Believe it or not, there are just five pitchers who remain from the Mets 2015 Opening Day roster. Those five pitchers are Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, and of course, Rafael Montero. That’s right, Montero was on the 2015 Opening Day roster, and in case you forgot, he was once again on the Opening Day roster last year.
And you know what? Montero is going to be on the 2018 Mets Opening Day roster as well.
The Mets have given us a clear indication this will happen. Right after the season, the team outrighted pitchers Erik Goeddel and Tyler Pill from the 40 man roster. They claimed Burch Smith in the Rule 5 Draft, and he was immediately sent to the Kansas City Royals for cash. To make room for Major League signings this offseason, the Mets designated Kevin McGowan, Chasen Bradford, and Josh Smoker for assignment.
Put another way, the Mets have had plenty of opportunities to extricate themselves of Montero, and they continuously refuse to do so whether it is out of stubbornness, hope, or really, just plain lunacy. Fact is, while no Mets fans believe in him and his 5.38 ERA, the Mets still believe in him and want him here.
If the Mets truly do want to see their continued investment in Montero pay off for them, then the team is going to have to put him on the 40 man roster because he is out of options. That means Montero gets one more last chance. I’d list what chance number that is, but like most Mets fans, I’ve lost count.
This means, the Mets are going to have to hope Montero’s .376 BABIP last year was largely the result of a truly poor defensive team. They will have to hope his being the second best starter on the team, Jason Vargas included, in not yielding barrels translates to success. (Statcast). They’re also going to have to hope, as noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, he continues to yield the fewest hard hit balls on this pitching staff.
If this does happen, and Montero FINALLY attacks the zone like he has shown in Double-A and below, the Mets may have something. Their patience may finally be rewarded and, frankly, applauded. However, it is much more likely we will see more of the same, which should create heat on Sandy Alderson because he parted with quality pitcher after quality pitcher in order to hold onto Montero.
Regardless of your opinion on Montero and the likelihood of his being successful, he’s going to be on the Opening Day roster. There are bullpen spots open, and Montero is out of options. At this point, we can only hope the stubborn refusal to DFA him will pay off.
It is interesting when you think about it. The Mets waited and waited and waited before they would bring up Amed Rosario. They waited for the Asdrubal Cabrera situation to calm down. They wanted him to be playing well. In essence, the Mets wanted the perfect situation to call-up Rosario to put him in the best position to succeed.
The Mets did this despite many believing he was ready. The Mets were willing to deal with poor defense at shortstop, and perhaps the 2017 to protect him.
The Mets handling of Rosario makes how they are handling Chris Flexen all the more curious.
Unlike Rosario, there was no calls for Flexen to be called-up to the majors. Even with the injuries, most thought the right call would have been to put Tyler Pill back into the major league rotation. There was nothing to lose there. The Mets season was already going nowhere, and Pill had some success in an earlier stint in the Mets rotation. Instead, the Mets made the bold and perhaps inspired choice to call Flexen up to the majors from Double-A. It was something the Mets have not done since 2006 with Mike Pelfrey.
Flexen was initially set up for success with him making his debut in San Diego. Petco Park is a pitcher’s park, and the Padres are not a great team. Unfortunately, Flexen would struggle, and he would last only three innings.
From there, Flexen took the mound in Coors Field, which was hardly the ideal spot for a any pitcher let alone one whose best pitch is his curveball. Like he did in San Diego, Flexen struggled, and again, he would last just three innings. He would depart that game with a blister.
Instead of sending him down after two tough outings, or putting him on the disabled list with the blister, the Mets are going to send Flexen back on the mound. This time it is against the Texas Rangers. While it is a down year for the Rangers, they do have veteran hitters like Adrian Beltre who can give a young pitcher fits. He’s doing this coming off two rough starts and with a blister on his finger.
Who knows? Maybe this is the best way to test a young pitcher and find out something about him. It’s possible he will be better for the experience. He could learn what he needs to improve to be able to get outs at this level. All in all, there’s an argument for made for letting him struggle. To that end, Flexen has shown poise on the mound despite him not getting results.
However, this all begs the question – if the Mets are so willing to call up Flexen before he was ready and put him in difficult situations, why wouldn’t they do the same with Rosario?
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:
Two clutch plays from d'Arnaud in the 1st! 🤙 pic.twitter.com/8dHX8rZGRf
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 28, 2017
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.
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.
Here’s the game in a nutshell. Steven Matz didn’t have it, and the Padres defense made the 85 Bears look like a sieve.
The Padres were hitting Matz hard right from the jump when Manuel Margot hit a two run homer to give the Padres a 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless second, the Padres jumped all over Matz again scoring four runs. Matz didn’t get help from his defense. Case in point was the Cory Spangenberg grounder.
Jose Reyes couldn’t pick it up cleanly, and he made an ever so slightly offline soft toss to Wilmer Flores. It wasn’t a particularly difficulty play for either middle infielder, but neither could complete the play. Only because it was home town scoring, it was ruled a “single.”
This was Reyes’ second RBI of the night with him singling home Jay Bruce in the second inning.
After that third inning, Matz was done. His ugly final line was three innings, nine hits, six runs, six earned, no walks, and four strikeouts. Honestly, Matz probably wasn’t even that good.
The Mets did have a chance to get back in this game in the sixth inning.
Duda hit a deep enough fly ball, but the combination of Hunter Renfroe‘s arm and Asdrubal Cabrera‘s lack of speed, there would be no sacrifice fly. Cabrera would score when Baumann walked Reyes pulling the Mets to within 6-2.
Craig Stammen came in to pitch to Rene Rivera, who hit a hot shot up the middle. Allen Córdoba made a nice play on the ball, which could’ve been a two RBI single, and got Rivera at first to end the inning.
With Reyes and Córdoba, we really witnessed what a difference defense makes. Then again, we saw it all game long with this Padres defense, especially with both Margot and Jabari Blash making sliding catches to rob Michael Conforto of a couple of hits.
The Mets did pull within 6-3 when Flores homered to center:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 27, 2017
Even with the homer, the Mets couldn’t catch up to the Padres. Maybe the Mets would’ve had a chance if they had better defense, but the Mets were content to punt on defense this year. It’s haunted them many times. Tonight was the latest example.
Game Notes: Erik Goeddel, Tyler Pill, and Hansel Robles combined to pitch five scoreless innings out of the pen. Pill will likely be demoted tomorrow to make room for Chris Flexen, who is scheduled to make his MLB debut tomorrow.
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.
It was too good to be true. With the left-hander Rich Hill starting for the Dodgers, and with Michael Conforto‘s cold streak, Curtis Granderson got the start in center. On the second pitch of the game, he would give the Mets the lead:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 22, 2017
It was Granderson’s 19th lead-off homer with the Mets putting him back in a tie with Jose Reyes for the Mets all-time record.
After a scoreless first, the Mets would have their first lead in the series. As we all know at this point, it was too good to last.
Tyler Pill would surrender the lead in the third with some help from his defense. After a lead-off walk to Joc Pederson, T.J. Rivera threw one away to set up runners at second and third with no outs. To his credit, Pill limited the damage to one run on a Hill sacrifice fly.
Surprisingly, despite the Dodgers having scored a run, Pill still had a no-hitter going. That came crashing down in the fourth.
Starting with Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers just teed off on Pill. Bellinger ripped a ball to right field, and he tested Jay Bruce‘s arm. Bruce threw the ball away, and no one from the Mets over shifted infield bothered to cover third thereby just giving the base to him.
Yasiel Puig crushes a three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the 4th inning, before exchanging words with Travis d'Arnaud at home pic.twitter.com/XGKh5aH1pM
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 22, 2017
Wilmer Flores had something to say about it. Travis d’Arnaud said something to him. Between innings, Cespedes and Reyes talked with him.
The Mets are out there playing as poorly as you can making mental mistakes all over, not hitting with runners in scoring position, and getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis, but they’re going to talk to Puig about playing the right way? Ok.
In some ways, it should have never come to this point. In the top of the fourth, the Mets had bases loaded with no outs with a chance to take a big lead. Instead, Hill would strike out Reyes, Gavin Cecchini, and Pill to get out of the inning.
Pill didn’t seem to have the same issue as his teammates did decking to plunk Puig in the sixth. Maybe it was because Pill was too worried about how poor he was pitching. His final line was six innings (career high), five hits, six runs, five earned, three walks, and six strikeouts.
Conspicuously absent in that line was a hit by pitch. For some, it was much ado about nothing. For others, it was a sign this team had no fight left.
In any event, a Yasmani Grandal sixth inning and eighth inning home run to make it 7-1. Neil Ramirez in his second inning of work would throw gasoline on the fire allowing two runs before handing the ball to Erik Goeddel. Goeddel would get out of the jam leaving the score at 8-1.
Grandy would hit an RBI double in the ninth to make it 8-2. That’s how it would end.
With that, the Mets are nine games under .500 for the first time this season. As bad as that is, things are really about to get worse than it already is.
Game Recap: Mets 5.01 ERA entering the game is the highest ERA the Mets have had this late in the season since 1962. After offseason elbow surgery, this was Goeddel’s first major league appearance this season.
Well, this was exactly how the Mets drew it up. Dominant starting pitching and an offense to match. They only thing missing was the players capable of doing it.
But either Cespedes or Matz had an impact in this double header, Robert Gsellman made his latest case as to why the Mets should keep him in the rotation.
Gsellman flat out dominated the Braves over 6.1 innings allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out four. It was his latest big start after he had been temporarily moved to the bullpen due to his early season struggles.
The Mets needed that start too. They needed it because the Mets bullpen has been a mess. They needed it because of the double header. They needed it because Sean Newcomb was dealing for the Braves.
The Mets were only able to scratch one run against him in the second with the assistance of a throwing error from Newcomb. T.J. Rivera hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Mets had to wait until the eighth to get another real threat going.
The Mets had second and third with no outs against Luke Jackson after he hit Michael Conforto with a pitch, Cespedes singled, and Jackson threw a wild pitch. Ender Inciarte took what was a sure extra base hit and turned it into a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly.
The Mets had Jackson and the Braves on the ropes, but they left him off the hook. Then Fernando Salas allowed an eighth inning homer to Brandon Phillips, and he needed to get bailed out by Addison Reed, who was coming on for the five out save partially because Terry Collins ripped through his bullpen yet again.
The ominous tone of the game, and perhaps the season changed with one swing of the bat:
Just like that, it was 6-1, but it was more than that. The Mets were rejuvenated. They won the first game, and then they went out and dominated the second game.
Like the first game of the double header, it all began with the starter. Matz pitched seven innings allowing just one run. That one run was in the seventh, but by that time, the game was already over.
Jay Bruce hit a three run homer in the fifth off Matt Wisler. Somehow in the sixth, Flores hit a triple, and he scored on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly making it 4-0.
T.J. Rivera provided insurance with an eighth inning two run homer. In the ninth, Juan Lagares hit a two run double making it 8-1. That’s a lead not even Neil Ramirez or Tyler Pill could blow.
That’s how different things are with Cespedes back in the fold. The Mets are scoring insurance runs, and their bullpen doesn’t blow leads.
Overall, it was a double header sweep where the Mets dominated the Braves. The Mets looked like the team many thought they would be to start the year. Both starters pitched into the seventh. There was a different vibe around this team. At least for one day, you believed this team still has some life.
Game Notes: Neil Walker returned from the stiff knee and played in both games starting the second. Cespedes was the 26th man. Rivera and Pill were sent down after the game to accommodate Matz and Seth Lugo being activated from the disabled list. Flores, Jose Reyes, and Conforto were the only players to start both games. Asdrubal Cabrera committed two errors.
The Mets have a number of excuses why they are in the position they are. Those excuses mostly surround the pitching. Noah Syndergaard went down in April with a torn lat. Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom haven’t been the same since returning from their season ending surgeries. There has been a revolving door at the fifth starter spot that has seen the likes of Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone, and Tyler Pill. This has put stress on the bullpen, and the bullpen broke.
They broke because Jeurys Familia went down for the season. Hansel Robles couldn’t keep up with the workload and fell apart. Josh Smoker hasn’t been able to figure it out this year. Addison Reed is a much better set-up man than a closer.
Through all of this, despite playing a weak schedule, the Mets are seven games under .500. The Mets are THIS CLOSE to being sellers.
However, there is hope. Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are coming off the Disabled List. Last year, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP. He followed that breakout performance with a breakout performance in the World Baseball Classic.
Matz is even better than Lugo. Before succumbing to the bone spur in his elbow last year, Matz had a stretch from April 17th to June 18th where he was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP. That was after his rookie season where he was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.
That combination of Lugo and Matz vastly improves the Mets rotation. It also bumps a good pitcher like Robert Gsellman into the bullpen. Lately, Gsellman has figured it out. In his last four appearances, he’s 2-0 with hold posting a 2.66 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP. This will give the bullpen a fresh arm. More than that, it means one of Smoker or Neil Ramirez is going to be gone from the bullpen.
Finally, the Mets will have the pitching to help an offense that has tried to carry this team. In May, the Mets averaged the second most runs per game (5.7) in the National League. Things promise to get better with Yoenis Cespedes having played in his first rull rehab game for St. Lucie last night.
With that, the Mets will have as complete a team as they can expect for the reason for the season. Now, they just have to take advantage of their opportunities. That starts with the four game series with a Braves team who is a half game up on the Mets for second place in the National League East. Sweep them, and the Mets will find themselves just three games under .500.
After that, the Mets have a seven game home stand. First, there are the Chicago Cubs, who are not the same team they were last year. After that, the Mets have a four game set with the Washington Nationals.
If the Mets take care of business against the Braves and Cubs, that could be a HUGE series for this Mets team. Sweep the Nationals at home, and all of a sudden the Mets could be just eight games back in the division or better. That’s still a large deficit to overcome, but it’s not as daunting as the 12 games they are now.
The Mets don’t take advantage of this opportunity? It’s time to sell. At that point, the team should look to move everyone to pave the way for Amed Rosario, who frankly should be here now, and Dominic Smith to become the David Wright and Jose Reyes of this generation.
If the Mets don’t want to do that, it’s time to take care of business. That starts tonight with a huge start for Matt Harvey. This used to be the exact moment you wanted him on the mound. It is time for that to happen again.
It was a Sunday game, and no offense to him, but the Mets were starting Tyler Pill. With Addison Reed likely unavailable with his pitching two innings last night, you’d be hard pressed to argue the pitching would sufficiently line up to give the Mets a chance.
Hopefully, you didn’t try to argue the Mets could win this one because they lost a non-competitive 11-1 game. The Mets were probably luck it was that close especially considering both Josh Smoker and Neil Ramirez brought there 7.00+ ERAs to the mound today.
About the only player who showed up ready to play was the scorching hot Wilmer Flores, who stayed hot going 2-4. Other than that, you’re really stretching to find another positive.
This season is falling apart fast. In fact, it may have already. Only one team since the 1930s entered June .500 and won the World Series (2003 Marlins). With the Mets not willing to fire their manager and without a Miguel Cabrera to call-up, it’s hard to argue the Mets can repeat that feat.
It’s next to impossible when you consider the Mets do have uber prospect Amed Rosario, and they still won’t call him up. If we’re being honest, if the Mets do eventually call him up, it’ll probably be too late to salvage this season.
Game Notes: The Mets scored their only run of the game in the second inning when a run scored on a Travis d’Arnaud GIDP.
In the Matrix, Morpheus said to Neo, “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Apparently, Tyler Pill is the blue pill because there were a number of strange things that happened at Citi Field that only the most ardent Mets fans could believe:
Jose Reyes started over a red hot Wilmer Flores. More than that, Zack Davies appeared to strike him out looking. Instead, the home plate umpire called it a call leading to a Reyes bases loaded walk.
Travis d’Arnaud threw out last year’s stolen base leader Jonathan Villar:
Thing of beauty! pic.twitter.com/biPntHLwZq
— GENY Mets Report (@genymets) May 31, 2017
More than that, Pill only allowed one run over 5.1 innings.
Despite Pill having a minor league 1.60 ERA this year, his peripherals indicated his ERA should be over 4.00. Long story short, Pill has been extremely lucky this year. While that luck escaped him in his major league debut, he brought it with him today.
Through of all this, the Mets had a 4-1 lead scoring twice in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a pair of doubles to tie the game at one. The Mets would then load the bases, and Reyes drew the aforementioned bases loaded walk.
This left Pill on the long side on a night despite allowing six hits, three walks, and a hit batter over 5.1 innings. Despite all of this, he wouldn’t get the win.
He didn’t get the win because in the seventh inning the unthinkable happened. Yes, it was easy to believe Salas would walk two to help load the bases with one out. It’s easier to believe that happened when you consider he was running the bases in the top half of the inning.
Blevins came on, and it appeared he did what he had to do. He struck out Shaw looking. While he did issue a bases loaded walk to Domingo Santana to make it 4-2, he did get Jett Bandy to pop up to short.
That’s when the unthinkable happened. The sure-handed Cabrera Luis Castilloed it:
Eric Thames and Hernan Perez score after Asdrubal Cabrera drops a fly ball in the infield allowing the Brewers to tie the game, 4-4!!! pic.twitter.com/8CQsuaDHlq
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) May 31, 2017
Thankfully, Santana was not hustling like Mark Teixeira did meaning the Brewers merely tied the score on the play instead of potentially going up 5-4.
The bullpen did its job. Josh Edgin and Addison Reed each pitched a scoreless inning, and Josh Smoker pitched three scoreless. Smoker got into a jam, but he got a huge strikeout to get out of the 10th. We then saw one of his signature celebrations:
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) May 31, 2017
What’s interesting is Terry Collins had the opportunity to double switch both Reed and Smoker into the game to possibly get an extra inning out of them. He passed both times.
Finally, the Mets got something started in the 12th. T.J. Rivera led off with a pinch hit single off Wily Peralta, and Conforo walked. After Reyes couldn’t get a bunt down, he hit a fielder’s choice with Thames getting Conforto at second. The Mets finally won it with a Bruce single against the drawn-in shifted infield.
A long bizarre game finally came to an end with the Mets winning a game they have typically lost all year. The final score indicates Mets fans really took the blue pill.
Game Notes: Walker’s two doubles on the night gave him 1,000 hits for his career. Mets are 3-10 when they walked six or more. They walked eight.