There are many problems with the Mets bullpen this year. One of the most understated is the complete and utter lack of a long man in the bullpen for much of the season. This has led to Terry Collins needing to trotting out a series of relievers whenever a starter can’t go deep into games. It has led to Collins pushing relievers past their breaking points.
This has saw Hansel Robles completely break down to the point where he’s not even an effective Triple-A reliever. Collins stretched Josh Smoker to the point where he first was sent down to the minors, and then to the point where he landed on the Disabled List. With Smoker gone, Paul Sewald seems to be the guy who gets stretched out for three innings despite his being a 1-2 inning closer in most of his time in the minor leagues.
Doing that means Smoker and Sewald, two pitchers who should have been establishing themselves as late inning relievers this season, have been bounced around in their roles. We have seen uneven performances from them this year to the point where the Mets really don’t know what they have in either pitcher. More to the point, it has led to Neil Ramirez pitching in important spots.
The latest example was on Tuesday. The Mets were riding high after a sweep of the Giants, and the team was in a soft part of the schedule where they could have reasonably been at or even over .500 going into the All Star Break. At that point, who knows?
And this Mets team looked resilient last night. Robert Gsellman went down in the top of the fourth. Sewald came on and gave the team three good innings they desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud had two RBI, including a solo home run, to tie the game at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. With Sewald, one of the better relievers on the team, no longer available, Collins went with Ramirez. To the surprise of no one, Ramirez would earn the loss.
Why was he and his demonic 6.66 ERA even an option? Ultimately, it is because of the Mets refusal to carry a long man in the bullpen. Instead, the team would rather carry a group of pitchers who ideally should be limited to two innings or less that can post high strikeout numbers.
Why couldn’t the Mets carry Tyler Pill as the long reliever. Sure, he was predictably lackluster, but that is a significant upgrade from Ramirez being an abject disaster. While it is a small sample size, there are indications Pill could be useful as a long man. In this three games, the first time through the lineup teams are only hitting .250/.296/.292 off of him. Extrapolating this out, this means Pill could be good to keep the Mets into a game for about three innings.
This could led to the Mets turning the game over to their best relievers late in the game. Instead, the Mets would rather pitch their pitchers past their breaking points. They would rather pitch Ramirez in important spots. While there are many things you can pinpoint for the Mets failures this season, it’s the lack of a long man in the bullpen needs to be front and center.
The Mets fought hard to get back into this game. In the end, it was the usual culprits that would let the Mets down – injuries, defense, and the bullpen.
In the bottom of the first, the Marlins had runners on first and second with two outs, but Gsellman couldn’t come up with that big pitch to get out of the inning. Justin Bour singled to tie the game, and Martin Prado doubled to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.
It was one of those nights where you knew Gsellman probably wasn’t long for the game. You’d be right, but not for the reason you’d expect.
In the fourth, Lucas Duda got a rally started with a one out double, and it appeared as if the Mets would strand him there. Travis d’Arnaud came up with the big two out RBI single pulling the Mets within one.
Then came the Gsellman injury. Gsellman would ground out to the pitcher. On the play, he’d vacillate between jogging and busting it. It led to a leg injury. Rather go on a rant here about another injury, it’s best to leave it to Ron Darling:
Ron's comments about injuries and training pic.twitter.com/yqf47Nu326
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) June 28, 2017
This led to Paul Sewald getting thrown into the game. He did a great job pitching three scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game. It allowed d’Arnaud to tie the game with a solo shot off Kyle Barraclough.
The hit got the Mets going, and it seemed as if the Mets might take the lead. Brandon Nimmo worked out a pinch hit walk, and Granderson smoked a grounder up the middle.
That’s when JT Riddle made a phenomenal play on the Granderson grounder to get a 6-6-3 inning ending double play.
— #VoteMarlins (@Marlins) June 28, 2017
Ramirez would issue a leadoff walk to J.T. Realmuto, and Riddle would smoke a grounder towards Duda. It was difficult, but Duda needs to make that play. The ball hit off his glove setting up first and third with no outs.
Like all Mets fans, Collins had enough of Ramirez and went to Jerry Blevins, who has pitched poor of late, to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki.
Being the wily veteran with 3,049 career hits entering the game, Ichiro knew just where to hit it – right by Wilmer Flores, who went in the completely wrong direction:
lmao wilmer where are you going?! pic.twitter.com/LgRUZf8nKL
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) June 28, 2017
This loss was the same loss that we’ve been seeing all season long. This is the same loss that has derailed the Mets season.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto was not available to pinch hit after getting hit on the wrist in Sunday’s game. Erik Goeddel pitched 1.2 scoreless. He has three scoreless innings in three appearances this year.
For starters, lets concede that Jose Reyes has been playing so poorly he should unseat no one for a starting position unless he was going to play for the Long Island Ducks. In turn, it also needs to be conceded Asdrubal Cabrera is no longer a major league caliber shortstop. In his interview on the topic, Cabrera admitted as much saying, “I think next year, I have to go – I have to move to another position . . . I’m fine with that.”
Cabrera needs to be fine with that as he’s not a shortstop now. His -10 DRS is the worst among shortstops with at least 100 innings played at the position. His -5.5 UZR is the second worst in the majors among players with 100 innings played at short. But it’s more than the advanced metrics. Visually, you can see he no longer has the range. His sure hands aren’t so sure anymore. His 11 errors are the third most in the majors and are four more than he had all of last year. The final indignity for him came when he had his Luis Castillo impersonation.
It was time to move Cabrera to second base. With the team having an eye towards the 2018 season, it was time to see if the team should pick up his 2018 option in the offseason to play him alongside Amed Rosario. With the team looking to sell, it was also a chance to improve his trade value.
Now, this isn’t the first time the Mets have asked Cabrera to change positions. Earlier in the year, they asked him to move to third base. He wasn’t amendable going so far as to demand the team pick up his 2018 option if they planned such a move. Rather than promote discord throughout the clubhouse, Terry Collins dropped it. The team had to know moving him to second base was going to create issues.
And it did. Cabrera demanded a trade from the team. Sure, part of it could be the Mets didn’t give him the courtesy of speaking with him first, or the team not giving him the opportunity to play some games at second base during his rehab stint in the minor leagues. Still, even with the Mets mishandling the situation, given how Cabrera responded to moving to third base, this incident was going to happen anyway.
It is better for that incident to have occurred with Reyes supplanting him than Rosario. It is hard enough for a rookie to get acclimated to playing in the major leagues. It is even more difficult with a disenchanted veteran angry you took his job. This is the same veteran you would want to mentor a young Rosario to help ease his transition. Seeing Cabrera’s actions, this was not going to happen if Rosario was the one who replaced him.
That is why having Reyes take over at shortstop made sense. Reyes is a veteran better capable of handling the situation, especially when he previously faced the same situation when the Mets signed Kaz Matsui. Let Reyes deal with the fallout now so all issues are resolved by the time Rosario is called up to the majors.
Overall, while we can quibble with how the Mets handled moving Cabrera to second base, we can all agree they made the right decision. They got to find out more about Cabrera both in terms of his ability as a second baseman and how he handles a change in his roles. More importantly, they made Rosario’s transition to the major leagues that much easier.
The Mets have given Rafael Montero enough chances that he was bound to finally figure it out. Still, it seemed like he never was. Each and every year, Montero was getting worse . . . not better. He stuck around while useful and promising pitchers like Gabriel Ynoa were sent away for a mere pittance. Finally, in his ninth major league call-up, Montero seems to have figured it out.
Montero only got this last chance due to injuries. Unlike the other eight times Montero got a chance, Montero finally took advantage.
With the Mets needing some innings out of the bullpen, Terry Collins twice turned to Montero. In those two appearances, Montero pitched 6.2 innings allowing just one earned on three hits. He only walked two while striking out eight. If nothing else, he helped save the bullpen in those games. More than that, he finally earned a start, which he got on Sunday.
On Sunday, Montero looked like the guy the Mets have been waiting for all these years. He was throwing strikes and attacking the zone. He was mixing up his pitches and using his change-up as a weapon and not as a panic pitch because he didn’t trust his other stuff to get outs.
Things were going smooth for Montero until the third inning. After allowing a pair of one out singles, he walked Hunter Pence to load the bases with Buster Posey heading to the plate. In the past, this is the exact point where Montero would fall apart. He didn’t. Montero bore down, and he got Posey to hit a sacrifice fly. He then battled Brandon Belt when the Giants bailed him out. Pence tried to steal a base, and Rene Rivera gunned him down to get out of the inning.
That wasn’t the only way Rivera helped his pitcher. Rivera went 2-5 with two homers and three RBI. Overall, he helped his pitcher behind the plate and at the plate.
But it was Montero who was great. In 5.2 innings pitched, Montero allowed just one run on five hits while walking just two and striking out seven. You could argue this was just the Giants terrible offense, but it should be remembered his last two appearances were against the Nationals and Dodgers, who are two of the best offenses in baseball.
Montero would get the win because of his terrific pitching and because the Mets offense continued to roll.
Again, it was Curtis Granderson who got things started drawing a lead-off walk against Matt Moore. He’d eventually come around to score on a Jay Bruce RBI groundout. Bruce’s next RBI came in the eighth when he hit a two run homer to put the game away. The homer was Bruce’s 20th home run of the season. At his current pace, Bruce will have his first 40 HR season and just his second 100 RBI season.
Throw in a Lucas Duda fifth inning RBI double and a Granderson ninth inning solo shot, and you have a Mets 8-2 victory. More than that, the Mets have swept just their second sweep of an opponent this season. If only the Mets had played like this earlier in the season. We could have been talking about the Mets being about to go on a push to make the postseason. Instead, it is probably too little too late.
Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot. Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base. Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate. Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident. Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview. That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field. More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played. Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:
1. They Can’t Pitch
The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets. It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year. That ERA is just inexcusable. There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible. Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.
2. The Defense Is Terrible
The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball. Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th. At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th. Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore. Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers. Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position. Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.
3. They’re Always Injured
Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List. For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June. The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries. In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one. If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.
4. They’re Under-Performing
So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances. Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100. Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average. Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP. Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.
Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard. After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94. There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0
We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified. Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing. That’s on all of them.
5. They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games
It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races. They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own. Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces. In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22. It is one thing lost six of seven. It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.
If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves. They are allowing the homers. They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis. They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.
For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.
Despite teams pouring a tremendous amount of money into the topic, no one is still definitive on what causes pitcher injuries. Many will suggest it is fatigue, but even that is inconclusive. The Verducci Effect has been debunked time and again. Moreover, there was a 2003 Nate Silver and Matt Carroll Baseball Prospetus article which suggests the link between fatigue and arm injuries might be overstated. Still, there is evidence there is a link between fatigue and arm injuries. That is especially the case with pitchers over 25.
It is that link that made what Terry Collins did last night inexcusable.
Now, if you want to argue the inning snuck up Collins, you could make that argument. There were two outs in the second inning with Jon Lester coming up. Reasonably, a manager should expect his pitcher to get out of the inning. As we all know, Zack Wheeler didn’t. He grooved a pitch right down the middle to Lester, who hit a single to left. From there the doors fell off and the inning fell apart.
Wheeler was still only 18 pitches deep into the inning when he walked Albert Almora on four straight pitches. However, at this point, it was clear Wheeler was losing it, and to make matters worse, the Cubs lineup had turned over. From there Collins allowed Wheeler to throw 28 more pitches before lifting him for Josh Smoker. In total, Wheeler threw an inexcusable 46 pitches in the second inning.
This is the same Wheeler who missed two years after having Tommy John surgery. This is the same pitcher the Mets were rumored to want to limit to 125 innings this year. You need to be careful with Wheeler. Collins wasn’t. He would then compound his error with Wheeler by abusing Smoker.
Last year, Smoker’s high in pitches thrown in a game was 32. This year, he has already topped that six times. However, last night took the cake. Collins pushed Smoker to pitch four innings throwing 81 pitches. That’s a starter’s workload, not a reliever’s. There was a tangible effect.
Smoker is a pitcher that can get his fastball up to 97 MPH, which he did a couple of times last night. By the time Collins finally lifted Smoker in the sixth inning, he was throwing 89 MPH.
Collins went ahead and asked more from Smoker than he could possibly give. He did it despite the Mets bullpen only having thrown only 6.2 innings over the past four games. That was also despite the fact Jacob deGrom gave the bullpen a night off with his complete game. By the way, the only reason the Mets were able to obtain Smoker was because the Nationals former first round pick was released after two shoulder surgeries.
It’s not that Wheeler and Smoker need to be babied by their manager. Rather, they need their manager to not push them past the breaking point. This is no different than the protection Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, Jim Henderson, and any number of pitchers Collins has left in his wake as manager.
In the modern game of baseball, the most important job a manager can do is managing his pitching staff. He needs to do all he can do to get them through a season both healthy and effective. Time and again, Collins has failed in that regard. Last night was the latest example. For his part, Collins has never had to face any ramifications for his actions. Unfortunately, his pitchers have. We should all cross our fingers Wheeler and Smoker will not be the next.
This game was probably over as soon as Anthony Rizzo lead off the game with a homer. If it wasn’t then, it was over in the second inning. Zack Wheeler just didn’t have it, and he got knocked out in the second inning. His final line was 1.2 innings, six hits, eight runs, eight earned, three walks, and three strikeouts.
It was irresponsible for Terry Collins to leave Wheeler in as long as he did. After missing two years due to Tommy John surgery, he let Wheeler throw 46 pitches in the fourth inning.
Look at it this way, Wheeler loaded the bases, walked in a run, and then allowed a grand slam to Ian Happ to make it 6-1. Collins left him in to put on two more runners who scored on an Addison Russell bases clearing double making it 8-1.
Then Collins went to Josh Smoker, and he abused his arm. Smoker threw 81 pitches over four innings. That’s 40 pitches more than his career high.
Sure you don’t want to burn your bullpen in these games, but you don’t risk a player’s health. Smoker is a guy who can get it up to 98 MPH. By the time he was pulled, he was struggling to hit 89 MPH. This gets pitchers hurt, and it’s inexcusable. Yes, it’s even inexcusable when a pitcher has a 7.45 ERA. You don’t mess with careers for one game.
By the way, it was unnecessary. The bullpen is rested with the last four Mets starters pitching into the seventh, and Jacob deGrom throwing a complete game yesterday.
At least Collins wasn’t irresponsible with everyone. Yoenis Cespedes was lifted after the fifth because the Mets were losing 8-1.
Mets just announced that "Yoenis Cespedes was removed because of the game situation." pic.twitter.com/g8DftdkLBr
— Joe Maracic (@GrafixJoker) June 14, 2017
It was that type of night. Gary, Keith, and Ron broke out the baseball cards. Keith was sighing loudly into the mic. Darling was taking pot shots at sabermetrians. Both Smoker and Neil Ramirez pitched.
But you know what? The Mets deserved this loss. Joe Maddon tried to wake up his team and get them going by mixing up the lineup. That included hitting Rizzo lead-off.
On the Mets part, Jose Reyes played in his fifth straight game. And guess what, he’s going to play in at least nine more because Asdrubal Cabrera went on the DL with a thumb injury. Yes, it is the same thing that landed him in the DL earlier this year.
Rather than the Mets using as an opportunity to call up Amed Rosario, the Mets said, “We’re good with Reyes hitting under the Mendoza Line and playing bad defense.”
Organizations like that deserve to lose 14-3.
To make matters worse, the Nationals pen didn’t blow another one, so the Mets fell to 9.5 games out.
Game Notes: Michael Conforto missed a second straight game with a back issue. With the left-handed Jon Lester on the mound, Juan Lagares got the start in center and lead-off. He went 1-4 scoring a run on a Cespedes first inning double. Neil Walker and Lucas Duda hit back-to-back homers in the ninth.
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.
This should have been a great game that got you more excited about this team. It was the fourth win in a row. Instead of the wins coming against the lowly Braves, this win came against the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. (It’s still weird to type that).
This win started with Jacob deGrom, who must’ve fixed whatever mechanical flaw he had because he was dominant. He would become the fourth straight Mets starter that pitched into the seventh inning and the third straight to pitch seven innings.
Actually, deGrom was better than that pitching a complete game. This made him the first Met to pitch a complete game since deGrom did it last July against the Phillies. His final line was nine innings, five hits, one run, one earned, four walks, and five strikeouts.
In the game, the only Cub to get to him was Addison Russell who hit an opposite field home run in the seventh. Other than Russell, no Cub reached third base against deGrom. A big reason for that was the Mets turning four double plays behind deGrom.
Asdrubal Cabrera smacks his second solo home run of the day to right-center field in the bottom of the 4th inning, padding the lead to 4-0 pic.twitter.com/Evjl321gcx
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 13, 2017
The other two Mets runs would come off a Jay Bruce two run homer in the third. Bruce would double in the sixth putting him on a pace for 84 extra base hits, which would be a Mets single season record.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets tacked on two runs against the Cubs bullpen. The inning started with a Bruce single off Brian Duensing, and he moved to second when Cabrera tried to bunt his way on with one out.
Joe Maddon brought in Felix Pena who couldn’t navigate the Cubs out of the inning. He first allowed a Travis d’Arnaud RBI double and then a Reyes RBI single. With that, the Mets were up 6-1 giving deGrom a huge margin in the ninth.
Overall, despite Terry Collins inane decision to start Jose Reyes over Wilmer Flores, it was a great game for the Mets.
That is except for the injuries. Michael Conforto missed the game with what was described as a stiff back due to the flight from Atlanta. Considering the Mets recent history with back injuries, we should all wait with baited breath until he is reinserted into the lineup.
Conforto was the lesser of the two injuries. Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the sixth with that was described as a left heel injury. It should be noted Cespedes just came off the Disabled List with a left quad issue, and he said he was still not 100%.
These injury issues put a damper on an otherwise terrific win. Still, as long as the Mets starters keep pitching this way, the Mets are going to win a lot of games.
Game Notes: Paul Sewald was warming in the bullpen should deGrom get in trouble in the ninth. This was deGrom’s second career complete game.
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.