T.J. Rivera

Mets Uniform Assignments A Small But Interesting Issue

With the Binghamton Rumble Ponies season over, the New York Mets have called up top catching prospect Tomas Nido to serve as the team’s third catcher for the final few weeks of the season. Once he arrived in the clubhouse, he was issued the number 77. 

Now, it’s possible Nido selected the number himself as “his” number 7 was unavailable because it’s already being worn by Jose Reyes. However, the assignment of the number follows an odd pattern where the Mets typically have used number assignments to distinguish between top prospects and others. 

The most recent example was Phillip Evans being assigned 72. His number in the minors was 13, which is currently occupied by Asdrubal Cabrera. There’s a large chasm between those two numbers. 

That’s not the case for Amed Rosario (#1) or Dominic Smith (#22). They had the benefit of their Las Vegas numbers being available, and as such, they were given their numbers.

This is unlike former Mets first round pick Brandon Nimmo. Like Nido, he wore 7 in the minors. When Nimmo was called up last year, Travis d’Arnaud wore the number. Unlike, Nido or Evans, he didn’t get a number in the 70s. Instead, he was assigned 9. 

Later that season, Seth Lugo couldn’t wear 27 because of Jeurys Familia. He was given 67. The fact Lugo was removed from the Las Vegas rotation earlier that year was certainly of consequence. 

Robert Gsellman wore 24, a number mostly out of circulation to honor Willie Mays. The pitcher rushed to the majors was given 65. Chris Flexen had a similar rise this year. His 33 in St. Lucie wasn’t available due to Matt Harvey and his Binghamton 46 was worn by Chasen Bradford. Flexen was given 65. 
By the way Flexen was given that number because his 29 was already worn by Tommy Milone

Bradford’s Las Vegas teammate Paul Sewald is wearing 51 because the Mets have taken Keith Hernandez‘s 17 out of circulation. 

Now, this isn’t to say Sewald should wear 17, or that he didn’t select 51. Same goes for players like Bradford whose preferred number is being worn by a Major Leaguer. 

However, again, there is a real difference between saying no to 13 and assigning the number 72. It isn’t something the team did to Nimmo, but then again, he’s a well regarded prospect. 

The really own exception to this is  Travis Taijeron and his switch from 18 to 28. 

And Taijeron really is an anomaly unless you believe T.J. Rivera (#3) and Ty Kelly (#11) really wanted to wear 54 and 56 because Curtis Granderson and third base coach Tim Teufel already had their uniform numbers.  Really, it’s not likely. 

No, the truth of the matter is the Mets are really only inclined to allow a prospect to pick their own number upon a call up to the majors unless they’ve already been deemed a top prospect. 

Look, we know Rosario is a better prospect than Rivera ever was. Likely, Rosario will be a much better player. Still, that does not mean Rosario gets to pick a number, but Rivera shouldn’t. They’re both New York Mets. They should be treated as such. 

Overall, this is far from the biggest issue with this team, but it is an issue nevertheless. It shows why certain players get chance after chance after chance while those that produce have to continue to reprove themselves. The reason is because the Mets seek confirmation bias rather than results. 

Want to know which players are which?  Just look at the uniform numbers. 

Mets May Have Soured On Cecchini Before He Gets His Shot

With Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes suffering injuries, we got to see Travis d’Arnaud shift all game between second and third base.  With the Mets not wanting to be put in that situation again, the Mets have flown both Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini to New York as a precaution.  In the event both Reynolds and Cecchini are activated, it appears that Reynolds, not Cecchini, will be the one who will get playing time.

Before the game and before injuries were an issues, Sandy Alderson informed reporters he was inclined to give Reynolds a long look in September.  Alderson also stated the team will not be giving Cecchini a long look at second base in September.  Alderson’s statements could be interpreted to mean the Mets are now moving on from Cecchini.

In one sense, this shouldn’t be that surprising.  After struggling at shortstop and with the rise of Amed Rosario, Cecchini was moved to second base.  While he has been good defensively at second, he has taken a step back offensively.

Cecchini had a breakout offensive season in 2015 in Binghamton.  He continued that success last year in both Las Vegas and the Arizona Fall League.  Seeing him hit .267/.329/.380 this season, it makes you question what was the issue with him.

There are some plausible explanations for this.  For starters, Cecchini’s 2015 and 2016 stats were partially fueled by a high .348 and .357 BABIP.  Certainly, his being an aggressive contact line drive hitter with low walk and strikeout rates, he is susceptible to swings in his BABIP from year to year.  To that end, it may not be such a surprise to see Cecchini see his BABIP drop to .329 this year and his offensive stats drop they way they have.

Another possible explanation is Cecchini has had to put extra work and attention to learning second base.  With the Mets focus this season with making their players more versatile, Cecchini has also had to work on his play at shortstop.  This is a plausible explanation as to why we have seen Cecchini struggle at the plate this year.

Still, this is a talented player.  It was one of the reasons the Mets made him their first round draft pick (12th overall) in 2012.  In his two brief stints in the majors, he has not been over-matched at the plate.  Last year, he hit two doubles in seven at-bats.  In his call-up this year, he had a four game hitting streak that included a home run off Clayton Kershaw. Seeing this, and how much the Mets have invested in him, it seems peculiar the Mets would just pass on giving him an extended look in the majors.

Then again, this seems to be a pattern with Sandy Alderson.  He and his front office have truly struggled with contact hitters like Cecchini who have not shown power at a young age.  Many will point to his decision to non-tender Justin Turner, but there is also the way the Mets have handled T.J. Rivera.  The team continuously passed him over for players who did not pan out.

Cecchini may or may not be an everyday second baseman or even a Major League player.  At this point, we don’t know, but it also seems odd to take that stance when he’s still just 23 years old, who has not been afforded the opportunity to receive the benefit of Kevin Long’s tutelage.   There’s also the matter of the Mets giving playing time to Reyes, Flores, and Asdrubal Cabrera.  In large part, the Mets know what they have in them, and for the most part, they haven’t been good enough to help the Mets win this year.

We don’t know that with Cecchini.  It’s time to give him a chance.


Flexen’s Tough Debut

This was about a bizarre a debut as you will possibly see. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always a good thing for Chris Flexen

On the third pitch of his Major League career, he allowed a homer to Manuel Margot. The inning would continue, and the Padres would have runners on the corners with one out. That’s when Travis d’Arnaud would help his young pitcher with two outstanding tags:

The first was off a nice play from Flexen to field a Cory Spangenberg safety squeeze. d’Arnaud then blocked the plate and get the tag down on Carlos Asuaje

During the next at-bat, Spangenberg broke for second. With d’Arnaud throwing through, Wil Myers broke for home. Wilmer Flores made a strong albeit slightly offline throw.  In one motion, d’Arnaud caught the throw and just tagged Myer’s hand before his foot touched the plate. 

The second inning didn’t go as well for Flexen. 

The Padres loaded the bases with no outs, and Margot struck again hitting a double to the wall. Luis Torrens originally stopped at third, but he came home to score as Asdrubal Cabrera forgot how the pick up a baseball. For reasons that cannot be explained, Michael Conforto got charged with the error. 

Flexen was able to navigate out of this inning, and he pitched a good third. With his having thrown 69 pitches, and his turn due up, Terry Collins lifted him. 

Flexen’s final line in the loss was three innings, five hits, four runs, three earned, four walks, and two strikeouts. 

The young pitcher was shaky in the first couple of innings, and by the time he settled in, his manager went elsewhere. Hopefully, he will get one more start to prove himself. 

With Flexen out, Collins went to Tyler Pill despite Pill having thrown two innings yesterday. It came back to burn the Mets as a gassed Pill allowed three runs to give the Padres a 7-1 lead. 

In another bizarre twist, the Mets used both Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz as pinch hitters. This was due to Lucas Duda getting traded and T.J. Rivera

The real shame in all of this is just with one or two different things happening, the Mets might’ve won this game. Case in point was the seventh inning outburst. 

With the Mets down 7-1, Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI double leading the Padres to pull starter Luis Perdermo and bring in Jose Torres.  Torres immediately balked home a run, and then allowed a home run to Jay Bruce pulling the Mets to within 7-5. They’d get no closer. 

After the homer, it was 7-5 Padres. The Mets would get no closer giving the rookie his first major league lost in his first career start. 

Game Notes: Flexen became the first Mets pitcher to make the jump from Double-A to the majors since Mike Pelfrey in 2006. 

Mets Need(ed) More From Montero

After what has largely been a disappointing career for Rafael Montero, it certainly seems odd to ask him to have a better final pitching line than seven innings, seven hits, three runs, three earned, one walk, and four strikeouts.  Considering where he’s been in his career, this line seems like nothing short of a miracle.  Certainly, you would take that line from Jacob deGrom and be quite happy.

However, it is not the pitching line yesterday that is at issue.  It was the way those three runs scored.

You hate to see the Mets fall down 1-0 early with Montero allowing a solo home run to the second batter of the game, Marcus Semien.  By the way, the sooner that guy gets out of New York, the better.  After entering the series as a .151/.300/.247 hitter with no multi-hit games, he went off on the Mets.  In the series, Semien was 7-13 with a homer, three RBI, and two stolen bases.

Even with the Mets falling behind early, the team would tie it with Michael Conforto hitting his 19th home run of the season off Atheltics starter Daniel Gossett:

Right after that game-tying third inning home run, Montero would allow the Athletics to jump right back ahead in the top of the fourth.  The pitch Khris Davis hit out was middle-middle meaning Montero just failed to execute.

The Mets would rally back in the sixth inning to once again tie the score.  Jay Bruce would hit a lead-off single, move to third on a T.J. Rivera double, and he would scored on a Jose Reyes RBI groundout.  Wilmer Flores walked to continue the rally, but Rene Rivera could not punch home that go-ahead run.  It would cost the Mets as Montero would go right back out there and allow the Athletics to take the lead again.

This time, Montero allowed a solo homer to Matt Chapman.  Again it was a poorly executed pitch over the heart of the plate to a player with plus power.

Overall, Montero allowing just three runs over seven innings is the latest sign of his turnaround from enigma to a major league caliber starting pitcher.  It’s also impressive that even with him allowing these homers he didn’t melt down.  He went right back to working to get the next out.  With him pitching like this, there definitely will be a spot for him on the 2018 Mets roster.

However, while Montero is making these strides, he needs to begin making that next step.  That step is shutting down the opponent when your team either ties the game or take the lead.  Make no mistake, the Mets loss on Sunday was on the Mets offense for not producing against a poor Athletics starter.  However, Montero played a role in allowing those home runs to come at the worst points imaginable.

So yes, Sunday was a step forward for Montero, but it was not as big a step forward as we may want to believe.

Game Notes: This could have been the final home game for Curtis Granderson (0-3, BB), Bruce (1-4, BB, K), and Lucas Duda (0-4, K) as a Met.  Conforto was 2-4 with the homer.

Flores Walks Off An Game That Seemed Off The Wheeler

The problem with Zack Wheeler is we don’t know why he is struggling so mightily.  Is it because he hadn’t pitched in over two years due to his Tommy John surgery?  Is it because there is some injury he and/or the Mets are hiding?  Is this just him being the same pitcher he has always been in his career?

The right-hander has not won a game since May 20th losing his last five decisions.  He has not pitched past the sixth inning since June 7th.  No matter what you want to look at, he just hasn’t been good.

Tonight would be no exception.  On the second pitch of the game, Matthew Joyce would hit a homer to give the Athletics a 1-0 lead.  When Wheeler then walked Marcus Semien, you knew it was going to be a rough night for Wheeler.

In that poor first 36 pitch first inning, Wheeler allowed four runs on three hits and four walks.  He allowed the aforementioned homer and a double to Bruce Maxwell.  He put his team well behind the eight ball, and he put them further behind as he grooved a 92 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to Matt Chapman, who hit a long home run.

Not to belabor the point, but if Wheeler is throwing 92 MPH fastballs, something is wrong here.  Something’s really wrong when you’re walking an American League pitcher.  With this diminished stuff and his continued control issues, he didn’t give the Mets much of a chance.  His final line was five innings, seven hits, five runs, five earned, four walks, and six strikeouts.  He needed 1oo pitches to just get through the fifth.

The Mets looked dead in the water, but fortunately for once their bullpen kept them in the game.  The Mets would get a scoreless inning from Josh Smoker and two scoreless from Josh Edgin.  It didn’t look like this work would matter much as A’s starter Sean Manaea was straight dealing.

That was until the sixth inning.  After a Wilmer Flores double, Jay Bruce would put the Mets on the board:

Unlike the old adage, the homer did not kill the rally.  Jose Reyes tripled, and Travis d’Arnaud brought him home with an RBI single.  Curtis Granderson then came into the game as a pinch hitter.  Granderson hit a grounder that would normally have been an inning ending double play.  Because the A’s had the shift on, it gave Granderson an opportunity to beat the throw to first.  That would allow d’Arnaud to score the third run of the inning, and it would give Michael Conforto an RBI opportunity.

Since Conforto was called-up to the majors, he was given little chance to prove he could hit left-handed pitching.  For some reason, he was benched against them until it almost became a self fulfilling prophecy.  However, with all the injuries, the Mets have not had the same ability to bench him against lefties. During this season, Conforto has proven those previous decisions to be just plain silly, and he did it again tonight.

On the night, Conforto would go 2-5 with a double and one RBI.  That double and RBI came in this sixth inning at-bat when he hit an opposite field double scoring Granderson from first pulling the Mets to within 5-4.

The Mets would then get a chance in the eighth.  After a T.J. Rivera lead-off single, it looked as if the Mets had things cooking with Reyes at the plate.  Reyes has been hitting well of late, and he was great in tonight’s game.  Overall, he was 2-4 with two triples and a run.  This at-bat was not one of those two triples as he hit into a double play.

d’Arnaud, who was having a great game of his own going 3-3 on the night, got the two out double over the head of A’s center fielder Rajai Davis.  The Mets then announced Lucas Duda as a pinch hitter, and the A’s countered with the left-hander Daniel Coulombe.  Duda stayed in on the pitch, and he hit a single up the middle easily scoring d’Arnaud and tying the game.

After a Hansel Robles scoreless ninth, it set the stage for another Flores tears of joy moment:

The last time Flores hit a walkoff homer, it helped propel the Mets into the National League East title.  This homer the Mets have a four game winning streak, but it may still be too little too late.  Still, that does not mean we should enjoy this 6-5 win any less.

Game Notes: With the trade rumors swirling, Asdrubal Cabrera started the game at third base.  This was Robles’ second win in as many days.

Blevins And Cespedes Beat Former/Future Team 

On a night surrounded with turmoil over what were largely benign comments from Yoenis Cespedes about how he wanted to return to Oakland at the end of his career, it was a player who began his career with the Mets who dominated the game. 

In what has been a breakthrough season where Michael Conforto has supplanted Cespedes as the team’s best player, he put on a performance similar to what we’ve seen from Cespedes.

In the third inning, Conforto would give the Mets a 2-1 lead with an absolute bomb that almost hit the Shea Bridge:

The Mets had trailed 1-0 before that homer due to what was an uneven performance for Steven Matz

The A’s began the game by loading the bases with no outs. It was beginning to look like his last two poor starts. The entire tone of the inning, and perhaps the game, changed when Khris Davis hit into a 6-4-3 double play. A run scored on the play, but the rally fizzled. 

Matz gave the 2-1 lead back in the fifth. 

Rajai Davis single and stole second. On the steal, Davis broke early, and Matz threw to first. Lucas Duda made a perfect throw only for Jose Reyes to whiff on the tag:

It cost the Mets as Davis came to score on a Marcus Semien RBI single. Semien came into the game only hitting .151, so naturally, he went 4-5 with a run and two RBI. 

Semien then scored on a Ryon Healy base hit giving the A’s a 3-2 lead. 

Still, Matz would not get the loss because of a Mets sixth inning rally. 

The rally began with an Asdrubal Cabrera lead-off walk. He moved to second on a Cespedes one out single. Duda then hit a grounder to the A’s first baseman Healy. It took a funny hop and hit him in the side of the head. 

Healy came out of the game, and the bases were loaded. T.J. Rivera then hit a go-ahead two RBI single that became a comedy of errors. Actually, error as there was one error on the play. 

On the single, Duda was thrown out by Davis trying to hit first to third. Rivera, the trail runner, went late to second. A’s third baseman Matt Chapman threw it into right field allowing Rivera to complete the Little League homer. 

The Mets 5-3 lead would balloon to 7-3 as Conforto hit his second homer in the game:

On what was another great night for Conforto, he was 2-4 with two runs, two homers, and four RBI. 

The Mets would need those insurance runs as the bullpen almost had a complete meltdown in the eighth. 

Erik Goeddel got the chance to shut the door, and he was ineffective. He allowed a lead-off single to Matthew Joyce, and then Josh Phegley doubled to center. 
It was a play a regular center fielder makes, but Conforto is a corner outfielder by trade. In any event, there were runners on second and third, and they both came home to score on a Jed Lowrie single. 

Addison Reed was then brought in for what seemed to be his second multiple inning save in three days. 

Reed first walked Davis on a 3-2 pitch he swore was a strike. Key word here is swore as he began to get into a war of words with Home Plate Umpire Dan Iassogna, who was chomping at the bit for a fight. Or as Keith Hernandez put it:

Following another Semien RBI single, the A’s were within 7-5 with the bases loaded and one out. With all the left-handed batters due up for the A’s, Terry Collins took the ball from an angry Reed and gave it to a struggling Jerry Blevins

Blevins has allowed 25 inherited runners to score, which is the fifth worst in the majors. Naturally, he would get out of that jam unscathed, and he’d pitch a perfect ninth for his first save of the season. 

It was another bizarre game for the Mets on another bizarre day. At least the Mets came up on top. 

Game Notes: Hansel Robles got the win after pitching a scoreless sixth. Cespedes was 3-4 with a run and a double against his former/future team. 

* The headline was a joke. Please lighten up about Cespedes’ comments. 

Cardinals Pull A Mets

It is nice to see the Mets win a game because the other team had mental lapses in the field, poor managerial decisions, and had a bullpen blow a late lead and finally the game.  Through the first 82 games, that seemed to be the Mets specialty.  Today, in what was mostly a lethargic afternoon game, the Mets got bested by the Cardinals in something they had seemingly mastered.

Through the first 4.2 innings, Seth Lugo had a no-hitter going.  Somewhere someone must’ve taken notice and said something because Greg Garcia hit a double for the Cardinals first hit of the game.  Still, things were in good shape for the Mets because Lugo erased Garcia, and the team had a 1-0 lead.

That lead came because Lucas Duda hit a second inning homer against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn:

The sizzling hot Duda has homered three times over his last five games.  Duda was also good in the field saving his infielders from a few errors.  Most notably, his scoop of a bad T.J. Rivera throw in the seventh saved a run.  Hopefully, one of the teams that needs a 1B/DH, and there are more of them than people will lead you to believe, have taken notice.

That 1-0 lead evaporated in the sixth.  After a one out walk to Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham, who has been killing the Mets of late, doubled him home to tie the score.  Once again, Lugo settled in, shut the door in the sixth, and he pitched a scoreless seventh.

The Mets hurler deserved the win with his outstanding performance, but will have to settle for a no decision.  His final line was 6.2 innings, four hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and five strikeouts.  With him and Lynn out of the game, it became a battle of the bullpens, and a battle of wits between the managers.

With Erik Goeddel getting the last out of the seventh, Terry Collins turned to him to pitch the eighth.  It’s hard to fault Collins when everyone else in the bullpen is terrible, but the decision backfired when Pham hit a 3-1 pitch out of the park to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.  With the way this game was going, and with how poorly the Mets have played of late, it seemed like this was how the game was going to end.

That was until Mike Matheny thought it was a good idea to let the left-handed Brett Cecil pitch to Wilmer Flores in the eighth.  Everyone and their mother knows Flores crushes left-handed pitching.  Matheny either didn’t know that, or didn’t care.  That decision cost him as Cecil hung one to Flores:

From there, the Mets turned to the one reliever in their bullpen that they can have confidence – Addison Reed.  Reed did his job pitching a scoreless ninth thereby giving the Mets a chance for a walk-off victory.

The ninth inning rally started with Michael Conforto drawing a lead-off walk against Trevor Rosenthal.  It was another excellent game for Conforto that has gone unnoticed.  On the day, the Cardinals allowed eight baserunners (six hits and two walks).  Conforto accounted for four of those with him going 2-2 with two walks on the day.

Conforto would be erased on the basepaths on what initially appeared to be a double play ball off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes.  Credit should be given to Cespedes for busting it down the line and keeping a runner on base.  It paid off as he went first to third on a Rivera single.  He would then score on what should have been the last out of the inning:

That Jose Reyes “single” was the improbable winner that sent Mets fans home happy, and it enraged Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter:

It was nice to be on the other side of one of these games this year.  It was also nice to earn a split in the series.  Even if the Mets aren’t going anywhere, it is still always a joy to beat the Cardinals.  At the very least, it was a pleasure helping ensure they didn’t get the sweep they needed to get back into an NL Central race that is suddenly in flux.

Game Notes: Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment before the game to make room for Josh Smoker on the roster.

deGrom deGrominant, Bullpen Barely Holds Big Lead 

When all hope is lost, the main reason to watch the Mets is Jacob deGrom. He started today, and he delivered. 

While deGrom may not have been as dominant as he has been over this stretch, he was still great. For the first six innings, no Cardinal player reached third base. In fact, the Cardinals only reached second base twice in the game. 

deGrom’s final line was 6.2 innings, seven hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts. 

That one run shouldn’t have scored. Luke Voit had a hard hit ball to the wall Yoenis Cespedes fielded cleanly, and he had Voit dead to rights at second. Only issue is Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t bother to cover second. 

Instead a run scored, deGrom got his ovation, and Paul Sewald got the Mets out of the inning. 

With deGrom going like this, you knew the Mets needed one, maybe two runs to win the game. 

Mets took care of that and then some. This should come as no surprise as the Mets have now averaged 7.4 runs per game over deGrom’s now seven game winning streak.  

In the first, the Mets put three runs on the board and all were with three outs. A Cespedes single scored Cabrera. Lucas Duda doubled home Cespedes, and Wilmer Flores brought him home with an RBI single. 

Flores getting the start was interesting, especially with the right-handed Mike Leake getting the start for the Cardinals. Perhaps it was due to T.J. Rivera making two errors yesterday. Maybe Terry Collins just wanted to give Flores a game after he’s sat for so long. Maybe it’s due to the tumors the Red Sox may have interest in him. 

In any event, Flores had a good game with that RBI single and a nice play in the field:

After the good first inning, the Mets had a better second inning. Michael Conforto got things started with a single, and he moved to third on a Jedd Gyorko error allowing Cabrera to reach. 

Jay Bruce hit an RBI single, and Cespedes followed with an RBI double making it 6-0. After Duda was intentionally walked Jose Reyes singled home Cespedes to make it a 7-0 game.
It should’ve been a laugher. It wasn’t. 

In the eighth, Sewald was pulled by Collins with two on, two out, and back-to-back lefties due up for the Cardinals. Rather than find something out about Sewald in a 7-1 game and rest his bullpen with a noon game tomorrow, Collins couldn’t help himself.  He went to a completely worn down Jerry Blevins

While Blevins has been great most of the year, he has struggled mightily since June 1st. In that time, Blevins has a 5.84 ERA and batters are hitting .269/.367/.423 off of him. 

Left-handed batters Kolten Wong and Magneuris Sierra hit consecutive singles to make it 7-3. With those two singles, Blevins has now allowed 25 inherited runners to score this year, which is the fifth worst in the majors. 
After Blevins walked the pinch hitter, pitcher Adam Wainwright, to load the bases, Collins had to go to Addison Reed for the four out save.

As Reed is really the only remaining reliever who is reliable left in that bullpen, it should be no surprise Reed made quick work of the Cardinals for his 16th save of the season. 

With the 7-6 win, the Mets have an opportunity for the split tomorrow.

Game Notes: Josh Edgin has allowed more inherited runners to score than Blevins with 29. That’s the third worst mark in the majors. 

Defense Worse Than Montero

In a nine inning game, the Mets had as many errors as they had base hits (three). In consecutive innings, T.J. Rivera made errors leading to two unearned runs.

That doesn’t even begin to mention the slow motion attempt by Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes in the second which could have limited the damage to 2-0. Instead, the Mets got one out and allowed the Cardinals to score three runs in the inning effectively ending the game. 

Between the lack of offense and the terrible defense, Rafael Montero took the loss. Unlike most of the losses in his career, Montero didn’t really deserve this loss. His final line was six innings, seven hits, four runs, two earned, one walk, and five strikeouts. 

Certainly, Montero showed enough to more than justify the Mets giving him another start. 

Aside from Montero, the only positive from tonight’s game was Michael Conforto going 2-4 with a double. If you want to really stretch things and look for positives, Hansel Robles pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts. 

In reality, a bad Mets team was shut out by Michael Wacha (CG SHO). They’re a bad team playing disinterested baseball. Games like this usually get managers fired. Considering this is far from the first time this has happened this year, it’s safe to assume Terry Collins finishes the year as the manager. 

If that’s the case, the Mets dropped the ball worse than Lucas Duda did in the seventh. 

Game Notes: The Mets left side of the infield has a -27 DRS which is by far the worst in the minors. 

What Do We Make Of Wilmer Flores?

Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets made the somewhat controversial move to make Wilmer Flores the everyday shortstop for a team that believed they could compete for a spot in the postseason.  As the season progressed, Flores would lose his job to Ruben Tejada.  From that point forward, Flores has had opportunities to prove he is a starting player in the majors.

Starting with Lucas Duda‘s back injury on May 20th last year, the entire Mets starting infield would go on the Disabled List for an extended period of time.  With David Wright going out for the year on May 27th, there was a permanent spot open in the starting lineup for Flores.

For the most part, Flores earned that spot.  From May 29th until his ill-fated slide into home plate on September 10th, Flores had good overall numbers that masked his extreme platoon splits. Flores hit .373/.409/.807 with three doubles, 11 homers, and 28 RBI in 88 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.  Comparatively, Flores hit a meager .241/.297/.362 with nine doubles, four homers, and 19 RBI in 192 plate appearances.  Put simply, with splits like that, Flores proved he was nothing more than a platoon bat.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t even been that in 2017.

So far this season, Flores is hitting .281/.311/.448 with 12 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 25 RBI.  Against, left-handed pitching, he is only hitting .292/.304/.462 with five doubles, two homers, and six RBI in 69 plate appearances.  Against right-handed pitching, he is hitting better than his career numbers, but he’s still only at .276/.314/.441 with seven doubles, one triple, five homers, and 19 RBI.

The end result is a player with just a 97 wRC+.  That’s not a bat the Mets can keep in the lineup, especially when Flores has a glove that shouldn’t be in the field:

Innings DRS UZR
1B 244.2 2 1.9
2B 633.0 -6 -0.2
3B 893.0 -15 -4.4
SS 1313.2 -15 -0.2

At this point, Flores has been in the majors for five years, and he has yet to truly make a case for the Mets to keep him around.  All we get out of him is glimpses.  We do not see any sustained success.  That’s problematic considering the Mets are in a strange place as an organization.

The team needs to start making some decisions on some players.  They need to decipher who can be a part of the next World Series Championship team.  With the emergence of T.J. Rivera coupled with Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith awaiting their own opportunity to prove they belong in the majors, it becomes harder and harder to keep Flores on this roster.

Still, Flores is still just 25 years old.  It is quite possible he may still figure things out and become a good major league ball player.  The unfortunate reality is he’s running out of time to prove it.  He is already in his arbitration years, and he is due to be a free agent after the 2019 season.

Sooner or later, the Mets will have to make a decision on Flores.  Is he a piece of the Mets next World Series title?  Is he a guy who can become the next Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy?  At this point, we don’t know, and we are running out of time to find out.