With the sixth pick of the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets were not supposed to be able to select Burch Smith. However, by some fortune, the player rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Rule 5 Draft, fell to the Mets. Even better, the Mets made the wise decision to pick him.
But they weren’t smart enough to keep him.
In what was likely a prearranged deal with the Kansas City Royals, the Mets traded Smith for cash considerations or a player to be named later.
Look, we don’t know if Smith can be an effective Major League player. There is certainly a reason the Tampa Bay Rays left him unprotected. His joining Zack Wheeler in missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons to Tommy John probably played no small part. Still, this was a talented player Baseball America projects as Major League ready:
Smith sat 94-96 mph with his fastball, flashed a knee-buckling 74-76 mph curveball and showed a swing-and-miss 79-81 mph changeup. Though he’s 27 and has had serious arm health issues, Smith is major league ready and has the stuff to help a team as a back-end starter or move to the bullpen.
Looking at the Mets as constituted now, it is bizarre to think the team could part with Smith without so much as getting real player back or giving him a chance. With stuff like Smith has, and with the arrival of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, you would anticipate the Mets organization could get the most out of Smith. Whether that is as a short inning reliever, a long man (like Sean Gilmartin in 2015), or a fifth starter, Smith at least appears to be a MLB pitcher.
Obviously, the Royals believed that to be true with them dangling cash in front of a Mets team that is cutting payroll.
Sarcasm aside, the role Smith would fulfill on this Mets team would be the one given to Robert Gsellman or Rafael Montero. With Gsellman’s not caring what the GM thinks combined with his poor season and with Montero having the career he has had, it begs the question why you would turn your back on a player who could conceivably fulfill the same role and possibly do it better.
Right now, no one is quite sure what Smith is as a Major Leaguer. The same could be said about Pedro Beato in 2010 or Johan Santana in 1999. Point is, we don’t know what or who Smith will be. However, we do know what the Mets have, which makes their decision to just give Smith away all the more troubling.
While the New York Yankees were introducing their newest player Giancarlo Stanton and basking in the afterglow of their reemergence as the Evil Empire, the Mets were contemplating an exit strategy for Matt Harvey. According to reports, this includes potentially trading him to the Texas Rangers for Jurickson Profar.
The Mets even contemplating such a move is a dangerous situation for the franchise, and it is a move that can blow up in their faces.
Look, there is no doubt, Harvey is no longer Harvey. Over the past two seasons, he has dealt with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, atrophied muscles in his throwing shoulder, and an ensuing stress reaction. His combined stats are a 9-17 record with a 5.78 ERA and a 1.581 WHIP.
Looking over that, there is every doubt Harvey could get back to being a good Major League pitcher let alone the Dark Knight.
You know what is even more doubtful? Profar will ever live up to the billing of being Baseball America‘s top prospect after the 2012 season.
After receiving the top billing, Profar missed consecutive seasons due to shoulder injuries. Since returning from those injuries, Profar has played in 112 games over the past two seasons hitting .227/.316/.315. That’s good for a 67 OPS+ and a 71 wRC+.
Defensively, he’s played everywhere because when you hit as poorly as Profar, you’re nothing more than a utility player. Albeit in limited sample sizes, he’s capably handled first, second, third, short, and left field. The key phrase here is capably, not well. In the end if you are not outstanding defensively, you cannot afford to have offensive stats as low as Profar.
With how poorly Profar has performed, it begs the question why anyone would have interest in him, let alone a Mets team who already have middling and much better second base and platoon options. Really, the Mets should be hesitant to trade Rafael Montero for Profar let alone Harvey.
With Harvey, you at least have some hope. That’s not just hope in the clubhouse, but also with the fanbase.
The team brought on Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. The team appears to be bringing in a new person to oversee the training program. All of these things indicate Harvey could very well rebound. Quite possibly he doesn’t, but at the very least, there are the tools in place needed for Harvey to be Harvey.
Even if he fails in the rotation, Mets fans can talk themselves into being a dominant reliever. We need not look any further than Brandon Morrow or what Eiland, himself, did with Mike Minor, who coincidentally signed a free agent deal with the Rangers.
That comes to the next point. Harvey brings more than hope. He’s a lightning rod for the Mets. Every fifth day, he demands attention. He’s an interesting and polarizing figure. Put another way, he’s a star.
As Sandy Alderson reminded us when the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, Major League Baseball is in the entertainment business. Teams need to not only be good. They need to be entertaining. They need to give people a reason to watch.
Harvey does that. Profar never has and never will. Really, any player the Mets would move for Harvey would do that.
At a time when the Yankees are the most interesting they have been since 2009 or even during their last dynasty, the Mets can ill afford to be both bad and boring. With the team plugging holes with players like Profar, they promise to be bad. With the Mets moving players like Harvey, they promise to be boring.
When you’re both bad and boring, no one wants to come to the ballpark. More than anyone else, the Mets should know that with Grant’s Tomb and the Madoff Scandal.
Fortunately for the moment, the Mets do not appear to believe Profar is enough for Harvey. Make no mistake, the trade discussions with the Rangers is but the first step in what may be Harvey’s last day as a member of the Mets organization as the team seems intent to move him.
Overall, the Mets can ill afford to trade Harvey because they can’t replace him or the hope he presents the team. With him goes what fleeting relevancy the Mets have in New York. Love him or hate him, the Mets need him.
On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family. With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.
Jamie Callahan – One day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.
Gavin Cecchini – He made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors. That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.
Yoenis Cespedes – With Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.
Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.
Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.
Jacob deGrom – With him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.
Phillip Evans – After winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.
Jeurys Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad. It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.
Erik Goeddel – No matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.
Ty Kelly – He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.
Juan Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.
Kevin McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.
Rafael Montero – For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.
Tomas Nido – Even with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.
Brandon Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.
Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.
Neil Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him. Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.
Jacob Rhame – He’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.
Rene Rivera – After failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.
Fernando Salas – Despite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.
Paul Sewald – As a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.
Dominic Smith – He finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)
Josh Smoker – After the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.
Noah Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.
Adam Wilk – Because Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.
Zack Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what. We should all be so lucky.
Dan Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.
Mets Fans – Well, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.
In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season. It wasn’t quite a comedy. It wasn’t quite a drama. Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it. And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:
J.D. – Michael Conforto
There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers. Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:
Turk – Noah Syndergaard
Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away). Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.
Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson
Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted. They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care. Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.
Elliott – Jacob deGrom
The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center. Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge
Carla – Curtis Granderson
For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room. She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone. There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.
Kelso – Fred Wilpon
He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone. As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference. In reality, they haven’t changed one bit. Just ask Enid.
Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera
He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone. Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone. Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.
The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes
Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves. However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.
Ted – Travis d’Arnaud
There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization. At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken. In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.
Jordan – Terry Collins
As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly. Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms). That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.
Murphy – Ray Ramirez
They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path. Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.
Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda
Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.
Laverne – Jose Reyes
Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back. For Laverne, she came back under a different name. For Reyes, it was a different position.
Enid – David Wright
Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.
Sean – Kevin Plawecki
They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response. “Nobody cares!”
Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford
Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.
Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!
Hooch –Hansel Robles
When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy. Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.
Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon
He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.
Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen
They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt. For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve. For Dr. Wen, it was:
Ben – Neil Walker
He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did. Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.
Dan – Jay Bruce
When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him. He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help. Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.
Leonard – Seth Lugo
It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).
Julie – Wilmer Flores
Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone. In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.
Jill – Matt Harvey
We all just assumed the worst in their intentions. However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong. Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed. Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.
Gift Shop Girl – Carlos Beltran
We had our chance with him, but we blew it. We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.
Paige – Brandon Nimmo
Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.
Mickhead – Barwis
We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season. We just don’t have the proof.
For the most part, Mets fans were ecstatic about the team hiring Mickey Callaway. That went double after that upbeat press conference where Callaway both promised he would love his players, and they would be the most durable and well-prepared players in the Major Leagues.
There are plenty of reasons to like the move. The Mets hired someone who worked with Terry Francona, who is a future Hall of Famer. The team found someone who has shown the ability not just to comprehend analytics, but also to translate them to pitchers in a way that helps them improve. He’s a new and fresh voice that the team has not had in quite some time. People around baseball seemed to just love the decision of the Mets hiring the second most coveted managerial candidate behind Alex Cora.
These are all well and good reasons to get excited about the hire. There are presumably many more. However, the biggest reason to get excited about the hire is a pitching coach like Callaway chose to manage this Mets team.
That is of no small significance. After the 2015 season, many believed the Mets were going to be a perennial postseason team. Certainly, if things broke the Mets way, they could very well have become a dynastic team, at the very least in the mold of the 1980s Mets teams that were in contention each and every season. However, instead of things breaking the Mets way, the team mostly broke down.
Matt Harvey had to have surgery to alleviate the effects of his TOS, and he followed that up with trying to pitch with an atrophied muscle in his pitching shoulder. Zack Wheeler missed two seasons due to a torn UCL and complications from his Tommy John surgery, and he found himself missing the final two and a half months of the season with a stress reaction. Noah Syndergaard had a torn lat. Jeurys Familia had blod clots removed from his pitching shoulder. Steven Matz had another injury riddled season with him having to have season ending surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve. That was the surgery Jacob deGrom had last season. Speaking of deGrom, he really was the only healthy Mets pitcher during the entire 2017 season.
The pitching behind the injured starters wasn’t pretty. Rafael Montero continued to be an enigma. Chris Flexen showed he wasn’t ready to pitch at the Major League level. Robert Gsellman had his own injury, and he regressed quite severly after a really promising September in 2016. Seth Lugo had come back from his own injury issues, and upon his return, he struggled to get through the lineup three times.
Add to that Hansel Robles being Hansel Robles, and Josh Smoker failing to emerge as that late inning reliever his stuff promised he could be, and the Mets lack of Major League ready starting pitching talent in the minors, and you wonder why anyone would want to become the Mets pitching coach, let alone a manager whose strength is his work with a pitching staff.
Make no mistake, Callaway had to have liked what he saw with this team. Maybe it’s an arrogance any manager or coach has thinking they will be the one to turn things around. Maybe, it was his work with injury prone pitchers like Carlos Carrasco that made him believe he could definitely make things work. Whatever it is, the pitching guru that Callaway is purported to be liked what he sees with the Mets enough to potentially put his reputations and maybe his managerial future on a staff that some believed had fallen apart beyond repair.
Certainly, Callaway would have had other opportunities to accept a managerial position whether it was this year with an up and coming team like the Phillies, or next year when there would be more openings available. Instead, he chose to resurrect what was once a great Mets pitching staff. In part, he chose to do this because he believes in this talent, and he believes he is the man to do it.
That more than anything else is the biggest reason to be excited about this hire, and it is a reason to get excited about the 2018 season.
Even though the Mets were well out of it, and there was literally nothing to play for in that final game of the season, there was some buzz to the final game of the season. The reason why was Noah Syndergaard got the start. He was great:
Noah Syndergaard, Nasty 100mph sinker movement…1st Pitch of the Game. 😳 pic.twitter.com/3NG2RZBO46
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 2, 2017
Syndergaard lasted just two innings striking out two while allowing no hits. He would then leave the game. This wasn’t his April 30th start against the Nationals. No, this was planned. Still, like this season once Syndergaard departed the pitchers who followed weren’t up to par, and the Mets chances of winning took a real hit.
Specifically, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero imploded. Flexen allowed five runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings. Things would have been worse for him, but Kevin McGowan bailed him out striking out the final two batters of the inning.
It was then Montero’s turn to implode in the eighth with him allowing five runs on two hits and hit walks. The low light was a Nick Williams inside-the-park homer.
Meanwhile, Nick Williams with an inside the parker. Phillies crushing Mets in the season finale. pic.twitter.com/oa8NLKHNdZ
— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) October 1, 2017
In many ways, it was quite fitting the worst ERA in team history was clinched on an inside-the-park homer in a bandbox like Citizen’s Bank Park.
Those 11 Phillies runs would go unchallenged as the Mets could only muster two hits on the day. One of them was by Gavin Cecchini, who was the only Mets player who had a decent day at the plate going 1-3 with a walk. In many ways, that is a fitting end to the season. Cecchini, a guy the Mets never gave much of a chance, performed well while the Mets favored players didn’t.
Like all of us, Terry Collins was ready for it all to end, and he just wanted to get out of there:
The moment we've all been waiting for, the end to this miserable season. Terry couldn't wait to get the hell out of the dugout lol pic.twitter.com/1Q50Qrufx4
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) October 1, 2017
Game Notes: In what could be the last game of his career as a Met, Jose Reyes did not enter the game.
Almost five years ago to the day, R.A. Dickey took the mound for the Mets, and he earned his 20th win of the season all but locking up his highly improbable Cy Young Award.
While Dickey hasn’t been anywhere near that good since the 2012 season, he looked like that pitcher once again tonight. He controlled his knuckleball extremely well not walking anyone. He kept the Mets honest by throwing his fastball just enough.
Really, the Mets didn’t seem like they were going to touch Dickey until Kevin Plawecki hit what seemed to be the first mistake Dickey made all night for a two run homer. The homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2 making the game a bit more perilous for Dickey than originally anticipated when the inning began.
It would be a two out Amed Rosario triple that finally chased Dickey from the game. With Dickey having been a beloved Met during his tenure, he received a well earned ovation as he entered the dugout.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 27, 2017
In the second, Montero got himself out trouble by issuing a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson. He scored on a Jace Peterson double, and Peterson scored on an Ozzie Albies RBI single. It was be enough to ensure Montero would finish the year with an ERA over 5.00.
On the season, Montero finished 5-11 with a 5.26 ERA. Keep in mind, this is what was deemed to be a resurgent year for Montero where the Mets think he could realistically be a contributor next year.
While the three runs were enough to ding Montero, it would not prove enough to give Dickey a win partially because Sam Freeman was snake bit.
The first issue was his issuing a one out walk to Nori Aoki. Johan Camargo would then throw the ball away on a Jose Reyes grounder setting up second and third with one out.
Asdrubal Cabrera then ripped a line drive that should have give the Mets the lead. It would only be a game tying sacrifice fly because Inciarte did it against the Mets again:
After a scoreless ninth from Jeurys Familia, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off. It was going to be difficult against A.J. Minter who has had a terrific rookie season.
The Mets would give the rookie his first loss of his career.
The game winning rally started with a Plawecki single, and Juan Lagares pinch ran for him. Terry Collins then uncharacteristically allowed Dominic Smith to face a left-handed pitcher. The decision was all the more surprising when you consider the Mets had a bench full of right-handed batters.
Smith rewarded Collins’ faith when he drew the first walk Minter has issued in his brief career. Not just a walk to a left-handed batter. First walk.
After Rosario failed to lay down the sacrifice bunt, Taijeron delivered with a single to left giving him the first walk-off hit of his Major League career.
Five years later, Dickey was great, and the Mets won the game. If this was really the end of his career, it was a fitting end for a pitcher that really helped turn the Mets around.
Game Notes: AJ Ramos has been unavailable with a bicep issue, and he may be done for the season.
Well, the good Rafael Montero we had seen become one of the Mets most reliable starters turned back into the Montero of old. In his four innings of work, Montero had allowed seven hits, two walks, and five earned runs.
The Marlins went to work against him right away with a Dee Gordon lead-off double. For a moment, it seemed like Montero would get out of the inning unscathed, but he would allow a two out RBI single to Marcell Ozuna. After a 1-2-3 second and Montero retiring the first two batters of the third, it seemed as if Montero had settled in and was ready to go deep into the game.
That was until a two out walk to Christian Yelich got the rally started. Yelich stole second and scored on Ozuna’s second RBI two out RBI single of the game. For a moment, it seemed as if Jose Reyes could make a play on the ball, but it went right by him. After a Justin Bour two run homer, the Marlins were up 4-0, and it became an easy game for Jose Urena and the Marlins.
The Mets would make things look better than they were. Travis d’Arnaud would hit a pinch hit RBI single in the fifth scoring Kevin Plawecki. Brandon Nimmo would hit a seventh inning homer to pull the Mets to within a manageable 5-2 score. It seemed like the Mets would have a chance with Chris Flexen pitching two scoreless innings in what might have been his best outing in a Mets uniform.
It was all for naught as the Marlins would play Home Run Derby against Erik Goeddel in the eighth. He allowed homers to A.J. Ellis, Miguel Rojas, and Giancarlo Stanton to turn a 5-2 lead into a 9-2 lead. For Stanton, it was his 56th homer of the year. Too bad for Stanton, he no longer has games against the Mets in his chase of Roger Maris.
To that extent, the Mets had maybe one win in what was a putrid sweep at the hands of the Marlins. The Mets will now get a day off, and they will come home for the last home series of the season. For the first time in two years, that does not involve a loss in a postseason series.
Game Notes: Amed Rosario missed his third straight game with a gastroenteritis.
There’s no denying that since his latest call-up, Rafael Montero has been a much better pitcher. Even if Mets fans have long come to distrust Montero, it’s hard to argue with the results. Since July 18th, Montero has made 12 starts and one relief appearance. Over that stretch, he’s 4-5 with a 4.68 ERA, 1.589 WHIP, and an 8.4 K/9. Mixed in there, Montero has had some brilliant starts including an 8.1 inning three hit shut out against the Reds.
This is a far cry from the Montero who entered the season with a 1-5 record, 5.15 ERA, and a 1.636 WHIP. Things were actually worse than that in his earlier call-ups this season. Prior to July 18th, Montero was 1-5 with a 5.77 ERA and a 1.897 WHIP. The main culprit for all of these struggles was the walks. Until his most recent call-up, he was walking 5.4 batters per nine. According to Fangraphs, that’s a significant step past “Awful.”
Now, Montero has been much better because he has been attacking batters and the strike zone. That’s why he is getting better results and has begun to change everyone’s impression of him. However, he is still walking too many batters. Through the aforementioned 13 appearances, Montero is walking 4.7 batters per nine.
Again, according to Fangraphs, this is still a step past awful.
Overall, this is the danger with judging pitchers on the sole basis of them improving. Montero has gone from being a pitcher once demoted to Double-A to a pitcher who has had some successful starts at the Major League level. For the first time, we have seen some glimpses of the pitcher the Mets have held onto for so long. Still, we are not seeing a complete and finished product that can be consistently relied upon throughout the course of a season.
In the end, Montero is improved, and there are hopes he could actually be a contributor. How he contributes becomes dicey.
He’s out of options meaning he cannot be stashed away in the minors as an emergency starter. With him walking as many batters as he does, you can’t rely upon him as a reliever to preserve a lead. That really leaves two options for the Mets with Montero: 1) move on from him and run the risk of him figuring it out elsewhere; or 2) make him a long reliever.
The long reliever role is one the Mets have been sorely lacking for the last two seasons. It has led to the decimation of the bullpen time and again. With the Mets having stayed with Montero this long, you might as well give him the chance as he’s finally earned it.
After you get your brains beat out like the Mets did in Chicago, you want your ace taking the mound. The good news is the Mets had their ace taking the mound. The bad news is that their ace has become Rafael Montero.
That’s no slight on Montero, who had pitched much better of late. It’s more of an indictment on the Mets starting pitching staff who has the second worst ERA in the majors.
Tonight, Montero regressed a bit needing 108 pitches to get through 4.2 innings. It harkened back to the days when he couldn’t put anyone away. On the flip side, he only walked two batters. With Montero only pitching 4.2 innings, he didn’t qualify for a win.
He also didn’t qualify for a win because he reliqushed the lead in that turbulent fifth inning.
Cecchini got the rare start partially due to Amed Rosario missing tonight’s game with a hip injury which forced him out of last night’s game. Cecchini took advantage of the opportunity going 1-3 with a run and a double. He was also good at second showing range and helping start a double play.
Despite Cecchini playing well defensively, it was defense that cost the Mets this game.
The game winning rally started in the fifth when Brandon Nimmo misread a ball cutting in on a David Freitas liner. Hard to say it would have been an out with the correct read, but with Freitas’ speed, Nimmo might’ve been able to limit him to a single.
Freitas would score on a Ender Inciarte game tying single. Inciarte then put himself in scoring position with a stolen base. With his speed and Kevin Plawecki‘s arm, it really was only a matter of time before Inciarte stole that base.
After that stolen base, Montero walked Ozzie Albies. Worse yet, Montero threw a wild pitch during Freddie Freeman‘s at bat putting runners on second and third with one out. Freeman was then intentionally walked bringing Lane Adams to the plate.
Adams hit a sinking line drive that Nimmo made a great play on:
Nice catch Nimmo! pic.twitter.com/oOTGicmZIS
— Jim F (@TheFranchise41) September 16, 2017
It was a great play, but it was also a sacrifice fly giving the Braves a 3-2 lead.
The Mets would rally in the eighth staring with a two out Cabrera walk. After a Plawecki single, the tying run was in scoring position for Smith, the team’s leading RBI guy since he call-up. Unfortunately, he didn’t deliver.
With that, the Mets had a rather mundane 3-2 loss against the Braves. The real hope in watching this game is that Smith continues to hit for power, and Cecchini builds off of this game.
Game Recap: In addition to Rosario, Travis d’Arnaud sat a day after being lifted from a game. It is possible he was going to sit anyway with Plawecki having served as Montero’s personal catcher of late.