Robert Gsellman

Quality Start Begets Brutal Loss

Due to the ineffectiveness and injury to Tommy Milone, the Mets put Robert Gsellman back in the rotation. 

Gsellman went out there and gave the Mets what is technically considered a quality start, which is three earned over six innings. Things might’ve gone better for him, but Yangervis Solarte got to him twice knocking in all three runs against Gsellman. 

After the top of the sixth, Gsellman had thrown just 84 pitches. There would be no seventh inning though because Gsellman was due to lead off the inning. That and the fact Gsellman hasn’t started in a while. 

Still, it should not have mattered. The Mets were up 5-3 against the team with arguable the worst offense in the National League. 

Well, the Mets look like the worst bullpen in the National League, and Terry Collins used all the quality arms last night. Well push came to shove, and Fernando Salas was the one who got hit. 

Salas loaded the bases with two outs following a pinch hit single by Chase d’Arnaud with back-to-back walks to Matt Szczur and Solarte. At that point, Collins decided to make the worst possible move he could’ve made. He went with Neil Ramirez and his 10.32 ERA to pitch to Wil Myers:

Thanks in part to a little luck and some Timo Perez-esque base running, the Padres only tied the score. Fortunately, Josh Edgin got the Mets out of the jam. 

Unfortunately, Collins went to Josh Smoker to pitch the eighth. For the second straight night he was greeted with a long home run. This one was hit by Hunter Renfroe

Renfroe would return the favor to the Mets in the bottom of the eighth. He flat out dropped a Juan Lagares fly ball. To his credit, Lagares hustled on the play and got to second base. The Mets would strand him there. 

That was about all that the Mets offense had done wrong on the night. Michael Conforto continued to rake going 2-3 with a run, RBI, and two walks. Wilmer Flores hit a bases clearing double in the third. He scored on a Curtis Granderson single. Overall, every Mets starter except Rene Rivera reached base at least once. 

The Mets offense would get one last chance against Brad Hand who came on to save the Padres 6-5 lead. 

Neil Walker got the rally started with a lead-off single. Lucas Duda had a tough at-bat drawing a well earned walk, his third of the game. He came off for Matt Reynolds. The bases were then loaded as Flores hit a seeing eye single just past the shortstop. 
Granderson and Rivera then struck out putting the game in Lagares’ hands. Renfroe wouldn’t drop this flyball leading to yet another brutal loss created by a bullpen meltdown. At least we know Collins won’t learn from this game either. 

Game Notes: Jay Bruce sat with a back injury. 

Travis d’Arnaud Is Better Than Rene Rivera

We saw it again.  When Travis d’Arnaud is healthy, he has the talent to be an All-Star.  However, yet again, he is injured, and his injury has once again created an opportunity for another player.  In the past, Kevin Plawecki wasted those opportunities.  This year, it is Rene Rivera, and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity.

Since d’Arnaud went back on the Disabled List, Rivera is hitting .357/.400/.452 with a double, homer, and 11 RBI.  Right now, Rivera is exactly what the Mets thought they would be getting from a healthy d’Arnaud.  Because of that Terry Collins has basically said d’Ranud is not getting his starting job back when he returns from the Disabled List.  Specifically, Collins said, “When Travis gets back, we’ll have to make some decisions, but obviously Rene Rivera has earned a spot, has earned a job catching, and we’re going to play him as much as possible.”  (Mike Puma, New York Post).

If Collins follows through with that plan, it is going to be problematic.  It is Collins confusing a hot streak at the plate from a veteran to a player transforming themselves.  There are two things that are true here: (1) It is hard to trust in d’Arnaud because of his injury history; and (2) Rivera is playing some of the best baseball in his career.  To say anything different is to read too much into everything.

In fact, this isn’t the first time we have seen this from Rivera.  In July 2016, Rivera hit .323/.400/.581 with two doubles, two homers, and seven RBI.  With that hot streak and another injury prone season from d’Arnaud, Rivera would be the starter the rest of the way.  In the ensuing 34 games, Rivera would hit .216/.278/.295 with one double, two homers, and nine RBI.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this.  Rivera is not a good hitter.  In his career, he is a .219/.269/.338 hitter who has just one season with double digit homers.  He has been slightly better in his one plus season with the Mets hitting .247/.304/.361 with eight homers and 40 RBI in 89 games played.  Even is you were to argue Rivera is a better hitter with the Mets, he is still not a good enough hitter to play everyday.

The obvious argument is Rivera should be starting because he is a strong defensive catcher that gets the most out of his staff.  Unfortunately, the data does not support this notion.

In April, with d’Arnaud catching 16 out of the 24 games, the Mets pitching staff had a 4.53 ERA and were walking 3.5 batters per nine innings and striking out 9.5 batters per nine innings.  In May, the Mets pitching has fallen apart.  In the month, the Mets pitchers have a 6.02 ERA while walking 4.4 batters per nine and striking out just 8.3 batters per nine.

Now, there are a number of reasons why this happened.  First of all, Noah Syndergaard has not thrown a pitch in the Month of May, and his replacement in the rotation was Tommy Milone.  We have also Adam Wilk make a disasterous spot start due to Matt Harvey being suspended.  That’s another thing.  Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Robert Gsellman have all regressed in May.

April May
       ERA     WHIP      BB/9        ERA     WHIP       BB/9
deGrom 2.84 1.17 3.20 4.50 1.50 4.50
Harvey 4.25 1.15 3.00 8.04 2.11 6.90
Gsellman 6.23 1.71 3.70 7.41 1.77 2.60

Now, there is always a real danger in trying to draw too many conclusions from a small sample size even if that is what Collins is doing in naming Rivera a starter right now.  However, there might be one big reason why these pitchers have struggled since d’Arnaud went on the Disabled List.  It could just be because d’Arnaud is a better pitch framer than Rivera.  In fact, between d’Arnaud, Plawecki, and Rivera, Rivera is the worst pitch framer on the roster.

Now, it might be difficult to accept d’Arnaud is better handling this Mets pitching staff than Rivera because that’s not the narrative.  The narrative is Rivera is the defensive specialist.  If you are looking for proof, look no further than his 36% caught stealing rate.  Actually, people rarely do look further than that.  While Rivera has his strong points as a catcher, he is not a great defensive catcher.  His pitch framing holds him back.  If he’s not getting that extra strike for his pitching staff on a per at-bat basis, it is hard to defend playing him everyday with his offensive ineptitude.

Overall, d’Arnaud is the better pitcher for this Mets pitching staff.  His pitch framing skills help turn balls into strikes.  This get his pitchers into advantageous counts.  This shortens at-bats.  It keeps runners off the bases.  Ultimately, pitchers can now go deeper into games.  Also, the pitchers can have leads when they leave the game with the help of d’Arnaud’s bat in the lineup.  Looking at d’Arnaud’s bat and his pitch framing, there should be no doubt he should play everyday.

Trivia Friday – Mets Starters With A 5.00 ERA

Right now, the Mets pitching staff is performing well under expectations.  Matt Harvey has a 5.63 ERA.  Tommy Milone has a 5.91 ERA with the team.  Robert Gsellman has an astounding 7.07 ERA.  If all three of these pitchers pitch to an ERA over 5.00, that would more than double the amount of Mets starters who have had an ERA that high in their entire history.  Can you name the two starters who have done that?  Good luck!


Mike Pelfrey Pete Smith

Debunking The Rosario Excuses

Fact is, the Mets season is on the brink.  They need to upgrade anywhere they can in order to help get the Mets season back on track.  For many, that starts with calling up Amed Rosario.  In response, many have offered excuses as to why the Mets shouldn’t call-up Rosario.  In reality, they are flimsy excuses.  Let’s go through them one-by-one:

EXCUSE #1: The Pitching Is the Problem and Rosario Doesn’t Pitch

Yes, the Mets and their MLB worst ERA is a big problem, and no, Rosario doesn’t pitch.  However, the Mets right now are playing Jose Reyes and his .189/.269/.310 batting line at shortstop.  Assuming the pitching doesn’t get any better, the Mets are going to have to out-slug teams to win games.  Reyes is not going to help that.

Also, the Mets defense at short has been terrible.  They rank dead last with a -9 DRS.  Better defense at an important defensive position like shortstop will only serve to help a pitching staff.  Take Robert Gsellman for example.  He has a 58% ground ball rate, and he is allowing a .368 BABIP.  With a better shortstop, especially one like Rosario who projects to be a very good defender, that BABIP can go down.  That is the result of Rosario being able to get to more balls and the rest of the infield being better positioned as a result.  That could result in a lower BABIP, which means base hits becomes outs.  Rallies thereby end sooner or don’t begin in the first place.  Gsellman can then go deeper into games and take pressure off the bullpen.

EXCUSE #2 You Don’t Want Rosario Up On a Short-Term Basis

Who says is has to be on a short-term basis?  Even assuming Asdrubal Cabrera is ready to come back at the end of his 10 day disabled list stint, why couldn’t Rosario stay in the major leagues?  You have the option to move Rosario to third base if you so choose.  You also have the option of moving Cabrera and his poor range to third base.  If Rosario comes up, and he’s shown he can play well defensively and hit well, he has shown he belongs to play at the major league level.  If that is the case, keep him up.

EXCUSE #3 He Doesn’t Have Enough Triple-A At-Bats

There is no precise formula detailing how many at-bats are needed in Triple-A.  Miguel Cabrera never played in Triple-A before his call-up, and he is well on his way to the Hall of Fame.  Matt Reynolds has 1,145 at-bats in Triple-A, and he is still not ready to consistently hit major league pitching.  There is no tried and true formula to follow.  Rosario has shown he can hit in Triple-A.  You either believe in him, or you don’t.

Excuse #4 You Don’t Want Him to Struggle and Be Sent Down

Why?  Keith Hernandez struggled as a 21 year old, and he was sent down.  After that, Hernandez won an MVP, 11 Gold Gloves, and two World Series titles.  After jumping on the scene in 2015, Michael Conforto had a nightmare of a 2016.  So far this year, he is hitting .327/.413/.654 with nine homers and 24 RBI.  Overall, if you are going to be great at the major league level like many believe Rosario will be, one set-back is not going to prevent you from fulfilling your potential.

EXCUSE #5 You Don’t Want to Bring Him Up into a Losing Situation

The corollary of this is you don’t want to bring up a prospect expecting him to be a savior.  In 1983, the Mets were nine games under .500 when Darryl Strawberry was called-up to the majors.  In 2003, the Mets were seven games under .500 when Reyes was called-up.  In 2004, the Mets were one game under .500 when David Wright was called-up to the majors.

Each of these players were immensely talented, and they have each had successful careers.  Being called-up into a losing situation or being asked to be a savior didn’t prevent them from being terrific players.

EXCUSE #6 He’s Had Too Many Errors This Year

Reyes and Cabrera have combined to post a -9 DRS, which again, is the worst in the majors.  Looking at how the team was built top to bottom, defense has been not incentivized.  Now all of a sudden, the Mets are going to care about defense when it comes to a player with plus range for the position?  Further, if he’s struggling, get him away from the terrible infield at Cashman Field, and get him some major league coaching.  You’re likely going to see a better defender out there.

EXCUSE #7 Calling Him Up Sends a Signal the Team is Panicking

Shouldn’t the Mets be panicking at this point?  The team has the worst ERA in baseball.  Their ace and closer are likely gone for the season.  They are already nine games behind the Nationals.  By all means, the Mets should be panicking.  Even if they aren’t panicking, they should be concerned.  The best way to address this would be to address the concerns the team has.  One of those concerns is the offensive and defensive production they get from shortstop.  Rosario can alleviate those concerns.

EXCUSE #8 He’s Not Ready to Hit Major League Pitching

On this front, you have to defer to the front office.  Despite Rosario’s terrific Triple-A numbers, we don’t really have a breakdown on his ability to hit a fastball or breaking pitches.  They can justifiably be seeing something we don’t see.  Still, the team is willing to go with Reyes, his poor defense, and his .189 batting average at the position.  Even if Rosario were to put up similar offensive numbers to Reyes, he’s going to do that with much better defense.  As a result, the Mets would be a better team with him on the field.  Furthermore, it should be noted that if he needs to make some improvements at the plate, he would be better served by working with Kevin Long.  \n

EXCUSE #9 What Do You Do With Him When Cabrera Returns?

Thumb issues like this are tricky.  We saw Juan Lagares try to play through a torn ligament in his thumb until he was finally forced to have surgery to repair the tear.  We still do not know if Cabrera needs surgery.  We don’t know if this is a two week or two month injury.

Assume for a minute Cabrera will be back sooner rather than later, the Mets have an opportunity to give Rosario a brief look at shortstop.  At the very least, it’s a reward for him being the time in to become an improved player.  It presents an opportunity to see if Rosario is ready.  When and if Cabrera comes back, the Mets can then judge if Rosario should stay up with the team or go back down to Triple-A.  If he were to go back down, he will have a better idea of what he needs to work on in order to stick at the major league level.

EXCUSE #10 You Don’t Want to Have Rosario Become a Super Two Player

So what?  Now the Mets aren’t all-in?  Did that only apply to signing Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas?  If you are all-in, be all-in regardless of Super Two deadlines.

Overall, that’s the point.  If you are truly all-in, you do everything you can do to improve your team.  You do everything you can do to win games.  Every day the Mets keep Rosario in Vegas is another day this team is not all-in.  Rather, the team is letting everyone know they would rather lose with what they have this year.

Gsellman And Montero Were Used In Pivotal Spots

For the past seven games, the Mets have found new and interesting ways to lose. Today, it was a tried and true method for this team. Not getting hits with RISP and some truly bizarre managerial decisions from Terry Collins

Like most of the games on this road trip, things started well for the Mets. Michael Conforto, who Collins has spent the better part of two years telling us can’t hit lefties, hit a two run homer off Patrick Corbin to give the Mets a 2-0 first inning lead.  

From that point forward, the Mets would go 1-6 with RISP. 

Matt Harvey would give up that lead. In the first, he allowed a lead-off triple to Rey Fuentes. Fuentes then scored on a Chris Owings ground-out. In the third, Harvey allowed an opposite field two run homer off the bat of Jake Lamb
It was all part of a maddening start by Harvey. He did not have one 1-2-3 inning. He walked four batters including the opposing pitcher. He allowed his 11th homer of the season. He needed 95 pitches to get through 5.1 innings. 

And yet, there were positive signs. He didn’t allow a hit with RISP. He had big strikeouts of Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas. He left the game in line for the win. 

The Mets had a 4-3 lead when Harvey departed. The additional two runs came in the fourth. Juan Lagares hit a long home run to tie the score at three. Matt Reynolds followed with a walk, and he would score on a Jose Reyes RBI double. As we know, the Mets wouldn’t win this one. 

For some reason, Collins went to Robert Gsellman and his 7.07 ERA to pitch the seventh. This is the same Gsellman the Mets have just removed from the rotation for the next couple of weeks. Depending on the ETA of Steven Matz and/or Seth Lugo, Gsellman may not start another game this year. Despite this, Collins felt Gsellman was the right man to protect a one run lead to help the Mets break a six game losing streak. 

Gsellman would walk Goldschmidt, and he would score on a Tomas RBI double. Just like that, the score was tied. 

The Mets would mount subsequent rallies to try to get another lead. In the eighth, there were runners on first and second with two outs, and Lagares grounded out. In the eleventh, the Mets had the same situation, and Reyes struck out. That would be the Mets last chance. 

The real part of the Mets bullpen had done a good job. Josh Edgin got Harvey out of the sixth unscathed. Jerry Blevins (8)and Addison Reed (9 & 10) pitched perfect innings to get the Mets to the 11th. At that point, Collins did the complete opposite of what he should have done. 

He brought in Rafael Montero. Not the red hot Paul Sewald. Not Fernando Salas who has been better of late. Not Neil Ramirez who the Mets signed to help the bullpen. No, he brought in Montero, and his rationale was absurd:

First batter Montero faced was Chris Herrmann. Herrmann is a career .207/.277/.338 hitter who entered the game hitting .160/.250/.280.  He injured his hand in this game. Naturally, he did this:

To recap, Collins brought in a guy with a 7.07 ERA to preserve a one run lead, and he used a guy with a 9.00 ERA to keep the game scoreless. At this point, you have to wonder if he’s trying to get fired. 

Game Notes: Reyes tried to go to second on a play in the second on a throw to the cut-off man. The play wasn’t even close, and it killed what could have been a big rally. 

Loss Was All Too Similar 

Just like yesterday, Terry Collins asked too much from his starter, which is unfortunate because he’s really not asking that much right now. Yesterday, it was asking Matt Harvey to pitch six innings. Today, it was asking Robert Gsellman to pitch five innings. 

Gsellman was struggling out there each and every inning. It all unraveled in the fifth. What was once a 4-2 lead became a 10-4 deficit. Gsellman got best around that inning allowing the first four Brewers to reach base. He’d depart the game not recording an out in the fifth, leaving the bases loaded, and the Mets still up 4-3. 

That lasted a blink of an eye when Hansel Robles allowed a bases clearing double to the first batter he faced. With that, Gsellman’s final line in the loss was four innings, nine hits, six runs, five earned, three walks, and three strikeouts. 

Robles also imploded. Despite his being double switched into the game, he only lasted one inning. That was because he allowed four runs on four hits and a walk. With that, his sparking 1.42 ERA is a pedestrian 3.15. 

Robles blowing up was eerily reminiscent of the Mets bullpen getting beat up yesterday. In fact, the game was really a poor facsimile of yesterday’s loss. 

This time it was Michael Conforto getting picked off second base instead of Jay BruceNeil Walker had another big game at the plate homering once again. Paul Sewald came on the eat some innings, and he allowed a run. Rafael Montero once again looked good out of the bullpen. 

Then there were the things that were different. Jose Reyes played center field in the sixth inning before finishing the game at shortstop. T.J. Rivera played left field from the seventh inning on. Kevin Plawecki had a good day at the plate going 2-4 with a double and two RBI. There was some normalcy with Plawecki with the Brewers going two for three on stolen base attempts. 

The main similarity to was the Mets losing. This game was by the score of 11-4. After a good stretch, the Mets have lost a game and a series. They’re now three games under .500, and they’re back at the drawing board. 

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera, who has struggled defensively, committed two errors on one play bringing his error total up to five on the season. He had just seven last year. 

Sandy Alderson Miscalculated

Yet again, the Mets have had to turn to Rafael Montero to make a start because there weren’t better options for the Mets.  There weren’t better options because Sandy Alderson believed the Mets had enough starting pitching to never need to sign a veteran signing pitcher.  As we have seen, this was a miscalculation.

Lost in the excitement of the Mets having seven starting pitchers was the fact that pitchers break down.  This pitching staff exemplifies this axiom.  Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz were coming off season ending surgeries.  For his part, Matz is seemingly never healthy.  Zack Wheeler hadn’t pitched in over two years due to his having Tommy John surgery and the ensuing complications therefrom.  Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo were terrific in September of last year, but it was against some fairly weak competition.  Also, it is likely both were going to be on some form of an innings limit.  Finally, there was Noah Syndergaard, who seemed indestructible.

Now, we could have anticipated Matz doing down, but the other manner in which the Mets have turned to Montero and Adam Wilk has been a surprise.  No one expected Lugo to suffer a torn UCL.  Syndergaard tearing his lat never could have been reasonably anticipated, nor was the Mets needing to suspend Harvey.  Still, given the relative injury histories, it was certainly plausible the Mets would be down three plus pitchers at any point of the season.  It was also plausible because pitchers break.

Despite this, Alderson moved both Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa to the Orioles in separate deals.  Both moves were defensible because the Mets needed space on the 40 man roster to accommodate free agent signings.  Still, those arms needed to be replaced by cheap veterans who could be stashed in Triple-A, or the Mets could have signed a swingman who could have served in long relief and be available to make a spot start.

Now, we know players like Doug Fister and Colby Lewis likely weren’t signing unless they got minor league deals.  Still, there were pitchers like Jon Niese and Dillon Gee available.  Mets fans may not love them, but they are certainly better than Montero.  There was also Scott Feldman who has served in both relief and long man roles, and he signed with the Reds for just $2.3 million.  There are several other names like Jake Peavy who at least has the veteran guile to gut through five innings.  Instead, the Mets stuck with Sean Gilmartin, who they won’t even trust to make a start, and they signed Wilk who is not a viable major league pitcher.

And now, the once vaunted Mets starting pitching is a mess, and it is up to Alderson to fix it.  This is the same Alderson who has been very cavalier in moving pitching the past few seasons to help fix the weaknesses in teams he has built.  So far, his answer has been Milone who has a 6.43 ERA in six starts this season.  That’s hardly an answer.

Likely, Alderson’s real answer is to hope for some health with presumably both Matz and Lugo will be ready by the end of the month.  Maybe this time the health plan with work.

Call Up Ricky Knapp

It’s apparent Rafael Montero doesn’t have it.  He has all the talent in the world.  Talent enough to lead the Mets to give him chance after chance after chance.  He’s squandered them all.  Last night was the latest example with him allowing five earned over 3.2 innings. The Mets cannot in good conscience let him make another start for this team.

Just like the Mets were forced to do last season, it is time to give someone else a chance.  Last year meant Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.  Gsellman thrived, and as a result, he made the Opening Day rotation.  Lugo was making a name for himself in the World Baseball Classic until a slight tear in his UCL was discovered.  Lugo’s absence has been really felt with the injuries to Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard.  With him and Matz still weeks away, the Mets need to figure out who should get a chance to pitch in the rotation.

As noted above, Montero has squandered that chance.  It is time to give someone else a shot.  Unfortunately, there are no stand outs right now in Triple-A meaning the Mets are going to have to take a chance on someone.  That pitcher should be Ricky Knapp.

Knapp is the son of former major league pitching coach Richard Knapp.  It should then come as no surprise that Knapp has repeatable and clean mechanics.  He’s also a four pitch pitcher that really doesn’t have one outstanding pitch.  Accordingly, Knapp is reliant upon location, mixing up his pitches, and pitching to contact in order to get batters out.  He has been largely successful in that because Knapp keeps the ball on the ground having a 1.46 ground out to fly out ratio.  As a result, Knapp has gone deep into games with him leading the Mets organization with three complete games last year.

As it so happens, Knapp is not the type of pitcher that typically thrives in Vegas.  That is quite evident in Knapp’s stats to start the season.  Through his first six starts, he is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.  This makes him yet another Mets pitching prospect who is struggling in Vegas.  Still, there are some signs of hope for him going forward.

Knapp is walking 2.1 batters per nine innings which is lower than his 2.3 BB/9 in his minor league career.  In his two road games, Knapp is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.  His opponents have a .328 BABIP this season which is higher than the .299 BABIP batters have against him in his minor league career or the .274 BABIP Double-A batters had against him.  With a normalized BABIP and with Knapp replicating his numbers on the road, there is a strong case that can be made Knapp could succeed at the major league level.

Overall, there are signs for hope for Knapp to be able to succeed with the Mets.  Those hopes should be elevated when you consider Knapp will have the opportunity to work with Dan Warthen.  At the very least, he can’t be worse than Montero.  For that reason alone, the Mets should give him a shot until Lugo or Matz are ready.

Letting Bartolo Colon Walk Still Isn’t The Problem

With Noah Syndergaard‘s torn lat, it is once again time to revisit the Mets decision to allow Bartolo Colon to depart in free agency. It is a moment that has been revisited on multiple occasions. It was first addressed when the Mets allowed him to go to the Braves without so much as an offer. It was addressed when Steven Matz and Seth Lugo suffered injuries. Its been addressed with every struggle Robert Gsellman has had on this young season. So why not just get it out of the way for good and for all.

The Mets were correct in their decision not to re-sign Bartolo Colon.

For those clamoring for the popular player, do you know what his stats are this season? They’re not good. Through five starts, Colon is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. He’s averaging 5.2 innings per start. The only intradivision team he has handled well was the Mets. Against the Marlins, he pitched four innings allowing six runs on seven hits. Against the Phillies, he allowed four runs on 11 hits. For a Mets team that needs a stabilizing force in the rotation the can eat up innings and get some quality starts, Colon has shown that so far he is not really the answer.

If you want to argue, he certainly is a better pitcher than that, you may have an argument. However, his 77 ERA+ and his 4.40 FIP suggest you don’t have much of an argument. You could say that it’s early, but is it ever early for a 44 year old pitcher?

But this overlooks what was the real issue at the time Colon hit free agency. The Mets could not guarantee him a rotation spot. Last year, Gsellman was 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 169 ERA+, and a 2.63 FIP. Lugo was 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 152 ERA+, and a 4.33 FIP. On top of that, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Matz had successful surgeries and looked to be ready on Opening Day. Furthermore, Zack Wheeler was on track to be ready to be on the Opening Day roster. If everyone is healthy and in peak form, Colon was realistically the seventh or eighth best pitcher on the staff. Simply put, there was no spot for him.

Colon knew that too. That’s why he took the Braves one year $12.5 million deal. He took the deal because the Braves were guaranteeing him a rotation spot that would permit him to chase down Juan Marichal and Dennis Martinez to become the winningest Latin born pitcher in major league history. Colon chose the path with the best contract and the clearest path to the record over returning to the Mets or going to another contender.

This is no shot at him. Last year, Colon took less money and risked getting demoted to the bullpen in order to chase that elusive World Series. He just wasn’t as eager to do that this time. The Mets also weren’t eager to bring him back with their pitching depth.

Instead, the Mets used that $12.5 million this offseason. That money helped the Mets to build a bullpen. Jerry Blevins was signed for $5.5 million. Fernando Salas was signed for $3 million. Addison Reed received a $2.55 million raise, and Jeurys Familia received a $3.325 million raise. As much as the bullpen has struggled to start the season, imagine it right now without Blevins. So overall, it is not as if that $12.5 million wasn’t spent on pitching this offseason. It was. It was just spent on a bullpen that Colon was not willing to pitch in to start the season.

So no, the Mets shouldn’t be second guessed for letting Colon go to the Braves. Rather, the Mets should be questioned as to why the choice for fifth starter is between Rafael Montero or Sean Gilmartin. Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa were traded to the Orioles for cash considerations in separate deals this offseason. Scott Feldman signed with the Reds for $2.3 million. There are a number of pitchers available who could have provided a little extra depth including the player everyone loves to hate, Jon Niese. Say what you want about him, but he’s much better than Montero.

There’s also the matter that the Mets knew this could happen. Once the Mets opened the season with Lugo and Matz hurt, the team’s depth was gone. As reported by Kristie Ackert in the New York Daily News, Sandy Alderson backed off signing a pitcher like Doug Fister because he was willing to wait until late May or June for them to be healthy. Alderson willing took a gamble with the pitching depth, and he lost.

Overall, the Mets aren’t in trouble because they didn’t re-sign Colon. They are in trouble because the team purged the non-Montero options they had in the organization, and they were willing to wait almost two months to have quality major league pitching depth.

Conforto Christens SunTrust

With Julio Teheran and his 2.25 ERA against the Mets, and the struggling Robert Gsellman starting for the Mets, it seemed as if the Mets initiation to SunTrust Park was going to be as bad as Turner Field treated the Mets. With one swing of the bat, Michael Conforto dispelled many of those concerns:

The concerns returned when Ender Inciarte returned the favor by hovering to lead-off the first. 

The Mets then did something rate in the fourth. They built a sustained rally. 

The Mets quickly loaded the bases, and Neil Walker snapped an 0-13 skid to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Jose Reyes hit a RBI groundout. Travis d’Arnaud was told to go to first (IBB) reloading the bases, and T.J. Rivera made them pay with an RBI single. After a Gsellman line out, Conforto hit a two RBI single making it 6-1. 

The Braves would get a lot of that back. In the fourth, Nick Markakis and Adonis Garcia and would collect RBIs after Matt Kemp set the stage with a double. 

In the sixth, Terry Collins tried to coax another inning to help a tired bullpen. Freddie Freeman and Kemp hit back-to-back doubles leaving yo term getting hooked. Collins had enough, and he used Josh Edgin and Hansel Robles combined to shut the door keeping the score at 6-5. 

Gsellman had an uneven start once again due to his struggling with command. His velocity dipped a bit. Still he lasted five, and he gave the Mets a chance to win allowing six hits, five earned,  and a walk. 
Reyes added a run off a solo homer in the eighth to make it 7-5. 

That lead would last as Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia shut the door on the Braves to pick up the 7-5 win. Maybe, just maybe SunTrust will be different than Turner Field. 

Game Notes: Curtis Granderson went 0-3 and is now hitting .124. To his credit, he did work out a walk, scored a run, and had a fine play in center.