Josh Smoker

Swarzak Good But Not Final Piece For 2018 Mets Bullpen

After the purported hand-wringing Sandy Alderson was doing over the free agent reliever market, the Mets finally pulled the trigger, and they signed Anthony Swarzak to a two year $14 million deal.

There is a lot to like about Swarzak.  Last year, the 32 year old had his best ever season going 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 10.6 K/9.  As noted by D.J. Short of Rotoworld, Swarzak had a higher swinging strike percentage than old friend Addison Reed.  Part of that could be attributed to the fact he added about two MPH on his fastball.

He’s also been a platoon neutral pitcher his entire career with his best season being in 2017.  While limiting right-handed batters to a .218/.259/.346 batting line, left-handed batters were worse against him hitting .198/.294/.281.

These stats are all the more incredible and important when you consider he predominantly worked in the 7th and 8th innings. The Mets needed another set-up man to work with AJ Ramos to hand the ball to Jeurys Familia in the 9th.

Overall, this is all important, and the signing helps the Mets.  However it isn’t enough, especially because this is all but a shapshot of Swarzak’s career.

It was just in 2015 Swarzak had a 5.26 ERA and 1.516 WHIP in the Korean Leagues.  In 2016, his first season back from Korea, he was 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA for the Yankees.

While he was obviously improved since then, it was mostly on the strength of some outliers.  Prior to last season, he yielded a .304 BABIP.  In 2017, that number was .272.

Prior to 2017, Swarzak left 69.8% of runners on base, which is right around league average.  Last season, his LOB% was a career best 82.9%.

Maybe these numbers were all the result of improved stuff.  Maybe it was him becoming more comfortable in the bullpen.  It’s just as possible the increased velocity and some of the BABIP and LOB% will regress to league and career norms.

Overall, the Mets did acquire a quality reliever who should prove to better than internal options like Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, and Josh Smoker.  Moreover, Swarzak is getting the opportunity to work with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland.  If there’s a tandem you trust to help Swarzak make 2017 the new norm instead of an outlier, it’s them.

Still, with the stark contrast between the 2017 and career numbers, the Mets need to hedge their bets that Swarzak may very well regress.  In the end, this means that while Swarzak may very well prove to be a nice addition, he’s far from being the final piece of the puzzle.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Free Agency Won’t Be The Easy Way To Build The 2018 Mets

With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency.  In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher.  In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.

During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades.  That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster.  To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.

One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited.   That’s not limited by recent standards.  Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down.  According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.

Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million.  That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Dominic Smith
2B: Wilmer Flores
3B: Asdrubal Cabrera
SS: Amed Rosario
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
CF: Brandon Nimmo
RF: Michael Conforto

Bench: Kevin Plawecki, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Juan Lagares

SP: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
RP: Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Josh Smoker, Jerry Blevins

Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe.  Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.

For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe.  It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster.  From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs.  It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:

There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.

Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player.  This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second.  Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.

Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.

In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons.  Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.

 

Mickey Callaway Chose This Mets Pitching Staff

For the most part, Mets fans were ecstatic about the team hiring Mickey Callaway.  That went double after that upbeat press conference where Callaway both promised he would love his players, and they would be the most durable and well-prepared players in the Major Leagues.

There are plenty of reasons to like the move.  The Mets hired someone who worked with Terry Francona, who is a future Hall of Famer.  The team found someone who has shown the ability not just to comprehend analytics, but also to translate them to pitchers in a way that helps them improve.  He’s a new and fresh voice that the team has not had in quite some time.  People around baseball seemed to just love the decision of the Mets hiring the second most coveted managerial candidate behind Alex Cora.

These are all well and good reasons to get excited about the hire.  There are presumably many more.  However, the biggest reason to get excited about the hire is a pitching coach like Callaway chose to manage this Mets team.

That is of no small significance.  After the 2015 season, many believed the Mets were going to be a perennial postseason team.  Certainly, if things broke the Mets way, they could very well have become a dynastic team, at the very least in the mold of the 1980s Mets teams that were in contention each and every season.  However, instead of things breaking the Mets way, the team mostly broke down.

Matt Harvey had to have surgery to alleviate the effects of his TOS, and he followed that up with trying to pitch with an atrophied muscle in his pitching shoulder.  Zack Wheeler missed two seasons due to a torn UCL and complications from his Tommy John surgery, and he found himself missing the final two and a half months of the season with a stress reaction.  Noah Syndergaard had a torn lat.  Jeurys Familia had blod clots removed from his pitching shoulder.  Steven Matz had another injury riddled season with him having to have season ending surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve.  That was the surgery Jacob deGrom had last season.  Speaking of deGrom, he really was the only healthy Mets pitcher during the entire 2017 season.

The pitching behind the injured starters wasn’t pretty.  Rafael Montero continued to be an enigma.  Chris Flexen showed he wasn’t ready to pitch at the Major League level.  Robert Gsellman had his own injury, and he regressed quite severly after a really promising September in 2016.  Seth Lugo had come back from his own injury issues, and upon his return, he struggled to get through the lineup three times.

Add to that Hansel Robles being Hansel Robles, and Josh Smoker failing to emerge as that late inning reliever his stuff promised he could be, and the Mets lack of Major League ready starting pitching talent in the minors, and you wonder why anyone would want to become the Mets pitching coach, let alone a manager whose strength is his work with a pitching staff.

Make no mistake, Callaway had to have liked what he saw with this team.  Maybe it’s an arrogance any manager or coach has thinking they will be the one to turn things around.  Maybe, it was his work with injury prone pitchers like Carlos Carrasco that made him believe he could definitely make things work.  Whatever it is, the pitching guru that Callaway is purported to be liked what he sees with the Mets enough to potentially put his reputations and maybe his managerial future on a staff that some believed had fallen apart beyond repair.

Certainly, Callaway would have had other opportunities to accept a managerial position whether it was this year with an up and coming team like the Phillies, or next year when there would be more openings available.  Instead, he chose to resurrect what was once a great Mets pitching staff.  In part, he chose to do this because he believes in this talent, and he believes he is the man to do it.

That more than anything else is the biggest reason to be excited about this hire, and it is a reason to get excited about the 2018 season.

Ghosts Of Mets Past And Present In Split Doubleheader

The Mets played two ends of a doubleheader against the Braves with vastly different results. 

When you look at the lineup on the first game, you can immediately guess which game they won and which one they lost:

  1. Nori Aoki
  2. Jose Reyes
  3. Brandon Nimmo
  4. Phillip Evans
  5. Dominic Smith
  6. Amed Rosario
  7. Juan Lagares
  8. Tomas Nido
  9. Chris Flexen

For his part, Flexen fought the good fight pitching five good innings allowing just one earned run. Then the sixth inning happened. 

Flexen would load the bases to start the inning including his issuing back-to-back walks to Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies

Josh Smoker would relieve Flexen, and he would allow all three inherited runners to score. The highlight (lowlight?) was Mets killer Freddie Freeman hitting a two run double. 
With the lineup the Mets had, this game was all but over. The base running certainly didn’t help that Tyler Flowers threw out Lagares and Reyes trying to steal a base. 

The Braves would score runs in each of the final four innings in the 9-2 blowout. The only Mets runs came off a Nido two run seventh inning double; his first career extra base hit. 

Things would go much better in the second game of the double header because Seth Lugo was great. 

Lugo pitched six scoreless innings allowing just two hits while walking none. He kept the Braves off balance striking out seven. 

He’d get all the run support he needed from Travis d’Arnaud who had another big night in what has been a big month for him. 

In the third, after Asdrubal Cabrera had an RBI groundout scoring Nimmo, d’Arnaud doubled home Lagares. The Mets 2-0 lead would become a 3-0 lead with a d’Arnaud eighth inning homer. 

It should be noted d’Arnaud was not the only Mets with a big game. Nimmo, who finally hit lead-off, was 3-4 with a run and a double. Matt Reynolds got the start at SS, and he was 2-4 with a double. 

The Mets needed all the room they could get because Jeurys Familia had an adventure in his second save opportunity since coming off the disabled list. 

After a Kurt Suzuki lead-off single, Familia made an error on a Freeman grounder to set up first and second with no outs. 

After a Jace Peterson RBI single and Matt Kemp RBI groundout, it was a 3-2 game with Peterson in scoring position. 

Familia then bore down, and he got Flowers to ground out to end the game. 

Between the two games, the Mets scored five runs. The runs were sufficient in the second half because the Mets had good pitching. That was a reason why the team was good in 2015 and 2016. For at least one night, you were reminded of those days. 

Of course, with them getting annihilated in the first half of the doubleheader, you were reminded why the Mets are terrible this year. 

Game Notes: Kevin Plawecki started at first base in the second game. With the Mets losing the first game of the doubleheader, they have officially gone the 2017 season without sweeping an opponent at home. 

Mets Vets Win Meaningless September Game

Here’s the thing. While you enjoy beating the Nationals, this game didn’t mean much. It’s not that the Mets season is over, and the Nationals have gone into preparing for the offseason mode. No, it’s because the Mets with Terry Collins at the helm aren’t focusing towards next year enough. 

Once again, the top three in the lineup were Nori AokiJose ReyesAsdrubal Cabrera. For his part, Aoki certainly earned his spot in the lineup going 3-4 with a run, double, and two RBI. 

His second RBI was the game winning RBI scoring Juan Lagares

Now, it’s beer. great to see Lagares get regular playing time. There are so few reasons to watch this team, but his defense is certainly one of them. He did it again today. 


He also had a nice day at the plate going 2-4 with two runs and a double. In fact, it was his bunt double to start a huge five run rally in the fifth to tie the game. 

The reason the Mets were down was because Robert Gsellman wasn’t the same pitcher he was in his last start. Gsellman would only last five innings allowing four hits, six runs, five earned, and three walks with four strikeouts. 

The big blow against him was an Adam Lind third inning three run homer. 

However, when all was said and done, it wasn’t the Lind homer, but the Travis d’Arnaud homers. Yes, plural. 

The first homer off Edwin Jackson that gave the Mets a 1-0 second inning lead. Jackson seemed to settle in after that, but the floodgates would open after the aforementioned Lagares bunt single. 

His second one off Jackson tied the game setting the stage for the bullpen to keep the Nationals at bay. 

The combination of Chasen BradfordPaul Sewald, and Jerry Blevins kept the Nationals scoreless into the ninth handing the ball off to whomever Collins wanted to close. 

At least to start the ninth, it was AJ Ramos. However, Ramos would not finish the inning. 

Ramos struggled again allowing a lead-off walk to Wilmer Difo and a single to Howie Kendrick. This put runners at the corner with one out. It gave Collins the excuse he needed to go to the bullpen. 

Josh Smoker, who has reverse splits in his career, was brought to face Lind.  He rose to the challenge getting him to line out for the second out of the inning. 

Next, just like Collins went back to Jeurys Familia to close it out. For the first time since returning from surgery. It was just like old times with Familia striking out Victor Robles to end the rally and the game.   

Game Notes: Amed Rosario came back after missing three 

Ramos Blows First Save In Mets Loss

This season has mostly been a lost season at the plate for Travis d’Arnaud. Well, that is for everywhere he plays except Marlins Park. 

At Marlins Park, which was designed to be a pitcher’s park, d’Arnaud entered the game hitting .421/.500/.895 with a double, triple, two homers, and eight RBI. 

Tonight, d’Arnaud would continue raking in Miami going 2-5 with a run, homer, and two RBI. Essentially, he was once again Will Smith circa 1997:

Like he was that one glorious game in April, back when we thought this was going to be a special Mets season, d’Arnaud was the difference in this one. In addition to his bat, he did a good job behind the plate catching Seth Lugo

Lugo pitched well with the Marlins only getting to him in the bottom of the fourth on a Christian Yelich opposite field homer. That’s all the Marlins would get with Lugo settling down after a J.T. Realmuto two out double, which put him in scoring position as the go-ahead run. 

Surprisingly, Terry Collins would lift Lugo after five with Lugo having only thrown 83 pitches. It may just be a sign Collins is finally paying attention to the data. With the Mets rumored to replace him, it’s probably too little too late. 

After Lugo, Josh SmokerJeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins combined to throw three hitless and scoreless innings. 

One thing of note. Even with Familia coming back from surgery and the Mets now hesitant to use him on back-to-back days, it at least appeared Collins was going to test his limits.

After a scoreless seventh, Familia began warming up to pitch the eighth. Once the Marlins announced the switch hitting Tomas Telis as a pinch hitter, Collins went to Blevins. 

It makes you question whether Collins was buying Blevins more time, or if he was trying to get the matchup he wanted. However, considering Giancarlo Stanton was on deck, it’s hard to believe Collins wanted Blevins for him. Then again with Collins, who knows?
One significant note was that with d’Arnaud’s two run homer and homers by Yelich, Justin Bour, and Jose Reyes, all but one run in this game were scored via the home run. It was significant in a season where seemingly every team is hitting homers. 

It was on a night where Alex Gordon hit the 5,694th homer in the majors this season – a new record:

The lone run not scored via the homer was a Reyes RBI single in the ninth scoring Phillip Evans. Evans had led off the inning with a single, and he moved to third after a Matt Reynolds sacrifice bunt and a Nori Aoki groundout. 

The 4-1 lead meant AJ Ramos would get a save opportunity in his first appearance against his former team. He was greeted by a Bour homer. 

Because Ramos likes the high wire act, Realmuto followed the Bour homer with an infield single thereby allowing the tying run to the plate with no outs. 

Even with a couple of strikeouts, you still felt uneasy. Things got worse after an A.J. Ellis pinch hit RBI single. Then, finally, after walking a tight rope for so long with the Mets, Ramos blew a save. 

Ichiro Suzuki lined one just out of the reach of a leaping Reyes. With the ball skimming off Reyes’ glove, the run scored fairly easily. 
If things weren’t bad enough, Stanton and his 55 homers came to the plate. Ramos wanted no part of him, and he walked him. This led to Collins pulling him and bringing in Paul Sewald

Even with Sewald being an accomplished minor league closer this was a difficult situation.  Anytime the bases are loaded, there’s no margin of error. Factor in Yelich being the batter, and Sewald not having been used in these spots, it was a tough ask. 

As if things weren’t difficult enough, Sewald went 3-2 with Yelich. Sewald then reached back and found something within himself, and he threw a slider that Yelich swung and missed to send the game to extras. 

It was a temporary stay of execution. Realmuto would hit a walk off homer off Sewald in the 10th giving the Marlins a 5-4 win. 

Normally, this would’ve been a gut wrenching loss. The way the season has gone, this just seemed to be a quick and merciful end. 

Game Notes: Amed Rosario missed a second straight game with gastroenteritis. 

Montero & Plawecki Lead Mets to Victory (Not a Joke)

If you had the duo of Rafael Montero and Kevin Plawecki powering the Mets to victory, one of three things are probably true:

  1. You’ve been in a coma since 2014;
  2. You’re a much better gambler than Craig Carton; or
  3. You just started watching baseball this September. 

Seriously, Montero and Plawecki have been much improved players at a time where it seemed even the Mets were beginning to give up on both of them. Finally, the Mets faith in both seems to be rewarded. Tonight was the latest example. 

Plawecki has been much improved at the plate.  It’s not just batting average or OBP, it’s his hitting for power. 

His two run shot in the second inning was a no doubter. It was the second of the season and sixth of his career. It gave the Mets a 2-1 lead, and the team didn’t look back. 

For the first five innings that was because of Montero. Except for a 1-2-3 first, he was in trouble all night long. Part of that was the re-emergence of his walks problem with Montero allowing five walks in five innings. 

Still, while the walks re-emerged, the meltdowns didn’t. He made the pitches he needed to get out of jams and innings. 

He then handed the call to Chasen Bradford, who has rebounded well from his one poor outing against these Reds at the end of August. In that outing, he gave up four runs without recording an out tonight. He got redemption pitching 1.2 scoreless striking out four. 

He not only kept the lead, but he allowed the Mets to blow it open for their fourth win in a row. 

The Mets got a little breathing room with a Dominic Smith two out sixth inning RBI single scoring Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera had led off the inning with a double. 

Cabrera’s next double plated Nori Aoki in the seventh. This followed Aoki singling home Matt Reynolds and Jacob deGrom. Reynolds was hit by a pitch, deGrom pinch hit for Josh Smoker, and both advanced on a Jose Reyes sac bunt. 
With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, it was an easy game for rookie Jamie Callahan to put to rest. It might’ve been the reps or the five run lead, but he looked more relaxed and composed. All the Mets look that way with the team playing much better of late. 

Game Notes: Amed Rosario is feeling better, and he may play tomorrow v

Nimmo Has Us Smiling

Whenever you see Brandon Nimmo, you see him grinning ear to ear. Well, tonight he gave Mets fans reason to smile. 

In a surprise decision, Terry Collins made Nimmo the clean-up hitter tonight. Despite, Nimmo not hitting for much power in the minors, he looked every bit the clean-up hitter tonight.  

It was a career night for Nimmo who went 3-4 with three runs, a double, two homers, and three RBI. Oh, and of course, he drew a walk. 

One of those homers was the start of back-to-back homers with Juan Lagares

The Nimmo performance and Lagares homer was part of what was a terrific night for the Mets. Now, it wasn’t just terrific because the Mets won 7-2; it was terrific because of who contributed to the win. 

That started with Matt Harvey

Harvey, starting on normal rest, took a step in the right direction. He pitched five innings allowing two runs on five hits. It was far from a perfect performance, but it was an improved one. 

We saw his slider get a little sharper as the game progressed. After allowing runs in consecutive innings to start the game, he allowed just one hit from the third inning through the fifth. Had he not been on a pitch limit, it’s likely he would have pitched the sixth. 

Once Harvey left, the Mets bullpen was very good. Josh Smoker struck out the side in the sixth. Jeurys Familia had his best outing of the year pitching two scoreless. While not a save situation, AJ Ramos closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

At this point of the season, it’s really not about wins and losses inasmuch as its about how the Mets are playing. Tonight, the Mets won getting key contributions from important people. That made this a night that gave you reason to smile. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes gave the Mets the lead for good singling home Dominic Smith and Kevin Plawecki in the fourth. 

Collins Focuses On Jose Reyes Development In This Loss

Terry Collins and the Mets continue to push the envelope. With each and every game, they continue to make decisions which continue to de-emphasize player development. 

In tonight’s example, Jose Reyes hit leadoff over Brandon Nimmo. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Collins double switched Amed Rosario out of the game in the sixth. As part of that move, Collins put Reyes at shortstop. 

When you manage like this, you deserve to have Reyes thrown out trying to steal a base down four in the seventh inning. 

Seriously, if Collins is going to make sure he plays Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera, he better make sure they play good fundamental baseball. If you’re having your young players learn by watching, have them learn by watching what to do. 

Speaking of what to do and not to do, knowing Collins the way we do, he’ll take issue with Chris Flexen

Sure, there were many issues with Flexen’s start. How could there not when you don’t make it out of the fifth. His final line was 4.2 innings, seven hits, seven runs, four walks, and four strikeouts. 

Those four walks hurt him too. He issued two of them in the first inning to help load the bases. After a Eugenio Suarez single and a Scott Schebler grand slam, the Mets fell behind the Reds 5-1 in the first. 

Flexen again walked two batters in the fifth. Not even Adam Duvall hitting into a double play would bail him out. Scooter Gennett would hit an RBI infield single off Flexen’s leg. After Flexen walked Suarez, Collins brought in Josh Smoker

Smoker allowed a Schebler RBI single. Nimmo had a shot at Gennett at the plate, but Travis d’Arnaud could not corral the short hop. Once Smoker got out of the inning, it was 7-1 Reds with all runs charged to Flexen. 

However, that won’t be what irritates Collins. It will be that Flexen showed up Reyes. 

Reyes was out there playing his first career game in left field. With the injuries and the possibility Reyes could return next year in a utility role, Reyes playing left isn’t a ridiculous idea. It’s just ridiculous he would lead-off. 

Reyes took a ridiculous route to a second inning Billy Hamilton fly ball. He broke in and the ball went well over his head. A clearly frustrated and dejected Flexen threw up his hand in disappointment. 

Yes, Flexen shouldn’t show up his fielders. That goes double when you’re walking the ballpark and giving up a grand slam. Still, this is the same Reyes who never had an issue doing this himself. Again, if you’re holding out players as an example, this is the stuff that happens. 

But this is Terry we’re talking about, and we know his veterans are Teflon. That goes double for Reyes. 

The Mets would attempt to make a game of it with the help of the surprisingly not double switched out of the game Dominic Smith

After a Cabrera walk and a d’Arnaud double, Smith hit a two out RBI single in the sixth to pull the Mets to within 7-3. 

Smith came up again in the eighth, and he collected his first career hit off a left-handed pitcher. It set up runners on the corners with two outs. Unfortunately, Travis Taijeron would strike out to end the inning. So far in Taijeron’s career, he’s 0-9. 

The Mets would get no closer than 7-3. In fact, things would get much worse. 

While Chasen Bradford has been really good this year with a 2.38 ERA in 17 appearances, he had nothing tonight. He recorded no outs while allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits and one walk. 

The unearned runs were due to two Wilmer Flores errors in the inning. 

With Collins having done all he could do to burn out a larger than usual bullpen during Sunday’s double header, Collins finally did the right thing by going to a position player to pitch. 

Once again, we got to see Kevin Plawecki take the mound. Like most Mets pitchers this year, Plawecki fared better with d’Arnaud behind the plate than Rene Rivera

Plawecki came in with the bases loaded and no outs. Phil Ervin hit into a double play. After a Hamilton double, and a Flores error allowing Cozart to reach, two  of the three inherited runners had scored. Credit should be given to Hamilton who could’ve scored on the error but chose not to run up the score. 

In a shock to everyone, Plawecki got Joey Votto to ground out giving Plawecki a story to tell his grand kids. It’s certainly a better story than the contents of his locker. 

In the end, the Mets lost 14- 4 with that all too brief ninth inning rally ending on a Flores GIDP.  Right now, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s really about developing players by playing them and having them learn from their mistakes. 

Collins favorite young player Jose Reyes certainly has a lot to think about tonight. Hopefully, he learns from this, and he gets better. Certainly, the team needs him over the next decade. 

Game Notes: Plawecki became the second Mets position player to pitch twice in a season. The first was Matt Franco in 2000. Hat tip Greg Prince:

The win snapped a Mets 14 game winning steak against the Reds.