Even with him being limited due to injuries, Steven Matz was still one of the better starting pitching options left for this team. However, with impending season ending surgery, he’s shut down, and the Mets went with recently activated off the disabled list Tommy Milone.
Milone entered this game with a 7.91 ERA, 10.50 with the Mets, and he picked up where he left off with J.D. Martinez hitting a first inning three run homer.
At that point, it was 7-0 Diamondbacks. If you were still watching at that point, the question is why?
Michael Conforto missed the game with a thumb injury. Dominic Smith wasn’t in the lineup because the Diamondbacks started the left-handed Patrick Corbin, and Terry Collins apparently breaks out in hives and hyperventilates when he has to play a young left-handed hitter against a left-handed pitcher. Using the same logic, Collins played Matt Reynolds over Brandon Nimmo in right.
Really, there were not many reasons to watch this game. Sure, things are bad right now with the Mets, but with the team they put on the field, this was downright unwatchable. Most 7-1 games are.
The one run was a Rosario home run, his first at Citi Field.
Other notable events was Gavin Cecchini going 1-2 at the plate and making a decent play in the field:
I GOT IT I GOT IT IT'S ALL YOURS pic.twitter.com/nqQBLoLh6n
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 23, 2017
Of note, Cecchini has a base hit in every game he’s started this year.
1B – Wilmer Flores
2B – Gavin Cecchini
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
If you don’t think of Flores as a shortstop, then the all shortstop infield was accomplished with Reynolds moving from right to first in a double switch.
If you do consider Flores a shortstop, then six of the Mets position players in the starting lineup were shortstops or former shortstops as Juan Lagares was originally signed as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic.
Admittedly, this is a rather long tangent, but these are the things you dwell on when your team is as listless and over-matched as the Mets were today. Trust me, this tangent was more interesting than anything that happened in the field tonight.
Andrew Chafin came on and allowed a Reynolds RBI groundout followed by a Rosario RBI triple to make it 7-4.
This lead to the Diamondbacks bringing on Fernando Rodney to get the final out of the game. After he retired Cecchini, the tomfoolery was over.
Back in 2005, Pedro Martinez was having a Cy Young caliber season that was about to be cut short due to a toe injury. From Rick Peterson to Willie Randolph to the training staff, they all agreed with the Mets out of the race, Pedro should shut it down for the rest of the year. However, there was one person that didn’t agree – Jeff Wilpon.
As Pedro would later tell in his the eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon approached him telling him to pitch to help the Mets sell-out a September 22nd game against Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins. Pedro protested leading to an argument where Pedro even offered to give back the rest of his contract. Ultimately, he pitched because, as Wilpon told him, “While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.” (Tyler Kepner, New York Times).
While we can never be sure of the root cause of the injury, this moment resonates as Pedro would suffer a torn rotator cuff making him unavailable for the 2006 postseason. That was one of many what-ifs that happened that year.
Fast forward a decade.
Last year, Steven Matz had what was described as a massive bone spur the team knew needed to be removed surgically. Rather than have the surgery right away, Matz was pumped full of cortisone shots, told to scrap the slider, and pitched until he could no longer pitch. The odd thing is Matz initially didn’t want to go this route.
As Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported, “[Matz] was seriously considering surgery, and maybe even leaning that way, before a meeting with the Mets brass.” Sound familiar?
During Spring Training this year, Matz had arm issues, which he self-described as a strained flexor tendon. The team disagreed with an unnamed Mets official with knowledge of Matz’s medical care telling Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, “Our [doctors] found nothing wrong.”
The answer was once again to pitch through the pain and to abandon the slider. Matz continued to pitch despite his elbow reportedly swelling to the size of a grapefruit.
One thing that is quite notable is a passage from Marc Carig’s Newsday column on the topic, “Matz insisted on powering through, perhaps in defiance of a reputation he’s gained for often being injured. And the Mets proceeded as if he were dealing with inflammation.” More damning was this statement, “One source described a belief by some in the organization that Matz was simply learning to get over the ‘mental hurdle’ of pitching through pain.”
Certainly, this wasn’t the first time we’ve heard people discuss Matz needing to learn the difference between pitching through pain and pitching hurt. Ron Darling has made the point a number of times during games. His manager Terry Collins previously said Matz needed to learn how to pitch through his issues. (Anthony Rieber, Newsday).
Seeing these comments, we should not be surprised the Mets were completely blind-sided by Matz’s recent ulnar nerve injury and need for surgery. It is even less surprising considering the team and team doctors dealt with the same issue with Jacob deGrom.
Seeing this happen time and again, we all look to point the finger at someone. Over the past decade, we have see a change at General Manager, manager, and pitching coach. The Mets have been affiliated with the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is one of the top hospitals in the country. Many will point to Ray Ramirez, but he is actually well-regarded in his field. No, the issue is the Mets organizational culture.
In 2005, they forced Pedro to pitch. In 2010, they were livid Carlos Beltran had knee surgery, which turned out to be a necessary and possibly career saving procedure. Now, they have both pressured Matz to pitch and are surprised by his suffering as a result. Really, the only thing that isn’t surprising is the Mets culture not changing over the past decade. How can it with Jeff Wilpon still calling the shots?
Jacob deGrom is all of us. He watched the Mets play behind him all afternoon with no run support and poor defensive, and he just threw his hands up in the air.
The play that caused it was a seventh inning Dee Gordon grounder to Amed Rosario. Like he did in his first game against the Rockies, Rosario did a glove tap, and that was the difference between safe and out.
This was all prelude to another Giancarlo Stanton home run. If deGrom is Superman, Stanton is 245 pounds of Kryptonite. Stanton’s three run homer here was his fourth off deGrom in his career, and it gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, Yoenis Cespedes dropped a flyball later that inning. It brought the boo birds out on a day he showed continued lack of hustle. At least, he hit a homer in the first.
A Marcell Ozuna single after the Cespedes two base error gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was a disappointing start for deGrom, but that’s to be expected when he isn’t getting any help in the field or at the plate.
His final line would be 6.1 innings, 10 hits, five runs, five earned, no walks, and eight strikeouts.
When deGrom threw his arms up, something he later admitted he shouldn’t have done, he spoke for all Mets fans tired of seeing the same mistakes being repeated game-in and game-out.
With d’Arnaud and Cespedes, it is more of the same. We see great defensive aspects to d’Arnaud’s game, but he just doesn’t trust his arm. For Cespedes, his lack of hustle borders on the pathological.
At least with Rosario, the play was part of growing pains. Same goes for Dominic Smith going 0-3 with three strikeouts against the left-handed Conley. It certainly doesn’t help Terry Collins having him out of the lineup against left-handed pitching.
It should be noted young players don’t just come with growing pains. They come with improvement.
We saw that with Brandon Nimmo leading off the eighth with a pinch hit double and Michael Conforto following with a one out walk. This led to the Mets making a game of this, which was a nice departure from most Sunday games.
Nimmo scored on a Cespedes double. Conforto scored on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly, and Cespedes scored on a two out d’Arnaud RBI single.
That made the score 6-4, which was as close as the Mets would get.
Rosario struck out to end the eighth inning rally, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a game ending double play in the ninth.
Like most Sunday games, this was a tough watch. It was tough seeing veterans continuing to have the same issues. The hope is that while these veterans never learned how to correct theirs, the young players like Smith and Rosario will.
If they do, these tough games will all be worth it. If they do, the Mets may very well compete again next year.
Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini got the start at second. With his ninth inning single, he now has a base hit in all five games he’s started.
Considering his relative lack of experience, it was a step in the right direction for him. It’s the third straight start he’s pitched into the fifth, and it’s the second time in his last three starts he’s pitched into the sixth.
Other than that, there wasn’t much to get excited about tonight.
For starters, the Mets sat Dominic Smith because the Marlins started the left-handed Justin Nicolino. This is the same nonsense we saw with Terry Collins‘ handling of Michael Conforto only this time Terry doesn’t have the excuse of the Mets contending.
Hopefully, it’s true the Mets sat Conforto because he needed a day off and not because Collins is going back to this platoon nonsense with his best hitter.
Ultimately, this was one of the more difficult games to watch. Both teams are bad. Stanton wasn’t his homering self. The Mets sat Dom and Conforto. And, oh yeah, there was nearly a two hour rain delay.
Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. Not likely with the Mets now at a season worst 14 games under .500, but there’s hope.
If nothing else, you knew tonight was going to be an interesting game from the Mets perspective.
The day began with Sandy Alderson voicing his displeasure with Robert Gsellman saying he didn’t care that Sandy believed he needed to pitch better.
Officially, d’Arnaud and Cabrera switched 22 times tonight. That’s a lot.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 17, 2017
Basically, d’Arnaud was constantly repositioned to avoid being at the pull side of the opposing hitter. It wasn’t until the ninth that he had to make a play. It was a pop out.
P4! P5? P4! pic.twitter.com/YG2A9ZT99r
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 17, 2017
From there, we saw some good baseball and some really poor home plate umpiring.
For a pitcher that needed a big game after his comments, Gsellman was just okay. His final line was 5.1 innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and three strikeouts.
One of the runs he allowed was an Aaron Judge monster of a homer to the third deck that was somehow just the third longest homer in Citi Field history:
Um, well… On the plus side it only counts as one. pic.twitter.com/VxagVw3LqI
— CitiFieldHR (@CitiFieldHR) August 17, 2017
Even with that monster homer, the game was tied going into the sixth.
Juan Lagares got the rally started with a leadoff double off Jaime Garcia. He got over and then scored on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly.
After Judge hit his homer, Rene Rivera hit one of his own in the fifth. It wasn’t as impressive as Judge’s, but you couldn’t tell that from Garcia’s reaction.
The Mets rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Cespedes lead off with a walk and moved to third on a Michael Conforto double. The second base umpire ruled Cespedes was interfered with on the basepaths, but he was only awarded third. Cespedes then scored on a d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
At this point, Collins did what he always does with Sewald – he pushed him. It wasn’t good enough that he got out of a stressful jam. No, he had to go back out there. The combination of questionable managing and poor umpiring would do him in.
— Mets Strike Zone (@MetsUmp) August 17, 2017
On the pitch, Sewald missed his spot by a good margin, and Rivera did him no favors by stabbing at the pitch. With that said, the home plate umpire Chad Whitson cannot miss that call. Then again, he was so terrible, you shouldn’t be surprised.
Even with Sewald did get Judge to pop out, but his luck ran out with Didi Gregorious ripped a two RBI double that provided the winning margin in a Yankees 5-3 victory. The Didi double snapped an 0-25 streak Sewald had with runners in scoring position.
Ultimately, the story here was bad umpiring, Collins putting too much on Sewald again, and the Yankees bullpen just being that good.
Game Notes: d’Arnaud became the first Mets to appear at catcher, second, and third since Jeff McKnight in 1993.
Last night, the Yankees brought on Aroldis Chapman to close out a Yankees three run lead. After Wilmer Flores struck out to begin the inning, Dominic Smith strode up to the plate in what would be the rookie’s biggest test in his brief major league career. Seeing how he hit an opposite field homer earlier in the game, and Rafael Devers hit a huge home run against Chapman in Chapman’s last save attempt, this was promising to be a very interesting match-up.
This is not the first time we have seen this play with Collins. During Michael Conforto‘s first two years with the Mets, Collins did not let his young left-handed hitter face left-handed pitching. Instead, he would bat Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, Justin Ruggiano, Ty Kelly, or really any warm body on the bench to prevent Conforto from facing a left-handed pitcher.
The end result of Collins’ refusal to play Conforto against left-handed pitching was Conforto actually struggling against left-handed pitching. Over his first two big league seasons, Conforto hit .129/.191/.145 with just one extra-base hit, a double, in the 68 at-bats he did get against left-handed pitching.
However, there was no reason to sit Conforto against left-handed pitching. His hitting coach, Kevin Long, found the notion that Conforto can’t hit left-handed pitching absurd. Conforto hit left-handed pitching in both his collegiate and brief minor league career. Still, despite Conforto’s ability to hit left-handed pitching everywhere else, Collins decided to sit him against left-handed pitching.
When pressed on it, Collins said, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games. This is not a time to develop players.” (Barbara Barker, Newsday).
Assuming Collins is correct that you shirk the responsibility of developing young players because you have designs on winning a World Series, why is he now repeating the same tactics with Smith?
Currently, the Mets are 10 games under .500. The team has to win 62% of their remaining games just to get to .500. The team has already traded away Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker. If an opportunity presents itself, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Rene Rivera will find new homes before the end of the month. Put more succinctly, this team is not in a position where they are trying to win games – this is a time to develop players.
Pinch hitting for Smith the very first opportunity he gets to face a left-handed pitcher in the majors does nothing to accomplish that goal.
Overall, unless Collins is facing some delusions of grandeur, there is no reason to believe the Mets are winning anything in 2017. Smith is ticketed to be the Mets starting first baseman in 2018. To that end, the rest of the regular season should be dedicated to helping him best prepare for the 2018 season. Sitting him against left-handed pitching only hinders his development.
Maybe, just maybe Collins was never truly concerned with player development. Maybe in his mind young left-handed batters are just incapable of hitting left-handed pitching. It is likely the reason why he previously sat Conforto against left-handed pitching, and it is the reason why he’s doing it with Smith now.
It’s poor managing, and it has had a tangible effect on player development. Collins might have had his excuse with Conforto, but he doesn’t have that excuse with Smith now. If Collins shields Smith from a left-handed pitcher just one more time, the Mets are going to have to find someone else to manage. Simply put, you cannot permit Collins to hinder Smith’s development to win some meaningless games.
This wasn’t the best of Subway Series games for Mets fans.
Jacob deGrom was good but not great.
The Yankees first got to him in the third when Ronald Torreyes hit a lead-off double that Yoenis Cespedes couldn’t even be bothered to hustle to field. His lack of hustle was all the more damning when Torreyes made it to second with ease despite slipping on the first base bag.
Of course, Cespedes would hustle on two infield singles in the game.
The Yankees then took a 1-0 on an Aaron Hicks RBI single.
That lead grew to 4-0 on a pair of homers. The first was a two run Yankee Stadium special off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth. The Gary Sanchez solo shot in the sixth would’ve been out anywhere.
Even with the four runs, deGrom was largely effective. His final line was 7.1 innings, nine hits, five runs, five earned, two walks, and four strike outs.
deGrom would get the loss because Sonny Gray dominated the Mets for six innings. He had only allowed one walk and four hits while striking out five.
Dominic Smith knocked him out of the game with his first career homer in the seventh:
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 16, 2017
It was an opposite field shot just past Hicks’ glove. The homer brought the Mets to within 4-2, bit the Mets wouldn’t get closer.
One reason why was home plate umpire. Dellin Betances began to get wild after getting two quick outs to start the eighth. Betances then walked Cespedes, and he found himself down 3-1 to Michael Conforto.
The 3-1 pitch was certainly a strike, but the 3-2 pitch was low. Even if it was technically a strike, it was not called a strike all night.
That was the Mets last chance to tie the game.
The Yankees expanded the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Aaron Judge led off with a double by just beating out Cespedes throw to second. It became runners on the corners after Didi Gregorious fought off a pitch and blooped it just over the head of Wilmer Flores.
It was a bad situation that could have been worse if not for Juan Lagares. Sanchez hit a ball to the deepest part of the park. Instead of it going for extra bases, a shallow playing Lagares not only ranged all the way back, but he also got into good throwing position. This kept Gregorious at first.
Jerry Blevins and Chasen Bradford got out of the inning keeping the score at 5-2. Unfortunately, that insurance run would loom large with the Mets challenging Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.
It started with Terry Collins pinch hitting Jose Reyes for Smith because Collins is apparently the only person on the planet who doesn’t know Rafael Devers hit a home run off Chapman.
Reyes got the infield hit, but who cares? The rest of this season is about player development, and the Mets gain nothing from pinch hitting for Smith against a tough lefty.
It’s complete and utter nonsense. It’s the same nonsense that held up Conforto’s development.
If this is the way Collins manages from here on out, it’s time to get rid of him.
That said, Amed Rosario made things interesting with an opposite field two run homer to bring the Mets to within 5-4.
Gregorious would make a nice play taking a base hit away from Travis d’Arnaud, and Lagares would ground out to end the game.
It was a frustrating loss not just because deGrom wasn’t at his best, but also because Collins continued the same poor managing.
Game Notes: This is the first time Smith and Rosario homered in the same game.
The Mets got to Cessa first with Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes hitting a pair of third inning homers. What was interesting with the Cespedes’ homer was his homer was against one of the two prospects the Mets traded to get him in 2015.
Unfortunately, the Mets bats went completely cold after this leaving Montero and the pen to hold a 2-0 lead. Most of that was due to Chad Green, who pitched 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings, after coming on for a hurting Cessa with one out in the fifth.
For his part, Montero cruised into the fourth. All of his pitches were working, especially his fastball which was clocked in the high 90s. However, he would walk consecutive batters helping load the bases with one out.
Montero got out of the inning without further damage, and he was back on cruise mode. That was until he left one over the plate against Aaron Judge who went opposite field to tie the game in the sixth.
That closed the door on Montero who pitched a fine game. His final line was six innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
Terry Collins went to Hansel Robles, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Then, like Collins always does with Robles, he pushed the envelope with him. It’s all the more puzzling when you consider that not too long ago Robles couldn’t even feel his fingers.
Hicks led off the eighth, and we soon found Robles pointing to the sky.
After the homer, the Yankees had a 3-2 lead, and Collins overreacted like he always does. Collins went into super matchup mode using Jerry Blevins for a batter, and then bringing in Erik Goeddel. Goeddel was greeted with a Sanchez home run.
In fact, you question a bit where the effort level was with some of the Mets players. In the eighth, Asdrubal Cabrera walked on a 3-2 pitch that ricocheted off the umpire. Instead of busting it to first to see if he could get into scoring position with two outs, he took his time. When Cespedes struck out in the next at-bat, the ball would get away from Sanchez, but he couldn’t be bothered to try to go to first.
The Mets blew a winnable game, but there’s a silver lining. The Wilpons got their wish that they didn’t have to pay Jay Bruce to beat them. Instead, they paid Collins and a bullpen to do that.
Game Notes: Granderson’s homer was his 69th in Yankee Stadium since 2010. That trails just Mark Teixeira.
Entering tonight, Jacob deGrom had never lost to the Phillies. With the Phillies being one of the few teams in baseball actually worse than the Mets, it wasn’t about to happen tonight.
deGrom dominated the Phillies over his 6.2 shutout innings allowing just four hits while walking none and striking out nine. The only way the Phillies could take him out of the game would be a Nick Williams line drive off deGrom with two outs in the seventh.
Terry Collins did the right thing pulling deGrom from the game. With the Mets going nowhere, there’s no need to risk anything. There’s less of a reason with the Mets being up 7-0.
One thing we have learned over the years is the Mets have always loved hitting at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, the Mets have homered there more than any other opponent. Tonight, the festivities began with a Wilmer Flores first inning three run homer off starter Vince Velasquez.
He’d fare much better than Velasquez with the lone run against him coming off a Neil Walker solo shot in the third.
It was interesting to see Walker at third again tonight, especially with the Yankees reportedly having interest in him. I’m sure there will be a team to step in to offer a low rated Single-A reliever to prevent that deal from happening.
Conforto got the home run from the clean-up spot. Now that the Mets have traded Jay Bruce, Collins has re-inserted Curtis Granderson in the lead-off spot for the foreseeable future. Collins also promises to keep Conforto in the middle of the lineup as preparation for next year.
Speaking of Granderson, he hit a two run homer in the ninth to give the Mets a 9-0 lead.
That 9-0 lead became 10-0 with a Jose Reyes RBI groundout.
The Mets needed more games like this during the 2017 season. In fact, this is just the Mets fourth shut out on the season. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. Still, we should enjoy them whenever they come.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith will join the Mets tomorrow.
Today’s Mets game was scheduled at 12:10 because it was Camp Day at Citi Field. Apparently, the Mets aren’t much interested in generating new baseball fans because the team played one of their typical dreary day games. With today’s loss, the Mets are now an MLB worst 10-23 in day games.
This loss was one of the worst. It wasn’t the worst because the Mets were blown out. The 5-1 score dictate otherwise. Rather, it was a dreary day when the Mets gave you very little reason to cheer.
Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed just three hits over eight innings to the Mets with Wilmer Flores‘ fifth inning homer being the lone run scored. Perez was so good on the mound that he was able to stick around long enough to earn a golden sombrero.
One pitcher who did not last very long was Rafael Montero. His good stretch of pitching is now long forgotten, and he’s back to being the very bad pitcher that would drive Mets fans crazy. Just to put it in perspective, the first run of the game scored on a Montero balk, and he followed that up by allowing a three run homer to Joey Gallo, who has just worn out the Mets in this short two game series.
The run in the second inning was maddening. Elvis Andrus would steal consecutive bases off of the combination of Montero and Rene Rivera, and then he would score just ahead of Jose Reyes‘ throw home. It was a bad job blocking the plate by Rivera. The only thing worse than that was Collins failure to challenge the play at second on the first stolen base. Replays would show Andrus was actually out.
Montero’s final line would be 3.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and five strikeouts.
From there, Terry Collins played his favorite stretch everyone out in the bullpen game. Josh Smoker would pitch two innings, but he couldn’t get through that third. He would load the bases with no outs. Hansel Robles came on, walked a batter, got out of the jam, and he would pitch three innings. This for a reliever that just said he couldn’t feel his fingers the other day.
Chasen Bradford pitched a scoreless ninth to at least give the Mets a chance to win the game in the ninth. They didn’t.
Really, the one highlight other than Flores’ homer was Amed Rosario making a terrific diving play:
— 🍎 BIG APPLE METS ⚾️ (@BigAppleNYM) August 9, 2017
GAME NOTES: Neil Walker started the game at third base making him the 164th third baseman in Mets history.