Perhaps no one in the history of the New York Mets has gotten more chances to prove themselves than Rafael Montero. The fact that is true has continued to baffle and irritate Mets fans who have watched him pitch to a 5.38 ERA and 1.705 WHIP in his Major League career.
But it’s more than that. The Mets have questioned his competitiveness and his toughness. They have even had him suffer the indignity to being demoted to Double-A. Nothing seems to work, and yet he remains on the Mets roster. Worse yet, he remains while talented pitchers who have produced are sent packing.
If we are being fair, we should pinpoint the 2016 season as the breaking point. In 2014, Montero acquitted himself well in his limited time, and in 2015, Montero suffered an injury, albeit one the Mets doubted truly existed. Montero would get a chance again in 2016. There’s no sugar coating just how poorly he pitched. About the only place he pitched well was Binghamton, and he wasn’t exactly stellar there going 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA.
And yet, Montero remained a Met.
After the 2016 season, the Mets traded both Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations to help clear up space on the 40 man roster. The team would lose Matthew Bowman in the Rule 5 Draft. An injured Sean Gilmartinwas designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Because of these moves and because of all the injuries, Montero got another chance in 2017. He would reward the Mets faith and patience by going 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA, 1.748 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.
In an effort to be as fair as possible to Montero, he did get his first real extended chance to prove he belongs in the majors. From June 15th until the end of the season, he was on the Major League roster, and he would make 21 appearances and 16 starts. In that stretch, he was 5-7 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.591 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9.
Certainly, that was better, but it was not significantly different than his career numbers, which just have not been the caliber of a Major League starting pitcher. While you may not feel as if the Mets lost much of value in the aforementioned pitchers lost, the healthy pitchers in the group undoubtedly pitched better than Montero last year.
Now, the Mets are repeating their same mistakes. After the conclusion of the 2017 season, the team drafted Burch Smithin the Rule 5 Draft and sold him to the Kansas City Royals. To make room for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez on the 40 man roster, Kevin McGowan and Chasen Bradford were designated for assignment.
While McGowan struggled in his time in the majors last year, Bradford certainly did not. In fact, Bradford was one of the few pleasant surprises last season. In 28 major league appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 7.2 K/9. Montero would have to significantly improve to match those numbers, and yet, he is the one that remains on the 40 man roster.
At some point, push is finally going to come to shove, and Montero will no longer be a part of the Mets organization. With Montero being out of options, maybe this year is the year. Maybe not. After all, the Mets do have spots open for competition in the Opening Day bullpen, and by now I’m sure the Mets have talked themselves into believing Mickey Callawayand Dave Eiland will turn Montero into the next Dennis Eckersley.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO
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.
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.
It was a dark night with a faint glow surrounding the crowd. Then, from out of a dark cave emerged an old man. On first glance, this old man seemed like a cheery old fellow, but once you looked deep into his eyes, you would discover he would have the most sinister of intentions.
With one scribble across his spell book and one gesture with his hand, he would take the young hero and cast him into a pit never to return. With next, he would summon a bespectacled robot with the most dastardly of intentions. The robot would open up his right arm and he would spread pestilence across the field spreading despair amongst the masses.
By the time our new hero arrived it was too late. He and his friends would be unable to curb the tide set forth by the sinister old man and his evil robot. It was as if a spell was cast preventing them from doing the simplest of activities. Soon, the heroes would be too outnumbered, and they would fall to defeat. Soon, the dim glow that surrounded everyone would go out as the dejected masses fled hoping one day to return to this place and claim victory . . . victory that would never come.
Of course, this is an attempt at portraying Game 4 of the 2015 World Series in an eerie way. In some ways, this fails because what happened was far more horrifying.
Entering the top of the eighth, the Royals were down just one run, and they had the top of their lineup due up. Considering how frequently Collins used Jeurys Familia for six out saves during the regular season, and considering how up to that point, Familia had allowed just three hits and one run that entire postseason, this was the spot for him. The Mets needed six outs from Familia to ensure they would tie the series up 2-2. With the Mets having Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard lined up after that, and with the Royals having lost Game 7 at home the prior year, it seemed like the Mets were in a good position to claim the World Series.
Instead, Collins would go to Tyler Clippard. Up until that point, Clippard had a 5.06 ERA and a 1.411 WHIP in six postseason appearances. This was the same Clippard who dealt with a back issue late in the season and would have a 6.14 ERA and 1.295 WHIP in the month of September. More than that, batters were hitting him hard to the tune of a .268/.323/.536 batting line.
This was decidedly not the pitcher you wanted in this spot. However, this was the direction Collins went. The reason was two fold. The first was this was the formula since the Mets obtained Clippard prior to the trade deadline. Worse than that was the stated reason. Collins said he didn’t want to use Familia for six outs because he appeared the night before in Game 3.
Instead of Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin, or really anyone else, Collins tabbed his closer to close out a six run lead. As we watched in horror in Game 4, the ripple effect of that decision was too much to bear.
With that decision, Collins altered the outcome of the World Series, and quite possibly cost the Mets a chance at winning the 2015 World Series. After that we have seen injury after injury after injury. Quite possibly, this makes Game 4 of the World Series the scariest of all Halloween tales.
If you don’t believe me, try this. Instead of putting on the scariest Halloween movie you can think of tonight, try re-watching Game 4 of the World Series.
There are times a manager is stuck playing a player because he doesn’t have a better option. There are times when a manager is stuck playing a player because that player has a big contract, and the team wants to try to extract as much value from the player as they can. There are other times when you play a player because you legitimately believe that player will improve.
You cannot possibly justify putting Reyes in the lineup now. In his first 58 games this year, Reyes is hitting .186/.261/.294 with nine doubles, two triples, three homers, 18 RBI, and nine stolen bases. Among Major League third baseman, Reyes has the lowest batting average and slugging. He also has the second worst on base percentage. His -1.1 WAR is the second worst in the majors among third baseman, and it is the third worst among major league infielders. Overall, he’s a bad hitter.
You can’t even argue Reyes is hot. He is current two for his last 30, and he hasn’t had an extra base hit in over two weeks. You could call it a funk, but look at his numbers for the season. This is who Reyes is now.
He’s also not much of a fielder. In 270 innings at third, he has posted a -4 DRS and a -2.2 UZR. It’s a short sample size for sure, but it lines up with the numbers he posted in 427 innings at third last year when he had a -6 DRS and a -2.5 UZR.
It’s not like Collins is stuck playing Reyes. First and foremost, Reyes is making the major league minimum, and he is going to be a free agent after the season. There’s no need to try to save any face by playing Reyes. Also, there is a much better option.
Wilmer Flores is in the middle of a career year. He’s hitting .326/.349/.507 with eight doubles, a triple, five homers, 18 RBI, and a stolen base. He’s not the platoon bat he once was either. Against right-handed pitching this year, Flores is hitting .298/.327/.462 with six doubles, a triple, five homers, and 14 RBI. Since May 1st, Flores is hitting .366/.398/.573 off of right-handed pitching.
In essence, Flores is not just the Mets best choice at third base. Right now, Flores is the best hitter in the Mets lineup. Sure, he will likely be supplanted by another player on the roster. However, that player is likely to be Michael Conforto or Yoenis Cespedes. It’s not going to be Reyes.
By the way, if you are interested in fielding your best defensive infield, Flores still needs to play ahead of Reyes. In 197.1 innings at third this year, Flores has a 1 DRS and a -2.3 UZR. No, those aren’t great numbers, but they are better numbers than Reyes is posting.
Overall, there is absolutely no reason why Reyes is in the starting lineup. Frankly, you could argue the Mets should have kept Sean Gilmartin and designated Reyes for assignment. At the very least, that would have kept T.J. Rivera, who is having a much better season than Reyes, on the roster.
But no, Reyes has been in the starting lineup for four straight games and five out of the last six games while appearing in all six games. That’s more than any other infielder on the roster. It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. Unfortuantely, with Reyes’ sizzling hot 1-4 with an RBI last night, it’s not likely Collins will reduce his playing time.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO.
When you have a magical season like the Mets had in 2015, there are a number of players that step forward to have remarkable seasons. For the Mets, one of those seasons came from the unlikeliest of sources in Sean Gilmartin.
With the return of Matt Harvey and the signing of Michael Cuddyer, the Mets were letting the baseball world know 2015 was going to be their season. There was just one small problem. They never could quite get the LOOGY they needed. Jerry Blevins was supposed to have that role, but he broke his pitching arm. Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich would join him on the disabled list. The team traded for Alex Torres, but he was a disaster. That meant the only real lefty they had in the bullpen was Rule 5 pick Gilmartin.
Except, Gilmartin wasn’t a LOOGY. In essence, Gilmartin was a pitcher. In fact, prior to joining the Mets, Gilmarting had spent the entirety of his minor league career with the Braves as a starting pitcher. As a starter, Gilmartin had neutral to almost reverse splits. To that end, he wasn’t the guy you wanted as the LOOGY. Still, Gilmartin knew how to pitch, and when he was given the opportunity, he showed that to the Mets.
It took about a month and a half, but Terry Collins finally figured out Gilmartin’s role. Gilamartin becaume the long man out of the pen. It may not be the most glamorous of bullpen jobs, but it is of vital importance. You need a pitcher who can go out there and keep his team in the game. If there is an injury or a starter that just doesn’t have it, you need the long man to give the team an opportunity to make the comeback. In extra innings, you need the guy who can go out there and reliably soak up two or even three innings and put up zeros. Mostly, you need someone reliable who can save the bullpen.
Gilmartin was exception in that role. During the 2015 season, Gilmartin made 18 multiple inning relief appearances accounting for 37% of his relief appearances. Beginning on May 20th, which was really when he was made the long man, Gilmartin made 16 multiple inning relief appearances over his final 33 relief appearances of the season. Essentially, half the time Gilmartin was used for multiple innings about half the time thereby saving the bullpen. Namely, Gilmartin was saving Jeurys Familia, who Collins used over and over again because he was just about the only guy Collins trusted out there.
In Gilmartin’s multiple inning appearances, he was dominant. When he pitched multiple innings, he pitched 32.2 innings going 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA, and a 0.704 WHIP. Perhaps the key to this was the fact Gilmartin grew stronger as he pitched. He did his best work between pitches 26 – 50 limiting batters to a .161/.235/.194 batting line.
As for a highlight, pick one. There was his first career win. The Mets found themselves in a rare slugfest after Dillon Gee was bounced after 3.2 innings having allowed eight earned. Torres wasn’t much better. Gilmartin was the first pitcher to enter that game to put up multiple scoreless innings. He stabilized the game, and he put the Mets in position to win.
There was the July 19th 18 inning game against the St. Louis Cardinals. At that time, the Mets were so inept offensively, you could load the bases with no outs and start the batter with a 3-0 count, and the Mets still couldn’t score a run. Gilmartin came on in the 14th inning, and he pitched three scoreless to give the Mets a chance to win that game, which they eventually did with two runs in the 18th.
On August 24th, Gilmartin was overshadowed every which was possible. The Mets were off and running afte rthe team obtained Yoenis Cespedes. It was David Wright‘s first game since he came off the Disabled List, and he homered in his first at-bat back with the team. Lost in the shuffle was this was the rare poor start for Jacob deGrom with him being unable to get out of the fourth. Gilmartin came on and pitched 3.1 scoreless to give the Mets a chance to come back from an early 7-2 deficit.
More than that, Gilmartin got his first career hit and run scored. His sixth inning single got yet another rally started. He scored on a Daniel Murphy three run homer, the Mets lead had actually expanded to 12-7.
Ultimately, it was Gilmartin’s August 24th relief appearance that was the essence of what it means to be a long man in the pen. He not only went out there and saved the bullpen by tossing 3.1 innings, but he also gave his team a chance to win. It was a tremendous effort that was overlooked because Wright played in his first game in four months, and the Mets overcame a five run deficit to blow out the Phillies.
Initially, Gilmartin was left off the postseason roster, but after Erik Goeddel‘s struggles in the NLDS, the Mets did the right thing and put Gilmartin back on the roster. He’d make just one appearance pitching 0.2 scoreless in Game Two of the World Series. Part of the shame of that World Series was there were multiple occasions to bring on Gilmartin. Instead his role had gone to Bartolo Colon, who just wasn’t as effective in the role as Gilmartin.
After the 2015 season, the Mets wanted to use Gilmartin as a starter. With a loaded major league rotation, that meant Gilmartin started the year in Vegas. He was doing well there until the Mets started messing with him. With the bullpen not having the effective long man that Gilmartin was in 2015, this meant the team had to call him up to the majors on multiple occasions. This meant Gilmartin would have to fly cross-country, and the Mets would insert him into games despite his not having had full rest. He’d develop a shoulder injury. It may not have been enough to need surgery, but Gilmartin was never the same.
Instead of putting Gilmartin in a position to succeed, the Mets messed around with him until the point they felt his was expendable. For some reason, with this Mets team again needing a Gilmartin in the bullpen, they refused to give him a chance instead going with Josh Smoker and Neil Ramirez and their pair of ERAs over 7.00.
Gilmartin deserved better than this. He was a good pitcher who had a significant impact on a pennant winning team. It disappointing the Mets never again put him in a position to succeed. With that said, getting designated for assignment by the Mets was probably the best thing for his career. He will once again have an opportunity to be a good major league pitcher.
While the Mets have overlooked his importance, and fans have become frustrated with him, there are those that never forgot what he once meant to this team. Personally, I will always be grateful for his 2015 season, and I hope him nothing but success. He’s still a good pitcher, and he should soon remind everyone of that.
Thank you and good luck Sean Gilmartin.
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.
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.
Want to know how things went for the Mets today? Their best pitcher was Kevin Plawecki who allowed four runs on three homers in two . . . TWO! . . . innings pitched.
How the Mets got there is almost too exhausting to detail. Suffice it to say, it all started with Noah Syndergaard. After refusing an MRI for biceps complaints, the Mets sent him to the mound on Sunday. To be fair, Syndergaard probably thought MRI meant Mets related injury.
Every Mets fan knew what would happen. We knew he’s get injured. We’ve been expecting it since Generation K went up in flames with the injuries suffered by Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson. And it happened. After 1.1 innings where he allowed five hits, five runs, two walks (first two of the season) while striking out two, he was gone with a “lat injury.” It’s in quotes because it’s clear no one knows what’s going on with Syndergaard.
From there, it’s difficult to decipher what happened.
Even with the Syndergaard injury, the Mets were only down 6-5 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Everyone was pitching in (pun intended). The resurgent Jose Reyes, moved to second in the lineup due to players getting the day off, got it all started with a first inning one out triple. Jay Bruce was 3-4 with a homer and two RBI. Rene Rivera had a homer of his own. Even Sean Gilmartin got in on the action with an RBI double.
Gilmartin, that’s where the trouble started. Initially, he kept the Nationals at bay when he came on after the Syndergaard injury. But, he melted down in the fourth allowing four earned. Gilmartin, like the rest of the Mets was victimized by Anthony Rendon, who hit two homers off of him.
Fernando Salas started the fifth, and he eventually put the game completely out of reach allowing three runs. When he left, it was 13-5. The Nationals still had 10 runs left in them.
Six of them came off Josh Smoker, who melted down in his second inning of work. He didn’t record one out while facing five batters that inning. He and the whole team left Terry Collins little choice. He had to go to a position player to pitch the final two innings.
It was hard to tell if Plawecki was throwing a knuckleball or a batting practice fastball. The answer was a knuckleball, but the Nationals were teeing off of him and all Mets pitchers like it was batting practice. Whether it was the knuckleball or the fact that Plawecki was the least important player on the roster, it was an inspired choice by Collins.
What wasn’t inspired was how the Mets finished this series. After rallying back from losing six in a row, 10 of 11, and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets beat Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in back-to-back games. It was an announcement the Mets weren’t done. It was enough to give a Nationals team, who just lost Adam Eaton for the season, doubt they were the better team.
Twenty-three runs later, in a game started by Syndergaard, that doubt should be erased. Trea Turner was the only Nationals starter without a multi-hit game, and he still hit a double and scored a run.
More than that, Rendon was 6-6 with five runs, a double, three homers, and 10 RBI. The Mets as a team had five runs on nine hits.
Game Recap: Reyes had another error, but this one was at shortstop as the Mets gave Asdrubal Cabrera the day off. Neil Walker had another poor game at the plate and is now hitting .195. Same goes for Curtis Granderson who is now hitting .128.
Last night, the score was tied 2-2 entering the 10th inning. With the heavy bullpen use of his key relievers, Terry Collins was certainly justified in pulling Addison Reed after one inning. However, for some reason, Collins decided the move that best helped the Mets win that game last night was to bring in Rafael Montero. It was the latest incident in what has been a bizarre fascination with him.
There was a time back in 2014 where Montero was regarded as the Mets best pitching prospect. In fact, he was better regarded than Jacob deGrom. Believe it or not, the belief was justifiable. Back then, Montero was a three pitch pitcher that had a fastball he could get into the mid 90s. With that, he had a pretty good change-up and slider. In fact, he still does. However, what set Montero apart back then was he had exceptional control. That control has escaped him, and as a result, he’s not even a shadow of the highly touted prospect.
During his time with the Mets, we have seen Montero get chance after chance after chance. It’s a mixture of his talent, injuries, and just pure stubbornness to move on from him. Last season, Montero was the first player cut from Major League camp in Spring Training. He struggled so much in Triple-A, he was actually demoted to Double-A. However, due to the Mets pitching staff becoming a M*A*S*H* unit, he was called up to the majors. He rewarded their faith by pitching to an 8.05 ERA and a 2.053 WHIP in nine appearances, and somehow, he probably wasn’t even that good.
After that season, he is still somehow with the organization. In the offseason, the Mets had to make multiple 40 man moves to accommodate free agent signings. The Mets would DFA Ty Kelly. In separate deals, they traded both Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa for cash. Each one of these players has either had some measure of major league success, had some value to the team, or had some level of promise.
It’s just not the Mets front office. It’s also Collins. Last night, he had a well rested Sean Gilmartin, and instead he went with Montero. Keep in mind, Gilmartin has had success with the Mets as a long reliever. In 2015, Gilmartin made 50 appearances going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.186 WHIP. That season is better than anything Montero has ever done in the majors.
Arguably, Gilmartin on his worst day is better than what you can expect from Montero. Montero entered the game and did what you expected him to do . . . he lost it. In 0.1 innings, he allowed three hits and four runs. The only out he recorded was on a sacrifice fly hit to the right field wall.
Including last night’s game, Montero has made 30 appearances and 12 starts going 1-7 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP. On the season, Montero is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA and a 3.600 WHIP. His BB/9 is an almost impossibly high 10 .8. It is all part of Montero not being the same pitcher the MEts thought he was. It continues the trens of Montero getting worse each and every season.
The Mets shouldn’t even wait for Jeurys Familia to be available on Thursday to send Montero to Triple-A. Send him on the first plane back. Bring up Paul Sewald for a day if you want an extra bullpen arm. If you want to lengthen what is a short bench, call up Matt Reynolds, which as an aside, may not be a bad move considering the poor defensive options the Mets have at third base. Seriously, the Mets should do anything . . . literally anything because anything is better than having to see Montero pitch in another game.