Jerry Blevins

That Was a Great Game

That was just a good baseball game. It featured a pitcher’s duel between the Cubs ace Jake Arrieta and one of the Mets aces Noah Syndergaard

The Cubs struck first in the third when Syndergaard threw a wild pitch, which probably should have been smothered by Rene Rivera who made a backhand stab at the ball, allowing Willson Contreras to score. The Cubs were primed to score again in the following inning. Arrieta led off with a double, and he tried to score on a Tommy La Stella single. However, he would be mowed down by the new right fielder Michael Conforto:

As the replay would show, Rivera made a great tag. 

Syndergaard gutted his way through 5.2 innings throwing 105 pitches. He allowed seven hits, one unearned run, and two walks. He would strike out eight batters including his 300th career strike out. Jerry Blevins took over and would combine with Hansel Robles (two innings), and Jeurys Familia (33rd save) to win a 2-1 game. 

The loss was no fault of Arrieta, who was terrific. He pitched seven innings, one run, and one walk with eight strikeouts. For a while, it appeared like the Mets wouldn’t score that run, and that the Mets would lose 1-0. Then Jose Reyes did what he used to do best, what he was brought back to do. He hit his 100th triple as a Met and gave the Mets a chance to build a run off his speed. 

He would score off a Curtis Granderson sacrifice fly. The Mets tried to build another rally in the seventh. There were runners on first and second and Blevins was due up. For some reason, Terry Collins went to Alejandro De Aza instead of Kelly Johnson. Apparently, Collins was the only person who thought De Aza would come through in that spot. He didn’t. 

In the ninth, there would be no De Aza or Arrieta standing in the Mets way. Neil Walker hit into a fielder’s choice after a James Loney leadoff single. Initially, it was ruled a double play, but replay would overturn the call. Walker was safe, and it wasn’t particularly close. Walker moved to second on an Asdrubal Cabrera single. After a Conforto strikeout, it appeared the Mets would fail to score a runner in scoring position again. 

Instead, Rivera would hit a bloop single off Pedro Strop scoring Walker making it a 2-1 game. If that was the end of the game, it would have been a terrific game. However, it was what happened in the bottom of the ninth that made this a great game. 

Familia walked Addison Russell and Miguel Montero to start the inning. Javier Baez then laid down a terrific bunt that he beat out. It was bases loaded with no outs. That’s a problem for mere mortal closers. It wasn’t an issue for Familia and his bowling ball sinker. 

With the infield drawn-in, Matt Szczur to hit a ground ball to Loney, who threw out Russell at home. That brought up Kris Bryant to the plate, who could be the most dangerous hitter in the Cubs. Familia got him to ground into a game ending 5-4-3 double play. 

It was a great instinctive move for new third baseman Reyes to go did the double play instead of the force out, and it was an incredible turn by Walker, who took a slightly offline throw with the runner bearing down on him to get the last out of the game at first. 

This was easily the most exciting game of the year, and it was a great win. 

Game Notes: Granderson started in center, and he was shaky out there. It is supposed to be temporary until Conforto is ready to take over. In his first full game back from AAA, Conforto was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Yoenis Cespedes really looked hobbled out there. 

Dee Gordon’s Single Could Help Put the Marlins Into a Postseason He’s Ineligible to Play

When you have a game started by Jose Fernandez and Noah Syndergaard, you can expect a pitcher’s duel, and the game on April 12, 2016 did not disappoint. Fernandez would pitch five shutout innings allowing only three hits and one run while striking out five. Syndergaard was better lasting seven innings allowing one run while striking out 12. With the game deadlocked at one apiece, it officially became a battle of the bullpens in the eighth innings. The Mets sent Jim Henderson to the mound to face the Marlins leadoff hitter Dee Gordon.

It was an epic 16 pitch battle that eventually saw Gordon hit an opposite field single to start the game winning rally. He would eventually come around to score on a Martin Prado sacrifice fly off of Jerry Blevins. As it would turn out Gordon played that game while he was in the midst of appealing an 80 game suspension for his use of exogenous testosterone and clostebol. About two weeks later, he would drop his appeal begin serving his steroids suspension.

It should be noted that through the first 92 games of the season, this game is the one game that separates the Mets and the Marlins in the standings. This is the one game that stands as the difference between the Mets being in playoff position and being on the outside looking in.

It’s ironic when you think about it. Pursuant to Major League Baseball’s new steroid policy, players who test positive for banned PED substances are barred from postseason play. As the MLBPA Union President Tony Clark stated, the players themselves wanted to make sure “a player is not coming back and affecting a change in the postseason as a result of the decision that particular player made earlier in the year.” (ESPN). It is quite understandable why baseball would not want a dirty player to possibly be the difference between a team winning or losing a World Series. No one wants to question if the World Series was acquired through ill gotten means like the Athletics with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, the Yankees with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, the Red Sox with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, or J.C. Romero, who got big out after big out en route to the Phillies winning the 2008 World Series.

Still, the way the rules are set up, the very same player can have a profound impact on whether or not that team even makes the postseason. We see that Gordon had an at bat that helps serve to separates the Mets and the Marlins in the standings. His suspension is scheduled to come to an end on July 28th. At that point, there will be 61 more games left on the schedule that Gordon can have a profound impact. Sixty-one more games in which he will be able to be the difference between winning and lose, between making the postseason or not. He can be the difference between making the postseason or not despite his being disqualified from making the postseason.

Even more ponderous is the fact that Gordon is going to play in his first minor league game tonight for the New Orleans Zephyrs. He’s playing for a AAA team despite being suspended from playing major league baseball for taking PEDs. Of course, baseball wants to have a player like Gordon banned from postseason play, but they’ll permit him to not only affect a pennant race, but also be in the best possible position to affect that pennant race once the suspension is over.

This isn’t to say that Gordon should forever be banned from playing baseball again. Players make mistakes. There can be false positives. No one wants to see a player forever lose their livelihood under these circumstances. However, it is contradictory for baseball to have a policy barring a player like Gordon from the postseason because they want to preserve the sanctity of that World Series title while also allowing Gordon to play games in that very same seasons thereby having an impact upon which teams do or do not qualify to play in that very same postseason.

Ultimately, if baseball’s goal is to preserve the sanctity of the World Series, the solution might be that if a player tests positive in a season, they are barred from playing in the regular season once the appeal process has been exhausted so that they tainted player will have no further impact upon the pennant race. If the player is not eligible for the postseason, that same player should have no impact upon which teams can play in the postseason. The player can still make their money once the suspension is over, and they can play games in the minors, but they will not be eligible to return to the majors until each and every team has clinched a postseason berth.

This is just one possible answer to the conundrum. It might be one that neither the owners or the players accept for various and sundry reasons. Hopefully, whatever it is, all of baseball needs to figure out a solution that makes sense for everyone as no one wants to be able to say that the difference between the Mets and Marlins in the 2016 season was a tainted player starting a game winning rally that proved to be the one game difference in the standings.


Mets Aim Small, Miss Small

Tonight, the Mets seemed more intent on manufacturing runs than putting together big innings. It’s a time when the Mets needed Benjamin Martin as their manager instead of Terry Collins: 

The first Mets run of the game was the result of Juan Lagares hitting a double, starter Logan Verrett bunting him over, and Jose Reyes scoring him on a sacrifice fly. In the following inning, Curtis Granderson hit a double, moved to third on a Neil Walker ground out, and scored on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly. The Mets tried to repeat the task in the seventh, but it proved to be one time too many. 

With runners on first and second with no outs, Collins ordered Juan Lagares to lay down a sac bunt with runners on first and second with no outs. Lagares’ successful bunt moved d’Arnaud to third. Kelly Johnson hit a shallow fly ball to left which wouldn’t have scored Usain Bolt. Still it’s very curious that Collins would go all-in on pushing in the one run and not use Alejandro De Aza to pinch run for d’Arnaud in that spot. It was inconsistent in what Collins was trying to accomplish. In the blink of an eye, the Mets went from two on with no outs to two on with two outs. 

Cabrera would be robbed of a hit by a sliding Cody Asche. As a result, the Phillies kept the score at 2-2, and Cabrera moved to 0 for his last 25 with RISP. 

Conversely, Phillies manager, Pete Mackanin didn’t seek to play small ball in the bottom of the seventh. The game winning rally started with a Cabrera throwing error allowing the speedy Peter Bourjos to get on base. He moved into scoring position after Jerry Blevins walked Asche. Hansel Robles came in and got one right into Maikel Franco‘s kitchen. Franco was able to fight it off for an RBI single. 

The Phillies would score another run in the eighth when Erik Goeddel threw a wild pitch allowing Ruiz to score from third. It would increase the Phillies lead to 4-2 ruining a decent start by Verrett and knocking the Mets to seven back of the Nationals. 

One other annoying aspect of the game was seeing yet another team try to re-enact Game Five of the World Series. No matter how slow they are, everyone thinks they can re-create the Eric Hosmer play no matter how slow. Tonight, it was Carlos Ruiz‘s turn:

Ruiz was running as Jerad Eickhoff worked a full count against Logan Verrett. Ruiz kept going as Eickhoff beat out Asdrubal Cabrera‘s throw. couldn’t get the ball to first in time to record the out. However, he wouldn’t score as James Loney alertly threw the ball home and d’Arnaud laid down an absolutely terrific tag. That play kept the game tied at 2-2. As we know, it proved to be all for naught. 

Game Notes: Ryan Howard opened the scoring with a solo home run. Yoenis Cespedes sat out the game with his injured quad. Fittingly, De Aza made the last out of the game. 

Juanderful Start to the Second Half

In the top of the sixth, Neil Walker hit a three run home run to make it 4-0 Mets. With the way Bartolo Colon was cruising, it seemed like the game was effectively over. 

Colon was perfect for the first 4.1 innings. His pitch count was low, and he was moving quickly through the Phillies lineup. He lost the perfect game in the fifth when Cameron Rupp hit a one out single.  Ultimately, it wasn’t the fifth that would be the issue, it was the sixth. 

After Colon was handed the 4-0 lead, the Phillies rallied. It started with a James Loney throwing error making him the only person able to miss the rather large Colon. The run scored on a Peter Bourjos hit RBI triple. After Maikel Franco and Cody Asche RBI singles, it was 4-3, and Colon was chased from the game with two outs in the fifth. 

Hansel Robles was double switched into the game along with Alejandro De Aza because whenever you have an excuse to bring De Aza into the game, you have to do it. Robles came into the game throwing 99 MPH, and he got Freddy Galvis to pop out to get the Mets out of the inning. 
What was once a magical night saw Colon pitch 5.2 innings allowing four hits, three unearned, and two walks with four strikeouts. Colon would still get the win as Robles, Jerry BlevinsAddison Reed, and Jeurys Familia combined to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings to preserve the 5-3 win. 

The insurance run was scored in the seventh courtesy of Juan Lagares, who had a terrific night starting with his third inning leadoff homer off Jeremy Hellickson. Lagares led off the seventh with a walk, and he would steal second base.  He moved to third off a long fly all out off the bat of De Aza. He then scored off a Jose Reyes fielder’s choice. Lagares got a good break on the ball, and made a terrific slide direct to home plate to just beat the drawn-in shortstop Galvis’ throw. 

On the night Lagares was 1-2 with two runs, one walk, one RBI, and the aforementioned homer. Asdrubal Cabrera would also have a great start to the second half going 3-4 with a run scored. Overall, it was a good night for the Mets who got off to a nice start in their first game after the All Star Break. 

Game Notes: Reyes charged in nicely on a ball and made a bare-handed play in the eighth that was reminiscent of David WrightYoenis Cespedes missed the game with his strained quad.

Mets Do Not Need Bullpen Help

As the trade deadline approaches, every team usually states that they need bullpen help, and those that are true contenders usually add an extra arm or two to the bullpen.  For example, back in 1999, one of the biggest strengths for a Mets team fighting for the NL East and the Wild Card was their bullpen.  Armando Benitez had taken over the closer role much earlier than anticipated.  Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook were having excellent seasons.  Pat Mahomes was a revelation as the long man in the bullpen.  Ex-closer John Franco was expected to return form injury to help with the playoff push.  Greg McMichael was having an off year, but he had previously been a valuable bullpen arm in a pennant race from his days with the Atlanta Braves.  On top of that, the Mets had some young promising arms to go to down the stretch with Jason Isringhausen and Octavio Dotel (even if Bobby Valentine thought they were better suited and belonged in the rotation).  Overall, the point being is the Mets did not need bullpen help.

Even with that being the case, a Mets team that was very active during the trade deadline made sure to acquire another arm for the bullpen by sending McMichael and Isringhausen for Billy Taylor.  It turns out Billy Taylor was washed up, and he would not even be on the postseason roster thereby forcing the Mets to make do with the already good bullpen pieces they had.  The Mets find themselves in a similar position than the 1999 Mets did.

The Mets bullpen is led to Jeurys Familia who is the best closer in the game. When needed, Familia can pitch two innings to get the big save that the Mets need.  The primary eighth inning set-up man has been Addison Reed, who is only sporting a 2.26 ERA and a 0.912 WHIP.  This duo has only lost one lead that has been given to them this year in 32 attempts.  Behind them is Hansel Robles who has done everything the Mets have needed in the bullpen.  He can come out and bail the Mets out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitch 3.2 terrific innings to save a Mets bullpen from a first inning injury to a starting pitcher.  Jerry Blevins has been an extremely effective LOOGY allowing lefties to hit .210/.269/.310.  By the way, he has been even better against righties limiting them to a .107/.188/.214 batting line.

Behind these pitchers are some very solid options.  There is Jim Henderson, who was great before Terry Collins abused his arm.  Henderson is currently in AAA on a rehab assignment.  Seth Lugo has been absolutely terrific out of the bullpen in his two appearances.  However, it is only two appearances, and there still remains a (remote) chance that he may wind up in the starting rotation with the Matt Harvey injury.  There is Erik Goeddel, who even despite one poor performance this season, still has a career 2.75 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP.  There is still Sean Gilmartin, who was an essential part of the Mets bullpen last year.  He is a starter in AAA, but if the Mets are that desperate for major league relief help that they will swing a trade, they should pull up a known quantity to help the team where he is needed.

If the Mets will consider calling up players from the minors, there are some good options in AAA.  Josh Edgin has a 2.45 ERA in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.  Paul Sewald has taken over as the closer, and he has recorded nine saves.  There is always the alluring Josh Smoker, who is having a down year but still sports a mid-nineties fastball.

Finally, in addition to all of these players, there is still Antonio Bastardo, who is going nowhere.  It is doubtful a rebuilding team will want to add him into the mix with his high salary and poor production.  The Mets are stuck with him, and they are going to be stuck with him for the full season, regardless of whether they make another move to add a reliever or not.  In essence, Bastardo is the reason why people mistakenly believe the Mets need bullpen help.  With that in mind, the best thing the Mets can do is to find a way to get Bastardo back on track.  That will help the Mets bullpen more than them adding another reliever.

Overall, the Mets bullpen is in fine shape with four outstanding relievers and plenty of good options behind them.  The Mets do not need a reliever.  They need to fix Bastardo since he’s going to be here whether or not the Mets make a trade.  With that in mind, the Mets should leave the bullpen as is and turn their attention to the teams other needs at the trade deadline.

Cespedes Awakens the Mets Offense

It looked like more of the same for the Mets. Steven Matz allowed a first inning two run home run to Kris Bryant and a solo shot to Javier Baez in the sixth. The Mets were down 3-0 and didn’t seem to have a chance. It was the same old dreary Mets offense. In the bottom of the sixth, Yoenis Cespedes woke everyone up:

The 441 foot shot was the longest in Citi Field history and first into the Promemade Level. It was shades of Tommie Agee

The Mets looked like a different team after that. Travis d’Arnaud got it started with a one out single off Cubs starter John Lackey. Then a minor miracle happened when Alejandro De Aza worked out a walk against Cubs reliever Joel Peralta. Then Brandon Nimmo had the at bat of the night. 

Nimmo was quickly down 1-2 in the count. He would foul off three straight pitches, and he would hit an RBI single on the ninth pitch of the at bat. It narrowed the score to 3-2. He alertly moved to second when center fielder Albert Amora tried to get De Aza at third. 

Joe Maddon then went to Pedro Strop to pitch to Neil Walker. Strop quickly went ahead in the count 0-2, and the Cubs pulled the infield in. Walker then hit a hooper at second baseman Baez who had no shot at getting De Aza at home. He tried to get Nimmo at third, but he threw it wild. 

Nimmo then scored to make it 4-3. It was a comeback the likes of which the Mets have not made in quite a while. 

In the eighth, MLB history was made when Addison Reed pitched to Addison Russell. Russell won the first ever battle of the Addisons by walking. It set up runners at first and second with two outs. Maddon sent up Jason Heyward to pinch hit, and Terry Collins countered with Jerry Blevins. Blevins got Heyward to tap one back to Blevins to end the inning. 

Jeurys Familia recorded his 27th straight save this year to secure the 4-3 win. This one wasn’t easy. Ben Zobrist hit a double to make it second a third with no outs. Familia struck out Bryant, and then intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo to face rookie catcher Willson Contreras. Familia struck out the overmatched Contreras. Baez popped it up to end what was a tremendous save by Familia and win for the Mets. 

The Mets took the first game of a four game set against the Cubs. By the way, last year’s NLCS was also a four game set. 
Game Notes: Matz showed his frustration out there a few times, most notably when Lackey buzzed him on a sac bunt attempt. He also threw his glove after the Baez homer. Erik Goeddel earned the win after pitching 1.2 scoreless innings. 

Sandy Alderson Had a Poor Offseason

This past offseason Sandy Alderson and the Mets were heralded for building a deep roster that was better built to sustain a slate of injuries like the Mets fared last year.  Here are how all the players Sandy Alderson acquired during the offseason have fared with the Mets this year:

Neil Walker

So far, Walker has had a terrific 2015.  In fact, he is on pace to have the best year of his eight year career.  However, as the Mets offense has tailed off, so has Walker.  Here are his monthly splits:

  • April .307/.337/.625 with 9 homers and 19 RBI
  • May .250/.333/.420 with 4 homers and 6 RBI
  • June .224/.307/.289 with 1 homer and 6 RBI

Each and every month Walker has gone from one a career best year to stats worse than he has had over the course of his career.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Like his double play partner, Cabrera’s stats are masked by a hot April.  In April, Cabrera hit .300/.364/.400.  Since that time, Cabrera is only hitting .247/.307/.409.  Worse yet, despite many raving about his defense, the advanced metrics disagree.  So far, he has a -5 DRS and a -2.1 UZR.

Alejandro De Aza

He was supposed to be a platoon partner with Juan Lagares in center.  Given his .165/.216/.242 batting line, it is a blessing that never came to be.

Yoenis Cespedes

For the second straight year, Cespedes has been terrific for the Mets.  His OBP and slugging are on pace to be the highest in his career.  He’s also on pace for a career high 38 homers.  Even with his poor defense in center field, he has been day in and day out the best player on the Mets.

Rene Rivera

Like every other backup catcher during the Sandy Alderson regime, Rivera has not hit.  Initially, he was supposed to be a minor league depth, but after another Travis d’Arnaud injury, he was called-up to the majors.  He has worked well with Mets pitchers this year, specificially Noah Syndergaard  Mostly due to his defense, and also because of how poorly Kevin Plawecki has played, he has stayed in the majors when d’Arnaud came off the disabled list.

Ty Kelly

He was a minor league free agent that was never supposed to play in the majors.  When he hit .148/.207/.259 in 14 games we found out why.  Of course, he was pressed into action in part because the Mets found it wise to start with Eric Campbell on the 25 man roster instead of Ruben Tejada.

Bartolo Colon

Somewhat surprisingly, at the age of 43, Colon is having his best season with the Mets.  He’s 6-4 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.170 WHIP.  He also did this:

Jerry Blevins

After he went down last year, the Mets searched high and low for a lefty out of the pen.  They never did quite find one.  Blevins has been healthy this year, and he has been terrific going 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA.  Only recently did he have a 21 appearance and 13 inning scoreless streak snapped.

Antonio Bastardo

He has been the worst reliever in the Mets bullpen with a 5.28 ERA and a 1.565 WHIP.  Terry Collins has shoved him to the back of the bullpen and tries to avoid using him in high leverage situations at all costs.

Jim Henderson

The minor league free agent had a great Spring Training and made the Opening Day roster.  He was having a terrific season until Collins pushed him too far for what he perceived to be a must-win game in April.  His production tailed off, and now he is on the disabled list with an injured shoulder.  This is the same shoulder that caused Henderson to miss all of the 2015 season after having had two surgeries on the joint.

Overall, looking over how these moves have panned out thus far, it does not appear that Sandy Alderson has had as good an offseason as many proclaimed him to have had.  In fact, as the season progresses, it makes Alderson’s season look worse and worse.  In order for the perception of Alderson’s offseason to change again, the underperforming players are going to have to improve.  Time is growing shorter and shorter for that to happen.

Oliver Perez Stops the Mets

The Mets chance was in the top of the sixth. Yusmeiro Petit walked Neil Walker to load the bases with one out. Dusty Baker then summoned Oliver Perez from the bullpen. The very same Oliver Perez Mets fans love to hate. 

After Ollie struck out James Loney and got Wilmer Flores to meekly pop out to center to end the threats hereby earning the win, Mets fans hate him all the more now. In fact, there’s a short list of things Mets fans hate more than him. About the only thing that really comes to mind is the Mets offense, especially after they got shut out tonight. 

If you didn’t expect the Mets to have a low offensive output, you didn’t realize Matt Harvey was starting. In Harvey’s 81 career starts, the Mets have scored two runs or less for him 35 times. That’s 43% of the time. It’s absurd. 

Like the other 34 times, you can’t pin this one on Harvey. He had allowed one earned on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He was only pulled due to a length rain delay that lasted over an hour and a half. 

After the rain delay, Terry Collins initially went to Erik Goeddel. After Goeddel walked Danny Espinosa, Collins brought Jerry Blevins into the game do face the left-handed pinch hitter Clint Robinson. Naturally, when you have to go deep in your bullpen tonight and have Logan Verrett making a spot start tomorrow, you want to play the match-up game in the fourth inning. 

Blevins would get out of the inning unscathed, but Bryce Harper would launch a two run home run in the fifth to make it a 3-0 game. The Nationals would stretch the lead to a 5-0 game in the seventh when Mets killer Wilson Ramos hit a two run double off of Hansel Robles to make it a 5-0 game.  The Mets intentionally walked Daniel Murphy to get to Ramos. To add insult to injury, Robles would have to leave the game after a Ryan Zimmerman got him on the knee. 

It was a tough night all around. Harvey took the loss dropping him to 4-10 on the season. The Mets also lost another game in the division and remain in third place. 

Game Notes: Alejandro De Aza e texted the game in the fourth as Curtis Granderson had trouble getting loose after the rain delay. De Aza was 0-2. Brandon Nimmo had another good game going 1-4. Nationals rookie Lucas Giolito pitched four scoreless in his major league debut. 

Antonio Bastardo Isn’t Good in Even Numbered Years

The highest paid reliever in the Mets bullpen is Antonio Batardo. Part of that is a function of baseball’s free agency rules. Another part is the fact the Bastardo was coming off a terrific year with the Pirates. He was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, and a 128 ERA+. 

He hasn’t been that player this year. Sunday was another reminder of that. 

Jeurys FamiliaAddison ReedJerry Blevins, and Hansel Robles have received a lot of work lately. Robles especially. With that in mind, Terry Collins really had little choice but to go to Bastardo in the eighth after seven good innings from Bartolo Colon. Given how Collins has used Bastardo all year, you knew that was the last place he wanted to go in a 1-0 game. Bastardo showed us all why Collins distrusts him. 

Without recording one out, the Braves turned a 1-0 game into a 5-0 game. It was capped off with a three run homer from Adonis Garcia who is just the latest in Braves Mets killers. After this game, Bastardo now sports a 5.46 ERA and a 1.62 ERA.  His ERA+ is 88. It makes you question where it had all gone wrong for Bastardo. 

The simple fact is this is who Bastardo is. He pitches well every other year. Here are his ERA and ERA+ figures for his full years in the majors:

  • 2011: 2.64 ERA, 146 ERA+
  • 2012: 4.33 ERA, 94 ERA+
  • 2013: 2.32 ERA, 163 ERA+
  • 2014: 3.94 ERA, 95 ERA+
  • 2015: 2.98 ERA, 128 ERA+

This is a definitive pattern, and Bastardo has been following that pattern so far this year.  This is something the Mets should have anticipated when signing him this offseason (maybe they did when giving him a two year deal). 

To his credit, Collins hasn’t trusted Bastardo from the moment Curtis Granderson stepped up to the plate to begin the 2016 season. Collins has avoided putting Bastardo in high leverage situations, but he had no choice on Sunday.  It didn’t work out. Things typically don’t work out for Bastardo in even numbered years. 

It’s not the reason the Mets lost on Sunday. Bastardo wasn’t the reason the Mets failed to hit again.  Still, he was a big part of the Mets loss as he put the game out of reach. 

It’s Never Easy

This was supposed to be an easy game. The Mets were up 5-0 heading into the top of the fifth. James Loney hit a three run homer to make it 8-0. However, that’s not all that happened in the top of the fifth. Steven Matz was rubbing his pitching elbow in the dugout. Everyone saw him doing this but Terry Collins and Dan Warthen. 

Matz came out in the fifth throwing a slower fastball (from 94 MPH to 92 MPH). The Braves opened the inning with three consecutive doubles. The second double was a can of corn off the bat of Nick Markakis, but Yoenis Cespedes lost it. It’s not really on Cespedes as the outfield lighting at Turner Field is a joke. 

That’s the type of inning it was as Matz allowed six earned on eight hits. The big blow was a Brandon Snyder opposite field pinch hit three run homer.

Matz would eventually get chased after a Freddie Freeman RBI single. Hansel Robles then came in to bail out the Mets and preserve the bullpen again. The latter was very important with Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins unavailable. Robles got out of the inning without allowing another run. He would go 2.2 innings for yet another well earned win. For the week, Robles has pitched 8.1 innings. 

Everything seemed calm down until Cespedes was picked off base in the seventh. Cespedes rolled his ankle stepping on first and had to be helped off the field. Every Mets fan breathed a sigh of relief as Cespedes took the field in the bottom of the seventh. 

Once Cespedes was alright, it was easy to admit that a lot of good things happened tonight:

  • Neil Walker was 3-4 with three runs scored
  • Loney was 2-3 with three runs, three RBI, a double, and a homer
  • Travis d’Arnaud was 1-4 with three RBI

The last two RBI were interesting. For some reason, the Braves walked Michael Conforto to load the bases to face d’Arnaud.  Considering the fact that Conforto has been terrible since May, it was an odd decidion, and d’Arnaud made the Braves pay with a two RBI single. 

It was good to see the Mets offense clicking, and it was great to see Jeurys Familia break Armando Benitez‘s record for consecutive saves to begin the season. 

Familia would have to go four outs for his 25th save. Antonio Bastardo allowed a two out double to Markakis in the eighth, and Terry Collins went to Familia. Familia got Adonis Garcia, last night’s villain, to get out of the inning. However, the ninth wouldn’t be easy. 

Familia allowed the first two on base, and then Chase d’Arnaud, Travis’ brother, was sent up to bunt. Wilmer Flores dove for the bunt, but barely missed it. However, it confused the Braves. Flores ran back to third for the force, and he threw to second to complete the unconventional 5-5-4 double play. Familia struck out the last batter if the game. 

Still, that pitch went to the backstop. It forced d’Arnaud to race to the backstop and make a quick throw to first. It was off-line, but Loney held the bag to end the game.

 It was a fitting end to a strange 8-6 game that was never easy.