Neil Walker

Gsellman, Mets Needed Another Day Off

Robert Gsellman was initially supposed to be skipped tonight so Noah Syndergaard could pitch. The Mets later announced the announcement was a mistake, and Gsellman would indeed get the start. 

Someone forgot to tell Gsellman. 

In a long first inning, Gsellman did not get a batter out until he faced Dansby Swanson, the eighth batter in the lineup. At that point, the Braves were already up 5-0. 

In that brutal first inning, Gsellman allowed walks to Ender Inciarte (lead-off) and Freddie Freeman. Right-handed batters Brandon PhillipsMatt Kemp, and Tyler Flowers (double) took advantage of Gsellman living on the outside corner by going opposite field for their hits. 

The defense wasn’t much help either. Gsellman pulled Jay Bruce way off the bag on an Adonis Garcia dribbler. Yoenis Cespedes had a chance to nail Freeman at the plate on a bad send by Ron Washington, but Cespedes’ throw was well up the third base line. 

Before any of this, Inciarte and Phillips nearly pulled off a double steal. Travis d’Arnaud‘s throw was late, but he got credited with a caught stealing as Phillips overslid the bag. Had that not happened, the first inning could’ve been much worse. 

Not that it mattered much anyway. When Julio Teheran and his 2.21 ERA against the Mets gets to bat before he pitches, the game is over. This one was. 

Worse yet, it was a sloppy game from the Mets. The team had three errors before they got their first hit. 

The Mets had their chance in the fourth loading the bases with no out. All they got was one run off a Neil Walker sacrifice fly. The rally ended after that with Curtis Granderson and d’Arnaud popping out. 

What is even more maddening during that rally was Terry Collins having Fernando Salas warm up in the pen in case Gsellman’s spot in the lineup came up. Why Collins would warm up his seventh inning guy as opposed to Hansel Robles, who has the ability to eat some innings. 

With d’Arnaud making the last out, Gsellman went back out for the fifth. Three hits, one run, and no outs later, Collins was forced to go to Josh Edgin, who did a terrific job getting out of the jam. 

Don’t worry, after Edgin pitched 1.2 good innings, Collins brought in Salas to help Edgin get out of the two on two out jam. Nothing like taking a relieved on pace for 90+ appearances and having him warm up twice in a game. Even better, Salas stayed on to pitch the seventh. 

Speaking of overworked pitchers, Jerry Blevins pitched as well. He had to bail out Salas who ran into trouble himself allowing three hits and two runs to make it 8-1. This led to the overworked Robles coming in. 

The Mets moved some deck chairs, scoring a run in the seventh, but at 8-2 who cares?

We can get on the Mets offense all we want, and they deserve it. However, Gsellman cannot give up five runs in the first inning. Even if he did, he needs to give the Mets some length. Just a bad loss all around. 

Game Notes: At 8-12, the Mets are four games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2014 season. The Mets have the fewest at-bats with RISP in baseball. Bruce was 2-2 with two walks. 

At Least The Mets Were Competitive 

When Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam in the first inning with no outs against Zack Wheeler, it seemed like the game was over. The Mets have shown nothing of late to suggest they could score four runs, let alone the five it would take to take the lead. With Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals, the loss appeared to be a near certainty. 

At least the Mets made this one interesting. 

Michael Conforto, who is cementing his spot as this team’s lead-off hitter, hit Scherzer’s second pitch of the game for an opposite field home run:

He also made a nice play in the field:

The Mets would narrow the gap to 4-3 on a Neil Walker third inning two run home run. 

The game remains close because Wheeler was great after the first inning. After the first inning, Wheeler allowed just one hit and issued just two walks. He had a manageable pitch count, and he was able to pitch seven innings throwing just 101 pitches. 

Wheeler’s final line was seven innings, four hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. 

It’s hard to say a guy who gave up a first inning grand slam deserved a better fate, but Wheeler probably did. At a minimum, you could argue that one day the hitters need to bail out a starter. With this offense, that’s wishful thinking. 

Any hopes were dashed when Ryan Zimmerman absolutely crushed a two run homer off Josh Smoker in the eighth inning making it 6-3. That would be the final score. 

The first showdown with the Nationals led to a sweep. Regardless of the Mets health, that’s a bad sign for the 2017 season. 

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera is injured, and he stumbles after each play he makes. He looks more injured than he did last year. Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t catch again, but he pinch hit yet again. Kevin Plawecki got his first start of the year. 

Mets Lose In 3-1 Blowout

If we’re being honest, this isn’t the greatest Mets lineup even when the team is healthy. It’s full of guys who certainly can all hit the ball out of the ballpark, but it’s also full of players with poor on base percentages. When you lose Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes to injury the problems become even more exacerbated. 
Now, the Mets have the pitching to win games no matter who is in the lineup. We saw that in 2015 as the pitching and Curtis Granderson kept the team afloat playing near .500 ball until reinforcements arrived. 

In those games the Mets did win, they needed their pitcher’s to be great. At the state the Mets offense is now, the 2017 Mets are back to that point. Yesterday, Jacob deGrom was good. 

He was mowing the Nationals down for the first three innings until his wildness caught up to him in the fourth. A Daniel Murphy single was bracketed by walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loading the bases. 

The Mets got a bit lucky as the Nationals third base coach sent Murphy on the ensuing RBI single by Matt Wieters

In the fifth, the Nationals got to deGrom again. Adam Eaton and Trea Turner hit back-to-back one out doubles to make it 2-0. After Harper was just told to go to first base (essentially what the new intentional walk rule is), Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single to make it 3-0. 

The Nationals wouldn’t score again in the sixth thanks in large part to Granderson:

After getting the first two out, deGrom got in trouble again issuing yet another walk, this time to Eaton, and then allowing a single to Turner. At this point, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin to get the Mets out of the jam. Somewhat surprisingly, he did by striking out Harper. 

Overall, it was a tough day for deGrom who issued a career high six walks. He was obviously ramped up early getting it up to 98 MPH and recording a lot of strikeouts. The early adrenaline wore off, and deGrom was left throwing 94 MPH and missing his spots. This was an uncharacteristic start for deGrom. His final line was 5.2 innings, eight hits, three runs, three earned, six walks, and 10 strikeouts. 

Given the current state of the Mets offense, 3-0 might as well have been 30-0. This game was no different. 

For the second time this season, the Mets offense was no-hit through five innings. This time, it was done by Gio Gonzalez. Though the Mets offense looked overmatched and lifeless, they would break through in the sixth. 

Jose Reyes pinch hit for Edgin and worked a one out walk. Then, Juan Lagares broke up the no-hitter with a single. More than that, the Mets had a rally going. 

Michael Conforto didn’t help the narrative he can’t hit left-handed pitching by striking out and going hitless on the day. Where Conforto didn’t come through, a hobbled Asdrubal Cabrera did hitting an RBI single to make it 3-1. That was as close as the Mets would get. 
Jay Bruce and Neil Walker had back-to-back strikeouts ending the Mets only rally of the game. The offense then made a struggling Nationals bullpen look like the 1990 Nasty Boys. 
Blake TreinenEnny Romero, and Koda Glover did their best Norm CharltonRob DibbleRandy Myers impersonation to slam the door shut on the 3-1 victory. 
With that, the Mets are 8-10 and are in fourth place 4.5 back. They’re having trouble beating the Phillies and can’t even hit a poor Nationals bullpen. It’s still April, so it’s still early, but things do not look good right now. 

Game Notes: Cabrera tried to leg out an infield single in the fourth.  He was noticeably hobbled, and he came out to take his position right before the first pitch of the fifth inning. For the second day in a row, an injured Yoenis Cespedes informed the team he was too injured to pinch hit. Once again, Travis d’Arnaud was limited to pinch hitting duty. T.J. Rivera got the start at third base over a healthy Reyes. He was 0-3. 

Please Don’t Mess Around With These Injuries

One of the best things to come out of the past offseason was Major League Baseball shortening the stint on the disabled list from 15 days to 10 day.  Presumably, that change made it easier for teams to place their players on the disabled list to allow them to recover.  Someone should tell that to the Mets.

Last night, with the Lucas Duda injury and Wilmer Flores infection, Jay Bruce was forced to play first base for the first time since he played three games there in 2014.  That also put Juan Lagares in the position of being the team’s lone back-up outfielder and middle infielder.  Lagares was initially signed by the Mets as a shortstop, but he has not played the middle infield since he played six innings for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats as a 20 yeard old in 2009.  To put it in perspective how long ago that was, back in 2009, Citi Field just opened, and Daniel Murphy was considered a left fielder.

When Cespedes had to leave the game with a hamstring injury after running the bases in the fifth inning, the Mets were in trouble.  If the game were to go deep into extra innings, the Mets were likely going to have to consider which infield position other than first could Kevin Plawecki handle.  They might have followed through with the plan to put Zack Wheeler at first base like it was contemplated during the 16 inning game.  If things got bad enough, the team might have had to lean on Jacob deGrom‘s experience as a collegiate shortstop.

Simply put, this is unacceptable.  Year-in and year-out the Mets find themselves in this position, and they are more than willing to play with short benches with players not even available to pinch hit.  Worse yet, they ask players to do too much.

Last year, the Mets saw Asdrubal Cabrera deal with a knee injury all season.  From the middle of May until the end of July, he was hobbled and struggling.  Over that stretch, he hit .232/.285/.436.  The Mets finally put him on the disabled list so he could rest his knee.  He responded by becoming the 2015 Yoenis Cespedes and willing the Mets to the postseason hitting .345/.406/.635 over the final 41 games of the season.

Speaking of Cespedes, the Mets were also stubborn about putting him on the disabled list.  On July 8th, he suffered an injured quad.  He would not go on the disabled list, and he would not play in another game until July 17th.  When he did play, he was noticeably hobbled.  From July 17th to August 3rd, Cespedes hit just .205/.302/.318 in 14 games before the Mets finally put him on the disabled list.  When he came back, he hit .259/.335/.490 over the final 38 games of the season.

Then there was Michael Conforto.  We are not quite sure when he was injured, but we do know that he received a cortisone shot in June of last year.  Clearly something was bothering him as Conforto went from the best hitter on the team in April to a guy who hit just .174/.267/.330 for the rest of the year.  Instead of a disabled list stint, the Mets treated him to multiple demotions to Triple-A, where he absolutely raked, and being stuck to the bench for far too long stretches.  Perhaps if the Mets put him on the disabled list, his second season would have gone much differently, and the Bruce trade might not have been necessary.

You would think the Mets would have learned from that, but they clearly haven’t as they are already repeating the same mistakes.

While it is not ideal with six of the next nine games coming against the Nationals, the Mets can definitively get away with Bruce at first with an outfield of Conforto-Lagares-Curtis Granderson from left to right.  While it does not have the offensive punch you would like, that is a really good defensive outfield.  On the infield, the Mets could recall T.J. Rivera, who showed the Mets last year he has a place in the major leagues.  The Mets could even get bold by calling up Gavin Cecchini to play second and moving Neil Walker to third.  At a minimum, it would get a struggling Jose Reyes out of the lineup.  It could also allow the Mets to pick and choose their spots with Reyes to allow him to be an effective pinch hitter or pinch runner in late game situations.

The overriding point is the Mets have talent on the 40 man roster even if Duda and Cespedes went on the disabled list.  With the Mets throwing Noah Syndergaard, deGrom, and Matt Harvey, the Mets can still win a fair share of those games to keep the team afloat until Duda and Cespedes are ready to return to the lineup.  In fact, the team might be better off because you’d rather have two healthy sluggers mashing all season than two injured players trying to find a way to produce to their normal levels.

That is something that didn’t work last year, and we can’t expect it to work this year.  It’s about time the Mets learned how to properly utilize the disabled list and field a team of healthy players.

No Defending This Loss

There was every chance that the Mets defense was going to suffer tonight.  Jose Reyes isn’t a third baseman.  Michael Conforto is miscast as a CF. With Lucas Duda (elbow) and Wilmer Flores (infection) out, Jay Bruce was really miscast as a first baseman. 

But no, the defense was a disaster. Somehow, it was the sure-handed middle infield of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera that was the problem. 

After the Phillies had already plated a run off a Tommy Joseph RBI double, he would move to second on a Noah Syndergaard wild pitch. It was in the dirt, but Rene Rivera did a terrible job on the ball. He tried to backhand a ball between his legs and didn’t get down. Terrible. 

Freddy Galvis “singled” to Bruce and advanced to second on a “Bruce throwing error.”  Look at what really happened:

Walker ran to the bag and stopped despite the ball apparently being theory to him. 

The throw not only allowed a run to score (it was anyway), but it put Galvis in scoring position. He’d then score on an Andrew Knapp ground rule double. 

Just like that, it was 3-0 Phillies after two. 

The Mets would get one of those runs back led by a Reyes single and stolen base. He’d score on a two out Rivera RBI single. 

Syndergaard plunked Daniel Nava to lead off the inning, but he did get the double play ball he needed. However, Cabrera booted the Odubel Herrera grounder. Nava scored on a Maikel Franco RBI double to left. 

On the double, Cespedes made a great throw to Walker, who literally fell over himself trying to make the tag. Right there, the Mets had already given away three outs in the inning. 

Fortunately, Syndergaard limited the damage allowing just one more run on an Aaron Altherr RBI groundout. 

Syndergaard was not at his best, but he deserved a much better fate. Technically, only three of the runs allowed were earned. However, watching the game and the shoddy defense, only the first run was really on him. Syndergaard’s final line was seven innings, seven hits, five runs, three earned, no walks, and 10 strikeouts. 

While his team wouldn’t help him, Syndergaard helped his team by pitching that extra inning going to 114 pitches. 

Still, the team couldn’t rally to get him off the hook or get a win. It appeared there was a chance after the Walker three run homer to center in the third inning. It was his first extra base hit off a right-handed pitcher all year. 

However, at 5-4 that’s as close as the Mets would get. To add insult to injury, Cespedes left the game after the fifth. In that inning, he pulled up lame on what was a Bruce 3-6-1 double play. 

Fernando Salas couldn’t keep the Phillies at bay in the eighth. He first allowed a lead off homer to Franco. He then allowed back-to-back singles to Altherr and Joseph leading Terry Collins to pull him for Josh Edgin
Edgin would be the lone bright spot on the day getting three straight outs punctuated by striking out Andres Blanco

Even with that, there was no momentum in what was a disappointing 6-4 loss. The Mets are banged up and .500 with the Nationals coming into town. This is exactly where you don’t want to be. 

Game Recap: Juan Lagares was the back-up infielder on the night due to all the injuries. It didn’t happen, but he got into the game with the Cespedes injury. Jeurys Familia made his first appearance since coming back from suspension. His rust showed with him needing 30 pitches to get out of the ninth. 

Time To Call Up Gavin Cecchini

This may seem irrational. It’s most likely premature, but in reality, the Mets can’t keep languishing away with Jose Reyes at third base.  Last night should be the last straw. 

In the game, Reyes dropped a routine flyball that set the stage for the game tying rally. He got on base, and then he was caught between first and second on a pitch in the dirt. He got lucky that Cesar Hernandez hit him in the back. 

It’s at the point where Reyes can’t make routine baseball plays. He’s fighting it. He’s hitting .100/.182/.140. Those numbers are unfathomably low. It’s really difficult to justify playing him right now. 

He’s fortunate that Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat that can’t hit right-handed pitching. He’s also lucky that Flores is also a poor fielder. T.J. Rivera is also a poor fielder at third base. Rivera is also stuck in Triple-A until next week, and he doesn’t draw enough walks to play everyday. 

This leaves the Mets looking for out of the box options. Even if the Mets were to bring back Kelly Johnson, he still needs time to get ready for the season. 

The common refrain is for Amed Rosario. It’s still too soon for him. The Mets likely don’t want to call him up before the Super Two deadline. Moreover, he only has 51 plate appearances above Double-A.  He still needs more time. 

That leaves the Mets looking at Gavin Cecchini

The Mets 2012 first round draft pick has thrived in Triple-A. Entering last night’s game, he played 130 levels in Triple-A hitting .320/.389/.451 with 31 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 62 RBI, and seven stolen bases. 

During Cecchini’s cup of coffee with the Mets last September, he showed he wasn’t intimidated playing in the majors. In four games, he was 2-6 with two doubles and two RBI. 

The issue with Cecchini is where does he play?  With his throwing issues and the rise of Rosario, he had been moved to second. The plan was also to have him work at and expose him to short and third this year. 

The early returns of Cecchini at second are good. He’s played well at the position, and he has started the season playing 12 errorless games. The issue is the Mets have a second baseman in Neil Walker

On that front, the Mets could move Walker to third base. Entering the season, Walker indicated he would be willing to play wherever the Mets needed him to play. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Given Reyes’ play, Walker may be needed at third. 

The other option could be playing Cecchini at third. However, with so little time there, and the concerns over his past throwing errors, Cecchini is probably not the best bet for third. Then again, it’s hard to argue that the Mets have there right now is any better. 

Yes, this is a drastic move, but seeing Reyes play and with David Wright likely not close to returning, the Mets have little choice but to pursue the drastic measure. The choices now are really either continue playing Reyes, play a guy who can’t hit right-handed pitching, or roll the dice on a former first round pick. 

At a minimum, it’s hard to argue Cecchini would be any worse. In fact, if Cecchini were to go 1-5 every night while playing mediocre defense, he would be an immeasurable improvement over Reyes.  For that reason alone, it’s time to give Cecchini a chance. 

Reyes & Montero Were The Difference 

This game came down to Jose Reyes and Rafael Montero. What do you think happened?  Of course they lost and spoiled a nice effort from Zack Wheeler 

The only run scored off Wheeler was a first inning Odubel Herrera solo home run.  From there, Wheeler was far from perfect and battled himself and the Phillies. The second inning was his only 1-2-3 inning. 

In the third, Cesar Hernandez singled to lead-off the inning, and he stole second on a horrendous throw by Travis d’Arnaud. The throw was to Neil Walker who wasn’t even the middle infielder covering on the play. Wheeler then issued a walk to Herrera to put runners on first and second with one out. 

Wheeler got back-to-back groundouts from Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders to put an end to the Phillies biggest rally of the night off of him. 

Wheeler would depart after five innings and 99 pitches. His final line was five innings, four hits, one run, one earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts.

He’d leave on the long side due to a Mets first inning rally. 

Michael Conforto, leadoff man extraordinaire, would earn a leadoff walk off Phillies starter Zach EflinYoenis Cespedes then earned a one out walk of his own. Conforto would then score on a Jay Bruce RBI single. 
Cespedes went to third on the play, and he would score on a wild pitch during the Walker at-bat. It’s a good thing Cespedes scored there because the Mets offense would do nothing from there on out. 

For the rest of the game, the Mets only amassed three more hits and no one would reach third. This is troubling considering Eflin’s career ERA is 5.54 and the Phillies have a mediocre bullpen. 

In the sixth, Hansel Robles struggled issuing a one out walk to Tommy Joseph and hitting Cameron Rupp. At this point, I’m sure Rupp has had enough of Robles. Terry Collins did as well lifting him for Josh Smoker with two outs in the inning. 

Smoker struck out Brock Stassi to get out of the inning. He’d start the seventh getting the first two out before giving up a Herrera single.  Fernando Salas came on and got out of the inning. 

Unfortunately, Salas couldn’t get out of the eighth. After getting the first two out, he walked Rupp. He then induced a pop up to Freddy Galvis which Jose Reyes Luis Castilloed.

A hustling Rupp went to third and the slow jogging Galvis would only go to first. It would cost both teams. 

Jerry Blevins came on for Salas, and his steak of stranding 11 batters would end.  Andres Blanco ripped a double into left field. It would have scored two, but upon replay, it was determined to have hopped the wall for a ground rule double. With that, it was a 2-2 instead of a 3-2 game. 
The Reyes error cost the Mets a run, and Galvis’ lack of hustle cost the Phillies. Had Galvis ran, he might’ve been in second. If he was on second, he scores on a ground rule double. 

Blevins got out of the jam, and Addison Reed mowed down the Phillies in the ninth. 

In the ninth, Reyes drew a two out walk and took off initially on a pitch in the dirt. He stopped half way and was only safe because Hernandez pegged him in the back with a throw. It wound up not mattering as d’Arnaud grounded out to end the inning. 

With Reyes’ horrible game and Collins double switched Rafael Montero into the game with Wilmer Flores taking over at third and batting fifth (pitchers spot when Juan Lagares was double switched into the game in the seventh). 

For some reason, Collins has been loathed to use Sean Gilmartin no matter how much the bullpen could use some length or how much Montero struggles. It costs the Mets. 

Saunders led off the 10th with a single off Montero.  Even with him having to freeze on a rope hit in his direction, he went to third on the Joseph single. Then, for some reason, Collins didn’t bring the infield in. 

It didn’t really matter. Rupp hit a deep sacrifice fly which would be the only out Montero would record. Galvis would follow with a single putting runners on first and second. 

Aaron Altherr then hit a pinch hit RBI single to center. On the play, Lagares made a good throw home, but d’Arnaud couldn’t corral it. 

On a night where many Mets struggled, perhaps no one struggled more than d’Arnaud. He was 0-4 with the two miscues. What am I saying?  Reyes and Montero were worse. 

In any event, Collins was finally forced to go to Gilmartin. Gilmartin pitched reasonably well, but the two inherited runners scored when Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t have enough range to get a ball hit up the middle. While Cabrera is as sure handed as it gets, he really lacks range. 

With that, the Mets had a frustrating and downright embarrassing 6-2 loss dropping them to .500. It’s their fourth consecutive loss. 

Game Notes: Walker still doesn’t have an extra base hit as a left-handed batter this year. Conforto was 0-4 with the one walk, one run, and two strikeouts. Collins had his excuse not to play him tomorrow. 

Duda and Walker: Tale of Two Returns From Back Injury

Last year, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker suffered significant back injuries that caused them to miss significant time.  Duda missed a total of 107 games due to a fracture in his lower back.  With the Mets in a postseason push, and with James Loney being James Loney, he came back in September and wasn’t the same hitter.

For his part, Walker was having a good year and a hot August when he was shut down.  That happens when you complain of not being able to feel your lower extremities during games.  With Walker needing season ending back surgery, his last game of the season was August 27th.

Despite both players having back injuries, the Mets not only brought both players back, but they also planned on him being significant contributors to the 2017 Mets.  This meant the Mets brought back Duda despite his being an arbitration eligible player, and the Mets gave Walker the $17.2 qualifying offer, which he accepted.  While their respective paths back to the Mets this season are similar, their play this season has been disparate.

In 11 games this season, Duda is hitting .256/.356/.615 with four homers and seven RBI.  This is not too far off his career averages of .246/.343/.452.  Since becoming the everyday first baseman in 2014, Duda is a .246/.345/.478 hitter.  The long story short is Duda is getting on base like he has in his career.  While he’s slugging at a much higher clip that we can reasonably expect, Duda has inspired confidence that his 30 home run power is back.  Overall, Duda has done just that.  He has given everyone confidence that he is the same player he was before the back surgery.

Walker has had a different return from his back injury.  In 12 games so far, Walker is hitting .239/.333/.304 with three doubles and three RBI.  The problem is Walker has done his damage almost exclusively from the right-hand side of the plate.  As a right-handed batter, Walker is hitting .389/.450/.556 with all three of his extra base hits.  From the left-hand side of the plate, he is hitting just .143/.265/.143.  Essentially, Walker is playing like Wilmer Flores right now except with much better defense.  The question is whether this is the back or the continuation of something we saw happen with Walker last year.

Now, it is was too soon to say Walker is shot or is the new Flores.  Walker’s play in the field should give every indication he is not limited by the back surgery.  Hopefully, this means Walker should return to his career norms sooner rather than later.  If that is the case, the Mets lineup will get a major boost.

Still, the question needs to be asked whether Walker will return to form.  His inability to hit left-handed is alarming, especially when you consider he hits left-handed much more than he hits right-handed.  To be fair, there are still questions about Duda.  Will his back will permit him to continue to put up these numbers?  We don’t know, nor can we be confident until we see a much larger sample size from both, and perhaps not even then.

Ultimately, the hope is Duda is back and Walker will improve.  If that is the case, the Mets lineup will be even more dangerous, and the Mets will be in position to win the National League East once again.  If it isn’t, the Mets will be stuck in limbo deciding when to move on from these players and to call up Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, or even Gavin Cecchini.  These situations rarely pan out well.  That is why it is so imperative the Mets gamble on both Duda and Walker pays off.

At Least They Battled

It was a Matt Harvey start, so you knew the Mets offense was not going to produce any runs.  In Sunday’s game, the Mets took it to the next level getting no-hit by Dan Straily and a bunch of exhausted Marlins releivers for 7.2 innings before Neil Walker finally broke up the no-hitter.

With that the Mets once again spoiled a terrific Harvey start.  Over six innings, Harvey allowed seven hits, two runs, one earned, and two walks with five strikeouts.  Better than that, Harvey’s fastball velocity improved yet again.  He was averaging 95 MPH on his fastball, and he was hitting 97 on the gun.  He used his slider more, and it is becoming a weapon for him yet again.

The Marlins would get to Harvey immediately with Dee Gordon bunting his way one and then going to third when Harvey threw away a pickoff throw.  Gordon then scored on a Christian Yelich groundout.  In the sixth, the Marlins would strike again on a Marcell Ozuna RBI double scoring Yelich.  Justin Bour tried to score on the double as well, but Yoenis Cespedes relayed to Jose Reyes to nail him at the plate.  Between Cespedes’ arm and Travis d’Arnaud‘s ability to get down a tag, it’s amazing that anyone scores on a ball hit to left field.

At that point, the 2-0 lead could have been 10-0 for all that mattered with the Mets bats looking lifeless.  Then in the ninth, the Mets bats came to life courtesy of David Phelps.  The rally started with a d’Arnaud one out single and continued with a Wilmer Flores‘ two out single.  With Giancarlo Stanton making an error trying to field the ground ball, d’Arnaud and Flores were able to move into scoring position.

Asdrubal Cabrera then pinch hit for Hansel Robles, and he tied the game with an RBI single.  It was an amazing comeback considering where the Mets were offensively for the first eight innings.  It is a pattern we have seen with the Mets not just in this series, but over the course of the season.  This has been one of the more positive signs from the early season.

Unfortunately, a seemingly innocuous move to begin the top of the ninth set the stage for another disappointing Mets loss at Marlins Park.  The Marlins double-switched J.T. Riddle into the game for Brad Ziegler and had him batting ninth.

Addison Reed came on to pitch in the ninth, and he didn’t have it.  He allowed a lead-off single to Ozuna, who was then cut down at the plate when trying to score on a Miguel Rojas RBI double.  This time it was the relay of Cespedes to Cabrera to d’Arnaud that got him out.  Again, it is amazing that anyone would run on Cespedes in left.

Like the prior two games, the Mets heroics just set them up for heartbreak.  Riddle, who was just substituted into the game to start the ninth, hit a walk-off home run to end the game.  And with that, the Mets have once again suffered a brutal loss to the Marlins.  It’s another walk-off loss at Marlins Park:

Nice to know, the Marlins are once again prepared to be a thorn in the Mets side.  The remaining 12 games promise to be not much fun.

Game Notes: Another hitless game for Reyes who is now hitting .087.  Over his last five games, Jay Bruce is 6-25 with no extra base hits.  Flores got the start with Cabrera getting a day off.  Josh Smoker and Robles each pitched a scoreless inning in their first appearances since going to the whip on Thursday’s 16 inning game.

Terry Doesn’t Know Who To Abuse

After what was a shaky second inning where he allowed back-to-back homers to Justin Bour and Marcell OzunaJacob deGrom settled in and found his dominant form yet again.

The Marlins had no chance against deGrom who had all his pitches working. His velocity was back as well with him even hitting 99 on the gun. Through seven innings deGrom had only allowed four hits, which includes the two solo home runs, and one walk while striking out 13 batters.

After seven innings, deGrom had thrown 97 pitches, and with a 4-2 lead, he seemed poised to win the game.

deGrom was on the long side as the Mets bats finally hit Adam Conley whose start was pushed back a day with Don Mattingly using him in the 16 inning game.

You knew Conley wasn’t going to have it when he walked Jose Reyes to lead-off the game. By the way it’s interesting that it only took Reyes to be good in one hand for him to reclaim the lead-off spot on the team. It should be noted after the leadoff walk, he went 0-3. Still, Reyes would score on a Neil Walker double giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

The Mets tied the game in the seventh on a Curtis Granderson RBI triple. The ball tipped off Christian Yelich‘s glove with Yelich trying to emulate a catch Juan Lagares made earlier in the game. Granderson scored on Michael Conforto‘s sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.

When Asdrubal Cabrera hit a solo home run in the eighth, it seemed as if the Mets’ 4-2 lead would be enough to win the game. It wasn’t.

To much consternation, deGrom didn’t start the eighth. However, it was a very defensible position considering deGrom was already at 97 pitches and his having season ending elbow surgery last season.  It was also a very defensible position to use Fernando Salas in the eighth inning.  That’s the reason the Mets signed him in the offseason.  He was to be the eighth inning guy until Jeurys Familia returned from his suspension.  At that point, Salas would become the seventh inning guy.

As happens in baseball, Salas didn’t have it.  It’s part of being a reliever.  Sometimes you just don’t have it.  It also happens when you lead the majors in appearances this season.  In fact, dating back to September 1, 2016, his first game with the Mets, Salas is the most heavily used reliever in all of baseball.  He was bound to struggle sooner rather than later.

What was strange with Salas was how quickly it just happened.  He made quick work of Ichiro Suzuki and Dee Gordon to begin the inning.  Then he issued a four pitch walk to Miguel Rojas.  Believe it or not, this was Salas’ first non-intentional walk as a member of the New York Mets.  This set the stage for a matchup against Yelich.  Now, it should be noted Jerry Blevins was warming up just for this situation.  If you are going to have Blevins warming up, this is the exact situation you bring him into the game.  Plain and simple.

Instead, Collins elected to go with Salas.  Note, Salas pitching to Yelich wasn’t a bad move per se.  Salas is your guy for this spot, and he did make quick work of the first two batters.  However, Blevins was already warming in the pen.  If he’s up, bring him in, get out of the jam, and give Addison Reed a two run lead.  Instead, Collins left in Salas, who gave up the game tying home run to Yelich.  He then gave up a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton.  To add insult to injury, Collins brought in Blevins to get out Bour to get out of the inning.

And with that, the Mets 4-2 lead became a 5-4 loss.  Sure, you can’t completely pin the loss on Collins as he made some defensible moves.  That was at least until he left a warm Blevins in the pen.  You could argue that doesn’t mean Salas should give up a home run.  You’d be right, but you’d also ignore the simple fact that Collins didn’t put his team in the best position to win.  Because of that, this loss is on him.

Perhaps knowing that, he was angry and downright rude to the beat reporters after the game.  In the video, Collins explained every reason for his decisions, omitting some key facts:

Look, we all agree the starters should be protected, but that doesn’t mean you ruin the arms and the careers of the relievers.  There’s a balance, and the fact that Collins doesn’t see that is downright frightening.  It’s probably the reason why we saw him run through damaged relievers like Tim Byrdak and Jim Henderson in his career.  Apparently, Collins only protects the arms of those pitchers he deems more valuable.

That’s not right, and it needs to stop.  Another thing that needs to stop is the faulty logic.  If Collins was that concerned over Blevins, under no means do you have him warming up.  You either want him rested, or you want him pitching.  If you want him pitching, get him in the game against the big left-handed threat in the lineup.  Afraid of Stanton, get Reed up.  He’s the most rested reliever in that bullpen.  Considering how the long games has wrecked havoc on the bullpen, it actually made sense to go with Reed for a four out save.

Right now, Collins is picking and choosing who to abuse and who not to abuse.  It is having a tangible effect on the effectiveness of the relievers.  It may soon have an effect on their health.  We have seen this before with Collins.  Hopefully, we won’t see it again.  On that front, no one should be hopeful.

Game Notes: With the left-handed Conley on the mound, Collins went with a Yoenis Cespedes-Lagares-Granderson outfield to start the game.  Rene Rivera got the start over Travis d’Arnaud giving d’Arnaud two days off after he caught 16 innings.  Mets have now lost four of seven to the Marlins.  Last year, the Mets were 12-7 against the Marlins.