There are many problems with the Mets bullpen this year. One of the most understated is the complete and utter lack of a long man in the bullpen for much of the season. This has led to Terry Collins needing to trotting out a series of relievers whenever a starter can’t go deep into games. It has led to Collins pushing relievers past their breaking points.
This has saw Hansel Robles completely break down to the point where he’s not even an effective Triple-A reliever. Collins stretched Josh Smoker to the point where he first was sent down to the minors, and then to the point where he landed on the Disabled List. With Smoker gone, Paul Sewald seems to be the guy who gets stretched out for three innings despite his being a 1-2 inning closer in most of his time in the minor leagues.
Doing that means Smoker and Sewald, two pitchers who should have been establishing themselves as late inning relievers this season, have been bounced around in their roles. We have seen uneven performances from them this year to the point where the Mets really don’t know what they have in either pitcher. More to the point, it has led to Neil Ramirez pitching in important spots.
The latest example was on Tuesday. The Mets were riding high after a sweep of the Giants, and the team was in a soft part of the schedule where they could have reasonably been at or even over .500 going into the All Star Break. At that point, who knows?
And this Mets team looked resilient last night. Robert Gsellman went down in the top of the fourth. Sewald came on and gave the team three good innings they desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud had two RBI, including a solo home run, to tie the game at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. With Sewald, one of the better relievers on the team, no longer available, Collins went with Ramirez. To the surprise of no one, Ramirez would earn the loss.
Why was he and his demonic 6.66 ERA even an option? Ultimately, it is because of the Mets refusal to carry a long man in the bullpen. Instead, the team would rather carry a group of pitchers who ideally should be limited to two innings or less that can post high strikeout numbers.
Why couldn’t the Mets carry Tyler Pill as the long reliever. Sure, he was predictably lackluster, but that is a significant upgrade from Ramirez being an abject disaster. While it is a small sample size, there are indications Pill could be useful as a long man. In this three games, the first time through the lineup teams are only hitting .250/.296/.292 off of him. Extrapolating this out, this means Pill could be good to keep the Mets into a game for about three innings.
This could led to the Mets turning the game over to their best relievers late in the game. Instead, the Mets would rather pitch their pitchers past their breaking points. They would rather pitch Ramirez in important spots. While there are many things you can pinpoint for the Mets failures this season, it’s the lack of a long man in the bullpen needs to be front and center.
Another Steven Matz start and another seven innings. Since coming off the Disabled List, Matz has pitched seven innings in three of his four starts. Tonight might’ve been the best start of the lot.
Matz pitched seven shut out innings befuddling the Marlins. No Marlins player would even make it to third base. He pitched mainly to contact, weak contact, which permitted him to once again go deep in the game. Over the seven innings, he needed just 110 pitches.
His final line was seven innings, six hits, no runs, one walk, and four strikeouts.
And Matz would get the win in this game with some help of some veterans looking to boost their trade value.
Curtis Granderson was great just like he’s been all June. In fact, he’s been among the top three hitters in the majors during the Month of June.
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 28, 2017
He’s been much better since moving to second base.
Overall, Reyes was 3-4 with a double and an RBI. With his seventh inning single, he passed Ed Kranepool for second on the Mets all-time hit list.
The Mets offense would go silent from there until the Marlins brought Dustin McGowan into the game. d’Arnaud got it started with an RBI single, and he’d go to third on the aforementioned Reyes single. If that ball does not hit McGowan, Reyes has an RBI.
After a Matz sacrifice bunt, the Marlins brought in the left-handed Justin Nicolino to face Granderson. Granderson responded by hitting a bomb:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 29, 2017
This was the third straight game Granderson hit a home run.
The Mets would build on this 6-0 lead in the eighth. Brandon Nimmo continued his terrific work as a pinch hitter delivering a two out RBI single giving the Mets an 8-0 lead. That’s a lead not even this Mets bullpen could blow.
Mets are back on track for at least one day, and they look to take the series tomorrow.
The Mets fought hard to get back into this game. In the end, it was the usual culprits that would let the Mets down – injuries, defense, and the bullpen.
In the bottom of the first, the Marlins had runners on first and second with two outs, but Gsellman couldn’t come up with that big pitch to get out of the inning. Justin Bour singled to tie the game, and Martin Prado doubled to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.
It was one of those nights where you knew Gsellman probably wasn’t long for the game. You’d be right, but not for the reason you’d expect.
In the fourth, Lucas Duda got a rally started with a one out double, and it appeared as if the Mets would strand him there. Travis d’Arnaud came up with the big two out RBI single pulling the Mets within one.
Then came the Gsellman injury. Gsellman would ground out to the pitcher. On the play, he’d vacillate between jogging and busting it. It led to a leg injury. Rather go on a rant here about another injury, it’s best to leave it to Ron Darling:
Ron's comments about injuries and training pic.twitter.com/yqf47Nu326
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) June 28, 2017
This led to Paul Sewald getting thrown into the game. He did a great job pitching three scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game. It allowed d’Arnaud to tie the game with a solo shot off Kyle Barraclough.
The hit got the Mets going, and it seemed as if the Mets might take the lead. Brandon Nimmo worked out a pinch hit walk, and Granderson smoked a grounder up the middle.
That’s when JT Riddle made a phenomenal play on the Granderson grounder to get a 6-6-3 inning ending double play.
— #VoteMarlins (@Marlins) June 28, 2017
Ramirez would issue a leadoff walk to J.T. Realmuto, and Riddle would smoke a grounder towards Duda. It was difficult, but Duda needs to make that play. The ball hit off his glove setting up first and third with no outs.
Like all Mets fans, Collins had enough of Ramirez and went to Jerry Blevins, who has pitched poor of late, to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki.
Being the wily veteran with 3,049 career hits entering the game, Ichiro knew just where to hit it – right by Wilmer Flores, who went in the completely wrong direction:
lmao wilmer where are you going?! pic.twitter.com/LgRUZf8nKL
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) June 28, 2017
This loss was the same loss that we’ve been seeing all season long. This is the same loss that has derailed the Mets season.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto was not available to pinch hit after getting hit on the wrist in Sunday’s game. Erik Goeddel pitched 1.2 scoreless. He has three scoreless innings in three appearances this year.
Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot. Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base. Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate. Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident. Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview. That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field. More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played. Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:
1. They Can’t Pitch
The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets. It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year. That ERA is just inexcusable. There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible. Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.
2. The Defense Is Terrible
The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball. Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th. At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th. Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore. Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers. Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position. Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.
3. They’re Always Injured
Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List. For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June. The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries. In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one. If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.
4. They’re Under-Performing
So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances. Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100. Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average. Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP. Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.
Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard. After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94. There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0
We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified. Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing. That’s on all of them.
5. They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games
It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races. They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own. Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces. In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22. It is one thing lost six of seven. It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.
If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves. They are allowing the homers. They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis. They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.
For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.
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.
In the NHL draft tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights will be drafting players from each of the other 30 NHL rosters. There is a provision that players who have less than two years of service time are automatically protected thereby not making a team choose between a significant player and a huge prospect. It does beg the question about what would happen if that provision were removed.
Better yet, what would happen if teams were forced to protect just 10 of their best prospects in an effort to permit the new team to stock their minor league system. If the Mets were put in the position to select eleven players with under two years service time, who should they select?
1. SS Amed Rosario
By any account, Rosario is among the top prospects in all of baseball if not the top prospect. He has more than justified that billing this year. Through 69 games, Rosario is hitting .325/.368/.479 with 15 doubles, four triples, seven homers, 48 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. He’s great, and there is no circumstance in which the Mets should even think about losing him to another team.
2. 1B Dominic Smith
The Mets have been aggressive promoting their 2013 first round pick through the minor leagues. Last year, he was the youngest player in the Eastern League. This year, he has been among the youngest in the Pacific Coast League. Through it all, he has held his own, played a terrific defensive first base, and is developing power at every stop. He is the first baseman of the future for a team who will likely lose their current first baseman at the trade deadline or free agency.
3. RHP Justin Dunn
Last year’s first round pick has terrific stuff, and he showed it off last year. While he struggled this year, he has been better off for those struggles. Since being demoted to the bullpen to help him find himself, Dunn has gone 3-1 with a 0.86 ERA and an 8.1 K/9. When you have a player that struggles and improves this much, this is a player you make sure to keep.
4. RHP Robert Gsellman
Gsellman started last year pitching in Double-A, and he finished it helping pitch the Mets into the postseason. He’s had an up and down 2017 season, but he has shown flashes of his tremendous talent. He is just 23 years old, and he still has the stuff he did last year when he posted a 2.42 ERA in eight games. With a better infield behind him, which we should see with a Rosario promotion, we will likely see a return of the stats we saw last year.
5. SS Andres Gimenez
The 18 year old dominated the Gulf Coast League last year showing off his skill set that had him one of the highest regarded international free agent signings in 2015. He has skipped short season ball and held his own during his 37 games for the Columbia Fireflies. He has a good bat regardless of position.
6. LHP Thomas Szapucki
Szapucki is potentially a top of the rotation starter with a mid to high 90s fastball and a very good curve ball. He used that to be completely dominant in rookie ball. After an injury to start the year, he has just returned from the disabled list, and he is rounding into form.
7. CF Desmond Lindsay
The man dubbed as the “Offensive Machine” when he was drafted has certainly taken off lately. While he struggled to start the year, he has adjusted to the Sally League, and he has begun dominating. Since June began, he has been hitting .333/.400/.694 while playing a good center field. It seems he may have put his leg issues behind him, and he is taking the next step.
8. C Tomas Nido
After years of struggling at the plate, Nido broke out last year winning the Florida State League batting title. After a slow start to the season in Double-A, he is once again showing he is as complete a catcher as they come hitting .300/.353/.483 with 10 doubles, four homers, and 22 RBI in his last 32 games. He is proving last year was no fluke, and he is the Mets catcher of the future.
9. RHP Marcos Molina
Despite missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets believed enough in Molina to add him to the 40 man roster. They were right to do so. In five starts for St. Lucie, he was 2-3 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.767 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. That has earned him a promotion to Double-A and a clear path towards the major leagues.
10. RHP Seth Lugo
With spin rates, we know Lugo’s curve ball is the best in the majors. He has used that to help propel him not just to the majors, but also to have success in the majors. In addition to that, he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s when he needs a big out. He used this repertoire to help pitch the Mets into the postseason last year. He has used it again this year to be effective in the rotation upon his return to the rotation from his elbow injury.
11. LHP Anthony Kay
The Mets have long wanted him. After failing to sign him out of high school in 2013, they made him their second first round draft pick last year. That is because he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s with a promising curve ball and change. Like many college pitchers, his arm was abused by his coach, and he has suffered an injury requiring Tommy John surgery. He should be able to bounce back and be the pitcher the Mets have long thought he could be.
In the above list, the Mets have lots of pitching talent, but that would also leave a lot of pitching talent exposed. If the Mets went this route, they could lose a Harol Gonzalez or Jordan Humphreys, both of whom are having terrific years. There is also the potential position player cost. Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini are both former first round picks who are close to being regulars at the major league level.
Even if you were to make some amendments to the above list, you are still going to leave a very talented player exposed. This speaks to the depth of the Mets farm system that the Mets continue to improve with each draft and each international signing period.
With the NHL having their expansion draft tonight, each of the pre-existing 31 teams will sit and wait to see which one of their players will be selected to became an inaugural member of the Vegas Golden Knights. With the Golden Knights being required to select one player from each NHL team, each franchise is going to see a player depart their franchise.
Occasionally, there have been discussions MLB will expand. Whenever that happens, each MLB team will have to go through the same exercise each NHL team just did. If that were to happen, it would be interesting to see exactly who each MLB team would protect.
In terms of the NHL draft, teams can protect somewhere between eight to 11 skaters and one goaltender depending on who the team decides to protect. Given an NHL has a maximum roster size of 23 players, the 8 – 11 paradigm is a good framework for a potential MLB expansion draft.
Assuming MLB lands upon eight players, it would be interesting to see who the Mets decided to protect. Now, where the Mets are lucky is players with less than two service years are automatically protected. As such, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and any other young player you would consider protecting are already protected. With that in mind, here are the eight players the Mets should protect should such a draft take place:
1. RHP Noah Syndergaard
Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022
Last year, Syndergaard emerged as the ace of the Mets staff with a repertoire that has never been seen by a Major League Starting pitcher. He has a fastball that tops off at 100 MPH and a slider that he can throw in the mid 90s. He also has a swagger on the mound, and he gets up for the biggest games. Again, like Cespedes, this is a no-brainer even with his lat injury this year.
2. LF Michael Conforto
Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022
Conforto has been around for only three years, but it has been a whirlwind. In 2015, he was a budding superstar. In 2016, he had a wrist injury, struggled, and was demoted to Triple-A multiple times. In 2017, he has emerged as an All Star. Even with a rough June, there’s reason to believe in Conforto being a budding superstar, including but not limited to his ability to hit left-handed pitching. Conforto is a foundation piece and should be the Mets right fielder for decades.
3. LF Yoenis Cespedes
Remaining Contract: 3 years $87.5 million
Given the fact players with no trade clauses must be protected in an expansion draft, the Mets would be required to protect Cespedes. Even if that wasn’t the case, the Mets need to protect Cespedes. He’s been a superstar with the Mets hitting .286/.354/.565 with 56 homers and 146 RBI since joining the team. More than that, he puts fans in the seats. You have to protect him at all costs.
4. RHP Jacob deGrom
Free Agent: 2021
After an injury riddled year, and some ups and downs this year, deGrom has rediscovered himself, and he’s back to pitching like an ace. That is evident with his being the National League Pitcher of the Week last week. We also saw what deGrom was made of during the 2015 NLCS when he outpitched both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. There are only a handful of the pitchers on the planet that can do that, and when you have one of them, you don’t let them go.
5. LHP Steven Matz
Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022
When Matz is healthy, he has the potential to be an ace. Before his bone spur issues arose in late June last year, Matz was 11-3 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9. In his return from season ending surgery, he has pitched well lasting seven innings in both of his starts. Overall, when he’s healthy, he’s terrific, and he’s not someone you part with so easily.
6. RHP Jeurys Familia
Free Agent: 2019
When you consider the Mets bullpen is in shambles, and they are going to have to rebuild it in totality, the Mets need to keep Familia at all costs. It is also important to keep in mind that despite his injury this year, Familia has been an absolute work horse for the Mets with his making the most appearances out of the bullpen and pitching the most innings from 2014 – 2016. If the medical reports are promising, there is every reason to believe Familia can return to being that pitcher again.
7. C Travis d’Arnaud
Free Agent: 2020
There is every reason to leave him unprotected. He has regressed in most aspects of his game, and he had yet another stint on the Disabled List this year. Still, d’Arnaud is a good pitch framer, who still has offensive upside. Before injuring his wrist, d’Arnaud was hitting .270/.357/.541. While his stats have dropped precipitously, his .223 BABIP suggests d’Arnaud is due. More than that, there’s really no better options available. The catching across Major League Baseball is on a downturn, and you need someone to bridge the gap until Tomas Nido is ready.
8. 3B David Wright
Remaining Contract: 3 years $47 million
As noted above with Cespedes, the Mets would have to protect Wright due to his no trade clause. Even without it, there is a case for keeping Wright. Wright is the team captain, and he is the guy you want leaving an impression on Rosario and Smith when they get to the majors. His contract is insured, so if he can’t play, you can reallocate the money. More to the point, could you possibly imagine Wright in another uniform? Me neither. Is this all a stretch? Sure, but fact is Wright will remain with the Mets until he finally decides it’s over.
As with any decision like this, there were hard choices. Matt Harvey has been a cornerstone of the Mets rebuild, but his injuries and impending free agency, you’d be forced to expose him. Zack Wheeler has had a strong return from the Disabled List, but even before he was injured, he was 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, and a 100 ERA+ in 49 career starts. In 2017, he has not appeared to be more than that. That coupled with the rise of Gsellman and Lugo as well as other pitchers in the Mets farm system, you could very well expose Wheeler.
Overall, the hypothetical player that would get taken from the Mets roster would be damaging. That includes Juan Lagares, who is a Gold Glover that showed some promise this year, but still has a terrible contract. That also includes Wilmer Flores who still doesn’t quite have a position.
With all that said, it does speak to the talent Sandy Alderson has brought to this organization that the Mets could lose one of the aforementioned players and still have a team that could compete for a World Series next year.
Another run scored off a Joc Pederson RBI double. That capped off three straight Dodger extra base hits. It also was the end for Gsellman.
Gsellman’s final line was 4.2 innings, nine hits, eight runs, seven earned, three walks, and two strikeouts. At this point, it’s safe to assume he’s taking the loss.
For his part, Jose Reyes should take a lot of blame with his killing two rallies off Dodger starter Brandon McCarthy. He ended a third inning rally grounding into a double play. In the fifth, he struck out with runners on first and second.
His counter-part wasn’t missing. Seager homered off Josh Edgin in the fifth giving him three homers in the game. At that point, it was 10-0, and the game was effectively over.
[If more happens worthy of mentioning, this will be updated].
This season has completely unraveled. It’s time to sell for whatever they can get . . . no matter how little the return.
Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini was rewarded for yesterday’s homer by being put in the lineup and batting eighth behind Rene Rivera. So far, he’s 1-2. The unearned run was the result of a T.J. Rivera throwing error allowing Justin Turner to get on in front of the Bellinger home run.
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.
This game started just like yesterday’s game with Anthony Rizzo leading off the game with a home run. Then, things were worse than where last night’s game started when Ian Happ followed with a home run of his own to make it 2-0 Cubs before there was an out in the game.
It seemed Iike things were going to be worse than that. It has become passé to say Matt Harvey didn’t have it, but he really didn’t have it tonight. He was throwing his two seamer in the high 80s. Even when Harvey’s been at his most injured, he was never there. The Cubs would take advantage too.
Kyle Schwarber was chief among them with this shot OVER the Shea Bridge:
Kyle Schwarber launches a majestic fly ball well over the wall in right-center field for a two-run homer, extending the Cubs' lead to 4-1!!! pic.twitter.com/wM7tKuEMjv
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 15, 2017
The Cubs would go up 4-1, and Harvey would only last four innings.
However, unlike last night, the Mets were in this game.
In the fourth, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs with Harvey due up. Yoenis Cespedes wasnot yet warmed up to play, because, why have all your players ready to play the game. Michael Conforto likely wasn’t an option with the left-handed starter Mike Montgomery on the mound. Terry Collins opted to go with Steven Matz as the pinch hitter.
Matz made Collins look like a genius (nah) with an infield single in a ball Javier Baez didn’t get quite cleanly enough. After Juan Lagares‘ sacrifice fly, the Mets rally sputtered, and the Mets went to the fifth inning and their bullpen down 4-3.
The Mets pitchers contributions were terrific. Matz had the RBI single. Paul Sewald pitched two scoreless. Fernando Salas pitched two-thirds of an inning scoreless. Jerry Blevins had his longest outing of the year pitching 1.1 scoreless innings. Robert Gsellman entered the game as a pinch runner.
Their collective work allowed the Mets to stay in the game and have a chance to win.
The chance came when Curtis Granderson earn a lead-off walk. Two outs later and two strikes on Lagares, it appeared as if the Mets might squander the opportunity. Then, Lagares hit a ball off Pedro Strop only Lagares could’ve caught:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 15, 2017
The score remained tied until the eighth when Granderson did what Granderson does when the Mets need a huge hit:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 15, 2017
The homer ignited the Mets offense. The next big hit came from Lucas Duda:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 15, 2017
As it turns out, Duda wasn’t even supposed to be in the game. With the left-handed starter on the mound, he was on the bench. However, when Neil Walker suffered a leg injury attempting a bunt single, Duda came in the game.
The homer didn’t kill the rally either. The Mets poured it on against Carl Edwards, Jr. Three more hits would follow culminating in a T.J. RBI single to make it 9-4.
Collins went to Addison Reed to close out the game. It wasn’t easy with the Cubs loading the bases with two outs and Rizzo coming to the plate. Rizzo grounded out, and the Mets won 9-4.
This was a huge win in front of a huge series this weekend. Things are definitely looking up for this Mets team.
Game Notes: Walker is getting an MRI tomorrow and is likely DL bound. Gavin Cecchini was held out of the 51s game, and he looks like he will get the call once Walker is put on the DL. Granderson’s eighth inning home run was the 300th of his career.