On Thursday, I had the honor and the privilege of being a guest on A Metsian Podcast. It was a lot of fun and cathartic, and I would hope you would all take a listen by clicking on the link provided.
I’m not sure if this is a reason to entice you to listen, but during the course of the podcast, I personally mentioned or discussed the following Mets players: Tom Seaver, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Cliff Floyd, Nolan Ryan, Aaron Sele, Jason Vargas, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, Jim Fregosi, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Sean Gilmartin, Darren Oliver, Pat Mahomes, Eric Hanhold, Steve Villines, Corey Oswalt, Jacob Rhame, Hansel Robles, Stephen Nogosek, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Darryl Strawberry, and others. This list is off the top of my head.
Looking at that list, maybe that’s why they haven’t brought me back after my last appearance three years ago when I went on a Daniel Murphy rant.
Last night, Drew Gagnon absolutely bailed out the Mets. He took the ball in a bases loaded situation, and he got out of the jam. He then navigated through the 10th allowing Pete Alonso to deliver his first career walk-off RBI.
This was not the first time Gagnon impressed out of the bullpen. Back when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out against the Phillies, it was Gagnon who took it on the chin. Despite being on short rest, he pitched 5.1 innings. Yes, he would allow five earned, but three of those came after he was gassed and frankly pushed too far.
That’s been what we have seen from Gagnon in the Majors. In short spurts, he has been fine. When he has been pushed past two innings, he has not been nearly as effective. We saw that in his only start in the Majors, and we saw it in Philadelphia. But in those shorter stints, Gagnon has really showed something.
Last year, he made four relief appearances. In those relief appearances, he allowed one earned in 7.1 innings. His ERA this year may be 6.75, but he has pitched better than that. While it’s always a dangerous game to do this in evaluation, if you eliminate that one-third of an inning, his ERA would drop to a more impressive 2.70.
This is another way of saying Gagnon may prove to be something if he is used properly. As a long man or a short reliever, he could be effective. Since coming to the Mets organization, he throws strikes. He has struck out nearly a batter an inning. With the sinking action on his pitches, he has relatively low home run rates. Overall, while an opponent can beat him, Gagnon is typically not going to beat himself.
That hasn’t been the case for the Mets other options. We have seen Jacob Rhame, Tim Peterson, and Paul Sewald struggle at the Major League level. Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold have yet to establish themselves. Considering the options at hand, the Mets would have to come up with a long list of excuses before sending him back down for one of these relievers.
After all, we have seen this happen in year’s past for the Mets. Pat Mahomes came up huge in 1999. The same happened with Sean Gilmartin in 2015. If given an opportunity, Gagnon may prove to be the 2019 version of that. It’s time the Mets found out if he has what it takes to be just that.
The Mets were aware but not yet set on putting Jacob deGrom on the 10 day disabled list, so rather than make sure Corey Oswalt was in line to start the opener against Cincinnati, the team decided to add P.J. Conlon to the 40 man roster and have him make the start.
After Conlon’s short start and with Jason Vargas making a start, the Mets needed to add a fresh arm in the bullpen who could give them some length. Instead of calling up Chris Flexen, who was on normal rest, the team called-up Oswalt, who was on three days rest. Since that time, the team has more than ample opportunity to use him, and they haven’t:
|Game||Bullpen Innings||Relievers Used|
|May 8th||6.0||Lugo (1.0), Ramos (1.0), Blevins (0.1), Robles (0.1), Sewald (1.1)|
|May 9th||3.0+||Gsellman (2.0), Lugo (1.0), Ramos (0.0)|
|May 11th||4.0||Lugo (1.0), Sewald (1.0), Ramos (1.0), Familia (1.0)|
|May 12th||7.0||Gsellman (3.0), Sewald (2.0), Ramos (1.0), Familia (1.0)|
Overall, the Mets needed to go to their bullpen for 19+ innings in a four game stretch. Robert Gsellman and Paul Sewald went multiple innings on multiple occasions. AJ Ramos appeared in four games with Seth Lugo appearing in three. Breaking it down, there were plenty of chances for the Mets to get Oswalt in for even an inning. They didn’t.
It’s more than that. For a team gun shy to use Oswalt on short rest, between days off and rain outs, Oswalt has not pitched since Saturday, May 5th, he is not going to get a chance to pitch until 10 days after his last star, and that’s if he’s even used. Effectively, Oswalt has skipped two starts so he can sit idly by in the bullpen.
This is not how a team handles their top Major League ready starter. Oswalt needs to be on a mound pitching, working on his game, and generally improving as a pitcher. Really, there is no benefit to him by his not pitching, and seeing how Mickey Callaway is reticent to use him, there is really no benefit to him even being on the roster.
The roster spot could be better allocated towards Buddy Baumann, who could serve as a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, or Tyler Bashlor, who has been lights out in Binghamton. You could even argue the spot should go to Conlon, who could serve as the 2015 version of Sean Gilmartin.
As for Oswalt, he’s serving no purpose right now, and he’s not getting the starts he needs. The Mets need him in Triple-A at the ready in case Vargas doesn’t improve. He needs to be at the ready in the event Steven Matz suffers another injury. Really, they need him to do anything other than sitting unused in the bullpen. That’s not benefiting anyone.
Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets. Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry. However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes. When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.
With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right? Let’s take a look:
Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation. In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.
The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer. Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well. Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.
Things changed at the tail end of 2017. Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become. d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September. As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.
VERDICT: 2018 – if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close
2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez
In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI. He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.
Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.
VERDICT: 2015 – Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw
We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.
For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.
VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one
This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.
Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.
VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy
Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015. After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores. Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half. Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.
Rosario is the future of the Mets. Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate. However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better. He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time. For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.
VERDICT: 2018 – Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high
Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets. Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting. Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup. He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist. Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.
With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets. To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player. This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.
VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.
From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers. They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits. In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well. Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.
The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player. Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder. Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015. Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.
VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important
When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then. Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.
VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then
2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald
Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen. This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year. Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness. One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.
When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins. Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.
VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside
For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015. When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived. Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.
Right now, Callaway looks like a genius. He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth. He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late. His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire. However, the season isn’t even a week old. Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.
Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series
If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation. The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager. Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw. However, in reality, it’s not. That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.
That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager. If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level. If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.
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.