Kevin McGowan

Brace Yourselves: Rafael Montero Will Make The Opening Day Roster

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, he continues to yield the fewest hard hit balls on this pitching staff.

Mostly, the team is going to have to hope Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland are part pitching coaches and part miracle workers.

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.

There’s No Getting Rid of Rafael Montero

Perhaps no one in the history of the New York Mets has gotten more chances to prove themselves than Rafael Montero.  The fact that is true has continued to baffle and irritate Mets fans who have watched him pitch to a 5.38 ERA and 1.705 WHIP in his Major League career.

But it’s more than that.  The Mets have questioned his competitiveness and his toughness.  They have even had him suffer the indignity to being demoted to Double-A.  Nothing seems to work, and yet he remains on the Mets roster.  Worse yet, he remains while talented pitchers who have produced are sent packing.

If we are being fair, we should pinpoint the 2016 season as the breaking point.  In 2014, Montero acquitted himself well in his limited time, and in 2015, Montero suffered an injury, albeit one the Mets doubted truly existed.  Montero would get a chance again in 2016.  There’s no sugar coating just how poorly he pitched.  About the only place he pitched well was Binghamton, and he wasn’t exactly stellar there going 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA.

And yet, Montero remained a Met.

After the 2016 season, the Mets traded both Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations to help clear up space on the 40 man roster.  The team would lose Matthew Bowman in the Rule 5 Draft. An injured Sean Gilmartinwas designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Because of these moves and because of all the injuries, Montero got another chance in 2017.  He would reward the Mets faith and patience by going 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA, 1.748 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.

In an effort to be as fair as possible to Montero, he did get his first real extended chance to prove he belongs in the majors.  From June 15th until the end of the season, he was on the Major League roster, and he would make 21 appearances and 16 starts.  In that stretch, he was 5-7 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.591 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9.

Certainly, that was better, but it was not significantly different than his career numbers, which just have not been the caliber of a Major League starting pitcher.  While you may not feel as if the Mets lost much of value in the aforementioned pitchers lost, the healthy pitchers in the group undoubtedly pitched better than Montero last year.

Now, the Mets are repeating their same mistakes.  After the conclusion of the 2017 season, the team drafted Burch Smithin the Rule 5 Draft and sold him to the Kansas City Royals.  To make room for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez on the 40 man roster, Kevin McGowan and Chasen Bradford were designated for assignment.

While McGowan struggled in his time in the majors last year, Bradford certainly did not.  In fact, Bradford was one of the few pleasant surprises last season.  In 28 major league appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 7.2 K/9.  Montero would have to significantly improve to match those numbers, and yet, he is the one that remains on the 40 man roster.

At some point, push is finally going to come to shove, and Montero will no longer be a part of the Mets organization.  With Montero being out of options, maybe this year is the year.  Maybe not.  After all, the Mets do have spots open for competition in the Opening Day bullpen, and by now I’m sure the Mets have talked themselves into believing Mickey Callawayand Dave Eiland will turn Montero into the next Dennis Eckersley.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO

Mets Final Game An Allegory For The Season

Even though the Mets were well out of it, and there was literally nothing to play for in that final game of the season, there was some buzz to the final game of the season.  The reason why was Noah Syndergaard got the start.  He was great:

Syndergaard lasted just two innings striking out two while allowing no hits.  He would then leave the game.  This wasn’t his April 30th start against the Nationals.  No, this was planned.  Still, like this season once Syndergaard departed the pitchers who followed weren’t up to par, and the Mets chances of winning took a real hit.

Specifically, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero imploded.  Flexen allowed five runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings.  Things would have been worse for him, but Kevin McGowan bailed him out striking out the final two batters of the inning.

It was then Montero’s turn to implode in the eighth with him allowing five runs on two hits and hit walks.  The low light was a Nick Williams inside-the-park homer.

In many ways, it was quite fitting the worst ERA in team history was clinched on an inside-the-park homer in a bandbox like Citizen’s Bank Park.

Those 11 Phillies runs would go unchallenged as the Mets could only muster two hits on the day.  One of them was by Gavin Cecchini, who was the only Mets player who had a decent day at the plate going 1-3 with a walk.  In many ways, that is a fitting end to the season.  Cecchini, a guy the Mets never gave much of a chance, performed well while the Mets favored players didn’t.

Like all of us, Terry Collins was ready for it all to end, and he just wanted to get out of there:

Game Notes: In what could be the last game of his career as a Met, Jose Reyes did not enter the game.

Mets Are Younger But This Is Ridiculous

With the Mets selling at the deadline, we saw them call up young players to begin building for the future.  That meant players like Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis GrandersonAddison Reed, and Neil Walker were gone.  In their stead are young players like Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Jamie Callahan, Jacob Rhame, Gavin CecchiniKevin McGowan, and Tomas Nido.  

With that, you knew the team was going to be young, but his young?

Wow.  I expected a younger group, but not ones that were dressed up in rompers like my then nine month old son.

It seems that with the Mets recent youth movement, my son is closer to majors than I initially believed:


When deGrom Can’t Beat The Phillies, All Is Lost 

This is a season where you can pretty much pick your nadir. Tonight might have been that night because when Jacob deGrom can’t beat the Phillies, the Mets really have no hopes of winning games. 

Coming into tonight, deGrom was 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9 against the Phillies. He was 22-14 with a 2.17 ERA, 1.033 WHIP, and a 10.2 K/9. 

Tonight, deGrom allowed nine runs (six earned) off 10 hits and two walks while striking out five. 

With this poor start, deGrom has allowed five plus earned runs in three of his last five starts. Given how dominant we have seen him at times this year, and how this Mets season has gone, you’re just waiting for the Mets to announce he’s injured.

It certainly doesn’t help his team let him down once again. Dominic Smith made a second inning error allowing the first run to score in a three run inning. With the game at 5-1, Nori Aoki made a throwing error on an Odubel Herrera RBI single, which made it 6-1. The error let the other runners get into scoring position, which helped facilitate the six run inning. 

At the end of the day, the Mets lost 9-1. 

If you’re looking for a positive, Jacob Rhame got himself into a bases loaded jam, and he worked his way out of it without allowing a run. Kevin McGowan also pitched a scoreless inning. 

But really, we’re just grasping at straws looking for the positive. In the end, a bad team looked bad against another bad team. That’s it. 

Game Notes: The Mets lone run came on a first inning Travis d’Arnaud RBI double scoring Aoki. 

Mets Start Six Shortstops And Come Up Well Short

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. 

He allowed a Chris Ianetta one out double in the third. With Amed Rosario being unable to field an A.J. Pollock grounder, it was 4-0 Diamondbacks. 

The remaining two runs were on Milone. He allowed an Adam Rosales homer in the fourth and a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double in the fifth. 

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:

Of note, Cecchini has a base hit in every game he’s started this year. 

Kevin McGowan made his major league debut pitching 1.1 innings. He left the bases loaded in the seventh, and Hansel Robles walked in a run. 
Also of note, the Mets went with an all shortstop infield:

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. 

There was a ninth inning rally against Matt Koch, one of the two relief prospects traded to obtain Addison Reed in 2015. where Smith hit a pinch hit RBI ground rule double making it 7-2. 

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. 

Game Notes: David Wright player a rehab game for St. Lucie. He was o-4 with two strikeouts as the DH. Jeurys Familia made a rehab appearance for Brooklyn throwing a scoreless inning. 

Matz Can’t Last 4th, Neither Can Mets in Subway Series

On the sixth pitch of the game, Brett Gardner hit a tapper back to Steven Matz, who then threw the ball away. That set the tone for the latest poor Matz start. 

This error eventually led to Gary Sanchez hitting a three run homer. 

Matz then got in trouble in the fourth, and he didn’t get through the inning.  Then again, he didn’t deserve to with Luis Severino popping up a sacrifice bunt attempt which dropped in front of him for a base hit. 

Matz would eventually depart the inning down five runs and with the bases loaded and just one out. Chasen Bradford allowed a two RBI single to Sanchez to make it 7-0 before getting out of the inning. 

Of note on the Sanchez base hit was the Yankees again challenged Yoenis Cespedes arm and scored a run. 

After the inning was over, the latest Matz clunker was in the books. Since July 9th, Matz is 0-6 with a 10.47 ERA and a 2.051 WHIP. If you’re looking for a bright side, Aaron Judge didn’t hurt him at all. He was 0-2 with two strikeouts and a HBP. 

With Bradford doing yeoman’s work in his third straight day out of the pen, he did give the Mets a chance to get back in this one. They almost did too in the seventh. 

Judge dropped a Travis d’Arnaud fly ball for a two base error with one out in the seventh. Sandy Alderson’s new favorite player, Matt Reynolds, followed with an RBI single to get the Mets on the board. 

Brandon Nimmo, who came on for Cespedes in a double switch, chased Severino with a single. The Mets eventually loaded the bases with two outs, and Michael Conforto was up against the LOOGY Chasen Shreve. With Conforto striking out, the final nail was in the coffin. 

By the way, Gary Cohen did confirm this was the first time two Chasens appeared in the same Major League game. 

Surprisingly, the Mets had life again in the ninth. It was the same trio that got the Mets started in the seventh. d’Arnaud and Reynolds had back-to-back singles off Bryan Mitchell, and Nimmo walked to load the bases. 

Curtis Granderson then hit a grand slam to pull the Mets within 7-5. 
Unfortunately, this also meant the Yankees were now in a save situation. Dellin Betances then came on to slam the door shut. 

That grand slam was about all that was notable from the Mets side in what was a forgettable Subway Series for the Mets. Then again, it’s been a forgettable season, so this series was really just more of the same. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes was put on the DL, and Kevin McGowan was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini on the roster. 

Mets Let Phillies Beat Thenselves

If you weren’t aware the Phillies were a much worse team than the Mets, you became aware of that fact today. Who else loses to the Mets during a Sunday day game?  

The reason why the Phillies are so bad was put right there on display in the bottom of the fifth. 

The Phillies had the bases loaded and no outs against Mets starter Chris Flexen. This was the moment to take advantage of a young pitcher, and not only tie the game, but also take the lead. 

Nick Williams hit a fly ball to center fielder Michael Conforto. Rather than challenge Conforto’s arm, Freddy Galvis stayed put at third. Only problem was Odubel Herrera didn’t. He took off for third, and he was out. 

Even with a Flexen subsequent wild pitch, this was a back breaker. Instead of a lead or tie game, Flexen got out of the inning allowing just one run. It would allow him to depart in line for the win. 

Flexen battled most of the day throwing 98 pitches in five innings. He twice faced bases loaded situations, and both times he limited the damage allowing just one run. His final line was five innings, six hits, two runs, two earned, four walks, and five strikeouts. 

He got the win because the Mets bats were alive. 

Curtis Granderson, back in his familiar lead-off spot, set the table for a Mets offense that scored six runs on the day. For his part, Granderson finished a triple short of the cycle, and he would leave Citizens Bank Park with the crown. 
Granderson leadoff the game with a double off Phillies starter Zach Eflin, and he came home to score on Conforto’s 26th home run of the season. 

In the fifth, it was Granderson taking on Conforto’s role. His 17th home run of the season would score Jose Reyes, who hit a one out double. 

Granderson brought Reyes home again in the seventh. Aftet Reyes hit a one out single, he stole second putting himself in scoring position. Granderson delivered with an RBI single. Granderson then scored on a Wilmer Flores RBI single making it 6-2. 

The Flores RBI single was an important one. It wasn’t important in terms of the final score. The game wasn’t in doubt. No, the RBI was important because with the Neil Walker trade, the Mets have announced he’s getting more playing time. Put another way, he’s getting another chance to prove he can be an everyday player. 

Today, he helped himself going 2-5 with an RBI. 

Also helping themselves was the bullpen, who combined to pitch four scoreless innings to close out the game. Specifically, Chasen Bradford and Paul Sewald bolstered their cases why they should be a part of the Mets next year. 

To that end, so did Granderson.  He’s shaken off a horrendous April to be a good hitter since that point. He’s a great clubhouse presence who can play all three outfield positions. The Mets need him in the clubhouse again, and based on the injury history, they may soon need him in the field. 

For now, the Mets won. More than that, we got to see the young kids continuing to grow. 

Game Notes: Kevin McGowan was called up to take Walker’s spot on the roster. 

Las Vegas Doesn’t Have The Solution To the Mets Bullpen Problems

It’s no secret the major league club has had bullpen issues. Jerry Blevins pitches in far too many games. Jeurys Familia is possibly done for the year. Fernando Salas and Addison Reed aren’t the pitchers they were last year. Both Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles have been sent down to Triple-A due to ineffectiveness. Somehow Rafael Montero is still on the major league roster, and he does not appear to be in jeopardy of being sent back to Vegas.

Part of the reason for that is the 51s relievers have been struggling mightily of late. Worse yet, it is the arms who were possibly closest to making the major leagues that are struggling the most.

Kevin McGowan started the year using his big fastball to strike batters out at high clip. More than racking up strikeouts, McGowan was keeping runners of the bases. He had a 0.700 WHIP to go along with a sterling 0.90 ERA. With him harnessing his stuff, and the major league bullpen struggling, it appeared as it he might get his chance sooner or later. Well, it is going to be later. Since May 4th, he’s appeared in six games, and he has allowed two plus runs in four of those appearances. His last appearance was a disastrous 0.2 appearance where he allowed six earned.

Another pitcher who has struggled of late is Alberto Baldonado. The left-handed pitcher was getting both righties and lefties out in Double-A leading to his promotion to Triple-A. Since joining the 51s, Baldonado has been hit hard. In his six appearances, he has a 10.80 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP. He’s become less of a cross-over reliever and more of a LOOGY with right-handed batters hitting .261 off of him. It’s a large reason why Baldonado has allowed three earned runs in two of his last three appearances.

Both McGowan and Baldonado have presumably surpassed Erik Goeddel on the depth chart. In 2014 and 2015, Goeddel had been a good major league reliever pitching to a 2.48 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. Last year he struggled, and he would need surgery to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow. He hasn’t gotten back to the effective major league reliever. In fact, he hasn’t even gotten back to being an effective pitcher. In 16 games, Goeddel is 2-3 with an 8.68 ERA and a 2.036 WHIP. He’s probably closer to being designated for assignment than getting called up.

It is more of the same with the rest of the 51s bullpen. Ben Rowen went from a consideration for the Opening Day roster to a 5.91 ERA. David Roseboom went from revelation last year in Double-A to an 8.31 ERA. Chasen Bradford has a 4.22 ERA and a 1.622 WHIP. Beck Wheeler has a 5.95 ERA and a 1.932 WHIP. About the only reliever with good stats is Logan Taylor, and he is walking the ballpark with a 4.1 BB/9.

Right now, as bad as things are in the majors, it is worse in Triple-A. At both levels, the Mets have talented pitchers who are going to have to make the necessary adjustments to start getting batters out. If they don’t, the Mets will be forced to look outside the organization for bullpen help. That is something no reliever in the Mets organization wants right now.

Who Should Pitch The Eighth?

With Jeurys Familia having surgery that will potentially end his season, the Mets will have to reconfigure their bullpen. Likely, this will start with Addison Reed become the closer. This creates an opening for someone to pitch the eighth inning. 

Originally, that was supposed to be Fernando Salas. However, with him struggling much of this year pitching to a 5.51 ERA, he’s probably not the answer now.  That goes double when you consider Terry Collins no longer lets him face left-handed pitching. 

As a result, the Mets need to look elsewhere for someone to pitch the eighth. The Mets do have some interesting choices:

Jerry Blevins

Blevins has been even better than his career best year last year. Overall, he’s been the Mets best reliever. Still, there are some reasons why he shouldn’t be e trusted with the eighth. 

First, he’s allowed right-handed batters to hit .273/.429/.364.  Second, if you stick him with one inning, you lose the ability to deploy him against a team’s top left-handed batter in a huge spot. Last, Blevins has been overworked, and he may begin to regress as a result. 

Hansel Robles

If Blevins has been the Mets best reliever, Robles is not far behind. Through his 18 appearances, he’s 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9. He’s getting right-handed batters out, and he’s dominating left-handed batters. He’s all that you would want for the eighth inning.

Until he isn’t. To a man, everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop on Robles when he changes from a dominant reliever to a good one. Also, there’s tremendous value in his versatility. He can come in to get a big strikeout, or he can come in to pitch three innings. You never want to constrict someone like that to just one role. 

Paul Sewald

Sewald has late inning experience with his being a minor league closer. Also, after a disastrous major league debut, Sewald has been good out of the Mets bullpen. In his last five appearances, he has pitched 8.1 innings allowing just seven hits, one earned, and two walks while striking out eight. 

With all that said, it’s not really likely Collins gives this important job to a rookie. That has not been Terry Collins‘ modus operandi.  

That probably also eliminates some interesting choices like Kevin McGowan who has been dominant in Las Vegas.  With that being the case, it appears there is not one reliever Collins truly trusts over another to get those three big outs in the eighth. Ultimately, that may mean that until Sandy Alderson makes a move, we may see more of a focus on the hot hand or matchups late in the game.