Noah Syndergaard

Season Is On The Brink

On any given day, any of the following would have been the worst thing to happen to the Mets.  First, there was the announcement Noah Syndergaard needed to have his start skipped with bicep issues that radiate up to his pitching shoulder.  Then Matt Harvey goes out in his place, doesn’t have his typical velocity, and he can’t get out of the fifth inning.  Just when you thought things couldn’t go any worse, Yoenis Cespedes had to be helped off the field in the fourth inning after hitting a lead-off double.

Anything else that happened today didn’t matter because the Mets just might’ve seen their season flash before their eyes.  

It doesn’t matter that a poor decision not to throw home in the second inning seemed to finally wake up Jose Reyes who would subsequently nail two runners at home and hit a home run. It doesn’t matter Neil Walker seemed to wake up offensively. It doesn’t even matter that Jay Bruce continues to hit well. 

What matters is the Mets are faced with the very real prospect of losing Syndergaard and Cespedes for a long time. It also matters that Harvey took a big step back from the pitcher who was gradually getting stronger to start the year. Hopefully, there’s nothing wrong with him. The way things are going with the Mets right now, you shouldn’t have much hope. 

Overall, the offense isn’t hitting, and the pitching is getting further compromised. 

With all the talk about how the Mets fleeced the Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey must’ve smiled with this win. Not only was he able to pitch on a game Syndergaard wasn’t, but Travis d’Arnaud was also 0-2 with a strikeout against him. By the way, Wuilmer Becerra is coming off offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to play the field this year. 

Yes, you do that trade 279,684,800,441,574,796 times out of 100, but at least in this game Dickey felt vindicated. He must have felt further vindicated with the Braves leaping the Mets in the standings leaving the Mets in last place. Unless things start to change, it’s hard to argue the Mets won’t stay there for a while. 

Game Notes: Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning and has not allowed a hit to the Mets since his first disastrous outing. The Mets have not had a lead in over 56 innings. They have no lost 10 of their last 11. 

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. 

Bullpen Needed This Rest

One of the ongoing jokes during yesterday’s rain out was that despite the rain out, Terry Collins had Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas warming up in the bullpen in case the game started on time.  As with most jokes, this one did have a twinge of truth to it.

So far this season, the Mets bullpen has been going on an unsustainable rate.  Mike Marshall holds the single season record for appearances by a reliever with his making 106 appearances for the 1974 Dodgers.  The Mets record for appearances is Pedro Feliciano with 92 appearances in 2010.  This was the reason why Gary Cohen dubbed him Perpetual Pedro.  Interesting enough, Felicano’s record is tied for fourth all-time with Marshall, who had 92 appearances for the 1973 Expos.  Right now, the Mets bullpen is set to challenge these records at an alarming rate.

Blevins is on a pace to make 102 appearances this season.  Hansel Robles is on pace to make 94 appearances this season.  Addison Reed and Salas are on pace to make 85 appearances this season.  Josh Smoker is on pace to make 77 appearances this season. Obviously, this would be career highs for each of these pitchers.

If they are to keep up this pace, Blevins would be second all-time for single season appearances by a reliever, and Robles’ 94 appearances would tie the now standing second place position.  Looking over the record list, no one has made more than 74 appearances in a season over the last five years.  The bullpen’s usage is unprecedented in terms of how many appearances these relievers are making.  It is utterly amazing that the current pace of these relievers would put them at the top five appearances made by a reliever in single season over the past five seasons.

When you combine the appearances with the amount of times these pitchers warm up, they are going to be on fumes.  Certainly, we have seen some diminishing returns already from Salas.  The rest of the bullpen may not be too far behind him.  This bullpen needs a rest and the subsequent rain out helped.  However, they need more help.

They may receive some help now that Jeurys Familia has returned from his suspension.  Certainly, he is the reliever Collins’ trusts most, and he will likely be the one Collins over uses next.  More than Familia, the bullpen can use some length from their starting pitching.

Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom are the only relievers averaging at least six innings per start.  Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman are averaging just over five innings per start.  This means every night the bullpen needs to pick up at least 3-4 innings.  With the Mets having already played four extra inning games to start the season, it has been much more than that.

The relative lack of length from the bullpen is understood.  Harvey and deGrom are coming back from season ending surgeries last season.  Wheeler has not pitched since 2014.  Gsellman has not thrown more than 159.2 innings in a season.  Really, you’re only workhorse right now is Syndergaard.

However, sooner or later something is going to have to give.  The starters are going to have to give more length, or Collins is going to have to trust some of the other guys in the bullpen more.  It’s understandable he hasn’t when Josh Edgin is a LOOGY with a 3.68 ERA, and his former long man, Rafael Montero, managed to get worse.  The long story short here is someone has to step up.  Otherwise, the bullpen may not last very long.

 

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. 

Enough Excuses, Lock Up These Starters

Looking at this Mets team since 2015, one thing has been perfectly clear: this team is built on pitching, and it will only go as far as the pitching carries them. In 2015, when their starters were healthy and able to last the season, the Mets were able to win the National League Pennant. In 2016, with three of the arms going down, the Mets were still good enough to enter the postseason as the top Wild Card.

The Mets have been fortunate because the pitching has been cheap. It was not until recently that Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom entered their arbitration years. Noah Syndergaard won’t be arbitration eligible until after this season. It is interesting because it is after this season that things begin to become murky. Harvey and Wheeler are scheduled to become free agents after the 2018 season with deGrom becoming a free agent the season after that.

With the Mets success rising and falling on their pitching, it begs the question why haven’t the Mets selected at least one or two pitchers and come to terms on a contract extension. The common refrain among Mets fans is the team should keep Syndergaard and deGrom and join them in a rotation that one day may also feature Robert Gsellman, Justin Dunn, and Thomas Szapucki. For now, even with the clock ticking, the Mets aren’t making a move.

While it may not make sense to most Mets fans, in a report by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the New York Mets have advised why they have not entered into contract extension discussions with any of their young pitching:

1. Injuries

As GM John Ricco explained, “[GM] Sandy [Alderson] has not said let’s be aggressive in that area, and that [injuries] is the biggest reason.”

Fact of the matter is each one of these pitchers have an issue. Harvey, deGrom, Matz, and Wheeler have all had Tommy John surgery. Harvey, deGrom, and Matz all had season ending surgery last year. Even someone healthy like Syndergaard dealt with bone spurs last year. Point is, the Mets pitchers have not been exactly healthy, nor do they inspire confidence they will be healthy going forward. To that end, the Mets relative inactivity has been understandable.

2. Lack of Urgency

As noted in Sherman’s piece, the Mets do not have a pending free agent until the after the 2018 season, and Syndergaard isn’t a free agent until after the 2021 season. Honestly, this reason is a bit disingenuous. With Harvey’s pending free agency many expect this is Harvey’s last season in a Mets uniform as the team does not want to risk him walking in free agency and the team getting nothing in return for him.

3. Pitchers Aren’t Interested In Extensions

According to Ricco, who would know this better than fans, extension discussions are typically begun by the player and his agent. Again, with fans not being in the business, it is hard to challenge him on this. With that said, it is hard to believe the Mets would be willing to let all their pitchers go to free agency without so much as initiating contract disucssions with them. Frankly, it is harder to believe when you consider back in 2012, the Mets pounced on an opportunity to give Jon Niese a five year contract extension.

4. Personalities

As noted in Sherman’s piece, when you give a contract extension to one player, it is going to have ripple effects. As Ricco said, “You would have to manage personalities because if you do [an extension] with one, how does it impact the others?”

Now, this is a bit of an overstatement on Ricco’s part. Entering into contract extensions with the pitchers should be part of an overall plan. For example, when Omar Minaya was the General Manager, he was faced with Jose Reyes pending arbitration in 2006, he agreed with a four year pact with his shortstop. Minaya then quickly moved and locked up David Wright to a six year deal. While Alderson is dealing with more than just two players, Minaya’s actions certainly show if the team has a plan an executes it, there should be no issues.

5. Budget

It is something Mets fans don’t want to hear, but it is a reality. After this season, the Mets will have Reyes, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and Fernando Salas as free agents. The team will have to decide on options for Jerry Blevins and Asdrubal Cabrera. In addition, all of the Mets marquee starting pitchers will be in arbitration thereby escalating their salaries. Furthermore, Jeurys Familia will also be owed a lot of money in arbitration if he has another stellar year. Long story short, the Mets will have to spend some money this offseason.

In order to do that, the Mets need to have the money. As Ricco explains, “Once you’ve locked in [on an extension], you do limit flexibility in some ways.”

Now, it is easy to say the Mets can plug in Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith next year, but at this point, it is not known if they will be ready to be 2018 Opening Day starters. Putting forth such a plan would be folly, especially for a team that can still compete for a World Series.

Overall, the Mets concerns over not extending their pitchers have some merit, especially when you consider the injury issues. Still, the longer the Mets wait, the more expensive each of these starting pitchers will become. As they become more expensive, the chances of locking up more than one of them significantly decreases. Sooner or later, the Mets are going to have to take a chance on a couple of these pitchers if they have designs of competing for World Series over the next decade. With Harvey being a free agent after next season, the sooner the Mets begin executing a plan, the better.

Despite Losing Mets Accomplished Primary Objective 

A baseball season is 162 games. While you want to win each and every game, there are games where there may be a goal other than just winning a game. After last night’s 16 inning victory leading to Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles being unavailable tonight was one of those nights.

The pen was limited and exhausted meaning Noah Syndergaard had to go deep in the game. Syndergaard mostly accomplished his job lasting six innings. 

It seemed as if Syndergaard was pitching more to contact than usual. It reflected in the first inning rally that saw a Gordon lead off single, error, and sacrifice fly to put the Marlins up 1-0. 

Despite that rally, Syndergaard was mostly effective with a final line of 6.0 innings, six hits, two runs, one earned, no walks, and four strike outs. He got through six having thrown just 87 pitches. As it turns out, he was lifted with his finger nail tearing off:

The Marlins needed their starter to go as deep just as much as the Mets did. However, with a Mets offense working the count against Edison Volquez, and with him pitching on short rest with today’s scheduled starter Adam Conley, he would only last 4.2 innings. 

Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t take full advantage of Volquez. In the third, the Mets loaded the bases with one out. Michael Conforto, starting in place of Yoenis Cespedes because Cespedes has the flu, hit a deep sacrifice fly scoring Curtis Granderson.

It was the only run they’d score in the inning, but at least it tied the score up at one. 

The Mets took the lead in the fifth with Lucas Duda absolutely crushing a home run to deep center:

Unfortunately, Syndergaard couldn’t hold onto the lead. In the bottom of the inning, he allowed three straight one out singles to Miguel RojasTyler Moore, and Dee Gordon to tie the game. 

The runners would advance on a J.T. Realmuto groundout putting runners on second and third with two out. That’s when Thor reached back and struck out Christian Yelich with a 100 MPH fastball. 

The Mets had a chance to get Syndergaard the lead back , and they squandered it. Jose Reyes earned a lead-off walk, and he a advanced to third on Syndergaard’s sacrifice bunt. The Mets couldn’t push Reyes, and the team wouldn’t get another real chance. 

For the first time all season, Reyes had a good game going 1-2 with two walks. With the game, Reyes’ batting average is now at .100. 

For the second straight game, it was a battle of the bullpens. The difference was the Mets did not definitively have the upper hand with the tired and unavailable arms. 

In the seventh, Rafael Montero hit into trouble loading the bases with one out. At that point, Terry Collins brought in Jerry Blevins to get both Yelich out and get out of the jam. Blevins would with a little help from Conforto:

Now, despite T.J. Rivera being sent down to make room for Sean Gilmartin, Collins decided to go with Josh Edgin to pitch the final two innings. Collins did this despite Edgin’s early season struggles and the fact that it was Gilmartin’s turn in the Las Vegas rotation. 

It was a messy eighth that saw Edgin allow a lead-off single to Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna was then erased when Justin Bour grounded into the 6-6-3 double play. Right after that, Edgin hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch. Forunately, Edgin was able to escape the inning by striking out Ichiro Suzuki

In the ninth, Edgin wasn’t so lucky. He gave up a lead-off walk to Rojas, who would score from first on a walk-off two out double by Realmuto. 

While Bruce was hustling, his lack of range showed on the play.  It also didn’t help the ball took a huge hop off the wall. Bruce had zero chance to throw out Rojas. It’s possible if that was someone else out there, they get to the ball quicker. However, it’s likely Rojas scores there no matter who was in right. 

While you wanted the win, the Mets came out of that game only needing to use Blevins. To that end, the game was a successful one for the Mets even if it wasn’t a victorious one. 

Game Notes: It appears Granderson is the new lead-off hitter with his leading off the fourth time this year. Reyes returned to the line-up after a mental health day. Neil Walker got the day off, and Wilmer Flores got his first start of the year against a right-handed pitcher. Flores was 0-4. 

Terry Collins Poor April 2017 Decisions

This year marks the seventh year Terry Collins has been the Mets manager. In those seven years, he has left a wake of horrible decisions and the careers of some players, namely Scott Rice and Jim Henderson.

Collins seems to be in rare form in what he had previously said was going to be his last before retirement. Already this year, he has made some poor and dangerous decisions.

Now, some like starting Jay Bruce over Michael Conforto is an organizational decision.  Some decisions are designed to give players a mental and physical day of rest, and they should not be over-analyzed.  However, many others, as you’ll see below, fall under the purview of Collins poor managing:

Opening Day – 4/3

Mets 6 – Braves 0

Collins sets out a lineup that makes little sense including batting his second worse OBP guy in Jose Reyes lead-off. He also made a strategical blunder hitting Bruce ahead of Lucas Duda. The issues there are more detailed here.

After Noah Syndergaard left the game with a blister, Collins turned to fifth starter Robert Gsellman for an inning in a 6-0 blowout instead of Rafael Montero, who could have benefited from a pressure free outing to build his confidence.

April 5th

Braves 3 – Mets 1

It’s not Collins’ fault the bullpen blew the lead, and he had to rip through his pen in an extra inning game. However, going to Montero over Josh Smoker was a poor decision. Smoker is just a one inning pitcher. He can’t be the last guy up. Also, he’s better than Montero, and as such, he shouldn’t pitched first.

Also, in extras, Collins turned to Ty Kelly over T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores with two outs and the winning run on second. In 2016, Kelly hit .179 off right-handed pitching to Flores’ .232 and Rivera’s .386. Another factor is with Conforto already having pinch hit, Kelly was the last OF on the bench.

April 6th

Mets 6 – Braves 2

No issues.

April 7th

Marlins 7 – Mets 2

You could argue Collins should’ve lifted Zack Wheeler before the fourth as he labored in ever inning except the first, but focusing too much on this may be picking nits at this point.  What was really peculiar was it was obvious the Mets were going to need someone to soak up innings with Wheeler’s short outing.  Last year, Smoker proved he is not a multiple inning reliever.  Despite that being the case, Collins turned to Smoker over Montero or Hansel Robles, who are two pitchers that can go deep in relief.  These are the types of decisions that exhaust bullpens.

April 8th

Marlins 8 – Mets 1

With Gsellman going five, Collins had to go deeper in the pen that he would’ve liked. He went too deep when he brought in Montero. The previous day Montero threw 35 pitches over 2.2 innings. On Wednesday, Montero threw 35 pitches over 1.2 innings. That’s 70 pitches over 4.2 innings without much rest. Montero struggled leading Collins to bring in Fernando Salas who has now appeared in four of the Mets five games himself.

April 9th

Mets 5 – Marlins 2

No issues.

April 10th

Mets 4 – Phillies 3

In the top of the seventh with the score tied at two, Collins put Conforto in the on deck circle, and the Phillies countered by having Joely Rodriguez warm-up.  By Collins tipping his hand a bit, he was forced to make the choice of Conforto against the left-handed pitcher or to go with one of his right-handed bench options to pinch hit for Jacob deGrom.

Now, there is a lot of small sample size bias, but Collins options where Conforto (.129/.191/.145 vs. LHP), Flores (.252/.286/.372 vs. RHP), and Rivera (.386/.397/.600 vs. RHP).  Again, there are small sample sizes, but based upon the information you would say your best bet is Rivera against Jerad Eickhoff.  Instead, Collins went with Flores, who flew out to end the inning and the rally.

One other small note.  Based upon the relative production of the Mets players, putting Bruce in the clean-up spot was a defensible and probably the smart move.  It’s more than just production, Bruce just looks better at the plate than anyone in the lineup right now.  However, according to Collins, Bruce was moved up in the lineup because he was hot.  Of course, Bruce wasn’t as he was in the midst of a 2-14 streak.

It’s a problem when the manager is making a move predicated on a faulty premise.  It does not matter if it was the right move or it worked out.  The problem is the reasoning behind it was flawed.

April 11th

Mets 14 – Phillies 4

No issues.

April 12th

Mets 5 – Phillies 4

To be fair, the following isn’t necessarily a critique of Collins.  It really is a critique of most baseball managers.  With the Mets up 5-0, and Zack Wheeler loading the bases, Collins summoned Hansel Robles to the mound.  While Gary and Ron Darling were harping on it being his third consecutive game, he had only pitched two innings and threw just 20 pitches in that stretch.  It’s really difficult to infer Robles was tired.

Rather, the issue is why don’t you use Fernando Salas in that spot?  He’s well rested, and he’s arguably your second best reliever right now.  This really was the biggest out of the game.  The Mets get the out here, and they go to the seventh up 5-0.  From there, you can go with some of your lesser arms to close out the game.

Instead, Collins went with his best reliever that wasn’t his 7th, 8th, or 9th inning guy.  This is what every manager does in this spot, so this is not unique to Collins.  Another point to be made here is Collins going to Robles is justifiable as Robles is a good relief pitcher, and he has bailed the Mets out of similar situations in the past.  Again, this is more of a critique of major league managers as a whole than just Collins.

April 13th

Mets 9 – Marlins 8 (16)

Well, this was a long game leaving Collins to make a lot of curious moves that helped lead to this being a 16 inning game that exhausted the Mets bullpen.

Despite the Mets facing a left-handed pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen, the Mets playing a large outfield, and the Mets rushing him back from the disabled list, Juan Lagares was not in the starting lineup.

After four innings, Collins lifted T.J. Rivera from the game for no reason at all.  There were no injury issues or defensive problems.  This move indirectly led to Rene Rivera playing first base in extra innings and Jacob deGrom having to make a pinch hitting appearance.

In the fifth, despite Gsellman not having anything, Collins pushed him, and the results were terrible.  Collins then turned to his worst reliever in Josh Edgin to help Gsellman get out of the jam.  The end result was the Marlins not only erasing a three run deficit, but also taking an 8-7 lead.

The Mets tied it and the game went 16 innings.  Over the course of those innings, the bullpen was absolutely exhausted which will have far reaching implications in the short and long term.

April 14th

Marlins 3 – Mets 2

To be fair, after a 16 inning game, the Mets did not have a lot of options available in the bullpen.  However, it is puzzling why Collins would go with Edgin, who has struggled most of the season, over a fully rested Sean Gilmartin who was brought up for the sole purpose of helping the bullpen.  Putting Edgin in for two innings essentially conceded the game.  That’s effectively what happened.

April 15th

Marlins 5 – Mets 4

After ONE decent game this season, Collins just rushed ahead and put Reyes back in the lead-off spot.  In response, Reyes was 0-3 with a walk.  It didn’t prevent the Mets from taking a lead, but again, it shows Collins’ poor though process.

In the eighth, the Mets had Jerry Blevins warming in bullpen when Christian Yelich walked to the plate.  Now, you can argue that Salas is the eighth inning reliever until Jeurys Familia returns, and this is his spot.  However, when you have Blevins warming up, you have him pitch to the left-handed batter in key situtations.  Instead, Salas allowed a game tying home run followed by a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton.

April 16th

Marlins 4 – Mets 2

No issues.

April 18th

Phillies 6  – Mets 2 (10)

For most of the game, it appeared as if Collins was managing a pretty good game.  The most egregious error was batting d’Arnaud behind Reyes, who can’t hit right now, and Walker, who can’t hit as a left-handed batter right now.  However, you can excuse that when you consider Collins has to manage a clubhouse and respect veterans.

I’d go so far as to argue Collins deftly managed the bullpen last night.  That was until the 10th inning.  With a fully rested Sean Gilmartin and a Montero who seemingly gets worse with each and every outing, you simply cannot go to Montero in that spot.  It is essentially waiving a white flag.  And you know what, that’s exactly what Collins did.

The Phillies quickly had runners on first and second because, well, Montero was pitching.  You’re in the 10th inning, and the Mets have no hit at all in the game, you absolutely have to bring your infield in.  For some reason, Collins didn’t.  It would up not mattering because Montero allowed a sacrifice to the deepest part of right field, but still, how do you not bring your infield in in that spot?  It’s an egregious error perhaps more egregious than the Reyes one that lead to the game going into extra innings.

April 19th

Mets 5 – Phillies 4

You could argue that Reyes hitting seventh in front of d’Arnaud is a pressing issue, or his presence in the lineup might be one as well.  However, you have to consider Collins has to manage personalities in that clubhouse, and he has to at least consider the impact batting Reyes eighth may have.  Right now, this is an area where Collins should get some latitude.

Another thing to note, keeping Gsellman in to bunt and pitch to the first batter in the eighth was a defensible move.  The bench was short with Duda and d’Arnaud coming out of the game due to injury.  Also, the bullpen has been overworked.  Even saving them from having to get one batter is a help right now.

Accordingly, there were no issues with last night’s game.

April 20th

Phillies 6 – Mets 4

People want to harp on Familia throwing 30 pitches in the ninth, but the bullpen has been exhausted, and the Mets really didn’t give him work in the minors.  There were no issues with this game.

April 21st

Nationals 4 – Mets 3 (11)

Collins was extremely limited because of the injuries, and yet, he still managed to work a way around that excuse.  In the ninth, Collins used Gsellman to pinch run for Rene Rivera.  With Lagares in the game already due to the Cespedes’ injury, Collins had to go to his pitchers for pinch running and pinch hitting opportunities, so this was certainly understandable.  What happened after wasn’t.

First and foremost, Collins asked T.J. Rivera to lay down a bunt.  Now, analytical people would say this was the wrong move because the sacrifice bunt in that situation actually decreases the chances of your scoring.  They’re right, but there’s more to that.  Behind Rivera is the pitcher’s spot meaning you are going to have to have one of your players too injured to start the game enter as a pinch hitter.  That player was Cabrera.

Cabrera worked out a walk.  Once his foot touched second, Kevin Plawecki was already coming into the game as a pinch runner.  Why Collins just didn’t put Plawecki, the more experienced base runner, in for Rivera is certainly questionable.  There’s another matter to consider.  Plawecki was the last player on the bench who could play the field.  This meant that if the Mets didn’t score here, the pitcher’s spot in the order was going to come up sooner.  This meant that d’Arnaud had to pinch hit in the bottom of the 11th.

It should be noted d’Arnaud was so injured he couldn’t start the game.  It should also be noted when the game was tied in the seventh, Collins had turned to Wheeler to pinch hit.  There’s not congruent thought that can come from all of this.

April 22nd

Nationals 3 – Mets 1

Collins playing Cabrera in this game was a poor decision.  Cabrera was so hobbled the night before he couldn’t run the bases.  In this game, you saw why.  He was clearly hobbled and had even more difficulty getting around than he usually does.  He was noticeably in pain, and he was playing on a slick field.  There was an incident in the fifth inning where he tried to leg out an infield single, and it looked like he was going to need help to get off the field.  Cabrera would come out to take his position just before the beginning of the next half inning.

April 23rd

Nationals 6 – Mets 3

Other than a clearly hobbled and limited Cabrera playing again, no issues.

Bruce AND Conforto Power The Mets

One good thing about baseball is momentum is your next day’s starting pitcher. Therefore, even with the Marins having dominated the Mets two days in a row, the Mets had all the momentum with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound. 

Syndergaard delivered. His final line was seven innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, no walks, and nine strikeouts. The outing actually raised his ERA to 0.69. 

The Marlins only threatened twice, and they both surrounded the 7-8 hitters Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas who had the best at-bats against Syndergaard. In the third, they scored off a Dee Gordon one out double. In the fifth, they were stranded when Gordon struck out to end the inning. 

There could have been more damage in the third, but Rene Rivera nailed him trying to steal third. The inning ended with J.T. Realmuto getting caught trying to steal second. 

The Marlins did not have a successful stolen base attempt against Syndergaard. This is the same pitcher that let the Giants run wild on him last year. He has made a conserted effort to better hold on runners, and we saw tangible effects tonight. A large part of that has been him working with Rivera. As long as nights like this continue, there is no reason to break up this tandem. 

Now with the two runs scored, you would be lead to believe the Mets lost with the way the Mets have been struggling on offense. Not tonight with both Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto (playing center in place of Curtis Granderson) it was a different story. 

The Mets jumped all over Edison Volquez in the first. After what is now becoming the obligatory Jose Reyes out, Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes hit back-to-back singles. Cabrera’s was satisfying because he laid down a bunt to beat the shift. 

Cabrera then beat a poor throw home when he went home on a Jay Bruce grounder. Neil Walker singled home Cespedes, and Lucas Duda singled to load the bases. Bruce then scored on a Conforto bases loaded walk. Just like that it was 3-0. 

It was 3-2 when Bruce stepped up to bat in the fifth. It was then 4-0 on a home run to deep center:

In the sixth, Conforto made it 5-2 with a home run of his own:

With the 5-2 lead, it set the first stage for Fernando Salas and Addison Reed to close out their first game since Jeurys Familia‘s suspension.  

The two combined to pitch two scoreless hitless innings. Reed struck out two converting his first save of the year. With that, the Mets are back to .500, and fans can now take a collective sigh, especially with the Mets having momentum. 

Jacob deGrom starts tomorrow. 
Game Notes: Reyes went 0-4 putting him at 1-24 on the season. That’s a .045 batting average. 

Conley Shuts Down Non-Existent Mets Offense

For those that bemoan a day and age where men where men and starters went all nine innings today wasn’t for you. 

Robert Gsellman got the start, and he fought it all night long. The Marlins took advantage scoring runs in three consecutive innings. 
In the first, Giancarlo Stanton hit a two out RBI single scoring Miguel Rojas, who had reached on a double. 

In the second, Marcell Ozuna absolutely crushed one:

Leading off the third, Curtis Granderson misplayed a J.T. Realmuto liner into a triple. Really to scored on a Rojas sacrifice fly. 

Gsellman finally had a scoreless inning in the fourth, and he appeared to have found himself. He appeared to be settling in a bit. He then struggled in the fifth. 

Quickly, it was runners on the corners with one out. In what may be prove to be a building block for the season, Gsellman got out of the inning. First, Gsellman got Justin Bour to ground out weakly to Wilmer Flores freezing the runner at third. Gsellman then got out of the inning by striking out Ozuna with a beautiful change-up. 

It was a professional start from Gsellman. He fought it all game long, but he kept his team in the game. His final line was five innings, six hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts. He departed down 3-0 after throwing 91 pitches. 

While Gsellman kept his team in the game, it wasn’t enough as this Mets team is already showing their warts offensively. Worse yet, the Mets were facing Adam Conley, who absolutely owns the Mets:

It was more of the same from Conley tonight who carried a no-hitter into the fifth. Finally, his no-hitter and his Citi Field scoreless streak was broken up by Lucas Duda:

Duda has typically struggled against left-handed pitchers in his career with the exception of 2015. In that season, Duda stayed in and went the other way against lefties. The end result was Duda hitting .285/.333/.545 off left-handed pitching. So far this season, we’re seeing that Duda. He already has two extra-base hits off left-handed pitching and both hits went to left-center. 

For some reason, the Marlins pulled Conley after he only threw 85 pitches. There was hope the Mets could get into the Marlins bullpen, but the Duda home run would be as close as the Mets got on the night. 

Hansel Robles struggled again walking two and allowing a RBI single to Ozuna making it 4-1. 

Paul Sewald made his major league debut in the eighth. The Las Vegas native fittingly wore the number 51. 

Unfortunately, Sewald struggled. The Marlins greeted him with three straight singles. When he finally recorded an out, it was a safety squeeze that scored a run. The damage wasn’t worse as Jerry Blevins came on in relief and bailed him out. 

Just to rub salt into the wound that was this game, Christian Yelich robbed Yoenis Cespedes of an extra base hit in the ninth. As usual, all the great catches are against the Mets. 

In the ninth, Collins turned to Rafael Montero which was absurd and potentially dangerous. Yesterday, Montero threw 35 pitches over 2.2 innings. On Wednesday, Montero threw 35 pitches over 1.2 innings. That’s 70 pitches over 4.2 innings without much rest. 

This is shades of Jim Henderson. Henderson was no longer the same pitcher after Collins’ reckless use if him, and Henderson couldn’t get a roster spot with a major league team this year. Collins showed he learned nothing from the event. 

Naturally, it didn’t go well for Montero. Now, Montero attacked hitters, but he was a tired pitcher with nothing. It was a shame his manager put him in that position. His allowed three hits and two runs before Fernando Salas got the Mets out of the inning without further damage. 

By that point, it didn’t really matter anyway. It was 8-1, which was the final score. 

It is difficult picking who had the worst night, but it might have been Neil Walker who earned his first career golden sombrero. He’s now 3-20 on the season. 

With the loss, the Mets snap their streak of beating the Marlins in five straight series. Instead of winning a series, the Mets now need to win two in a row just to earn a split. Fortunately, the Mets have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom the next two nights. 

Game Notes: The Phillies jumped all over Jeremy Guthrie and the Nationals scoring 12 first inning runs. Those 12 runs match the amount of runs the Mets have scored all season. Granderson lead off as Jose Reyes started the game on the bench. He was double switched into the game in the sixth. He went 0-1, and he’s 1-19 on the season. Josh Smoker rebounded after yesterday’s tough outing by pitching a scoreless sixth. Asdrubal Cabrera is dealing with a wrist injury.