Lets start with the caveat that the non-elite closer bullpen market has yet to fully materialize. Once Kenley Jansen picks his team, it appears as if the market for the next tier of relievers, which includes possible Mets targets in Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara, will begin to emerge. It is also possible the Mets could trade Jay Bruce or some other players for bullpen help.
With those caveats in mind, there are two issues confronting the Mets bullpen. The first is that many relievers who could help the Mets in 2017 may move out of their price range, especially with Sandy Alderson announcing the team has to reduce its current payroll. The other obvious issue is the Mets have to somehow contend with the possibility that Jeurys Familia may be gone for a significant portion of the season. With that in mind, the Mets may very well have to look internally to fill one or more of the holes in their bullpen.
This begs the question about whether they can do it. Here is a look at some of the options for the 2017 season to determine whether or not the Mets current bullpen issues can be solved internally:
2016 MLB Stats: 1-0, 5.23 ERA, 16 G, 10.1 IP, 1.548 WHIP, 9.6 K/9
2016 MiLB Stats: 2-2, 3.11 ERA, 43 G, 37.2 IP, 1.540 WHIP, 10.8 K/9
In his first season back from Tommy John surgery, the biggest thing that stuck out for Edgin was his loss of velocity. Once, Edgin was a reliever who came out of the bullpen throwing 94 MPH. In 2016, Edgin loss three MPH off his fastball, and as a result, he went from limiting right-handed batters to a .219/.286/.250 batting line in his breakout 2014 season to a .300/.400/.500 batting line in 2016.
It should be noted the numbers from the 2014 and 2016 seasons are both relatively small sample sizes. Additionally, Edgin continued to pitch well against left-handed batters in 2016 limiting them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line. With that Edgin proved he can still be an effective LOOGY out of the pen even with this reduced velocity. If Edgin were to regain that velocity, he can fully take over the role left vacated by Jerry Blevins.
2016 MLB Stats: 0-1, 7.13 ERA, 14 G, GS, 17.2 IP, 1.585 WHIP, 5.6 K/9
2016 MiLB Stats: 9-7, 4.86 ERA, 19 G, 18 GS, 107.1 IP, 1.425 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
Despite Gilmartin being an important part of the Mets 2015 bullpen, the team decided it was better for him to work on being a starting pitcher in AAA rather than him reprising his role as the long man in the bullpen. While he started out well for the 51s, he would eventually begin to suffer some shoulder discomfort, which required a stint on the disabled list, and his stats would suffer from there. It probably didn’t help that the Mets expected him to take cross-country flights and make multiple inning appearances out of the bullpen with three days of rest or less. Ultimately, we have seen Gilmartin be successful in the major leagues out of the bullpen, and accordingly, we should not discount the possibility he will be successful out of the bulllpen again in 2017.
2016 MLB Stats: 5-2, 2.67 ERA, 17 G, 8 GS, 64.0 IP, 1.094 WHIP, 6.3 K/9
2016 MiLB Stats: 3-4, 6.50, 21 G, 14 GS, 73.1 IP, 1.677 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
After Lugo struggled in AAA, he was taken out of the rotation, and he was put in the bullpen. For a guy that can max out his fastball over 95 MPH and has a terrific curveball, it seemed like the best place for him in a Mets organization with plenty of pitching depth. When he first came up to the majors and made Anthony Rizzo look foolish with his curveball, it seemed like Lugo had a home in the bullpen.
However, with the starting pitching injuries mounting, Lugo was thrust into the rotation. With a postseason berth on the line, he combined with fellow rookie Robert Gsellman to pitch extremely well. It is now debatable as to whether or not the bullpen is the best use of Lugo’s talents. It is all the more debatable when you consider the Mets rotation has some injury concerns and is likely going to deal with some innings limits. With that in mind, while Lugo has certainly proven himself to be an effective reliever, he may be best suited to either the fifth spot in the rotation, or starting the year in the AAA rotation and being ready for the first opportunity that arises.
2016 MiLB Stats: 5-3, 3.29 ERA, 56 G, 19 SV, 65.2 IP, 1.203 WHIP, 11.0 K/9
With Sewald not being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he is now a possibility to be a part of the Mets bullpen in 2017. The issue with Sewald is his stuff is not that impressive with him only topping out in the low 90s with his fastball. However, that overlooks the fact that he has a good slider which he uses as an out pitch, and the fact he rarely walks batters. In his minor league career, he has only walked 59 batters in 258.0 innings pitched.
Another factor to consider is how well he pitched in the Pacific Coast League, which is a hitter’s haven. In the second half of the season, Sewald made 20 appearances going 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 10 saves, 0.95 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9. In looking over his entire minor league career, Sewald has rarely walked batters, has struck out over 10 batters per nine, has had low ERAs, and has consistently been a good closer. With his experience, talent, and the Mets catchers excellent pitch framing, there is every reason to believe Sewald has a legitimate chance to be a good reliever in the major leagues.
2016 MLB Stats: 3-0, 4.70 ERA, 20 G, 15.1 IP, 1.304 WHIP, 14.7 K/9
2016 MiLB Stats: 3-2, 4.11 ERA, 52 G, 57.0 IP, 1.474 WHIP, 12.8 K/9
The Smoker we saw with the Mets was essentially the Smoker that we have seen in his minor league career. Smoker is a one inning reliever who strikes out a lot of batters, but he has reverse splits. Whereas Edgin is a LOOGY, Smoker is somehow a left-handed ROOGY that gets tattooed by left-handed hitting. Another issue for Smoker is he is only good for one inning. Every single outing he was asked to go over one inning by the Mets, he allowed a home run.
Still, there is a place for a pitcher like Smoker in the bullpen. His ability to generate strikeouts at a level as high as he does is rare, and it is very valuable.
2014 Stats: 11-11, 3.54 ERA, 32 G, 32 GS, CG, SHO, 185.1 IP, 1.327 WHIP, 9.1 K/9
With Wheeler missing two seasons, the Mets have already bandied the idea of putting Wheeler and his 96 MPH fastball in the bullpen. On the one hand, it seems like it is a good opportunity for Wheeler to get back to pitching to major league batters while keeping his inning down after missing the past two seasons while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
There are some issues with Wheeler in the bullpen. The first is he has a tendency to lose the strike zone which is a huge problem for short inning relievers. The second is, as we saw with Jim Henderson, Terry Collins has a tendency to overlook his relievers injury issues and overwork them anyway. The third and final issue is what type of reliever will he be? Is he going to be a multi-inning reliever who will be shut down for a couple of days afterwards, or is he going to be a one inning reliever expected to air it out for one inning.
The answer to that and many other questions will be resolved once the Mets ultimately decide what Wheeler is. Is he someone that can rejoin the rotation, or is he someone forever slated to the bulllpen? At this point, it is hard to know the answer.
Overall, the Mets have plenty of internal options to fill-out their bullpen. Indeed, if they were to use only internal options, it is possible the Mets could build themselves a very good bullpen. However, if the Mets were to purely stick with internal options, it remains possible the Mets may expose their starting rotation by not having pitchers like Gilmartin, Lugo, or Wheeler sufficiently stretched out to start.
Ulimately, the Mets would be wise to use some of their internal options to help build their bullpen in 2017. With that said, the team is still going to need to obtain one or two relievers before the end of the offseason.
After protecting Amed Rosario, Tomas Nido, Chris Flexen, Marcos Molina, and Wuilmer Becerra from the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets 40 man roster now stands at precisely 40 players. This means that now when the Mets look to add a player in free agency, they will have to cut one of the players off of their 40 man roster. And yes, the Mets will have to remove some players off of the 40 man roster.
From all indications, even if the Mets do no re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, they are pursuing other outfielders to replace him. With the possible suspension of Jeurys Familia looming, it is likely, the Mets will have to add one, if not two, late inning relievers. The team may be interested in bringing back Jerry Blevins or finding another LOOGY. In addition to those moves, there are some other moves or upgrades the Mets may make this offseason. With that in mind, here are some players whose spot on the 40 man roster is tenuous:
Heading into the 2015 season, Edgin was supposed to be the Mets LOOGY for years to come. Those plans changed when he needed Tommy John surgery causing him to miss the entire 2015 season.
He returned in 2016, and he was not the same pitcher having lost velocity off of all of his pitches. He went from having a mid-90s fastball to having a low 90s fastball. As a result, Edgin got hit around. In AAA, he had a 3.51 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP. In his limited stints in the majors, he had a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP. Another complication for Edgin is he is arbitration eligible meaning the Mets are presumably going to have to pay him a lot more to keep him on the roster.
On a positive note, Edgin still did get left-handed batters out at the major league level. In a very small sample size (20 plate appearances), lefties only hit .235 off of him with no extra base hits. It is a big reason why he was on the Wild Card Game roster when the Mets faced a San Francisco Giants team stacked with lefties. Between his ability to get lefties out, the hope his arm could improve a second year removed from surgery, and his still having options available, there is still some hope for Edgin.
Gilmartin has gone from an important bullpen arm the Mets acquired in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft to a player who is seemingly lost his ability to get batters out.
Despite Gilmartin being a valuable long man in the pen, the Mets had him start the year in AAA to become starting pitching depth. In 18 starts and one relief appearance, he was 9-7 with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP. On a couple of occasions, he was recalled, and he pitched exclusively in relief for the Mets. Things did not go well for him in those 14 relief appearances as Gilmartin had a 7.13 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP. Between his performance and his having to go on the minor league disabled list with shoulder soreness, it was a lost year for Gilmartin.
Some of the struggles of Gilmartin were the result of his uneven usage between AAA and the majors. The other issue was his shoulder soreness, which for now, appears to no longer be an issue. Another strong factor in his favor is the fact that he is not yet arbitration eligible meaning the Mets do not have to pay him much to see if he returns to form. His having options available is also a positive. The Mets could still keep him on the roster with the idea of returning him to the role he was most successful.
There is perhaps no Mets pitcher that evokes such split opinions than Goeddel. For years, there were people who saw a pitcher that was able to go out there and get outs. There were others who saw a guy who had fringy stuff that was more the beneficiary of good luck than good pitching. After the 2016 season, most people agree that Goeddel was a liability for the Mets.
In 36 appearances for the Mets, Goeddel had a 4.54 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. It should be noted this was a big departure from how he had previously pitched with the Mets. In 2014 and 2015, Goeddel had a combined 2.48 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. His prior success, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, gives him a chance to remain on the 40 man roster.
How he is still on the 40 man roster is anyone’s guess. Entering the 2016 season, the Mets had it with him, and they sent him a message by making him one of the first people sent down to minor league Spring Training. Montero responded by pitching so poorly in Las Vegas that he was demoted to Binghamton. It was only due a rash of pitching injuries that he got a shot at pitching in the majors again, and like his other opportunities, he squandered that. Still, despite all that, the Mets cut Eric Campbell and Jim Henderson, AND exposed Paul Sewald to the Rule 5 Draft all for the sake of holding onto Montero that much longer. Eventually, you have to assume Montero is going to get cut from the roster. It is only a matter of when.
Strangely enough, the Mets had to make a decision on whether to expose Verrett to the Rule 5 Draft or to remove a player from the 40 man roster to protect him. The Mets chose the former, and lost him for a period of time. After Verrett struggled with the Rangers, the Mets took him back where Verrett pitched well out of the bullpen and the rotation for the Mets.
The Mets envisioned Verrett succeeding in that role in 2016, but it wasn’t to be. He wasn’t as effective replacing Matt Harvey in the rotation as he was in 2015. He went from a 3.63 ERA as a starter to a 6.45 ERA. He performed so poorly out of the rotation that the Mets gave Montero a chance to start over him down the stretch of the season.
Still, there was a silver lining to Verrett’s 2016 season. In his 23 relief appearances, he had a 2.84 ERA. When you consider his reliever ERA, how well he performed in 2015, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, there is still a chance for Verrett to remain on the 40 man roster.
Thinking of Plawecki being on the bubble is a bit odd especially when he is only 25 years old, has shown himself to be a terrific pitch framer, and he has only had 409 plate appearances at the major league level.
The problem there is Plawecki hasn’t hit at all in those 409 plate appearances. In his brief major league career, Plawecki is a .211/.287/.285 hitter. That’s worse than what Rene Rivera could give you, and Rivera has firmly established himself as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher. Worse yet, Plawecki is not the defensive catcher Rivera is.
When you also consider Tomas Nido‘s breakout season in St. Lucie possibly forcing the Mets to protect him a year earlier than anticipated, the Mets are going to be faced with the dilemma of carrying four catchers on their 40 man roster. With Nido perhaps passing him as the catcher of the future, and Travis d’Arnaud having shown he has more offensive ability than Plawecki, it is quite possible, Plawecki could find himself having run out of chances with the Mets organization.
With all that said, it is hard to believe the Mets moving on from Plawecki this soon is his career.
This is an interesting situation for Kelly to be in considering he was signed to be minor league depth last season. With a rash of injuries and some hot hitting in AAA, Kelly finally reached the majors after his long seven year odyssey in the minor leagues.
After some time, the Mets actually discovered who Kelly was. Despite his switch hitting skills, he really could only hit from the right-hand side against major league pitching. He was versatile, but his best position was left field. Overall, his main asset down the stretch in September was as a pinch runner. He was mostly used as a pinch runner because of the dearth of team speed on the Mets roster. With all the said, he did make the Wild Card Game roster, and he got a pinch hit single off Madison Bumgarner.
Basically, all the reasons you can make for him being kept on the roster or being cut from the roster are the same exact things you could have said about Campbell, and he just signed a deal to play in Japan.
Overall, it is hard to guesstimate how many of these players are going to remain on the roster because we are not sure how many moves the Mets are going to make this offseason. Normally, you would say Montero was sure to be cut, but he is more and more looking like the pitching version of Campbell . . . there is just no getting rid of the guy. Still, as we learned from Campbell, there is going to become a breaking point, and that point may well be when the Mets sign enough players this offseason to take them from the Wild Card back to being World Series contenders.
Editor’s Note: a version of this story was originally run on Mets Merized Online
Throughout the season, I attempted to grade the different Mets players performances for each month of the season. In determining the year end grades, the aggregate of the monthly grades given was considered, but it wasn’t conclusive. For example, one player’s awful month could be more than offset by having an incredible month. Also, those decisions were made in the heat of the moment. There has been a cooling off period in giving these finals grades, and with that, there is time for reflection. It should also be noted the Wild Card Game did have some impact on these grades as that game was part of the story of the 2016 Mets. Overall, the final grades assessed considered the monthly grades, but also took into account that player(s) overall impact on the Mets season (good or bad). For the tenth and final set of grades, here is Terry Collins grade:
Sometimes grading a manager can be difficult. For starters, we cannot truly know how much of an impact the manager has in the clubhouse. For example, one person’s “player’s manager” is another person’s “letting the inmates run the asylum.” Essentially, that narrative is written based upon the type of year the team had.
Furthermore, in the modern game, we are unsure how much of an impact the front office has on daily decision making. It used to be that the General Manager would hire a manager, and then he would step aside and let the manager run the team as he saw fit. Now, there is a some level of interference in each organization. Some provide data and other tools to the manager while others are at least rumored to try to fill out line-up cards for teams.
If we are being honest, there really are times we do not know what is and what is not a manager’s fault. However, we do know that everything lies at the manager’s feet, and it is ultimately the manager that will have to be responsible for the choices made. Looking at Terry Collins’ choices is complicated. Lets review:
If you are being fair, Collins did what he was paid to do by bringing the Mets to the postseason in consecutive seasons. That is no small feat, especially for a franchise that has only done it once before in their entire history. There was also a large degree in difficulty in doing so, especially when you lose Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz to season-ending surgeries at different points in the season.
He also had to deal with a number of other injuries. There was the fairly expected ones like David Wright, the reasonably foreseen like Lucas Duda, and the out of nowhere like Wilmer Flores. Yoenis Cespedes dealt with a quad issue most of the summer too. Once again, it was not a ringing endorsement of the medical and training staff this season. Still, Collins dealt with it, and took a team that was two games under .500 in August, and the Mets claimed a Wild Card spot. Again, teams normally collapse in these circumstances. Collins’ team showed resolve, and for that, he deserves a lot of credit.
A major reason why was the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. These two young players contributed much earlier than expected and were better than anyone ever expected. One reason why is Collins matched them up with Rene Rivera who has excelled mentoring young pitching. Collins deserves credit for that as he does matching up Rivera with Noah Syndergaard to help alleviate the issues associated with Syndergaard holding on base runners. Collins use of Rivera might’ve been the best decision he made all season, and it could very well have been the reason why the Mets returned to the postseason.
The one issue I cannot get over all season was how reckless Collins was with his bullpen arms. It wasn’t aggressive. It wasn’t demanding. The only real term to use was reckless.
In April, he put Jim Henderson into a day game after a night game despite Henderson coming off shoulder surgeries and Henderson having thrown a career high in pitches the previous night. The reason? Collins determined an April game was a must-win game. In a sport that plays 162 games, no April game can be considered a must-win. During that inning, Henderson had no velocity, couldn’t get a guy out, and he would have to be lifted from the game. After that outing, Henderson wasn’t the same guy that made the team out of Spring Training, and he would have to be put on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He went from lock down seventh inning guy to removed from the 40 man roster as soon as the season ended.
Then there was Hansel Robles. Collins treated him like every arm he ruined in his past. Despite having a number of guys who could go more than one inning, including long man Logan Verrett, it was Robles who was called to the whip time and time again. During a one week stretch in June, Robles threw 127 pitches over three mutiple inning appearances. Then when he finally got some rest, Robles came right back out and threw 33 pitches over two innings. Robles sustained the abuse well for most of the season, but then he tailed off at the end of the year.
Somehow, someway Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia never got injured. It really is a miracle because they were used more than any other combination of relievers in baseball in 2016. The wear and tear finally showed in the Wild Card Game when neither pitcher had much of anything left. Both struggled in their respective innings of work. Reed was able to get out of it, but Familia wasn’t.
While the bullpen usage was an issue, there were other problems with Collins. He completely mishandled Michael Conforto this season. Conforto had gone from one of the best hitters in baseball in April, to a guy Collins outright refused to play down the stretch of the season despite Conforto hitting nearly .500 in AAA during his demotion.
Keep in mind, Conforto was not the only player who regressed this season. Travis d’Arnaud had looked prime to break out in 2016. Unfortunately, his season was marked by injuries and regression. With Conforto and d’Arnaud, there are two important young players who regressed under Collins.
Finally, there was the matter of how injuries were handled. Harvey’s injury issues were blamed on mechanics. Collins kept putting Cespedes out there everyday to play despite his clearly being hobbled. Same goes for Asdrubal Cabrera. The worst might have been talking Matz out of getting season ending surgery in order to pitch through what was described as a massive bone spur. Eventually, Matz would have to scrap his slider, would experience some shoulder discomfort, and he would finally get shut down for the season.
In a sport where you are judged by wins and losses, Collins was successful despite the issues he faced. However, many of those issues were self-inflicted. Given the fact that he brought the team to the postseason for a consecutive year, he should have received a high grade. However, Collins consistently risked the health of his players, and some were worse off as a result. You need to look no further than Henderson who is right now looking to catch onto a team yet again. Even worse yet, the young players the Mets need to take them to the next level next year are question marks due largely to Collins’ mishandling of them. Altogether, Collins season earned him a C-.
Throughout the season, I attempted to grade the different Mets players performances for each month of the season. In determining the year end grades, the aggregate of the monthly grades given was considered, but it wasn’t conclusive. For example, one player’s awful month could be more than offset by having an incredible month. Also, those decisions were made in the heat of the moment. There has been a cooling off period in giving these finals grades, and with that, there is time for reflection. It should also be noted the Wild Card Game did have some impact on these grades as that game was part of the story of the 2016 Mets. Overall, the final grades assessed considered the monthly grades, but also took into account that player(s) overall impact on the Mets season (good or bad). For the seventh set of grades, here are the Mets spot starters:
Familia would not repeat the dominance of his 2015 campaign, but still he would be among the best relievers in the game. He would set a new Mets record for most saves in a season, beating the record he shared with Armando Benitez. In fact, he led the majors in saves and games finished. He pitched more innings and made more appearances than any other closer. Overall, he was 3-4 with 51 saves, a 2.55 ERA, and a 1.210 WHIP. He was a deserving All-Star, and he cemented his place among the best closers in baseball. Time and again, he answered the call . . . until he didn’t.
In the Wild Card Game, admittedly a game the Mets do not reach without him, Familia was not up to the task. We can over-emphasize the three run homer hit by Conor Gillaspie, but that was just a part of an inning where Familia didn’t have his command, and he wasn’t fooling the Giants hitters. It was a tragic end to what was a good season for Familia.
Addison Reed A+
One thing that was lost during the 2016 season was the eighth inning was supposed to be a question mark with Tyler Clippard departing in free agency. We forget about this because Reed was just that great this season. In 80 appearances, he was 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA and a 0.940 WHIP. Overall, he probably was the best relief pitcher in the National League. He combined with Familia to create the best 8-9 combination in the major leagues, and together, they walked a tight rope night-in and night-out. With no margin for error, they made each game a seven inning game, and they were among the biggest reasons the Mets made the postseason.
Henderson’s 2016 season is an example of why baseball is cruel. After losing almost two full years due to shoulder injuries, he not only made the Mets out of Spring Training, but he was also handed the seventh inning job. In April, Henderson excelled with his 95+ MPH fastball. He was helping turn it into a six inning game with Reed and Familia behind him. Then disaster struck.
After throwing a career high 34 pitches, Terry Collins would put him back in there a day game after a night game. Collins’ excuse was it was a must-win game. It was April 13th. Henderson had nothing that day, and he would get lifted after loading the bases (Hansel Robles got out of the jam). After that game, Henderson lost a bit off his fastball, and he would eventually need a long stay on the disabled list with a shoulder issue. Even with the stay on the disabled list, he was never the same. A promising year ended with him going 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.371 WHIP.
Salas came to the Mets at the waiver trade deadline, and he had a similar effect that Reed did for the 2015 Mets. Essentially, Salas locked down the seventh inning, and he allowed the Mets to pull back a bit on the usage of Reed and Familia. He responded well to the workload and the Mets pitch framing. Overall, he would make 17 appearances going 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.635 WHIP. The Mets and Salas should be interested in a reunion this offseason.
John Harper makes a case in the New York Daily News that the Mets need to obtain Kenley Jansen to return to the postseason stating, “If the Mets want to take a huge step toward re-claiming that supremacy next year and beyond, they should make a big splash this off-season by signing Kenley Jansen.” He figures the Mets could obtain Jansen for a four year $54 million contract. His reasoning is flawed.
First of all, there is nothing about the Mets to suggest they can win a bidding war against the Dodgers for Jansen’s services. This doesn’t even account for other bigger spenders like the Cubs, Nationals, and Yankees also potentially getting involved. More importantly, there is no underlying need for Jansen.
Furthermore, the Mets already have a dominant closer in Jeurys Familia. Over the past two seasons, Familia has accumulated more appearances, more innings, and more saves than Jansen. Additionally, despite the current narrative floating around, Familia has been better in the postseason. In 13 postseason appearances, Familia has a 2.30 ERA and a 0.638 WHIP. In 15 postseason apperances, Jansen has a 3.38 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP. People forget that because Familia’s defense let him down in the World Series and he threw a bad pitch to Conor Gillaspie in the Wild Card Game. They also forget because Jansen has had back-to-back great performances in the postseason. That makes you forget the times Jansen has failed or his 6.75 NLDS ERA.
More important than that, the Mets have Addison Reed in the eighth inning. It is quite possible there was no better reliever in the National League than Reed this year. Reed had an amazing season that saw him shatter the Mets record for holds with him recording 40 this season. It’s all the more impressive when you consider Reed made the third most in the majors with the fifth best 1.97 ERA, and the highest WAR among relievers (2.9). Long story short, Reed has the eighth inning locked down.
Overall, between Familia and Reed the Mets have already made games a seven inning game. With the Mets young starters going 6+ per game, they don’t need the 7-8-9 dominant trio that other teams require. In fact, up until the rash of Mets starting pitching injuries this season, the seventh inning wasn’t an issue at all. Terry Collins was able to utilize his full bullpen, notably Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins (a pending free agent), and when healthy, Jim Henderson, to get through the inning. It wasn’t until Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman took over starting pitching spots that the seventh inning was an issue. It should be noted by that time, Fernando Salas (a pending free agent) locked it down.
The overriding point is the Mets do not need a three headed monster coming out of the bullpen to return to the postseason. Instead, the Mets need their starting pitchers healthy, and they need to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes. Therein lies the rub. As noted by MMO., Mets payroll commitments for the 2017 season already hover around $108 million, and that is before the Mets seek to re-sign Cespedes, Neil Walker, and/or Bartolo Colon.
If the Mets were to re-sign Cespedes to and average annual value commensurate with his 2015 salary figure, the Mets payroll would jump to $135 million. Keep in mind, the Mets 2016 Opening Day payroll was $135 million, and the team had to stretch it to that point to accomodate Cespedes. It is hard to imagine the Mets expanding on this payroll figure when they had a higher payroll in 2016 and didn’t have a long postseason run to offset some of the cost.
If you add Jansen at an average annual value of $13.5 million, that would increase the Mets 2017 payroll to $121.5 million before address the Cespedes, second base, and fifth starter issues. Adding Jansen, a very nice but unnecessary piece, only serves to build a more dominant bullpen at the expense of building a complete team. Adding Jansen overlooks the real need for the Mets, which is their starting pitchers returning next season fully healthy. Overall, the model the Mets shouldn’t be looking at is the three headed monster in the bullpen. Rather, the Mets should be looking at their 2015 model which is being emulated by the Cleveland Indians this postseason:
A dominant young starting pitcher going as deep into the game as possible and then a two-headed monster coming out of the bullpen to win the game.
The Mets already have that in place. What they do not have in place is Cespedes. They cannot do anything to damage their chances to lock him up and return to their 2015 form.
This was a strange year in the National League Manager of the Year race. All the teams that were supposed to be contenders were actually contenders despite most of those teams suffering brutal injuries.
That Nationals lost Stephen Strasburg for a good part of the year and will likely not have him in the postseason. The Mets lost Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, David Wright, and Lucas Duda for a good portion of the season. At one point, the Dodgers entire starting projected rotation was on the disabled list with the most crushing blow being a Clayton Kershaw trip to the disabled list. The Cardinals have had their shortstops, Jhonny Peralta and Aledmys Diaz, on the disabled list with injuries, and they lost their closer Trevor Rosenthal. Even the Cubs suffered a huge injury with Kyle Schwarber going down with a torn ACL. With these teams overcoming those injuries, it could be quite difficult to determine who was actually the best manager in the National League this season. Taking all that into consideration, here is my ballot:
1st Place – Dave Roberts
A large part of his award goes to Roberts because of what he did despite his team being the most injured team in all of baseball. By the first week of the season, he lost two members of his starting rotation with Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu. He would also lose important bullpen arms in Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, and Chris Hatcher for the year. He’d also deal with the most dramatic injury of all when Kershaw went down with a back injury.
When Kershaw made his last start before heading to the disabled list, the Dodgers were 41-36, eight games behind the Giants in the West and a game behind the Marlins for the second Wild Card. From that point forward, the Dodgers have the second best record in baseball. They have won the NL West for the second year in a row, and they seem poised to make a deep run in the postseason.
That’s not the only reason why Roberts is the Manager of the Year. He’s also capably handled a number of tricky situations that would have the potential to flummox other managers and potentially poison some clubhouses. He had to get Howie Kendrick to accept being a utility player and eventually an outfielder. He had to get one last great season out of Chase Utley. He would pull rookie Ross Stripling while he had a no-hitter going because it was the best thing for the young player’s career and the Dodgers’ future.
Clearly, Roberts has been unafraid to make the tough decisions. He had control of the clubhouse. He avoided near disaster, and he led his team from eight games back to win the NL West. That’s Manager of the Year material.
2nd – Joe Maddon
In reality, any other year this award would go to Maddon. Maddon has established himself as the best manager in the game.
Maddon was handed a roster that was easily a World Series favorite, and he delivered during the regular season. Not only did he get another great season from Jake Arrieta, but he also got better years from Jon Lester and John Lackey. By the way, somehow he got a Cy Young caliber season out of Kyle Hendricks.
We also saw Maddon play mad scientist like he loves to do. When Schwarber went down, Maddon took his budding superstar Kris Bryant and turned him into a Ben Zobrist type of player. It probably helped Bryant that he had the actual Zobrist on the team to give him some pointers. Additionally, never one to stay at the status quo, Maddon experimented using multiple relievers on the field.
On June 28th, Maddon would actually play Spencer Patton and Travis Wood in the outfield in a 15 inning game against the Reds. It actually worked out well for the Cubs. Patton started the 14th inning on the mound and Wood in left field. When Jay Bruce came up to bat, Maddon would switch them around to get Bruce out. After the Bruce at bat, Maddon switched them back so Patton could get Adam Duvall out. This was reminiscent of the 1986 game where Davey Johnson was forced to shift Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell between left field and the pitcher’s mound due to a Ray Knight ejection leaving the Mets without another position player. However, Maddon wasn’t forced into the decision. There wasn’t an injury or an ejection. Rather, Maddon did it because he simply believed it gave the Cubs the best chance to win the game.
That is the type of progressive thinking that has made Maddon the best manager in the game, and it has helped the Cubs to a 100 win season with the best record in baseball. If not for the terrific season Roberts had, Maddon would have won this quite easily.
3rd – Dusty Baker
Last year, the Nationals were done in by a toxic clubhouse and a terrible manager in Matt Williams. In the offseason, the Nationals did what they had to do in firing Williams, and then they had to settle on Baker as their manager.
Baker has always been a curious case. He has never been a favorite of the Sabermetrically inclined. He makes curious in-game decisions (hello Russ Ortiz), and he has a tendency to over rely on veterans over young players that are probably better and can do more to help the team win. Despite all of that, Baker has won wherever he has gone. He has brought the Giants, Cubs, Reds, and now the Nationals to the postseason. The reason is Baker is a manager that gets the most out of his players.
It wasn’t easy for him this year. Bryce Harper had a down year, Jonathan Papelbon wouldn’t last the season as either the closer or as a National, and Ben Revere would show he was not capable of being the center fielder for a good team. Worse yet, Strasburg went down with injury despite Baker actually being someone careful with his young pitcher. So how’d he do it. Well, he got career years from Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos. In a sign of growth, Baker trusted a young player in Trea Turner to not only play everyday, but also to play out of position. Mostly, Baker was Baker.
Overall, it is clear that Baker has some innate ability to get his teams to play well. He did that again this year in turning around a Nationals team that fell apart last year to a team that comfortably won the NL East.
Honorable Mention – Terry Collins
By no means did Collins have a strong year this year. You can point to the injuries, but he did do a lot to exacerbate them by playing players who he knew was injured. He had a year where he messed around with Michael Conforto‘s development and threatened the career of Jim Henderson by abusing his surgically repaired shoulder for a “must-win” game in April. Furthermore, he flat out abused the arms of Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia. So no, Collins is not deserving of the award.
However, he is deserving of an honorable mention with the class and dignity he comported himself in the aftermath of Jose Fernandez‘s death. He made sure his team was there to console the Marlins, and he prepared his team to win games when some of his own players were devastated by Fernandez’s death. This was one of the many acts of kindness Collins has shown as the Mets manager, and it should be highlighted.
With the addition of John Olerud and the emergence of Rick Reed, the 1997 Mets made a tremendous leap forward going 88-74 to be a factor in the Wild Card race. However, they would eventually lose out to a Florida Marlins team that was literally built to win the World Series that one season.
After that season, the Marlins disbanded because, as we were first learning out, that’s what the Marlins do when they win. The Mets were one of the main beneficiaries of the the offseason sell-off with them obtaining Al Leiter and Dennis Cook. Then the real boon came when the Marlins had swung a deal with the Dodgers to obtain Mike Piazza to unload a bunch of big contracts. With the Mets struggling, due in large part to Todd Hundley‘s elbow injury, the Mets moved quickly and added Piazza. With a week left in the season, the Mets won to go to 88-68. All the Mets needed to do in the final week of the season was to win one more game to at least force a playoff with the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs for the Wild Card. They didn’t. Once again, finishing the year 88-74 was not good enough for the Wild Card.
Entering the final game of the 2016 season, with the Mets having already clinched the Wild Card, the Mets needed just one more win to finish the year at 88-74.
There was a version of me 20 years younger that wanted to see the Mets get that win to erase some of the bad feelings that an 88-74 record created. It was going to be a difficult task because the Mets objective wasn’t to win this game. The sole objective was to just get through it with everybody healthy so as not to compromise the team for the winner-take-all Wild Card Game this Wednesday at Citi Field.
For starters, it was Gabriel Ynoa who took the mound instead of Noah Syndergaard. Terry Collins would also give an at-bat a piece to Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes. Jay Bruce would get two. T.J. Rivera, Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera, and Travis d’Arnaud would not play. This was a full-on keep people fresh and don’t get anyone injured operation.
Ynoa would acquit himself well even if he couldn’t go five. He would only throw 52 pitches in 4.2 innings allowing five hits, one run, one earned, and one walk with two strikeouts. Collins would lift him for Jerry Blevins, who is probably the one Mets reliever who could’ve used some work, to get out of the fifth. At that point, the Phillies were only up 1-0 on a third inning Maikel Franco RBI single.
The Mets would eventually go ahead in this game making the 88-74 season a reality. In the sixth, Matt Reynolds doubled, and he would score on an Alejandro De Aza RBI singles. In the seventh, Kelly Johnson hit a leadoff single, and he would score on a Kevin Plawecki two out RBI double.
The lead would not last long as the Phillies went to work against Erik Goeddel in the bottom of the seventh. After an Andres Blanco single, an Aaron Altherr walk, and a Lucas Duda throwing error, the Phillies loaded the bases with no outs. Cesar Hernandez brought home the first two runs on an RBI single, and then Jimmy Paredes knocked in the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly. That Paerdes sacrifice fly was an extra base hit if anyone other than Juan Lagares was manning center field. Lagares once again reminded everyone that he is the best fielding center fielder in baseball, and that if he can at least manage one at-bat per game, he needs to be on the postseason roster.
The Phillies then added a run in the eighth off Jim Henderson to make the game 5-2. That would be the final score of a game where both teams reached their primary objective. The Phillies were able to provide a fitting send-off for Ryan Howard removing him from the game in the eighth so he could leave to a standing ovation. The Mets just got through the game without suffering any injuries, and also got much needed reps for Duda and Lagares.
The Mets weren’t able to get that final win to erase the angst of the past when 88 wins just wasn’t good enough for the postseason. Ironically, 87 was good enough this year. With those 87 wins, the Mets put the capper on a mostly frustrating season. However, in the end, they were able to go to make consecutive postseason appearances for only the second time in their history. When viewed through that prism, this was a successful and enjoyable season.
One of the quirks of the Wild Card Game is a team is able to create a standalone 25 man roster just for that game. After the completion of the Wild Card Game, the winning team is able to reset its roster for the Division Series. With that in mind, when the Mets construct their roster, they really have no need to carry extra starting pitchers. Instead, they can carry an extra reliever or two, and they can add a couple of bats on the bench for pinch hitting and running opportunities. With that in mind, here is how I would construct the roster.
With the Wild Card Game starting pitcher likely to be either Syndergaard or Lugo, it seems that Rivera will be Terry Collins choice as the starting catcher. If the Mets fall behind early, he may very well go to d’Arnaud for offense. However, for now, Rivera seems the likely starter.
The only variable we don’t know right now is whether Duda can play everyday during a postseason run. However, we have seen him play effectively here and there as he gets more playing time. If Duda is ready to go, he has to start. If not, Loney can start with Duda being the power bat off the bench. If Duda does start, Loney is there for insurance for Duda’s back, and he can hit right-handed pitching reaosnably well in the event the Mets need an extra pinch hitter.
If the Mets face the Giants and Madison Bumgarner, it is likely Rivera gets the start. If the Mets face the Cardinals and Carlos Martinez, it is likely Johnson gets the start. No matter which one gets the start, we know that the other one will be the best pinch hitting option when the Mets need a bit hit.
Third Base (1) – Jose Reyes
At this point, barring something unusual happening, Reyes is the team’s everyday third baseman and leadoff hitter. He also serves as a backup shortstop in the event something happens to Cabrera
Shortstop (1) – Asdrubal Cabrera
Cabrera is the best hitter in the major leagues during the month of September, and while he has two injured knees, he is able to effectively handle all the balls that come within the vicinity of shortstop.
Given how Bruce’s bat has come alive the past few games and with the way Conforto has been adapting to being a pinch hitter, both players should find themselves on the Wild Card Game roster. What will be curious is whether it is Bruce or De Aza that finds themselves in the outfield with Cespedes and Granderson. In a winner-take-all situation, Collins just might be inclined to go with the defense over the bat.
Whether or not Syndergaard pitches on Sunday, he has to be on the roster. You cannot go down without the ability to throw your best pitcher, even if it is for one inning. Same goes for your second best pitcher, which is why Colon should be on the roster. As for Lugo, he should make the roster because: 1) he has experience as a short reliever; and 2) it is his turn in the rotation, so he can give you as many innings as you need.
If things go to plan, it is likely the Mets are not going to need more than Reed and Familia. If the starter is able to go six, Reed can pitch the seventh and Familia can get the final two innings like he did in the NLDS clincher last year. In the event things don’t go as smoothly, this bullpen can effectively mix and match. Smoker seems like a given to make the roster because it gives the Mets an extra lefty in the pen, one with reverse splits, that can get a big strikeout when the Mets are in a jam.
If the Mets were to go with this group of players, and it seems likely they would that leaves the team with 22 players on the roster with decisions to make for the final four spots. Here is a case for each of the potential bubble players:
UT Eric Campbell – As we saw when the Mets faced Adam Conley and the Marlins, Collins has fallen back in the habit of using Campbell as his right-handed first baseman. In the event the Mets face the Giants, Campbell may well find himself getting a postseason start. If not, he has shown the ability to be a very effective pinch hitter in tight games.
UT Ty Kelly – Collins has liked using as a pinch runner towards the back-end of the season. Even though he is much better hitting right-handed in his short major league career, Kelly’s switch hitting ability does have some usefulness in neutralizing an opposing manager’s ability to go to a lefty/righty in a big spot for multiple outs.
CF Juan Lagares – Lagares just started to swing the bat, but we still don’t know if he can do it multiple times in a game if necessary. However, with the Mets not needing to carry as many pitchers, Lagares could be kept on the roster to bunt, pinch run, and play defense in the late innings.
C Kevin Plawecki – Plawecki has not done much of anything offensively this season. However, he remains a good defensive catcher, and his presence on the team would permit Collins to be aggressive in bringing in d’Arnaud for offense with full knowledge that the Mets have other catcher on the bench.
SS Matt Reynolds – Especially given Cabrera’s injuries further limiting his range, Reynolds could very well be the Mets best defensive shortstop. Should Cabrera have to leave the game with an injury, Reynolds could step right in defensively. Additionally, in the event Collins needs to start double switching people in and out of the game to keep a pitcher in longer, Reynolds’ ability to competently play second, third, short, and left make him a versatile and valuable bench piece.
LHP Josh Edgin – His chances of making the roster increase if the Mets play the Giants given the presence of Denard Span and Brandon Belt. In that event, the Mets may want that one extra lefty to have multiple matchup opportunities. Against the Cardinals, the need for the extra left-hander won’t be as great.
RHP Erik Goeddel – Even if it has been mostly in mop-up duty, Goeddel has pitched much better in September than he has all season. Unlike Edgin or Henderson (below), Goedell has also shown the ability to go multiple innings lately thereby increasing his usefulness out of the pen.
RHP Robert Gsellman – Gsellman could make the team as a long reliever with Collins then using Lugo as a one inning reliever who can let it fly for one or two innings. Additionally, with Gsellman’s sinker, Collins could elect to go with him in a situation in which the Mets need to get a double play.
RHP Jim Henderson – Henderson hasn’t been the same since coming back from the disabled list. With that said, he’s still striking out 10.6 per nine, and so far this month, he has seven scoreless appearances. More than any of the above, he has the biggest upside. However, when he loses with 95+ MPH fastball, and it happens without a moment’s notice, he’s going to get hit around.
Who the Mets carry for the final three spots will be largely based upon the opponent. In the event that the Mets face the Giants, the odds of Campbell and Edgin making the roster go up significantly. If the Mets face the Cardinals, who have multiple effective lefties out of the pen, someone like Kelly with his switch hitting ability could see his chances of making the roster increase.
Overall, considering how the Mets have handled the catching situation late in the season, the Mets should probably carry Plawecki as a third catcher. Doing so will permit Collins to switch out Rivera for d’Arnaud if the Mets fall behind early or if the Mets need a right-handed pinch hitter.
If the Mets face the Giants, it is likely that Campbell will make the roster as the starting first baseman. If the Mets face the Cardinals, the Mets will then likely carry Kelly as a pinch runner/pinch hitter or Reynolds. Given how the concerns over Cabrera’s knees, and the need to double switch late in games, and because Reynolds has some extra pop in his bat than Kelly, Reynolds should be the choice.
The last spot becomes dicey. As the Mets bullpen is constituted, the team has multiple pitchers who can go multiple innings thereby negating the need to carry an eighth reliever. This choice here will likely be and should be opponent driven. If the Mets face the Giants, Edgin should be the choice so the Mets can get multiple lefty/lefty matchups late in games. If the Mets face the Cardinals, the team should probably carry both Reynolds and Kelly. This would help the Mets neutralize the Cardinals unleashing their left-handed relievers against the Mets late in the game.
Of course, if Lagares is truly healthy enough to swing the bat, as he has done the past few games, he definitely needs to be on the roster. He had a good postseason last year, and he’s the team’s best defensive outfielder.
There are a number of interesting decisions ahead, and ultimately it will depend on the opponent and whether the Cardinals keep enough heat on the Giants so Bumgarner had to pitch on Sunday.
Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Merized Online
The reason why Bartolo Colon has been effective all season has been his ability to locate and put movement on his high 80s fastball. When he is unable to do that, he becomes a batting practice pitcher. Last night, Colon was a batting practice pitcher. It all come unraveling in a four run second inning.
Consider for a second, the first out of the inning was a sacrifice bunt by the opposing pitcher Adam Conley. Up until that point, the Marlins first four batters of the inning had hit the ball hard, and there were already two runs scored. Dee Gordon the followed his first inning home run with a two RBI single making it 5-0. With the way the Mets offense has been hitting lately, and with the Marlins bullpen most likely needing to do a bulk of the heavy lifting on the night, this game was not out of reach.
What was interesting was Colon was due up second in the top of the third. Last week, Terry Collins was very aggressive pulling his pitchers in a search for more offense to win games. Granted, there is a massive difference between pulling Colon early than Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, or Gabriel Ynoa, but the game was already on the verge of getting out of hand at 5-0. Furthermore, with Gsellman going deep into Sunday’s game along with the Mets not needing Ynoa or Rafael Montero to start another game this year, the Mets could’ve rolled the dice in pulling Colon. Instead, Collins stuck with the veteran in the hopes that he would get himself right and go deep in the game.
In the bottom of the third, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. Right off the bat, Christian Yelich hit the ball hard, and it deflected off of Colon. After the play, Collins and Ray Ramirez would go out to the mound with Colon ignoring Ramirez. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a hard line drive out to center. At this point in time, it was clear Colon didn’t have it, and yet he would go another batter. Justin Bour then hit a hard line drive to right that Jay Bruce misplayed into a two run triple to make it 7-0. Right then and there, the game was effectively over. It was right then and there that Collins lifted Colon for Ynoa.
If you want to defend Colon pitching to start the third, you can make the case. You can make an even better case given the emotions of the night and the way Colon was being hit around, he should not have been in the game. The issue becomes why not let Colon finish the inning? It’s one thing to go to your bullpen for six plus innings to stay in a close game. It’s a whole other matter to go that deep into the pen for a game you’ve already lost. Why not let Colon figure it out? At that point, what is the difference between 7-0 and 10-0? You might as well try to steal a couple of innings out of him to save the bullpen a bit – even with the expanded rosters.
As it turned out, the Mets bullpen wouldn’t get burned. They got good work out of a group of relievers who are most likely not going to be on the postseason roster with Ynoa, Montero, Erik Goeddel, Josh Edgin, and Jim Henderson. Still, you have to question what Collins would have done if one of those guys were hit hard. Would he have made one of them wear it, or would he have chased the unlikely comeback? We’ll never be sure. What we are sure of is Collins inability to play it one way might’ve cost the Mets what might’ve been a winnable game.
Look, even with the Mets remaining schedule, it was unrealistic to expect them to finish the year undefeated. They’re going to lose some games. Tonight was a game you’d expect with Sean Gilmartin, who hasn’t started a game in over a month, having to make the spot start because Noah Syndergaard has strep throat.
Things went worse than expected. Right off the bat, the Phillies went up 3-0 off a Maikel Franco three run homer. Gilmartin then loaded the bases, including an intentional walk to the right place hitter Jorge Alfaro. Things were going so poorly for Gilmartin tonight, he couldn’t escape the jam. Opposing pitcher Alec Asher would hit a two RBI single chasing Gilmartin from the game.
Terry Collins brought in Rafael Montero, who eventually got out of the jam. Of course with him being Montero, he’d make things a lot worse.
Under his watch, the Phillies lead would expand to 10-0. Given the state of the Mets bullpen, Collins did the smart thing and made Montero just get through it. Montero allowed five earned on 3.1 innings. Collins pulled him after 67 pitches.
The bright side about going down 10-0 is Collins was able to pull his starters and give them some time off. Collins gave his starters to put a run on the board, but they didn’t. With that, Collins pulled Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, and Curtis Granderson. He replaced them with T.J. Rivera, Gavin Cecchini, Ty Kelly, and Brandon Nimmo.
Astutely, Collins also left in Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, and Michael Conforto. Each of these players need to get some reps if they are going to be the postseason contributors the Mets need them to be.
This is the group of players that would make the game some fun. While the starters couldn’t hit Asher the backups could.
Duda got the rally started by busting it out of the box and reaching on a Freddy Galvis error. After a d’Arnaud single, Franco would throw the ball away. Instead of a possible inning ending double play, Cecchini reached, and Duda scored.
After a Rivera single, Nimmo would hit a double scoring Cecchini. Kelly then hit a sac fly scoring Nimmo. Collins then pinch hit James Loney who ruined everything by making an out. Being fair, he did hit the ball hard down the line, but still, it’s Loney.
The 51s would then get two more in the sixth. Collins actually kept Conforto in against the left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez. Conforto got the rally started with a one out walk, and Duda followed with a single up the middle. After a d’Arnaud strikeout, Cecchini would get his first career hit with an RBI double to right-center. For some reason (oh right, he’s a bad third base coach), Tim Teufel held Duda who could’ve scored easily. Fortunately, it wouldn’t come back to bite the Mets as Rivera dribbled down the line for an RBI single. It’s a hard hit single in the box score.
In an attempt to not go to anyone who will pitch in the playoffs, Collins tried to push Jim Henderson to a second inning. Normally, this would a really bad move, but all things considered, it was understandable. When Henderson got in trouble, Collins went to Josh Smoker to try to get the Mets out of the jam.
With Cesar Hernandez reaching on a bunt single Smoker double clutched on, and A.J. Ellis swiping third when d’Arnaud tried to pick him off, it looked like the come back dream was dead. When Odubel Herrera lifted a fly ball to left, it was a foregone conclusion. Except it wasn’t. Kelly would unleash a parabolic throw home that would beat Ellis by a mile to keep the score at 10-6.
Kelly would then lead off the bottom of the seventh with a single. Alejandro De Aza pinch hit for Smoker and flied out to center. Eric Campbell then hit into an inning ending double play. It seemed as is the Mets best chance of winning the game was over. You would be wrong.
Phillies reliever Hector Neris would issue back-to-back one out walks to Duda and d’Arnaud. Cecchini would then hit his second career double, barely missing a home run, scoring Duda to make it 10-7. Finally, the Mets could bring the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, Rivera flied out to shallow center, and Nimmo popped out.
At this point, you were expecting the Mets to come back in the ninth to win it.
Things got so insane Jay Bruce hit a pinch hit no doubt home run against Phillies reliever Michael Mariot. Campbell then came back from 0-2 and worked out an 11 pitch walk. That allowed the Mets to bring Conforto to the plate as the tying run with Duda behind him. Once Conforto walked, Duda came up as the go-ahead run. It was the first time all night, the Mets got the go-ahead run to the plate.
Duda popped out leaving it to d’Arnaud. Sadly, d’Arnaud hit a come backer to end the game. There was some slight disappointment with that. However, the young players made this a fun game to watch. Instead of losing 10-0, we got a sense of what the future may look like. It looks like a group of gritty, never say die, talented players.
Yes, the loss hurts, especially with the Cardinals having already won and the Giants winning. However, if you are going to lose, you might as well have your big guys get some rest and watch your young players thrive in the process.
Final Score: Phillies 10 – 51s 8 – Mets 0
Game Notes: With Cecchini, Nimmo, and Conforto playing, the Mets had three of Sandy Alderson’s first round draft picks in the same lineup. With the loss, the Nationals clinched the NL East.