Jeurys Familia

Is Matz the Price for a Postseason Run

Rumor has it the Mets will have Steven Matz rejoin the rotation when he comes off the DL. During the Mets recent run, I began to think the Mets should use Matz out of the bullpen. I never really wrote anything about it because I wasn’t sure it was a good idea with any restrictions that may be placed on him. 

However, two things recently changed my mind:

  1. The Mets bullpen last night was horrible; and
  2. Jerry Blevins is done for the year

It’s no secret the Mets bullpen, outside of Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, is weak. They had trouble holding an eight run lead last night. Last week, they blew a six run lead to the Padres. They need to sure things up. 

Now, the Mets are down an important piece of Blevins. Admittedly, he’s been gone for most of the year, and he couldn’t be relied upon to return this year. 

I’m also convinced after last night the Mets aren’t that serious about innings limits. How could you?  Not only have we learned that Mets starters have thrown more innings than any other team, but they also let Matt Harvey pitch two extra innings with a huge lead. If they are serious, Dillon Gee could make those starts. 

With all that said, I think the Mets should take a page from the 2008 Rays book and put Matz in the bullpen. In 2008, David Price made one start and four bullpen appearances. He saved Game 7 of the ALCS en route to a World Series appearance. Since that time, Price has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Sure, he had the stuff, but I’m also sure the early postseason experience helped. 

Also, keep in mind if the Mets make the playoffs, that’s where Matz would go anyway. If that’s the case, why not give him some experience there now instead of throwing him in without any relief appearances in the playoffs.  Put it this way, in a big spot, do you want to see Steven Matz or Hansel Robles?  

So, if the Mets are truly interested in winning this year, Matz needs to go to the bullpen as soon as his DL stint is over. The Mets made win-now decisions with the Yoenis Cespedes trade and the Tyler Clippard trade.  They’re all-in. When you’re all in, you don’t hold back. 

Matz to the bullpen is the only solution. 

Outta Hand

Now, we’ve seen these Mets for the past 50 plus seasons. They face a spot starter, emergency starter, or rookie pitcher, and they struggle at the plate. Tonight, it was Brad Hand. 

Personally, I knew the Mets were in for a tough night when I saw Angel Hernandez on the mound. For the uninitiated, the Mets have a history with him. This is mostly because he’s a bad umpire. 

Luckily, Jon Niese pitched very well. He kept this team in the game while they struggled against the 1-2, 5.12 ERA Hand.  In fact, the Mets didn’t score until Adam Conley came in the game. It took a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] double and nice slide (good job by Niese directing him where to slide) to tie the game on the Ruben Tejada single. 

For the second time this year, Eric Campbell bailed out Terry Collins for some questionable moves. Collins had Flores bunt with two on and no out in the eighth. Flores popped out [polite applause], and Tejada couldn’t deliver. Campbell then got the go-ahead bloop hit, right over the outstretched hands of Hechavarria, scoring Lucas Duda.  Juan Lagares gave some breathing room with a two run RBI triple. The rally ended with a Curtis Granderson RBI double, which stretched the lead to 5-1. 

Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia had a bumpy eighth and ninth respectively. However, they didn’t give up a run. 

Despite winning this game, Collins’ decision making was very questionable. Look, I know I’ve been the one pounding the drum that Terry Collins has been using the platoon system; however, you cannot use it to sit Michael Conforto. When he was called up, the Mets took on the responsibility of playing him everyday. If he’s not going to play everyday, they should bring up Darrell Ceciliani. 

No matter what the Nationals do tonight (they’re currently tied at three in the eighth), the Mets will remain in sole possession of first place. Just don’t tell Bryce Harper. 

Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

Harvey is Real

It looks like the Mets made the biggest addition at the trade deadline this year. Yoenis Cespedes?  No. Travis d’Arnaud?  Nonsense. The Mets got Matt Harvey back. I don’t think Mets fans believed he was real anymore. 

Harvey is a 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy Stewart’s character is a grown man whose best friend is a 6’3″ invisible rabbit. Everyone thinks he’s crazy that he had seen this rabbit. A comparison for people more my age is Snuffleupagus. Anyway, I was starting to feel like Jimmy Stewart. 
For his part, Harvey thinks he finally put it all together in his last start. It showed tonight. He was perfect through 5.1 innings. He got out of a subsequent jam without letting up a run. In the seventh, there was some soft hits starting another rally. However, he got out of that jam when Juan Lagares reminded everyone he’s a terrific CF in chasing a ball down in the right center field gap. Overall, Lagares seemed to have an extra hop in his step tonight. It really showed in the field. 
The eighth inning was not kind to Harvey. There was a phantom HBP call, which was upheld by replay. Two singles later, and the score was tied at one. A good defensive SS (which the Mets ha no interest in at the trade deadline) would’ve at least knocked it down. 

Initially, Tyler Clippard came in and made Sandy Alderson look great by striking out Jayson Werth looking on a 3-2 count after a lengthy at bat (it wasn’t a strike). He then walked two batters in the ninth forcing Terry Collins to bring in Jeurys Familia, who got out of the inning. 

After the Gomez drama, we finally had a Wilmer Flores sighting. With Collins’ platoon system, he started on 2B, made a nice defensive play, and knocked in the first run that looked like it was going to hold up. He had received three standing ovations from the fans. Sorry make that FOUR with his walk-off homerun in the twelfth. You have to love and respect this kid. 

By the way, the platoon system was on acid today. With the lefty Gio Gonzalez starting, the Mets went with Wimer Flores at second, Juan Uribe at third, Juan Lagares in center, and Eric Campbell in left?!?!?  Furthermore, Daniek Murphy was at first because, why not?  

This was the biggest win of the year in the biggest series of the year. Because the Mets smartly set their rotation coming out of the All Star Break, they throw Jacob deGrom tomorrow and Noah Syndergaard on Sunday. Oh yeah, some guy named Yoenis Cespedes makes his debut for the Mets tomorrow. I heard he can hit the ball out in Citi Field

Time to get excited Mets fans. We have meaningful games in August. 

This Game Recap is Delayed

Initially, the Mets seemed poised for a laugher powered by a Curtis Granderson three run homerun. Juan Uribe joined the fun with his first Mets homerun. However, the bullpen completely unraveled. 

Bobby Parnell couldn’t manage pitching two days in a row or a 7-1 lead. When he loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, Terry Collins made the first of his two fateful decisions. He brought in Hansel Robles, who gave up a grand slam to Derek Norris. 

Two innings later, Jeurys Familia came in for the save, and he got off to a terrific start. He quickly recorded the first two outs, and he had an 0-1 count to Derek Norris (who as of right now is 5-5).  Of course the umpires called a rain delay. 

This brings us to Terry Collins’ second fateful decision. He had Familia come back in after sitting for over a half hour. He then allowed a bloop single to Derek Norris. Matt Kemp followed with a single to the left side. Finally, Justin Upton hit a three run homerun to put the Padres up 8-7. Familia blew his third save in a row. I’m still shocked Familia does not have a save since the All Star Break. 

Of course after approximately 10 minutes of play, the umpires saw it fit to call another rain delay. Understandably, the grounds crew had trouble getting a rain soaked tarp on the field. 

I don’t disagree with either of Collins’ bullpen maneuvers. He should be able to reasonably anticipate his relievers can hold a six run lead. He should reasonably anticipate that his closer save a game with a two run lead. He should’ve sent Familia out there. Think about it?  Who is he going to warm up?  Tyler Clippard already pitched. Familia was your best shot. 

However, I have to say the umpires did a horrible job. You CANNOT delay a game with two outs in the ninth and then delay it again after the end of the top of the inning. It doesn’t excuse Familia’s performance, but it may explain it.

I’m not anticipating them to restart this game anytime soon. Not only is it still raining heavily, but the field also needs a lot of work. It’s very possible this game is suspended. Even if it isn’t, they will not be playing for a while. 

Mets Need to Stomp Out Mejia

How stupid can you possibly be?  Jenrry Mejia became the first person in Major League history to be suspended twice in one season under MLB’s stiffer policy for PED use. You would’ve thought after the first suspension, he would’ve tried to conceal his usage. 

I used to really like Mejia. I was angry at Jerry Manuel for setting his career back. I didn’t think the Mets gave him a fair shake in the rotation last year. However, I became impressed how he adapted to the bullpen. He finished last year with 28 saves. He looked poised to become the closer for years to come. Ideally, Jeurys Familia and Bobby Parnell would be be his setup men for a terrific 7-8-9 tandem. 

While warming up in the bullpen on Opening Day, he felt pain in his elbow. As he was being placed on the DL, he was getting suspended for 80 games. Between that suspension and his latest suspension, it appears I was wrong about him. 

I don’t want him on the Mets. I don’t want to raise someone who roots for cheaters. I don’t want to say to my son we shouldn’t root for Mejia because he cheats, but I’m cheering right now because he helped the Mets. I’m not a fan of moral equivalence, and I don’t like being put in that situation. 

I applaud The 7 Line for donating the Mejia t-shirts rather than profit from their sale. I only wish Sandy Alderson had this type of moral courage. 

You see Sandy LOVES his steroid guys. He built those great A’s teams with steroids guys. (for the record he denied knowing this even though Tony LaRussa said it was well known). He signed Bartolo Colon. Colon missed a steroids suspension while playing for the Mets on a technicality. He signed Marlon Byrd. There are others, but I’m not going to belabor the point. 

Sandy’s reaction?  He stated, “[t]here is a tremendous amount of disappointment, to some extent anger.”  The Mets’ front office is “ticked off” at Mejia’s suspension.  Given his history, he doesn’t have the right to this reaction. I think they’re only upset he got caught. 

Don’t believe me?  Then tell me why Mejia hadn’t been released yet?  He’s no longer an asset. He’s one suspension away from being gone from the game. If the Mets truly care about steroids enough to be “ticked off,” they should send a message and release him. 

I’m all for repentance and rehabilitation. I agreed Mejia had his suspension and his right to return to the Mets. If he was clean, he should be allowed to play. He’s shown no interest in playing clean. He needs to be booted off the team. 

Oh Billy Billy Billy

Admittedly, I have been apoplectic over the Tyler Clippard trade. The reason is because the last time the Mets made a trade like this it ended very badly. Faith and Fear in Flushing invoked the infamous John Smoltz and Jeff Bagwell trades. For me, it reminded me of Billy Taylor

In 1999, the Mets were in competition for the playoffs for really the second time in my life (and second year in a row). I was too young to truly remember this (although my first baseball memory is the Buckner game) or this. After the previous season’s collapse, I was desperate to see the Nets make the playoffs. I was appreciative when Steve Phillips was aggressive at the trade deadline. Notably, he added Kenny Rogers (I still don’t want to talk about it), Shawn Dunston, and Darryl Hamilton (RIP). He also traded for Billy  Taylor. 

To acquire Billy Taylor, the Mets sent Billy Beane’s A’s Greg McMichael and Jason Isringhausen. At the time, I loved the move. Over a three year stretch, he had 73 saves on mediocre Athletics teams. In 1999, on an A’s team on the rise, he had 26 saves (his peripherals were awful but I didn’t follow such things back then). I was giddy at the prospect of the Mets having a 7-8-9 of Billy Taylor-John Franco-Armando Benitez (this is before we knew he was terrible in October). I didn’t care about the cost. All I wanted was a playoff berth, let alone a World Series. 

Boy, was I wrong. In 18 appearances, Taylor had an 8.10 ERA. He was terrible. He didn’t pitch in the postseason. He was gone at the end of the year. He was out of baseball after the 2001 season. 

The real cost of Taylor’s 18 innings?  Jason Isringhausen’s career. He was once part of the fabled Generation K. In 1999, he was only given five starts. Mostly, he was a seldom used reliever who bounced between Norfolk and New York. He was coming off an elbow injury. At the time of the trade, he had a 6.41 ERA. His star had fallen. While he wasn’t good, Bobby V didn’t want to put him in the bullpen because that was “akin to using an Indy car as a taxi.”

I love Bobby V, but he was proven wrong. In 1999, he would save eight games for the A’s with a 2.13 ERA. That might’ve been helpful as Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run. Since the trade, Izzy accumulated 299 saves (one for the Mets in 1999 and seven for them in 2011).  That was a lot to give up for 18 appearances. 

Now, I don’t think Tyler Clippard will be as bad as Billy Taylor. He’s a much better pitcher. In actuality, through all of my hand wringing, I have noted Clippard is a quality addition that will help a back of a bullpen that needs it. I think the 7-8-9 of Bobby Parnell-Tyler Clippard-Jeurys Familia could be very good, or at least better than the 1999 version. If the Mets win the World Series, I’ll be thrilled and I won’t care how good Casey Meisner becomes. 

However, I shudder at another Mets trade with Billy Beane for a reliever.  While I hope one day I’m regaling my son of the 2015 championship season, I’m afraid that I will be explaining how Casey Meisner could have been a Met. 

Jacob cyGrom

Even after the trades and last night’s increased run production, pitching is the main focus of the team. Front and center has been Jacob deGrom. Last year the question was if he had been up long enough to win Rookie of the Year (he was). This year it is whether the voters will vote for him for Cy Young over the other pitchers who have previously won the Cy Young award. 

On Sunday, he arguably made his strongest statement to date that he should be the Cy Young Award winner in the National League. He went 7.2 scoreless with eight strikeouts to lower his ERA to 2.05. He beat Zack Greinke, whose had a ridiculous 45.2 scoreless inning streak was ended by the Mets of all teams. 

deGrom left to a standing ovation in the eighth and handed the ball to Jeurys Familia for the four out save. It was exactly how you would draw it up . . . only Familia (who should not have pitched last night) blew the save. Luckily, he would be bailed out by Jenrry Mejia, who navigated the 10th inning, Curtis Granderson, who hit a leadoff double in the 10th, and Juan Uribe, who rocketed a game winning RBI double scoring Granderson. For how good Familia has been this year, it was good the team bailed him out. 

On offense, you can’t complain when you end a lengthy scoring streak to a pitcher the caliber of Greinke. Both runs off Greinke may have been a gift with a Joc Pederson error setting up the first run and Greinke hitting Conforto with the bases loaded for the second run, but the Mets took advantage of the opportunities. 

Plus, when it really counted, Granderson and Uribe came through in the 10th. It was nice to see the Mets come through despite Ruben Tejada’s awful bunt failing to move up Granderson. You have to give it to Sandy, his two acquisitions came through in their first two games. 

As I suspected, Collins used a platoon with his left-handed bats to start the game: Johnson, Murphy, and Nieuwenhuis. Uribe came in late for defense and made a nice play in the ninth that Murphy would not have made. Collins may still yet eschew this platoon system, but he kept his promise that players who produce will play. Those three produced yesterday, and they played today. 

The Mets now move on to a softer part of the schedule. Even if the Mets don’t make another move, they now seem ready to compete in this pennant race. Lets Go Mets.