In a nine inning game, the Mets had as many errors as they had base hits (three). In consecutive innings, T.J. Rivera made errors leading to two unearned runs.
That doesn’t even begin to mention the slow motion attempt by Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes in the second which could have limited the damage to 2-0. Instead, the Mets got one out and allowed the Cardinals to score three runs in the inning effectively ending the game.
Between the lack of offense and the terrible defense, Rafael Montero took the loss. Unlike most of the losses in his career, Montero didn’t really deserve this loss. His final line was six innings, seven hits, four runs, two earned, one walk, and five strikeouts.
Certainly, Montero showed enough to more than justify the Mets giving him another start.
Aside from Montero, the only positive from tonight’s game was Michael Conforto going 2-4 with a double. If you want to really stretch things and look for positives, Hansel Robles pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.
In reality, a bad Mets team was shut out by Michael Wacha (CG SHO). They’re a bad team playing disinterested baseball. Games like this usually get managers fired. Considering this is far from the first time this has happened this year, it’s safe to assume Terry Collins finishes the year as the manager.
If that’s the case, the Mets dropped the ball worse than Lucas Duda did in the seventh.
Game Notes: The Mets left side of the infield has a -27 DRS which is by far the worst in the minors.
The reclamation of Rafael Montero has taken an interesting turn. Montero was just a losing pitcher in a game, and he wasn’t the reason why the Mets lost the game. Instead of him letting the team down, the team let him down.
It all happened in the seventh inning. After two singles and a Maikel Franco double, the Phillies were up 2-0 with no outs in the inning. Ty Kelly sacrificed him over, and that’s where things went awry.
The Mets brought the infield in, and Andrew Knapp hit a sharp groundball to the right side. Asdrubal Cabrera couldn’t get to it. He got a glove on it, but he couldn’t field it as it trickled into right field giving the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
Montero threw a pitch in the dirt. Rather than getting down and trying to block it, he committed the faux pas of just trying to backhand it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Rivera lost complete sight of it thereby allowing Knapp to score from second giving the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
While it was only the second inning, the lead was daunting. Over seven innings, Pivetta and his 5.40 ERA kept the Mets to one hit – a T.J. Rivera fifth inning solo home run.
Even when the Mets drew a walk, they’d hit into a double play. In a sign of what type of game this was, Lucas Duda hit into a bizarre double play. He hit a shallow fly ball to center, and Aaron Altherr just juggled it. He eventually grabbed it before he was able to double off a confused Bruce.
Things fell apart in the top of the eighth as Rivera’s poor play reared its ugly head again.
With two on and no out, pinch hitter Brock Stassi singled to center, and Franco raced home. Brandon Nimmo made a good strong one hop throw home that had Franco by a good margin. Rivera missed the ball, which not only allowed the run to score, but also allowed the runners to move up a base.
With Daniel Nava‘s subsequent two RBI single off Chasen Bradford pushed the Phillies lead to 7-1. While the Mets made some noise in the bottom of the ninth, they would’ve score a run.
It didn’t matter. The game fell apart. The one piece of good news was it wasn’t his fault. He pitched well and settled down. Overall, his final line was 6.1 innings, eight hits, four runs, one run, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
If this is now what qualifies as a poor start from him, there is reason to believe in Montero.
Whether you believe in this team or not, is up for debate. We’ll know more as the Mets take on the Nationals for a three game set.
Game Notes: Curtis Granderson missed the game with a hip issue that prevented him from being able to swing the bat.
After a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, fans could allow themselves hope for the 2017 season again. Yes, the Giants are a dreadful team, but there was a lot to like about the Mets in that series. If you dig deeper, there is still things to like about this Mets team.
Jacob deGrom is in a stretch where he has gone at least eight innings in three consecutive starts. This could be the best stretch of his career, which is certainly saying something.
Rafael Montero has now had three consecutive strong outings allowing just two earned runs over his last 14.1 inning pitched. In this stretch, he not only finally looks like a major league pitcher, he looks like a good major league pitcher.
Curtis Granderson has been the best hitting National League outfielder in the month of June (204 wRC+), and he’s been hitting .297/.408/.595 with 13 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 23 RBI since May 1st.
Jay Bruce has been resurgent hitting .315/.358/.629 with four doubles, eight homers, and 17 RBI. He’s on pace for his first 40 home run season and just his second 100 RBI season.
While acting unprofessional about the switch to second base in the clubhouse, Asdrubal Cabrera has been nothing but professional on the field going 7-14 in the series and playing a very good second base.
Lucas Duda is flat out raking hitting .375/.474/.813 over the past week, and as we know when Duda gets hot like this, he can carry the team for a long stretch. Just ask the 2015 Nationals.
Lost in all of that is Yoenis Cespedes being Cespedes, Addison Reed being a dominant closer, and Seth Lugo stabilizing the rotation. There is even the specter of David Wright returning to the lineup. When you combine that with the Mets schedule, this team is primed to reel off nine straight wins.
If the Mets were to win nine straight, they would be just one game under .500. At that point, the Mets will be red hot heading to another big series in Washington. Last time the teams played there, the Mets took two of three. After that is a bad Cardinals team before the All Star Break.
Combine this hypothetical Mets run with a Rockies team losing six straight, and the Mets are right back in the mix with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 for a shot at the postseason. Last year, the Mets were under .500 as late as August 19th, and they still made the postseason. Throw in a potential Amed Rosario call up, and you really have things cooking. Why not this year’s team?
Well, that’s easy. The bullpen is a mess. You have no idea when Noah Syndergaard and Neil Walker can return if they can return at all. Jose Reyes is playing everyday. The route to the postseason partially relies upon Montero being a good major league pitcher, and the Mets calling up Rosario. At this point, those are two things no one should rely.
As a fan? We should all enjoy the ride for as long as it will carry us. As Mets fans, we have seen miracles. We saw this team win in 1969. We saw a team dead in the water in 1973 go all the way to game seven of the World Series. We watched a Mookie Wilson grounder pass through Bill Buckner‘s legs. We saw Mike Piazza homer in the first game in New York after 9/11.
As fans, we can hold out hope for the impossible. We can dream. Sandy doesn’t have that luxury. He needs to look at the reality of the Mets situation and make the best moves he possibly can. That includes trading Bruce, Duda, Granderson, and any other veteran who can get him a good return on the trade market.
This past week my Dad turned 70 years old. It is because of him that my brother and I have been lifelong Mets fans. For that, I’m not sure to thank him or to curse him. All joking aside, some of my fondest memories with my Dad have involved baseball.
There were the Mets games through the years. We were there for Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. We saw Todd Pratt‘s homer ending the 1999 NLDS. We were there a year later as Bobby Jones propelled the Mets to the 2000 NLCS. There was the last game at Shea Stadium, and the first game at Citi Field.
We saw Matt Harvey come so close to pitching a no-hitter against the White Sox. We loved see Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero have their first ever start at Citi Field in the 2013 Future’s Game. Our favorite moment at a Mets game hands down was Game 3 of the 2015 World Series.
But it was more than the Mets games. There were the catches he used to have with my brother and I in the backyard. There was him throwing pitches to help try me to become a catcher. There were the times, he would throw batting practice to my brother and I.
When it came time to give him a gift, my family wanted to give him more than a present. We wanted to give him a memory that would at least rival the fond memories we had of him. With us not having 499 friends to invite to a Mets game, or the money to purchase those tickets, that left us with the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Brooklyn in and of itself was fitting. It was the place he would commute over an hour each way in order for him to support our family, to put my brother and I through school.
After speaking with the Cyclones, Joe Senis specifically, we were able to arrange for my father to throw out the first pitch before Saturday’s Cyclones game. Not just that, but at my Dad’s request, they allowed his grandson to take the mound with him (and throw out a pitch of his own):
Personally, I think they both did a great job:
Also, great job by Kurt Horne catching both of those pitches and for taking a brief moment to shake my Dad’s and my son’s hands. It was also great Edgardo Alfonzo, one of my Dad’s favorite Mets, gave us his autograph.
That’s not all the Cyclones did for us. They also sent the mascot up to where we were sitting for some family photos . . .
and they put on a great postgame fireworks show:
Stop it. The notion is insane. In fact, it is completely preposterous. No self respecting Mets fan should even broach the topic. Before even pursuing further, we should all stop while we are ahead.
Except the Mets aren’t ahead. They’re way down in the standings. They are eight games under .500 trailing the Nationals by 11.5 games in the division. Things are worse for the Wild Card. They are behind the Diamondbacks for the second Wild Card by 12.5 games with five other teams ahead of them. Seriously, at this point what is there to lose?
And that right there is the Mets best rationale to finally seeing what they have with Rafael Montero.
Let’s dispense with what we all know. Montero has been absolutely terrible in his time with the Mets. In his major league career, he has pitched in 39 games going 1-9 with a 5.51 ERA, 1.756 WHIP, and a 5.7 BB/9. Each year he pitches in the majors, he has arguably gotten worse. What makes that all the more frustrating is when he gets sent down to the minors, he dominates. This has led the Mets to keeping him on the 40 man roster while getting rid of valuable pitchers like Gabriel Ynoa when it had come time to clear space on the 40 man roster.
It has been a frustrating four years. However, in that time frame, the Mets still see something in him that leads to them keeping him on the roster. They have given him chance after chance after chance. About the only thing they haven’t given him was an extended shot. Maybe it’s time they give him one.
For the first time, Montero has earned the shot. Due to Matt Harvey‘s injury, Montero was recalled, and he has pitched well.
On Thursday, after Robert Gsellman was only able to pitch five innings against the Nationals, Montero came in and pitched surprisingly well. In three shutout innings, he didn’t allow a hit, and in a complete shock, he didn’t walk a batter while striking out three.
On Monday, when Zack Wheeler couldn’t get out of the second inning, Montero came in, and he pitched well again. Over 3.2 innings, Montero allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out five. The only run against him was a Justin Turner home run in what was the last batter Montero would face in the game.
In those two combined outings, Montero has pitched 6.2 innings allowing three hits, one run, one earned, and two walks while striking out eight batters. If that was one start, it would be an outstanding start.
It at least seems like Montero is a different pitcher over those past two appearances. He has been throwing more strikes, and he has been trusting his stuff. These are exactly the things people have been waiting for him to do for years. It appears now he’s finally doing it, and in this ever so brief sample size, he appears that he could be an effective major league pitcher.
Fact is, we don’t know if this is for real or not. This could be another one of his mirages. It could also be him FINALLY figuring things out. If he has figured it out, the Mets owe it to themselves to finally see the fruit of their patience. With the Mets being so far out, now is the time to give him that chance. With the Mets going nowhere, you need to find out who can be piece of the future. That is especially important with Montero being out of options. Next year, he has to be on the roster or exposed to another team on waivers.
At this point, the Mets need to use the rest of the season to find out who is a part of the future. For the longest time, the Mets assumed that would include Montero. It’s time to find out if he is.
Dating back to his last start, Wheeler allowed 12 straight batters to reach base. With the first four scoring, the Dodgers handed Clayton Kershaw a 4-0 lead, which basically ensured the Dodgers would win the game:
Wow, what graphic our broadcast just put up. Clayton Kershaw is 91-0 in games where the Dodgers score 4+ runs for him.
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) June 20, 2017
Even the most eternal optimist had their dreams shattered in the second when Turner homered and Bellinger hit his second homer of the game. The Dodgers then had an insurmountable 7-0 lead.
When Jose Reyes hit a solo homer too lead off get third, there was little reason to continue watching. Kershaw wasn’t getting his no hitter. At that point, there was little reason to continue watching.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 20, 2017
While this was happening Rafael Montero kept the Dodgers off the board with three scoreless innings. It’s amazing. Montero now had a 6.2 inning scoreless streak. He has looked like a completely different pitcher.
Still, this is the same underachieving Mets team. On top of that, when you spot Ketshaw a 7-0 lead, you’re simply not going to win the game.
After Kershaw struck out the side in the sixth, he had his fourth straight 10 strikeout performance against the Mets. It was honestly as far as I could go. Seeing Utley score again will certainly give me nightmares about breaking my legs.
[I’ll update as necessary tomorrow provided I had scheduled enough time on the DVR]
Game Notes: With Montero pitching today, Tyler Pill will likely get the start on Wednesday.
Through the first four innings, this was a game. The Nationals got to Robert Gsellman, but the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
He made two mistakes. The first Bryce Harper hit for a long first inning home run. The second was a Matt Wieters fourth inning double. He came home to score on a Gio Gonzalez single. That’s problematic because Gonzalez is terrific at Citi Field.
He was again tonight. The Mets had just one hit through the first three innings, and he looked like he was going to make that 2-0 lead stick.
Still it was only 2-0 because in the third inning, Juan Lagares nailed Harper at the plate:
Bryce Harper should not have tested Juan Lagares pic.twitter.com/S4dPCvE8Gl
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 16, 2017
In the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce hit back-to-back one out doubles to bring the Mets within 2-1. Considering how terrible the Nationals bullpen has been, that isn’t a bad position for the Mets. If they kept it close, you had to like their chances.
The Mets didn’t keep it close as the Nationals went to work in the fifth inning.
Daniel Murphy continued to torture the Mets hitting a two run triple with a ball Lucas Duda couldn’t knock down and Jay Bruce couldn’t pick up. Murphy then scored on an Anthony Rendon single that tipped Lagares glove as he dove for it. The Nationals capped off the inning with a Michael Taylor homer.
At that point, it was 7-1 Nationals. The only thing left was to add some injury to insult.
Because this is the Mets that happened. On Lagares’ dive, he broke his left thumb, the same one he injured last year.
Juan Lagares left tonight's game with a fracture of the IP joint in his left thumb.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 16, 2017
It really just kept getting better and better. With Gary, Keith, and Ron discussing Amed Rosario, Wilmer Flores made an error. With all the injuries the Mets have had, there was a Hospital for Special Surgery advertisement behind home plate. I
After that, there was insult to injury. Rafael Montero came on in the sixth, and he dominated the Nationals. He had three straight 1-2-3 innings, and he struck out three batters.
But no, the Mets lost to the Nationals, and they lost badly. With Lagares getting hurt and Neil Walker and Matt Harvey landing on the DL, it’s once again hard to see how things are going to get better.
Game Notes: Rene Rivera hit an opposite field homer in the fifth. Gavin Cecchini struck out in his pinch hitting attempt. Matt Reynolds was scratched from the Vegas lineup meaning he’s likely ticketed for the Mets.
The Mets have a number of excuses why they are in the position they are. Those excuses mostly surround the pitching. Noah Syndergaard went down in April with a torn lat. Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom haven’t been the same since returning from their season ending surgeries. There has been a revolving door at the fifth starter spot that has seen the likes of Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone, and Tyler Pill. This has put stress on the bullpen, and the bullpen broke.
They broke because Jeurys Familia went down for the season. Hansel Robles couldn’t keep up with the workload and fell apart. Josh Smoker hasn’t been able to figure it out this year. Addison Reed is a much better set-up man than a closer.
Through all of this, despite playing a weak schedule, the Mets are seven games under .500. The Mets are THIS CLOSE to being sellers.
However, there is hope. Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are coming off the Disabled List. Last year, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP. He followed that breakout performance with a breakout performance in the World Baseball Classic.
Matz is even better than Lugo. Before succumbing to the bone spur in his elbow last year, Matz had a stretch from April 17th to June 18th where he was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP. That was after his rookie season where he was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.
That combination of Lugo and Matz vastly improves the Mets rotation. It also bumps a good pitcher like Robert Gsellman into the bullpen. Lately, Gsellman has figured it out. In his last four appearances, he’s 2-0 with hold posting a 2.66 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP. This will give the bullpen a fresh arm. More than that, it means one of Smoker or Neil Ramirez is going to be gone from the bullpen.
Finally, the Mets will have the pitching to help an offense that has tried to carry this team. In May, the Mets averaged the second most runs per game (5.7) in the National League. Things promise to get better with Yoenis Cespedes having played in his first rull rehab game for St. Lucie last night.
With that, the Mets will have as complete a team as they can expect for the reason for the season. Now, they just have to take advantage of their opportunities. That starts with the four game series with a Braves team who is a half game up on the Mets for second place in the National League East. Sweep them, and the Mets will find themselves just three games under .500.
After that, the Mets have a seven game home stand. First, there are the Chicago Cubs, who are not the same team they were last year. After that, the Mets have a four game set with the Washington Nationals.
If the Mets take care of business against the Braves and Cubs, that could be a HUGE series for this Mets team. Sweep the Nationals at home, and all of a sudden the Mets could be just eight games back in the division or better. That’s still a large deficit to overcome, but it’s not as daunting as the 12 games they are now.
The Mets don’t take advantage of this opportunity? It’s time to sell. At that point, the team should look to move everyone to pave the way for Amed Rosario, who frankly should be here now, and Dominic Smith to become the David Wright and Jose Reyes of this generation.
If the Mets don’t want to do that, it’s time to take care of business. That starts tonight with a huge start for Matt Harvey. This used to be the exact moment you wanted him on the mound. It is time for that to happen again.
Back when the Mets traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler, the Mets touted the trade as the team adding another potential ace that would one day serve as one of the cornerstones of a rotation that would bring the Mets their third World Series title. Unfortunately, with Wheeler missing two years after his Tommy John surgery, it hasn’t happened that way.
In the time he was gone, he almost became expendable. Matt Harvey was the ace in 2013, and he was well on his way in 2015 to re-claiming that spot. Jacob deGrom went from 2014 Rookie of the Year to the Game 1 starter of the 2015 NLDS. Noah Syndergaard brought a repertoire that included a 100 MPH fastball and a mid 90s slider. Throw in the tantalizing talent of Steven Matz, and the Mets almost moved Wheeler in 2015 as part of the ill-fated Carlos Gomez deal. With Gomez’s hips, Wheeler remained a Met, but after he missed all of 2016 as well, he was almost an afterthought.
Now, he has gone from damaged goods to the staff ace. After shaking off some rust in the early part of the season, he really has been a dominant starting pitchers. Since May, Wheeler has made six starts going 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.431 WHIP, and a 7.7 K/9 while averaging over six inning per start. Last night, we watched Wheeler play the part of the stopper with him going seven strong and giving the Mets a chance to snap the Mets out of a funk that saw the team lose five out of its last six games.
Now, many would point to the fact Wheeler is now the staff ace because the rest of the rotation is either injured or has struggled. Syndergaard is likely gone for the year with a torn lat. Matz and Seth Lugo have yet to throw a pitch this season. Harvey and deGrom have not been the same pitchers after last year’s season ending surgeries. And frankly, anyone is better than Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, and Tommy Milone. Still, even if everyone was pitching to their best abilities, Wheeler would stand out.
It’s easy to forget, but we did get a taste of this with Wheeler. In 2014, Wheeler had a stretch from July until September 6th where he made 12 terrific starts. In those starts, Wheeler was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9. During that stretch, Wheeler looked like the ace the Mets thought they were getting when they traded away Beltran. It was during that stretch where you believed the three starters who would carry the Mets to the World Series were Harvey, deGrom, and Wheeler.
It seems as if Wheeler is recapturing some of what he was back in that terrific 2014 stretch. If he is, he is certainly becoming the ace the Mets believed he could be. More than anything, he is the ace the Mets need right now.
Let’s be honest. With nearly two months gone in the season, there is not a lot of reason to believe in the 2017 Mets. The team is five games under .500 and just 14-16 against their own division. Important players like Yoenis Cespedes, Jeurys Familia, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard and David Wright have had extended stints on the disabled list. Presumably, Familia, Syndergaard, and Wright are done for the season. The team features two everyday players who are fighting to get and stay atop the Mendoza Line, and the entire pitching staff has underperformed. And despite all of these problems, and many more which have not been mentioned, there are very real reasons to be optimistic about the Mets as we head into the summer months:
1. The Starting Pitching Is Improving
In case, you haven’t noticed the Mets are no longer have the worst ERA in all of baseball. A huge reason for that is the starting pitching is not only improving, but they are also pitching deeper into games. That has started with the re-emergence of Jacob deGrom. Before last night’s debacle, in his last two starts, deGrom pitched 15.1 innings allowing just one earned run. He threw down the gauntlet, and the other starting pitchers have responded.
The Mets are now starting to put together quality starts with some regularity. Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman are coming off their best starts in over a month. Zack Wheeler continues to pregress well in his first season in over two years. Matz and Seth Lugo will soon join the rotation. As we have seen time and again, this team goes as its pitching goes, and the pitching is trending in the right direction.
2. The Bullpen Is Settling Down
With the starters failing to go deep into games and Familia essentially being a non-factor this season, the bullpen has struggled. The struggles stem from both overwork and trying to slot guys into different roles than had previously been anticipated. With the starters going deeper, the bullpen is starting to get some rest, and the bullpen is starting to look better.
Another factor is the emergence of Paul Sewald. A player the Mets were willing to risk losing in the Rule 5 Draft has now become the Mets most important reliever. He has been used for multiple innings and to nail down the eighth inning. He has shown his success in Vegas was no fluke pitching to a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 innings. His emergence has allowed Terry Collins to ease up on some of his other relievers.Salas has responded by lowering his ERA by almost two runs in the month of May, has not blown one lead, and he has not allowed an earned run in 11 of his last 14 appearances. A rejuvenated Salas is good for the Mets.
Another key factor is the composition of the bullpen. Rafael Montero is gone. Neil Ramirez is on his way out as well. He should be gone once Hansel Robles figures things out in Vegas and/or Gsellman is moved to the bullpen with the return of Matz and Lugo from the disabled list. Certainly, the composition of arms is going to be much better down there, and with the starters going deeper, they will be better rested.
3. Help Is On The Way
As noted, Matz and Lugo will soon rejoin the rotation. Behind them, we may also see Robles return to the majors prompting the Mets to send down one of the more ineffective arms in Ramirez and/or Josh Smoker. But it’s not just on the pitching side that the Mets will improve, it’s also on the offensive side.
According to various reports, Cespedes is about 7-1o days away. When he returns, the Mets will be adding an MVP caliber player to play alongside Michael Conforto in the outfield, who is having an MVP caliber season himself. Cespedes not only lengthens the lineup, but he also adds a right-handed power threat which the lineup is sorely lacking right now. While the offense isn’t the issue so far, a team that is fighting to not only get back to .500, but also to get back to the postseason needs to upgrade everywhere it can.
It’s more than Cespedes. At some point, the moving target that is the Super Two deadline is going to comfortably pass clearing yet another hurdle for the Mets to call-up Amed Rosario. If Rosario does get called-up, it would significantly improve the Mets infield defense, and it could also improve the lineup. Through his first 50 games, Rosario is hitting .354/.393/.519 with 13 doubles, three triples, five homers, and 37 RBI.
With all that, there is legitimate reason for hope the Mets will be a better team over the final four months of the season. That team could catch the Nationals in the standings especially when you consider the two teams have 13 games against one another remaining. That is enough games to make-up the 9.5 game gap between the teams in the standings. That goes double when you consider the Nationals have bullpen issues of their own, and they are just 15-12 since losing Adam Eaton for the season.
If the Mets play as well as they can play, this is going to be an exciting summer at Citi Field. If the Mets play the way they are capable, this will soon become a pennant race.