Today’s Mets game was scheduled at 12:10 because it was Camp Day at Citi Field. Apparently, the Mets aren’t much interested in generating new baseball fans because the team played one of their typical dreary day games. With today’s loss, the Mets are now an MLB worst 10-23 in day games.
This loss was one of the worst. It wasn’t the worst because the Mets were blown out. The 5-1 score dictate otherwise. Rather, it was a dreary day when the Mets gave you very little reason to cheer.
Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed just three hits over eight innings to the Mets with Wilmer Flores‘ fifth inning homer being the lone run scored. Perez was so good on the mound that he was able to stick around long enough to earn a golden sombrero.
One pitcher who did not last very long was Rafael Montero. His good stretch of pitching is now long forgotten, and he’s back to being the very bad pitcher that would drive Mets fans crazy. Just to put it in perspective, the first run of the game scored on a Montero balk, and he followed that up by allowing a three run homer to Joey Gallo, who has just worn out the Mets in this short two game series.
The run in the second inning was maddening. Elvis Andrus would steal consecutive bases off of the combination of Montero and Rene Rivera, and then he would score just ahead of Jose Reyes‘ throw home. It was a bad job blocking the plate by Rivera. The only thing worse than that was Collins failure to challenge the play at second on the first stolen base. Replays would show Andrus was actually out.
Montero’s final line would be 3.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and five strikeouts.
From there, Terry Collins played his favorite stretch everyone out in the bullpen game. Josh Smoker would pitch two innings, but he couldn’t get through that third. He would load the bases with no outs. Hansel Robles came on, walked a batter, got out of the jam, and he would pitch three innings. This for a reliever that just said he couldn’t feel his fingers the other day.
Chasen Bradford pitched a scoreless ninth to at least give the Mets a chance to win the game in the ninth. They didn’t.
Really, the one highlight other than Flores’ homer was Amed Rosario making a terrific diving play:
— 🍎 BIG APPLE METS ⚾️ (@BigAppleNYM) August 9, 2017
GAME NOTES: Neil Walker started the game at third base making him the 164th third baseman in Mets history.
The New York Mets were playing on Sunday night. They were scheduled to play the Los Angeles Dodgers who are currently on a pace to win 115 games. The question wasn’t whether the Mets would lose. The question was whether the game would be competitive.
SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t.
Shocking, I know.
Effectively speaking, this game was over in the first inning. The shame of it was the Mets initially seemed to get out of that inning unscathed. Travis d’Arnaud made a strong throw to beat Justin Turner at second. However, that’s not what happened. Upon review, Turner made a swim move avoiding the tag. It would turn out to be one of the three stolen bases on the nigh against d’Arnaud and Steven Matz.
After the play, Matz would give up a walk and three hits giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. It would have been 4-0 except Michael Conforto made a good throw from center to nail Austin Barnes at the plate. It was a good block of the plate by d’Arnaud.
However, it didn’t matter much. Hyun-jin Ryu dominated a Mets team that frankly looks disinterested right now. Over seven innings, he allowed just one hit to d’Arnaud while striking out eight batters over seven innings. That would be the Mets only hit in the game.
On the other side, Turner would hit a two run homer off Matz, and Josh Smoker would allow a two run shot of his own to Cody Bellinger. Apparently, Terry Collins doesn’t have access to Baseball Reference because he continues to try to use Smoker to get tough left-handed batters out despite Smoker having reverse splits.
That’s at least better than whatever Matz is doing now. His last six starts, including tonight, have been absolutely terrible. His pitching 5.1 inning is a moral victory at this point. There is something clearly wrong with him whether it is mechanical, mental, or like most of his career, physical.
Because he is now a member of the Mets bullpen, AJ Ramos had to give up a run to make it 8-0.
In sum, the Mets lost another game to the Dodgers, and they got swept in the season series in which they were not competitive. This is the first time there has been a season series sweep in this 55 year rivalry. Isn’t that just the perfect allegory to the 2017 season? The Dodgers reach new heights while the Mets are irrelevant.
Game Notes: Turner made his old team pay again going 2-4 with three runs, a homer, two RBI, and two stolen bases. Jay Bruce and Neil Walker sat with some injury issues. Walker would make a pinch hitting appearance.
What could have gone down as a pretty interesting game fell apart.
deGrom's full of surprises pic.twitter.com/mfJVOA0mXI
— Mets Citi (@metsciti) August 5, 2017
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 5, 2017
Other than that, there wasn’t much reason to cheer. After Michael Conforto‘s single to lead-off the bottom of the first, the Mets offense would only get two more hits.
Long story short, Yu Darvish completely dominated the Mets. He pitched seven innings allowing just three hits. If not for the stolen bases, no Met would have made it to scoring position. He only walked one and struck out 10.
Unfortunately, deGrom could not match zeros with him. It was pretty impossible to do it when Chris Taylor homered to begin the game.
In total, the Dodgers just wore down deGrom, who would need 99 pitches to get through just five innings. His final line was five innings, five hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and eight strikeouts.
Chase Utley continues his torment of the Mets with a two-run home run into the upper deck to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead in the 6th inning pic.twitter.com/zJPKODklc4
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) August 5, 2017
Just like that, it was 5-0 Dodgers. After scoring a run off Chasen Bradford in the seventh, it was 6-0 Dodgers. It might as well have been 600-0 at that point. The Mets were overmatched and were not going to do much in this game.
This game was a solemn reminder of the different directions these two teams have gone since that epic NLDS just two years ago.
Game Notes: Conforto, Rosario, and deGrom were the only Mets to get a hit in the game. Conforto was the only Met with a multi-hit game.
Surrounding all the hoopla of Amed Rosario‘s first game with the Mets, a baseball game broke out, and it was a pretty good one at that.
Rosario’s impact was felt immediately. In the first, he made a couple of plays including turning a 1-6-3 double play.
That lead grew to 2-0 when Jay Bruce doubled in Cespedes from first in the sixth.
At that point, things looked great for Steven Matz. Despite a rough stretch over his last four starts where he pitched to a 14.18 ERA (not a typo), he was dealing.
Through the first four innings, he had a no-hitter going. That was broken up on a Trevor Story lead-off single. On the play, Rosario got to a ball no other shortstop on the roster comes near, but with one slight tap of the glove before the throw, Story was able to beat it out.
In that inning, he labored, but he managed to work his way out of the jam. He wasn’t so lucky in the sixth.
A DJ LeMahieu double set up second and third with no outs. Matz was flirting with disaster since the fifth and in the following at-bat. He fought back into the st-bat getting it to a 3-2 count, and that’s when Nolan Arenado hit an opposite field go-ahead homer.
The Mets tied it in the seventh with some help from Rockies catcher Ryan Hanigan. When Pat Neshek struck out Jose Reyes to start the inning, Hanigan whiffed on the ball. With the ball going to the backstop, Reyes reached base safely.
Okay good catch but also pic.twitter.com/8evdHfjcZt
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 2, 2017
It would be untied in the eighth on a Bruce homer off Chris Rusin:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) August 2, 2017
For a moment, it appeared as if that 4-3 lead might grow.
Rosario would get his first career hit off Scott Oberg. It was an infield single to short (turnabout is fair play). Rosario moved to second on Story’s throwing error. It appeared as if Rosario was going to score his first career run when the ball left Travis d’Arnaud‘s bat.
Unfortunately, the ball ricocheted off Oberg’s leg to Reynolds. Reynolds was able to flip to Oberg to record the out. It was a bigger out than originally anticipated.
Blevins responded by allowing singles to Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez. The hit by Gonzalez was cued right off the end of the bat, and Cabrera had little to no chance to get anyone out. With Blevins allowing yet another inherited runner to score, it was a tie game.
The Rockies rally sputtered when Hansel Robles came on to get the last two outs. Robles wouldn’t be so lucky in the ninth.
After allowing a lead-off walk to Blackmon, LeMahieu hit what could’ve been a double play ball. Likely, it was just a fielder’s choice. Still, that play wasn’t turned as Rosario broke towards second with Blackmon moving on the play. With Rosario booting it, it was first and second with no outs instead of bases empty with no outs.
After that, Arenado blooped the ball into center, and Conforto had no chance to get Blackmon. Ballgame.
Overall, it was an entertaining game where we saw all that Rosario could be. We also saw that he’s an inexperienced rookie that needs more seasoning.
Game Notes: Matt Reynolds was sent down to make room for Rosario on the roster.
Last time Conforto and Rosario were in the same lineup? May 28, 2015 when St. Lucie lost 4-3 to Lakeland.
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) August 2, 2017
The problem with Zack Wheeler is we don’t know why he is struggling so mightily. Is it because he hadn’t pitched in over two years due to his Tommy John surgery? Is it because there is some injury he and/or the Mets are hiding? Is this just him being the same pitcher he has always been in his career?
The right-hander has not won a game since May 20th losing his last five decisions. He has not pitched past the sixth inning since June 7th. No matter what you want to look at, he just hasn’t been good.
Tonight would be no exception. On the second pitch of the game, Matthew Joyce would hit a homer to give the Athletics a 1-0 lead. When Wheeler then walked Marcus Semien, you knew it was going to be a rough night for Wheeler.
In that poor first 36 pitch first inning, Wheeler allowed four runs on three hits and four walks. He allowed the aforementioned homer and a double to Bruce Maxwell. He put his team well behind the eight ball, and he put them further behind as he grooved a 92 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to Matt Chapman, who hit a long home run.
Not to belabor the point, but if Wheeler is throwing 92 MPH fastballs, something is wrong here. Something’s really wrong when you’re walking an American League pitcher. With this diminished stuff and his continued control issues, he didn’t give the Mets much of a chance. His final line was five innings, seven hits, five runs, five earned, four walks, and six strikeouts. He needed 1oo pitches to just get through the fifth.
The Mets looked dead in the water, but fortunately for once their bullpen kept them in the game. The Mets would get a scoreless inning from Josh Smoker and two scoreless from Josh Edgin. It didn’t look like this work would matter much as A’s starter Sean Manaea was straight dealing.
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 23, 2017
Unlike the old adage, the homer did not kill the rally. Jose Reyes tripled, and Travis d’Arnaud brought him home with an RBI single. Curtis Granderson then came into the game as a pinch hitter. Granderson hit a grounder that would normally have been an inning ending double play. Because the A’s had the shift on, it gave Granderson an opportunity to beat the throw to first. That would allow d’Arnaud to score the third run of the inning, and it would give Michael Conforto an RBI opportunity.
Since Conforto was called-up to the majors, he was given little chance to prove he could hit left-handed pitching. For some reason, he was benched against them until it almost became a self fulfilling prophecy. However, with all the injuries, the Mets have not had the same ability to bench him against lefties. During this season, Conforto has proven those previous decisions to be just plain silly, and he did it again tonight.
On the night, Conforto would go 2-5 with a double and one RBI. That double and RBI came in this sixth inning at-bat when he hit an opposite field double scoring Granderson from first pulling the Mets to within 5-4.
The Mets would then get a chance in the eighth. After a T.J. Rivera lead-off single, it looked as if the Mets had things cooking with Reyes at the plate. Reyes has been hitting well of late, and he was great in tonight’s game. Overall, he was 2-4 with two triples and a run. This at-bat was not one of those two triples as he hit into a double play.
d’Arnaud, who was having a great game of his own going 3-3 on the night, got the two out double over the head of A’s center fielder Rajai Davis. The Mets then announced Lucas Duda as a pinch hitter, and the A’s countered with the left-hander Daniel Coulombe. Duda stayed in on the pitch, and he hit a single up the middle easily scoring d’Arnaud and tying the game.
After a Hansel Robles scoreless ninth, it set the stage for another Flores tears of joy moment:
Wilmer Walk-Off HR, Vol. 2 — In all its glory pic.twitter.com/Hbp7989K5a
— Jeremy (@JFialkow305) July 23, 2017
The last time Flores hit a walkoff homer, it helped propel the Mets into the National League East title. This homer the Mets have a four game winning streak, but it may still be too little too late. Still, that does not mean we should enjoy this 6-5 win any less.
Game Notes: With the trade rumors swirling, Asdrubal Cabrera started the game at third base. This was Robles’ second win in as many days.
It is nice to see the Mets win a game because the other team had mental lapses in the field, poor managerial decisions, and had a bullpen blow a late lead and finally the game. Through the first 82 games, that seemed to be the Mets specialty. Today, in what was mostly a lethargic afternoon game, the Mets got bested by the Cardinals in something they had seemingly mastered.
Through the first 4.2 innings, Seth Lugo had a no-hitter going. Somewhere someone must’ve taken notice and said something because Greg Garcia hit a double for the Cardinals first hit of the game. Still, things were in good shape for the Mets because Lugo erased Garcia, and the team had a 1-0 lead.
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 20, 2017
The sizzling hot Duda has homered three times over his last five games. Duda was also good in the field saving his infielders from a few errors. Most notably, his scoop of a bad T.J. Rivera throw in the seventh saved a run. Hopefully, one of the teams that needs a 1B/DH, and there are more of them than people will lead you to believe, have taken notice.
That 1-0 lead evaporated in the sixth. After a one out walk to Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, who has been killing the Mets of late, doubled him home to tie the score. Once again, Lugo settled in, shut the door in the sixth, and he pitched a scoreless seventh.
The Mets hurler deserved the win with his outstanding performance, but will have to settle for a no decision. His final line was 6.2 innings, four hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and five strikeouts. With him and Lynn out of the game, it became a battle of the bullpens, and a battle of wits between the managers.
With Erik Goeddel getting the last out of the seventh, Terry Collins turned to him to pitch the eighth. It’s hard to fault Collins when everyone else in the bullpen is terrible, but the decision backfired when Pham hit a 3-1 pitch out of the park to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. With the way this game was going, and with how poorly the Mets have played of late, it seemed like this was how the game was going to end.
That was until Mike Matheny thought it was a good idea to let the left-handed Brett Cecil pitch to Wilmer Flores in the eighth. Everyone and their mother knows Flores crushes left-handed pitching. Matheny either didn’t know that, or didn’t care. That decision cost him as Cecil hung one to Flores:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 20, 2017
From there, the Mets turned to the one reliever in their bullpen that they can have confidence – Addison Reed. Reed did his job pitching a scoreless ninth thereby giving the Mets a chance for a walk-off victory.
The ninth inning rally started with Michael Conforto drawing a lead-off walk against Trevor Rosenthal. It was another excellent game for Conforto that has gone unnoticed. On the day, the Cardinals allowed eight baserunners (six hits and two walks). Conforto accounted for four of those with him going 2-2 with two walks on the day.
Conforto would be erased on the basepaths on what initially appeared to be a double play ball off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes. Credit should be given to Cespedes for busting it down the line and keeping a runner on base. It paid off as he went first to third on a Rivera single. He would then score on what should have been the last out of the inning:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 20, 2017
That Jose Reyes “single” was the improbable winner that sent Mets fans home happy, and it enraged Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter:
— Mike Vaccaro (@MikeVacc) July 20, 2017
It was nice to be on the other side of one of these games this year. It was also nice to earn a split in the series. Even if the Mets aren’t going anywhere, it is still always a joy to beat the Cardinals. At the very least, it was a pleasure helping ensure they didn’t get the sweep they needed to get back into an NL Central race that is suddenly in flux.
There are many problems with the Mets bullpen this year. One of the most understated is the complete and utter lack of a long man in the bullpen for much of the season. This has led to Terry Collins needing to trotting out a series of relievers whenever a starter can’t go deep into games. It has led to Collins pushing relievers past their breaking points.
This has saw Hansel Robles completely break down to the point where he’s not even an effective Triple-A reliever. Collins stretched Josh Smoker to the point where he first was sent down to the minors, and then to the point where he landed on the Disabled List. With Smoker gone, Paul Sewald seems to be the guy who gets stretched out for three innings despite his being a 1-2 inning closer in most of his time in the minor leagues.
Doing that means Smoker and Sewald, two pitchers who should have been establishing themselves as late inning relievers this season, have been bounced around in their roles. We have seen uneven performances from them this year to the point where the Mets really don’t know what they have in either pitcher. More to the point, it has led to Neil Ramirez pitching in important spots.
The latest example was on Tuesday. The Mets were riding high after a sweep of the Giants, and the team was in a soft part of the schedule where they could have reasonably been at or even over .500 going into the All Star Break. At that point, who knows?
And this Mets team looked resilient last night. Robert Gsellman went down in the top of the fourth. Sewald came on and gave the team three good innings they desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud had two RBI, including a solo home run, to tie the game at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. With Sewald, one of the better relievers on the team, no longer available, Collins went with Ramirez. To the surprise of no one, Ramirez would earn the loss.
Why was he and his demonic 6.66 ERA even an option? Ultimately, it is because of the Mets refusal to carry a long man in the bullpen. Instead, the team would rather carry a group of pitchers who ideally should be limited to two innings or less that can post high strikeout numbers.
Why couldn’t the Mets carry Tyler Pill as the long reliever. Sure, he was predictably lackluster, but that is a significant upgrade from Ramirez being an abject disaster. While it is a small sample size, there are indications Pill could be useful as a long man. In this three games, the first time through the lineup teams are only hitting .250/.296/.292 off of him. Extrapolating this out, this means Pill could be good to keep the Mets into a game for about three innings.
This could led to the Mets turning the game over to their best relievers late in the game. Instead, the Mets would rather pitch their pitchers past their breaking points. They would rather pitch Ramirez in important spots. While there are many things you can pinpoint for the Mets failures this season, it’s the lack of a long man in the bullpen needs to be front and center.
Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot. Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base. Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate. Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident. Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview. That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field. More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played. Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:
1. They Can’t Pitch
The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets. It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year. That ERA is just inexcusable. There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible. Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.
2. The Defense Is Terrible
The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball. Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th. At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th. Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore. Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers. Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position. Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.
3. They’re Always Injured
Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List. For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June. The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries. In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one. If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.
4. They’re Under-Performing
So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances. Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100. Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average. Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP. Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.
Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard. After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94. There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0
We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified. Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing. That’s on all of them.
5. They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games
It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races. They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own. Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces. In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22. It is one thing lost six of seven. It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.
If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves. They are allowing the homers. They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis. They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.
For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.
Ray Ramirez and Barwin Method jokes aside, do we really know who to blame for all of these Mets injuries? Thi has seemingly been an issue since Pedro Martinez was with the Mets when in three straight seasons the Mets suffered a rash of injuries to their starting rotation. It should be noted, Pedro put some blame on Jeff Wilpon’s shoulder for making him pitch hurt, but that doesn’t address how Pedro go hurt in the first place.
We saw it again last year with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz needing season ending surgery. It is happening again this year with Harvey and Matz both landing on the Disabled List. We also have seen Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Tommy Milone, and Josh Smoker land on the Disabled List.
It goes further than that. The position players keep getting injured too. This year, Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera (twice), Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares (twice), and Brandon Nimmo have all landed on the Disabled List. If you’ll notice, you will have seen many of those names pop up on the Disabled List last year.
There’s a simple reason for that. Here’s example of how the Mets handle the situtaion:
Maybe if the Mets continue handling training and treatment of injuries the same way, maybe they’ll have a breakthrough. Just like the Futurama clip, it’s not going to happen.
Despite teams pouring a tremendous amount of money into the topic, no one is still definitive on what causes pitcher injuries. Many will suggest it is fatigue, but even that is inconclusive. The Verducci Effect has been debunked time and again. Moreover, there was a 2003 Nate Silver and Matt Carroll Baseball Prospetus article which suggests the link between fatigue and arm injuries might be overstated. Still, there is evidence there is a link between fatigue and arm injuries. That is especially the case with pitchers over 25.
It is that link that made what Terry Collins did last night inexcusable.
Now, if you want to argue the inning snuck up Collins, you could make that argument. There were two outs in the second inning with Jon Lester coming up. Reasonably, a manager should expect his pitcher to get out of the inning. As we all know, Zack Wheeler didn’t. He grooved a pitch right down the middle to Lester, who hit a single to left. From there the doors fell off and the inning fell apart.
Wheeler was still only 18 pitches deep into the inning when he walked Albert Almora on four straight pitches. However, at this point, it was clear Wheeler was losing it, and to make matters worse, the Cubs lineup had turned over. From there Collins allowed Wheeler to throw 28 more pitches before lifting him for Josh Smoker. In total, Wheeler threw an inexcusable 46 pitches in the second inning.
This is the same Wheeler who missed two years after having Tommy John surgery. This is the same pitcher the Mets were rumored to want to limit to 125 innings this year. You need to be careful with Wheeler. Collins wasn’t. He would then compound his error with Wheeler by abusing Smoker.
Last year, Smoker’s high in pitches thrown in a game was 32. This year, he has already topped that six times. However, last night took the cake. Collins pushed Smoker to pitch four innings throwing 81 pitches. That’s a starter’s workload, not a reliever’s. There was a tangible effect.
Smoker is a pitcher that can get his fastball up to 97 MPH, which he did a couple of times last night. By the time Collins finally lifted Smoker in the sixth inning, he was throwing 89 MPH.
Collins went ahead and asked more from Smoker than he could possibly give. He did it despite the Mets bullpen only having thrown only 6.2 innings over the past four games. That was also despite the fact Jacob deGrom gave the bullpen a night off with his complete game. By the way, the only reason the Mets were able to obtain Smoker was because the Nationals former first round pick was released after two shoulder surgeries.
It’s not that Wheeler and Smoker need to be babied by their manager. Rather, they need their manager to not push them past the breaking point. This is no different than the protection Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, Jim Henderson, and any number of pitchers Collins has left in his wake as manager.
In the modern game of baseball, the most important job a manager can do is managing his pitching staff. He needs to do all he can do to get them through a season both healthy and effective. Time and again, Collins has failed in that regard. Last night was the latest example. For his part, Collins has never had to face any ramifications for his actions. Unfortunately, his pitchers have. We should all cross our fingers Wheeler and Smoker will not be the next.