Jeurys Familia

Take a Deep Breath, It’s the Marlins

For three straight seasons, I was there when the Mets season ended.  In 2007 and 2008, the season ended with a baffling loss to the Marlins. The 2006 – 2008 seasons left its scars.  Those years weren’t worse than the 2007 – 2014 irrelevance. Well, it’s 2015, and the Mets are back in first place. 

You know what else is back?  The talk of the Mets collapses. All over Twitter, there is discussion about not jinxing anything. Tom Verducci published an article in Sports Illustrated which, in part, highlighted Collins’ own collapses in his prior managerial experience. I’m sure with the Mets playing the Marlins that will only intensify. 

It shouldn’t even be a discussion. In 2007, the Mets entered September with a two game lead over the Phillies. In 2008, the Mets entered September with a one game lead. These Mets entered September with a 6.5 game lead. These Mets have an intact starting rotation even if the team is tempting fate with their handling of it. Even if there are issues with the bullpen, it’s in much better shape with a healthy closer like Jeurys Familia

The Marlins now are 14 games under .500 and are part of the Mets weak schedule. They’re a mess even by Marlins’ standards. They still don’t have Giancarlo Stanton back from the DL. The Mets are 9-4 against these Marlins. I’m not worried. 

The 2007 and 2008 Mets were a different team from top to bottom. They were lacking something. We don’t know the makeup of this team yet. There have been positive signs like the sweep of the Nationals. There were negative signs like getting swept by the Pirates

Today is September 4th. There’s one month of baseball left starting with the Marlins. For the fans that need it, those ghosts that haunt them will begin to be exorcized tonight. For the other fans, this is a series against a second division club. For everyone, it’s time to enjoy the winning baseball. 

Colon Was Large and in Charge

If the Mets actually pull this off and win the division, they need to send some playoff shares to the Phillies as they are now 13-1 against them. If not for the Phillies, the Mets would only be three games over .500 right now and in a tie for the division lead with the Nationals. 

Today’s win was fueled by Bartolo Colon. He was once again terrific against them. Last time out, he went 7 innings with eight strikeouts and none earned. Tonight, he was even better going 8 innings with nine strikeouts and no runs allowed.  Between this start and Saturday’s relief appearance, he is single-handedly saving the bullpen. Honestly, he could’ve and should’ve gone nine. 

Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth, and he got into trouble. He loaded the bases. He was able to induce a 6-4-3 double play. He dodged a bullet when a would be Andres Blanco extra base hit went foul. Familia would strike him out to end the game. However, tonight belonged to Colon. 

Colon even added some offense. After Michael Conforto‘s opposite field HR giving the Mets a 1-0 lead in the fifth, Colon added a single. He would score on Curtis Granderson‘s homerun. Colon would make these three fifth inning runs hold up for the Mets 3-0 win. 

There needs to be an important point made about replay here. In the seventh, it appeared Conforto had his first stolen base. However, the tag lingered. There was about .000000000000000000000000000001 seconds where Conforto was not on the bag. After a review lasting about four hours, Conforto was ruled out. It became his first caught stealing instead of his first stolen base. 

I lean towards being old school. I was skeptical of replay. I agree that if you’re going to have it, you need to get the call right. The umpires got the call right. However, I still can’t believe that was actually replayed. Second, while I don’t think it was the case, how could you tell that the rage forced Conforto off the bag for that split second?  

If baseball wants to speed up the game, they have to address all areas. If you want a clock on the pitcher and batter, you need a clock on replay.  It detracted from the viewing experience. 

Luckily, it didn’t detract from the win. 

Cuddyer is a Pro

Baseball is a funny game. Noah Syndergaard has been in the big leagues for 20 starts, but he showed the guile of a 20 year veteran. Michael Cuddyer is a 15 year veteran, who played like it was his fifteenth game. 

For starters, Thor needed to get some innings to help a stressed bullpen. He did that. Terry Collins let him go 111 pitches over 6.2 innings. Collins could’ve pinch hit for him in the sixth, but he didn’t. In fact, Collins pulled the oldest trick in the book by having a PH in the on deck circle to force the Red Sox to pitch to Anthony Recker. Most Mets fans questioned if that was a good move.  Regardless, Recker hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 4-2. 
Taking a 4-2 lead into the seventh, Thor had one on and two out with a chance to come out of the inning unscathed and hand the ball off to the bullpen. Jackie Bradley, Jr. Hit a pinch hit double (which looked like it might go out) to narrow the gap to 4-3. Thor was done. Collins brought in Hansel Robles

Much like today’s lineup, this wouldn’t have been my choice, especially with Robles pitching a lot lately. Then again, who in the bullpen hasn’t?  Now, the box score will say Mookie Betts hit a game tying triple. Your eyes tell you Cuddyer botched the play. Your eyes tell you the play should’ve been made easily had Cuddyer made a break of any kind on the ball within 2-3 seconds. 

It was a rookie mistake from a player who should know better. With the game on the line, Collins made the move he had to make, but clearly didn’t want to yet, and brought in Tyler Clippard. He would get the last out of the seventh and pitch a clean eighth. 

Cuddyer would get his redemption in the bottom of the inning.  With two outs in the inning, Daniel Murphy stole second (remember when that used to be a thing)  he was brought home on Cuddyer’s RBI single. It was redemption for him. its funny because other than the OF gaffe, he had a good game. He went 3-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a huge RBI. He also broke up a double play:

In the ninth, there was a Red Sox rally started by some typical poor play from Ruben Tejada. He loafed it with a fast runner thereby sparking a rally. Seriously, I’m sick of him . . . again. It would be first and second with two outs. Jeurys Familia found a way with two big strikeouts. He’s showing himself to be an elite closer. It wasn’t easy for him, but he got the save securing the 5-4 win. Clippard got the win. 

Now, there are two moves Collins subjected himself to criticism, but I won’t do so myself. The first is the Robles move. I understood it. You’ve been pitching Clippard constantly. You don’t want to burn him out. While I question Robles there, I can’t kill him for it. 

The other move was the defensive substitution of Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth moving Cuddyer to 1B and Murphy to 2B. Second guessers may say Cespedes makes the play that Cuddyer didn’t. That’s not on Collins. First, you have to expect Cuddyer to make that play. Second, it’s not like we haven’t seen some Cespedes loafing. Finally, I respect wanting to give a veteran a full day off. 

If you want to question Collins, question him leading off Juan Lagares with Curtis Granderson batting second against a LHP. This poor OBP duo went 1-9 with five strikeouts. Also, question him starting Juan Uribe at 2B because he just had to get his .195/.278/.425 in the lineup. At least Uribe got the big two run double in the sixth to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. 
In other notes, David Ortiz juiced another HR. Also, Joe West had a strike zone that would make the late Eric Gregg shake his head. As a result, both teams were irritated. Kevin Long was really irritated. He got tossed defending an upset Granderson, who got rung up on a ball. 

The Mets avoided the sweep. It was a good win especially since the Nationals won. The Mets continue this 13 game stretch of last place teams in facing the Phillies next. Let’s hope this six game lead grows. 

Mets Finally Burned by Collins

If you keep playing with fire, you’re eventually going to get burned. Terry Collins’ poor managing has been masked by a seven game winning streak that came off the two worst teams in baseball. The fifth worst team in baseball would capitalize on Collins’ mistakes. 

Tonight, the Mets got a dominant start from Matt Harvey. He only allowed two hits over six innings with eight strikeouts. Lucky for the Mets, the extra rest didn’t have a negative impact on Harvey. I don’t know if it was the rest or the last place Red Sox lineup. Either way, Harvey was Harvey. 

Unfortunately for the Mets Terry Collins was Terry Collins. He put Juan Lagares and his .290 OBP in the leadoff spot. He was followed by Curtis Granderson and his .220 OBP against LHP. They combine to go 0-8 with two walks. The Mets would only score two runs against Henry Owens and his 4.50 ERA. 

Then he brought in Logan Verrett to pitch in a second straight game. He’s never done that before, so Collins decided it was best to do it with a two game lead. However, yesterday with Verrett fully stretched out, he wouldn’t let Verrett go multiple innings. I don’t get it. 

Verrett would give the lead away. His stuff looked flat, and the Red Sox teed off of him to the tune of three runs. The first run was a homer juiced by David Ortiz. The next two runs came off a homer by Jackie Bradley, Jr.

The Mets would rally off the Red Sox bullpen. It’s what they have been doing. They’ve been feasting off bad pitching to beat bad teams. The Mets loaded the bases and tied the score at three a piece on a two out bases loaded walk to Travis d’Arnaud. Rather than pinch hit Daniel Murphy, Collins let human rally killer Ruben Tejada bat. Unsurprisingly, the man who is hitting .227 in August popped out to end the rally.

The Mets two big guns out of the bullpen, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia shut the door in the eighth and ninth. They kept the game tied. It didn’t matter. Because of the mismanaged tired bullpen, Carlos Torres had to come in. 

He gave up a home run to the first batter he saw, Blake Swihart hit an inside the park homerun. Or did he?  On a ball Lagares makes a play on last year, he went to play it off the wall. After it came off the wall, he never went to play it. Tejada and Granderson would go after it. Yoenis Cespedes never flinched in LF. By the time Tejada reached the ball, it was obvious Swihart was going to score. 

Initially, I was irate with Lagares. How could he not go after it?  Replays showed the ball went over the orange line in CF. It was going to be a HR anyway. The exhausted Torres, who pitched 2.1 innings last night, was letting up line drives left and right. I can’t blame him he was set up to fail. He was finally lifted with two outs in the tenth with the score 6-3. At least Eric O’Flaherty got a lefty out to end the inning.   

The Mets rallied in the tenth. Tejada singled. Michael Conforto had a good AB and a well earned walk. Juan Uribe pinch hit for Lagares, and he walked to load the bases. Granderson walked giving the Mets their second run vis bases loaded walk on the night. Cespedes fm gave one a ride, but his flyball fell short. With that, the Mets luck finally ran out. 

In other news, of course the fans gave David Wright a nice standing ovation. He went 2-4 with a run scored. I also noticed he has begun throwing the ball more side armed. I wonder if that has anything to do with the back injury. 

Also, the Mets first two runs were with questionable calls by Tim Teufel’s at third base. The first time was Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] going through s stop sign. The second time was off of a fifth inning Michael Cuddyer single and a misplay by Rusney Castillo allowing Wright to score from first. Teufel sent Wright when most thought the stop sign should’ve been applied. To be honest, I haven’t noticed Teufel much at third this year, which usually means he’s been doing a good job. 

The Mets missed an opportunity to go 7.5 games up on the Nationals. Overall, they missed a lot of opportunities tonight. It’s not the end of the world, but the Mets need to fix the bullpen and Collins in-game management. It’s going to burn them worse than it did tonight, whether it’s in September or October. 

Hopefully, tomorrow will be the start of another long winning streak. 

Mets Sweep Phillies & Collins Poor Managing Away

The hallmark of a good team is to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Mets have now taken that to the extreme with their 12-1 record so far this year against the Phillies. The Mets had to overcome a lot tonight, including their manager. 

It didn’t start well for the Mets. Jon Niese was getting squeezed and frustrated. Then in the third inning he imploded. He allowed five runs putting the Mets in an early hole. Before the All Star Break, you couldn’t have counted have counted on the Mets scoring five runs in a week, let alone one game. 

However, the Mets now have a more completed. It showed as they overcame the five run deficit. In a month where the Mets have hit more homeruns in any other month in their history, the Mets used the long ball to get back in the game. In the fourth, Travis d’Arnaud hit a two run homer. In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes showed off his “Feats of Strength” with a two run homer. Finally, Kelly Johnson tied the game with a solo homerun in the fifth. It should be noted none of these three players were on the 25 man roster during the extreme offensive struggles in July. 

Both Niese and Aaron Harang would go six making it a battle of the bullpens. It was nice seeing Logan Verrett in the bullpen. However, I didn’t like how he was wasted. Terry Collins should’ve made a double switch with Verrett due up second. It made sense because Verrett can go multiple innings, especially with a short bullpen. 

Instead, Verrett only went one inning. This set up an inning where the Phillies got a chance to get a measure of revenge against Hansel Robles. They failed. Jeff Francoeur was robbed of an extra base hit on a diving stop by David Wright, who was good in the field today. Darin Ruf struck out again. Otherwise, Robles navigated around a one out double to get out of the inning.

Then in the ninth, Terry Collins went with Sean Gilmartin over Jeurys Familia. If Collins felt it was the right move because he needed a reliever to throw multiple innings, then he should’ve double switched when Verrett was in the game. Forget that: he should’ve double switched when Gilmartin came in the game because he was due up third in the tenth. If he was waiting for the save situation, it’s no excuse. You don’t risk losing a game without bringing in your best reliever. 

I think the answer might’ve been Collins wanted multiple innings from Gilmartin because HE LET GILMARTIN HIT FOR HIMSELF!  That’s inexcusable. The double switch is National League Managing 101. 

Just when I thought Collins was done making bad decisions, he takes out Gilmartin, and he puts in Carlos Torres. We then saw the greatest 1-3-1 out you’ll ever see:

Torres was brilliant. He pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, and he got the game winning rally started in the 13th. After he reached, Curtis Granderson singled in a tough AB. With one out Daniel Murphy came up in the same situation he did in the 11th. This time instead of hitting into a rally killing double play, he would hit a two RBI double down the left field line. 

Murphy moved to third on the throw, and he scored when Wright reached on an error. Wright would score on a Michael Conforto RBI single. The rally was ended by Ruben Tejada, who, somehow, was the only Met not to get a hit in this series played in this bandbox. Familia came in to close out the game with the final score of 9-5. Its funny seeing Torres bat for himself in the 13th, but not pitch in the inning. It’s a good thing Collins saved him for the save situation that never arose. 

It was a good win even if it was poorly managed. Again, Collins is making me nervous. I’ll enjoy the win even if I didn’t enjoy Collins’ very suspect managing. 

Is Logan Verrett Getting Another Start?

The strength of the Mets team this year has been their rotation. Even when they weren’t scoring runs, the rotation was able to keep it together for long enough to permit Sandy Alderson to make some moves to improve the offense. 

With the Mets actually having a major league offense, they now seem intent to tempt fate and continue to mess with the rotation.  They got away with it with Logan Verrett having a great game against the Rockies. Reading the tea leaves, Verrett may get another start. 

Verrett did not make an appearance in last night’s game even though they needed him. Instead, we saw Eric O’FlahertyCarlos Torres, and four outs from Tyler Clippard. Now, it appears Clippard will be unavailable tonight. If Verrett was truly available, he should’ve pitched in the eighth or ninth last night. This makes you question why he didn’t make an appearance. Was it because the Mets are giving him another start?

Another cause for suspicion is the Mets handling of the Steven Matz rehab. Initially, the Mets said they wanted to call him up on September 1st and move to a six man rotation. However, the Mets say Matz will need another rehab start before being called back up. That next start would be August 30th. This means he will first be ready to start Friday, September 4th in Miami. That leaves room for one Verrett start. 

In between that time, there’s another opportunity for Verrett to start. His next time up would be tonight. If Verrett comes out of the bullpen tonight, we’ll know he’s out of the rotation. If he doesn’t, barring a Jon Niese complete game, we can reasonably assume, he’s getting another start. 

The Mets may believe Verrett earned another start with his he pitched in Colorado. I think that’s faulty logic. While he pitched well, I think you only start him if you believe he’s one of your five or six best pitchers. I don’t think the Mets believe that. If that’s the case, put him in the bullpen so you don’t burn out your actual good arms like Clippard and Jeurys Familia before the playoffs. 

I think the bullpen is the greater need right now, and I don’t think there is a real innings limit problem. Get Verrett in the bullpen now. 

NOTE: while this is something I drafted after last night’s Mets game, it should be noted this is being published after Ryan Burdette’s excellent tweet. Since I saw this tweet, I felt the need to make this notation before publishing this post. 

Thor Forgets His Hammer

Everyone can talk about the home-road splits with Noah Syndergaard. However, if you think of yourself as a future ace, you don’t have games like Thor had tonight. 

He was handed a 3-0 lead by another “Feat of Strength” by Yoenis Cespedes and Thor’s own RBI single. He gave it back and couldn’t make it past the fifth inning. This was important because the Mets have a really short bullpen. Normally, you’d ask your starter to get some extra innings with a short bullpen. The smarts couldn’t do that because of the phantom innings limit issue. 

What we have instead was another day with a Mets reliever going multiple innings.  Today, it was Hansel Robles‘ turn (more on him later).  He pitched well only allowing one of the inherited runners from Eric O’Flaherty to score. I’m assuming the Mets will not have him and Sean Gilmartin available. Plus Logan Verrett will only be available for one inning. This is not the situation you want to be in with Bartolo Colon on the mound tomorrow, reagardless of his health

Thor was bailed out in the top of the sixth when Travis d’Arnaud, who was inexplicably batting eighth, received an RBI from a bases loaded walk to tie the game. Michael Cuddyer then pinch hit for Thor and hit a two run single to put the Mets up 6-4. This is the latest example showing Cuddyer may still have something to contribute

Tyler Clippard had a rough eighth inning. He left 1st and 2nd with two outs for Jeurys Familia, who came on for the four out save. He induced a groundballs to David Wright to get out of the jam unscathed. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the 6-5 win. Now with Familia going four outs for a save, we now have to question his availability for tomorrow. 
Back to Robles. What he did was bush league. It was bush league not because he quick pitched. It was bush league because Cody Asche‘s head was down when he threw the ball. The Phillies dugout was rightfully upset. Normally, I’d argue that Jeff Francoeur should’ve been ejected, but he was protecting his teammate. The dugouts emptied, but neither team really crossed the lines. 

My overall issue is with the home plate umpire. You either instruct the batter to get in the box or have your hands up the whole time to let Robles know he can’t throw a pitch. The umpire needs to be aware Robles likes to quick pitch, and he needs to umpire the game accordingly. 

It should also be noted that Wright’s second game back wasn’t as successful as his first. He didn’t look as good at the plate. He swung at a lot of balls off the plate and out of the strike zone. Overall, he went 0-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. On the bright side, he was better in the field. Regardless, like last night, this was just one game, and I still have faith in him

Ironically, despite the predicament Thor left the Mets in, he notched his first career road win. The Mets have problems to deal with tomorrow with an even shorter bullpen and no Wright tomorrow. At least they took care of business tonight and still lead the divisio by 5.5 games. Let’s enjoy tonight and worry about tomorrow. 

This Isn’t Baseball

Keith Hernandez was right when he asked how you can sell this. I love that he lost his patience with this game. He voiced that quite well tonight. High scoring games can be fun. When it is in Coors Field, it feels tedious. It feels like a gimmic. 

It’s why I can’t pass judgment on Jon Niese for allowing 11 hits and seven earned in 5.1 innings. I don’t care that he had an 11-3 lead. It’s like calling someone terrible at golf because they can’t get the ball past the windmill on the mini golf course. It’s a gimmic version of golf, which does not truly measure someone’s true golf skills. That’s what it’s like pitching in Coors Field. 

It’s also why I didn’t get all excited over the top of the third which I’m not entirely sure ever ended. Sure, at the end of the inning, the Mets scored  eight runs to go up 11-3. It’s also true the final score was 14-9. Another reason I wasn’t excited over the inning was all the tired Oprah jokes on Twitter:

  

I thought with the Dark Knight there would be more creativity. Since these were big hits, I was hoping to see some old Batman references like:  

  
and   

  
and, of course

  
Well, anyway, we all sat through pretty bad baseball and tired, recycled jokes. 

As much as we complain about Terry Collins, Walt Weiss is so much worse. After blowing a game against the Mets for pulling his starter too early, he cost his team a chance to win by leaving his starters in too long the past few nights. I did like that even without a save situation, Collins threw the book away and pitched Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia. This showed an understanding of how these games have gone and the nature of Coors Field. Good work by Collins. 

I got bored with the video game scoring. However, I won’t get bored of is wins. I won’t get bored of a pennant race. Let’s hope for the sweep tomorrow in the last game without David Wright because the only thing worse than watching a game at Coors Field is watching your team lose there. 

Cespedes Backs Up a Damaged Colon

I’ve made it well known that I don’t think Bartolo Colon is a good pitcher anymore. Normally, I’d be apoplectic over his giving up seven earned in 3.2 innings. 

Actually, you know what?  I am apoplectic over it. Look at the photo. They had to ice and rub him just to get him out there. If you were watching it on TV, you saw that bump on his wrist get bigger and bigger. He should’ve been taken out when he was hit on the wrist in the second inning. 

I don’t care if you’re one of the stud muffins or a bad 42 year old pitcher, the team does not have the right to put a player out there and risk significant injury. I’m even more incredulous because the Mets have a short bullpen and want to skip Matt Harvey‘s Sunday start. Also, if the Mets want a six man rotation, I’m certain that included Colon and not Logan Verrett

Also troubling for the Mets, Lucas Duda left the game in the seventh with the game very much in doubt. Hopefully, it has nothing to do with his back

Lucky for the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes unleashed his “Feats of Strength.”  He went 5-6 with a stolen base, double, three homeruns (one grand slam) and seven RBIs. Two homers were to CF and the other went to RF.  it would’ve been 6-6 if not for a terrific running catch by Carlos Gonzalez in the ninth.  Going into the ninth, Cespedes had a chance for the HR Cycle (solo, two run, three run, grand slam). The Murphy SF took care of that. He was also a triple short of the cycle. Car-Go’s catch took care of that. 

The rest you need to know?  the six inning, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto hit solo homeruns off former Met Gonzalez German.  Sean Gilmartin was marginally effective and got the win. Hansel Robles wasn’t good, but he only gave up one run. The Mets added an insurance run in the eighth with a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] RBI double scoring Cespedes (who else?).  Daniel Murphy would knock in the last run with a ninth inning sacrifice fly. Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locked down the eighth and ninth to secure the 14-9 win. 

It’s funny with everything going on tonight, the thing that threw me for a loop was seeing Jose Reyes bat second. The only other person not to put Reyes in the leading spot was Jerry Manuel. That’s not good company for Walt Weis. 

Overall, my favorite part of the night was in the top of the sixth. Despite burning a challenge earlier in the game, Walt Weiss came out to challenge a safe call on a Curtis Granderson stolen base attempt. It was a little ironic because the early failed challenge involved Granderson throwing out Nick Hundley at the plate to end the fifth inning. I think the umpires got the call wrong even if it was upheld on replay.

Anyway, Walt Weiss has no challenges left. It doesn’t stop him. The umpires went forward with the replay, which did confirm the call. Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were livid and rightfully so. There were a few times I thought Keith was going to drop an expletive. In this mess of a game it gave me a chuckle. 

The win gave me a smile. I have a huge grin due to the Nationals loss, and the Mets expanding their lead to five games. 

Fastballs by Jake

Personally, I love how quietly Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are in this competition amongst themselves to be the ace of this staff. We shouldn’t be surprised the Mets have had two straight shut outs. Last night, Harvey allowed 4 hits and no walks with four strikeouts in eight innings. 

Tonight, deGrom was brilliant behind that brilliant fastball of his. He ended his last inning brilliantly with his 10th strikeout in the seventh. Overall, he allowed two hits with an uncharacteristic four walks. All the more remarkable, he didn’t allow a run with first and third with no out in the fifth (much of that due to poor Rockie base running). 

Offensively, Travis d’Arnaud is red hot going four for last nine. Michael Cuddyer played his second game in a row. He plated Juan Uribe, who had an RBI double of his own. We saw Yoenis Cespedes show a “Feat of Strength.”  Other than that, there was much not going on offensively.   This included a Michael Conforto pop-out in the seventh, when he pinch hit for deGrom. However, on a night with deGrom, three runs (3-0 final score) was all the Mets needed, especially with Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locking down the win. 

I guess I should also mention Cespedes had quite the armband . . . 

  
. . . that just so happened to match the color of the new Rally Parakeet

  
Whether it’s the black cat in 1969, or the yellow parakeet in 2015, I’ll take all the help we can get.