mets bullpen is in shambles, and they are going to have to rebuild it in totality, the Mets need to keep Familia at all costs.  It is also important to keep in mind that despite his injury this year, Familia has been an absolute work horse for the Mets with his making the most appearances out of the bullpen and pitching the most innings from 2014 – 2016.  If the medical reports are promising, there is every reason to believe Familia can return to being that pitcher again.

7.  C Travis d’Arnaud

Free Agent: 2020

There is every reason to leave him unprotected.  He has regressed in most aspects of his game, and he had yet another stint on the Disabled List this year.  Still, d’Arnaud is a good pitch framer, who still has offensive upside.  Before injuring his wrist, d’Arnaud was hitting .270/.357/.541.  While his stats have dropped precipitously, his .223 BABIP suggests d’Arnaud is due.  More than that, there’s really no better options available.  The catching across Major League Baseball is on a downturn, and you need someone to bridge the gap until Tomas Nido is ready.

8.  3B David Wright

Remaining Contract: 3 years $47 million

As noted above with Cespedes, the Mets would have to protect Wright due to his no trade clause.  Even without it, there is a case for keeping Wright.  Wright is the team captain, and he is the guy you want leaving an impression on Rosario and Smith when they get to the majors.  His contract is insured, so if he can’t play, you can reallocate the money.  More to the point, could you possibly imagine Wright in another uniform?  Me neither.  Is this all a stretch?  Sure, but fact is Wright will remain with the Mets until he finally decides it’s over.

As with any decision like this, there were hard choices.  Matt Harvey has been a cornerstone of the Mets rebuild, but his injuries and impending free agency, you’d be forced to expose him.  Zack Wheeler has had a strong return from the Disabled List, but even before he was injured, he was 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, and a 100 ERA+ in 49 career starts.  In 2017, he has not appeared to be more than that.  That coupled with the rise of Gsellman and Lugo as well as other pitchers in the Mets farm system, you could very well expose Wheeler.

Overall, the hypothetical player that would get taken from the Mets roster would be damaging.  That includes Juan Lagares, who is a Gold Glover that showed some promise this year, but still has a terrible contract.  That also includes Wilmer Flores who still doesn’t quite have a position.

With all that said, it does speak to the talent Sandy Alderson has brought to this organization that the Mets could lose one of the aforementioned players and still have a team that could compete for a World Series next year.

A Better Father’s Day

Last year, new dad Jacob deGrom got the Father’s Day start against the Braves, and he took the loss.  However, you could say it was a great day for deGrom because his son was in attendance at the game.  This is the same son who had breathing issues after he was born earlier that year.  To that end, it was a pretty great Father’s Day for deGrom.

This year was even better.

With his son in attendance, deGrom had one of his best games as a major leaguer.  In fact, it if wasn’t for a Wilmer Flores error leading to a first inning unearned run, deGrom might have pulled off the Jerry Koosman.

For eight innings, deGrom dominated a Nationals lineup that has the highest slugging percentage in the National League and has scored the second most runs in the league.  In fact, if it wasn’t for Travis d’Arnaud‘s inability to throw out Trea Turner (4-4 in stolen base attempts), no National would have reached third base after the first inning.  Overall, deGrom pitched eight innings making it the first time in his career he has pitched eight innings in consecutive starts.  His final line was eight innings, three hits, one unearned run, two walks, and six strikeouts.

As if that wasn’t good enough, deGrom helped his own cause hitting his first ever major league home run:

For an extra added touch, deGrom used David Wright‘s bat to hit that home run, so in some small way, Wright has had a contribution this season.

After the home run, the Mets offense came alive against Joe Ross.  In the fourth, d’Arnaud delivered with an RBI single scoring Lucas Duda sending T.J. Rivera to third base.  Michael Conforto hit a two out infield single allowing Rivera to score putting the Mets up 3-1.

It was part of a big day for Conforto who finally seemed to get his bat going again.  On the afternoon, he was 2-3 with a walk and two RBI.  The second RBI came in the sixth inning when he singled home d’Arnaud.  What was impressive about both of Conforto’s RBI was they were both with two outs.

After Curtis Granderson‘s RBI single scoring Jay Bruce in the seventh, the Mets were up 5-1, and there was no real chance they were going to lose this one.  Still, it might have been too little too late for this Mets team that is now six games under .500 and 10.5 games in the division.

Game Notes: Mets moved Flores to second and Rivera to third to try to help Flores defensively and to help him get going again at the plate.  Mets begin a 10 game road trip, and they get to face Clayton Kershaw in the first game of the road trip.

How The Mets Handle Injuries

Ray Ramirez and Barwin Method jokes aside, do we really know who to blame for all of these Mets injuries?  Thi has seemingly been an issue since Pedro Martinez was with the Mets when in three straight seasons the Mets suffered a rash of injuries to their starting rotation.  It should be noted, Pedro put some blame on Jeff Wilpon’s shoulder for making him pitch hurt, but that doesn’t address how Pedro go hurt in the first place.

We saw it again last year with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz needing season ending surgery.  It is happening again this year with Harvey and Matz both landing on the Disabled List.  We also have seen Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Tommy Milone, and Josh Smoker land on the Disabled List.

It goes further than that.  The position players keep getting injured too.  This year, Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera (twice), Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares (twice), and Brandon Nimmo have all landed on the Disabled List.  If you’ll notice, you will have seen many of those names pop up on the Disabled List last year.

There’s a simple reason for that.  Here’s example of how the Mets handle the situtaion:

Maybe if the Mets continue handling training and treatment of injuries the same way, maybe they’ll have a breakthrough. Just like the Futurama clip, it’s not going to happen.

Terry Collins Is Going To Get A Pitcher Hurt . . . Again

Despite teams pouring a tremendous amount of money into the topic, no one is still definitive on what causes pitcher injuries. Many will suggest it is fatigue, but even that is inconclusive. The Verducci Effect has been debunked time and again. Moreover, there was a 2003 Nate Silver and Matt Carroll Baseball Prospetus article which suggests the link between fatigue and arm injuries might be overstated. Still, there is evidence there is a link between fatigue and arm injuries. That is especially the case with pitchers over 25.

It is that link that made what Terry Collins did last night inexcusable.

Now, if you want to argue the inning snuck up Collins, you could make that argument. There were two outs in the second inning with Jon Lester coming up. Reasonably, a manager should expect his pitcher to get out of the inning. As we all know, Zack Wheeler didn’t. He grooved a pitch right down the middle to Lester, who hit a single to left. From there the doors fell off and the inning fell apart.

Wheeler was still only 18 pitches deep into the inning when he walked Albert Almora on four straight pitches. However, at this point, it was clear Wheeler was losing it, and to make matters worse, the Cubs lineup had turned over. From there Collins allowed Wheeler to throw 28 more pitches before lifting him for Josh Smoker. In total, Wheeler threw an inexcusable 46 pitches in the second inning.

This is the same Wheeler who missed two years after having Tommy John surgery. This is the same pitcher the Mets were rumored to want to limit to 125 innings this year. You need to be careful with Wheeler. Collins wasn’t. He would then compound his error with Wheeler by abusing Smoker.

Last year, Smoker’s high in pitches thrown in a game was 32. This year, he has already topped that six times. However, last night took the cake. Collins pushed Smoker to pitch four innings throwing 81 pitches. That’s a starter’s workload, not a reliever’s. There was a tangible effect.

Smoker is a pitcher that can get his fastball up to 97 MPH, which he did a couple of times last night. By the time Collins finally lifted Smoker in the sixth inning, he was throwing 89 MPH.

Collins went ahead and asked more from Smoker than he could possibly give. He did it despite the Mets bullpen only having thrown only 6.2 innings over the past four games. That was also despite the fact Jacob deGrom gave the bullpen a night off with his complete game. By the way, the only reason the Mets were able to obtain Smoker was because the Nationals former first round pick was released after two shoulder surgeries.

It’s not that Wheeler and Smoker need to be babied by their manager. Rather, they need their manager to not push them past the breaking point. This is no different than the protection Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, Jim Henderson, and any number of pitchers Collins has left in his wake as manager.

In the modern game of baseball, the most important job a manager can do is managing his pitching staff. He needs to do all he can do to get them through a season both healthy and effective. Time and again, Collins has failed in that regard. Last night was the latest example. For his part, Collins has never had to face any ramifications for his actions. Unfortunately, his pitchers have. We should all cross our fingers Wheeler and Smoker will not be the next.

Cubs Maul The Mets

This game was probably over as soon as Anthony Rizzo lead off the game with a homer. If it wasn’t then, it was over in the second inning. Zack Wheeler just didn’t have it, and he got knocked out in the second inning. His final line was 1.2 innings, six hits, eight runs, eight earned, three walks, and three strikeouts. 

It was irresponsible for Terry Collins to leave Wheeler in as long as he did. After missing two years due to Tommy John surgery, he let Wheeler throw 46 pitches in the fourth inning. 

Look at it this way, Wheeler loaded the bases, walked in a run, and then allowed a grand slam to Ian Happ to make it 6-1. Collins left him in to put on two more runners who scored on an Addison Russell bases clearing double making it 8-1. 

Then Collins went to Josh Smoker, and he abused his arm. Smoker threw 81 pitches over four innings. That’s 40 pitches more than his career high. 

Sure you don’t want to burn your bullpen in these games, but you don’t risk a player’s health. Smoker is a guy who can get it up to 98 MPH. By the time he was pulled, he was struggling to hit 89 MPH. This gets pitchers hurt, and it’s inexcusable. Yes, it’s even inexcusable when a pitcher has a 7.45 ERA. You don’t mess with careers for one game.

By the way, it was unnecessary. The bullpen is rested with the last four Mets starters pitching into the seventh, and Jacob deGrom throwing a complete game yesterday. 

At least Collins wasn’t irresponsible with everyone.  Yoenis Cespedes was lifted after the fifth because the Mets were losing 8-1. 

It was that type of night. Gary, Keith, and Ron broke out the baseball cards. Keith was sighing loudly into the mic. Darling was taking pot shots at sabermetrians. Both Smoker and Neil Ramirez pitched. 

But you know what?  The Mets deserved this loss. Joe Maddon tried to wake up his team and get them going by mixing up the lineup. That included hitting Rizzo lead-off. 

On the Mets part, Jose Reyes played in his fifth straight game. And guess what, he’s going to play in at least nine more because Asdrubal Cabrera went on the DL with a thumb injury. Yes, it is the same thing that landed him in the DL earlier this year. 

Rather than the Mets using as an opportunity to call up Amed Rosario, the Mets said, “We’re good with Reyes hitting under the Mendoza Line and playing bad defense.”  

Organizations like that deserve to lose 14-3. 

However, this Mets roster deserves better. They’re a high character group that doesn’t give in. This was evident when Jay Bruce robbed Kyle Schwarber of a homer in a 12-1 game in the eighth inning. 

To make matters worse, the Nationals pen didn’t blow another one, so the Mets fell to 9.5 games out. 

Game Notes: Michael Conforto missed a second straight game with a back issue. With the left-handed Jon Lester on the mound, Juan Lagares got the start in center and lead-off. He went 1-4 scoring a run on a Cespedes first inning double. Neil Walker and Lucas Duda hit back-to-back homers in the ninth. 

Mets Turning Things Completely Around

This should have been a great game that got you more excited about this team. It was the fourth win in a row. Instead of the wins coming against the lowly Braves, this win came against the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. (It’s still weird to type that). 

This win started with Jacob deGrom, who must’ve fixed whatever mechanical flaw he had because he was dominant. He would become the fourth straight Mets starter that pitched into the seventh inning and the third straight to pitch seven innings. 

Actually, deGrom was better than that pitching a complete game. This made him the first Met to pitch a complete game since deGrom did it last July against the Phillies. His final line was nine innings, five hits, one run, one earned, four walks, and five strikeouts. 

In the game, the only Cub to get to him was Addison Russell who hit an opposite field home run in the seventh. Other than Russell, no Cub reached third base against deGrom. A big reason for that was the Mets turning four double plays behind deGrom. 

That wasn’t the only support deGrom received from his middle infield. Asdrubal Cabrera hit two homers off Cubs starter John Lackey:

The other two Mets runs would come off a Jay Bruce two run homer in the third. Bruce would double in the sixth putting him on a pace for 84 extra base hits, which would be a Mets single season record. 

In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets tacked on two runs against the Cubs bullpen. The inning started with a Bruce single off Brian Duensing, and he moved to second when Cabrera tried to bunt his way on with one out. 

Joe Maddon brought in Felix Pena who couldn’t navigate the Cubs out of the inning. He first allowed a Travis d’Arnaud RBI double and then a Reyes RBI single. With that, the Mets were up 6-1 giving deGrom a huge margin in the ninth. 
Overall, despite Terry Collins inane decision to start Jose Reyes over Wilmer Flores, it was a great game for the Mets. 

That is except for the injuries. Michael Conforto missed the game with what was described as a stiff back due to the flight from Atlanta. Considering the Mets recent history with back injuries, we should all wait with baited breath until he is reinserted into the lineup. 

Conforto was the lesser of the two injuries. Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the sixth with that was described as a left heel injury. It should be noted Cespedes just came off the Disabled List with a left quad issue, and he said he was still not 100%. 

These injury issues put a damper on an otherwise terrific win. Still, as long as the Mets starters keep pitching this way, the Mets are going to win a lot of games. 

Game Notes: Paul Sewald was warming in the bullpen should deGrom get in trouble in the ninth. This was deGrom’s second career complete game. 

Thank You Sean Gilmartin

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.

 

Mets Last Chance

The Mets have a number of excuses why they are in the position they are.  Those excuses mostly surround the pitching.  Noah Syndergaard went down in April with a torn lat.  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom haven’t been the same since returning from their season ending surgeries.  There has been a revolving door at the fifth starter spot that has seen the likes of Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone, and Tyler Pill.  This has put stress on the bullpen, and the bullpen broke.

They broke because Jeurys Familia went down for the season.  Hansel Robles couldn’t keep up with the workload and fell apart.  Josh Smoker hasn’t been able to figure it out this year.  Addison Reed is a much better set-up man than a closer.

Through all of this, despite playing a weak schedule, the Mets are seven games under .500.  The Mets are THIS CLOSE to being sellers.

However, there is hope.  Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are coming off the Disabled List.  Last year, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP.  He followed that breakout performance with a breakout performance in the World Baseball Classic.

Matz is even better than Lugo.  Before succumbing to the bone spur in his elbow last year, Matz had a stretch from April 17th to June 18th where he was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP.  That was after his rookie season where he was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.

That combination of Lugo and Matz vastly improves the Mets rotation.  It also bumps a good pitcher like Robert Gsellman into the bullpen.  Lately, Gsellman has figured it out.  In his last four appearances, he’s 2-0 with hold posting a 2.66 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP.  This will give the bullpen a fresh arm.  More than that, it means one of Smoker or Neil Ramirez is going to be gone from the bullpen.

Finally, the Mets will have the pitching to help an offense that has tried to carry this team.  In May, the Mets averaged the second most runs per game (5.7) in the National League.  Things promise to get better with Yoenis Cespedes having played in his first rull rehab game for St. Lucie last night.

With that, the Mets will have as complete a team as they can expect for the reason for the season.  Now, they just have to take advantage of their opportunities.  That starts with the four game series with a Braves team who is a half game up on the Mets for second place in the National League East.  Sweep them, and the Mets will find themselves just three games under .500.

After that, the Mets have a seven game home stand.  First, there are the Chicago Cubs, who are not the same team they were last year.  After that, the Mets have a four game set with the Washington Nationals.

If the Mets take care of business against the Braves and Cubs, that could be a HUGE series for this Mets team.  Sweep the Nationals at home, and all of a sudden the Mets could be just eight games back in the division or better.  That’s still a large deficit to overcome, but it’s not as daunting as the 12 games they are now.

The Mets don’t take advantage of this opportunity?  It’s time to sell.  At that point, the team should look to move everyone to pave the way for Amed Rosario, who frankly should be here now, and Dominic Smith to become the David Wright and Jose Reyes of this generation.

If the Mets don’t want to do that, it’s time to take care of business.  That starts tonight with a huge start for Matt Harvey.  This used to be the exact moment you wanted him on the mound.  It is time for that to happen again.