Mets Merized Online » Mets bullpen Mon, 01 Feb 2016 23:26:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mets Could Still Bring Back Tyler Clippard Mon, 01 Feb 2016 02:58:27 +0000 tyler clippard

On Sunday, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Mets may still bring back free agent RHP Tyler Clippard, who remains one of the top relievers that is still on the market.

It’s no secret that the Mets have maintained a strong desire to re-sign Clippard. Right from the very start of the offseason, assistant GM John Ricco admitted as much and those sentiments have been espoused with regularity in the two months since.

The main stumbling block to a deal has been that Clippard is seeking a two-year deal, and the Mets do not want to go beyond a one year.

At this point I wouldn’t be shocked in a Mets and Clippard reunion even though I think the current Mets bullpen appears set and ready to dominate.

Last August, Clippard was thrilled to join the Mets and said that winning a championship is something he’d love to do in his career. Of course, the Mets ended up coming oh so close. Was that experience enough to make Clippard blink and take a one-year just to be a part of what could be something special in Flushing this season? I think it’s a strong possibility.

I understand Sandy Alderson’s reservations on giving Clippard two years. The veteran setup man has racked up nearly 500 innings since 2010 and showed some signs of fatigue in late September through the postseason including some loss in fastball velocity.

I’m no pitching analyst, but what has made Clippard so dominating as a shutdown reliever is a killer changeup that heavily relies on that speed differential to be an enormously effective out pitch.

Clippard, 31, went 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.052 WHIP in 32 relief appearances for the Mets last season with a 7.2 K/9.

The strikeout rate is worth noting because it was far less than his 9.8 career mark. He was nearly light’s out his first month with the Mets, but in September/October Clippard posted a 6.14 ERA and had an opposing OPS of .858.

The Mets acquired Clippard from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline for right-handed pitching prospect Casey Meisner. The Twins, Dodgers and Blue Jays have all expressed interest in Clippard, who earned $8.3 million last season.

I’d love Clippard on a one-year deal, but like Sandy, I’d be wary of committing to more than that. I’d love to hear your opinions.

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Mets Bullpen Has No Shortage Of Quality Late Inning Options Fri, 22 Jan 2016 21:08:54 +0000 bastardo

As was reported on Wednesday night, the New York Mets agreed to terms with LHP Antonio Bastardo on a two year deal worth $12 million dollars. It was not the signing that many Mets fans had hoped for last night, but a solid one nonetheless.

Bastardo is a lefty but, not limited to being just a lefty specialist, as he excels against hitters from both sides of the plate. both lefties and righties.

The signing of Bastardo gives Terry Collins another viable high-end option out of the pen to go with closer Jeurys Familia and returning right-hander Addison Reed.

Believe it or not, with this addition the Mets bullpen is actually looking very deep. To start the season the pen will most likely look like this:

Jeurys Familia – Closer

Antonio Bastardo – LHP

Addison Reed – RHP

Hansel Robles – RHP

Jerry Blevins – LHP

Erik Goeddel – RHP

Carlos Torres – RHP (no options)

Amongst other candidates you have Jim Henderson, Josh Smoker, Dario Alvarez and Akeel Morris who will likely provide depth at Triple-A Las Vegas.

And don’t forget Josh Edgin could return around May, Jenrry Mejia will return from his suspension in the second half, and that Bartolo Colon will likely head to the pen once Zack Wheeler returns – barring any setbacks or injuries.  It looks like Rafael Montero, Sean Gilmartin and Logan Verrett are ticketed to begin the season in the starting rotation for Las Vegas.

Some are wondering who will inherit the setup man role. Obviously it will come down to Bastardo vs. Reed, but Collins could just go based on matchups to start the season and then see who steps up from there. In the end I believe it will be Bastardo, but honestly both should be able to flourish in the eighth inning role.

Keep on eye on Hansel Robles, who has shown flashes of dominance and could really emerge as another lethal weapon out of that pen.  Heck even when Jenrry Mejia returns, he is also a solid setup option. Terry has got himself a revamped bullpen with no shortage of solid options and it will be interesting to see how he utilizes them.

Bastardo, 30, had a career year last season. In 57.1 innings of work, he posted a 2.98 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 26 walks, while limiting opposing hitters to a .188 batting average against. In 65 at-bats, lefties batted a minuscule .138 against him with an OPS of .448. In 143 at-bats against righties he allowed a .210 average with an OPS of .626. As seen in his stats, Bastardo can pitch against any hitter righty or lefty, making him a superb eighth inning option.

Here’s an interesting stat from MMO contributor Ed Leyro: Bastardo has faced the Nats 38 times and has a 1.84 ERA and 0.95 WHIP against them. Even better, Nats hitters are 13-for-100 against him with 39 strikeouts.

Reed, 27, is another solid option for the setup man job. Reed already has closer experience which should help him to assimilate to the late-inning role. Reed’s career has been up and down, but he looked like he regained his confidence once he joined the Mets. In 15.1 innings with the Mets, he had a 1.17 ERA and 1.043 WHIP, while striking out 17. He has the arsenal and the psyche for the job, for him it is just a matter of being more consistent.

The dark horse for the set-up role is Robles. Hansel put up an ERA of 3.67, 61 K’s, 1.02 WHIP, in 54 innings of work. He certainly has the “stuff”, and is not flustered in high leverage situations. However, he does seem to suffer from those occasional “Heilman” moments, when he could be pitching well and then suddenly lose focus and gives up a big hit that dooms him. If he could harness all of his pitches and become more of a pitcher instead of a thrower, he could be dangerous out of the pen.

Like I mentioned previously, it will likely be Bastardo pitching in the set-up role, but unlike previous seasons the Mets have themselves some quality options to turn to and more depth than they have enjoyed in a long time.



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Mets Could Forego Adding Reliever And Stick With What They Have In Bullpen Mon, 11 Jan 2016 15:17:41 +0000 jeurys familia

The New York Mets reportedly still have interest in relievers Antonio Bastardo and Tyler Clippard, but only if they are willing to accept a one-year deal which appears to be very unlikely.  On Thursday, GM Sandy Alderson clarified his approach and how he views the current relief market.

“Does it really improve the team to give a reliever a one or two year contract if we don’t believe he is better than what we have?” Alderson said.

If that sounded like the Mets might forego adding another reliever and instead head into the new season with the bullpen options they already have, a new report by Mike Puma of the New York Post pretty much substantiates that.

Puma is hearing that the Mets currently have no real target right now for the bullpen, and that at this point they are weighing whether what they already have equals what’s available.

Assuming this is true – and it’s still too early to make any declarative statements – the Mets essentially go into the 2016 season with the same bullpen they ended the World Series with minus Tyler Clippard.

During that five game series against the Royals, the Mets bullpen allowed 10 earned runs in 21.1 innings and blew all three save opportunities, leading to a disappointing World Series loss.

As currently constructed, the Mets will have Addison Reed in the setup role and Jeurys Familia reprising his role as the closer. Familia was dominating as the Mets closer last season and might be the only sure thing they have in the bullpen.

The Mets are gambling $6.5 million dollars that Reed will be the reliever that posted a 1.17 ERA in 15.1 innings for them last season and not the guy who had the 4.20 ERA in 40.2 innings with the D’Backs.

After that, the Mets will have Jerry Blevins in the lefty specialist role, Hansel Robles perhaps as the 7th inning guy, and Carlos Torres returns as the long reliever.

For the final two spots in the bullpen, take your pick out of Erik Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin, Logan VerrettBuddy Carlyle, Jim Henderson, Josh Smoker, Rafael Montero, Josh Edgin and Dario Alvarez.

The Mets would prefer to have Verrett and Montero start the season in the Triple-A rotation for Las Vegas as insurance and depth for the rotation. But whether that happens will depend on on how things go for the bullpen during Spring Training.

I would love to see the Mets make a strong push for right-handed reliever Matt Albers who won’t cost as much as Bastardo and Clippard and has been very effective and consistent since 2012 when he’s not on the DL,

Albers, 32, went 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 30 appearances for the Chicago White Sox in 2015. He missed three months of the season with a broken pinkie on his right hand, however, he did not allow an earned run after July 31 – his last 22 1/3 innings, 20 appearances.

But here’s my question for all of you. If we do fail to add a late inning reliever between now and Opening Day, are you confident going into next season with the same cast of relievers we had last season?

(Updated 1/11)


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Bullpen Notes: Mets Haven’t Ruled Out Re-Signing Tyler Clippard Mon, 07 Dec 2015 23:19:49 +0000 tyler Clippard

Latest Update

Assistant GM John Ricco said on Monday in Nashville that the club has not ruled out bringing back RHP Tyler Clippard as he seeks to sign a setup type reliever.

“There’s a lengthy group,” Ricco said about relievers Mets are considering. “We are still kind of going through and meeting and trying to gather information on that list of right-handed relievers.”

The Mets acquired Clippard from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline for right-handed pitching prospect Casey Meisner.

Clippard, 31, went 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.052 WHIP in 32 relief appearances for the Mets last season with a 7.2 K/9. He was nearly light’s out his first month with the Mets, but things fell apart in September/October when he posted a 6.14 ERA and an opposing OPS of .858, causing him to lose the setup role to Addison Reed.  He allowed 4 home runs in his final 14.2 innings pitched.

Previous Report, 8:00 AM

Assistant GM John Ricco spoke to reporters during a media session at the Winter Meetings and pretty much confirmed all the reports that relievers Darren O’Day and Joakim Soria were not being considered by the Mets because they were deemed too expensive.

While the Mets do want to add a setup man to bridge the gap to closer Jeurys Familia, team officials confirmed that they were not looking to spend the kind of dollars it would take to sign any of the top tier options on the market.

On Sunday, Darren O’Day agreed to a four-year, $31 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles, and Ryan Madson signed a three-year, $22 million deal with the Oakland Athletics.

“We didn’t see ourselves playing in that top end where O’Day was,” Ricco said. “But I think that next tier, we’re going to be keeping an eye on. And if it looks like some of those guys are moving fast, then it would affect us.” (ESPN New York)

“We’re going to meet with a lot of the representatives for the relievers here over the next couple of days. If they start to go away, that could affect us.”

It’s presumed but not confirmed that perhaps the Mets are looking at left-handers Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo, which we’ve discussed quite frequently on MMO. And on Friday we suggested they take a look at former Marlins closer Steve Cishek, who was then linked to the Mets on Saturday by Newsday.

Ricco believes the Mets have the luxury of time.

“The conversations I’ve had with the agents for the guys who we’ve had interest in led me to believe they weren’t that close. They wanted to give themselves a chance to come here and talk with some of the teams. I’m not really that worried about that right now.”

Additionally, Ricco said they are hoping to re-sign lefty reliever Jerry Blevins, who pitched just 5.0 innings before having his season wiped out by a fractured arm and complications. He is expected to be fully healed by Spring Training and it’s believed he’s also open to a reunion.

One more note…

Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon is still an option to return as a potential long reliever for the Mets bullpen. “I think the door is still open with him,’ Ricco said on Sunday. “And I think we’ll meet with his guys out here. I can see a fit there.”

Ricco added that the team has had conversations with Colon about a relief role with the Mets, and the “Big Sexy” was open to the idea. However, he first wants to see if he can land a starting pitching role first.

There you have it… A complete Winter Meetings wrap on the Mets and their quest to bolster their bullpen this offseason.

If it were my decision, I’d go with Tony Sipp and Jerry Blevins and call it Mission Accomplished.

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Market For Reliever Joakim Soria Is Getting Robust Thu, 03 Dec 2015 15:55:12 +0000 Joakim_Soria_DET

Joakim Soria, who is one of the top relief pitchers on the market along with Darren O’Day, is looking for a contract worth approximately $27 million over three years according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.

The Mets, who are in need of another shutdown pitcher to pair with Jeurys Familia, are reportedly interested in Soria who would seem to be a perfect fit for a Mets bullpen in search of a setup reliever.

The two-time All Star is a very consistent lock down reliever who has a lot of closing experience over the course of his career, logging 202 saves, including 24 last season.

In his career pitching for the Royals, Rangers, Tigers, and Pirates, he has appeared in 444 games, striking out 481 batters while walking 126 in 461 innings, while posting a solid 2.57 ERA and 1.062 WHIP.

Last season for the Tigers and Pirates, Soria pitched 67.2 innings, striking out 64 batters and walking 19 while logging 24 saves to go with a 2.53 ERA and 1.0941 WHIP. He held batters to a .219 batting average.

Soria features a four-pitch arsenal including a fastball (90-93 mph), changeup (84-86 mph), curveball (69-72 mph), and slider (77-80 mph). In the last three years (2013-2015), Soria has been effective against both left and right handed batters.

LHB: .230/.270/.367 — 271 AB, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 7 HR, 14 BB, 1 HBP

RHB: .209/.293/.308 — 234 AB, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HR, 25 BB, 4 HBP

At 31 years old, he isn’t quite as super dominating as he was in his days as the Royals’ All-Star closer. However, he still is an extremely effective reliever and has recovered just fine since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.

The market for Soria is becoming robust of late with two more teams in the hunt according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The Royals and Blue Jays are now monitoring Soria, joining the Giants, Rangers, Twins and of course the Mets as teams with reported interest.

The $9 million a year for a reliever of his caliber doesn’t seem too unreasonable and he would certainly fill a critical void for the Mets, giving them three relievers along with Familia and Addison Reed with the ability to close games. Soria might even provide a better value than O’Day who is reportedly close to inking a four-year deal.


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Rain Could Be Factor, But Game 1 Will Go On Tue, 27 Oct 2015 16:29:01 +0000 RoyalsOrioles JFS 10-13-14 0098

It has been pouring rain all morning in Kansas City and it’s expected to continue through the afternoon and early evening.

However, according to the latest forecasts the chances that it will cancel Game 1 of the World Series between the Mets and the Royals are very remote and everyone believes it may get delayed an hour, but the game will be played in its entirety.

The hourly forecast now shows showers decreasing from 68 percent at 6:00 PM eastern time, to 35 percent at 8:00 PM when the game is scheduled to start, and then drops down to a 20 percent chance of rain by 9:00 PM. By 10:00 PM it diminishes completely.

So it looks like maybe we’ll get a short rain delay, but the game will go on as planned.

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume the game would get rained out and the two teams would play Game 1 on Wednesday, Game 2 on Thursday, and the series would continue Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Citi Field with no travel day off. Can someone explain the following quote from a prominent Mets Blogger?

“The rain helps the Royals, there is no way around it. If tonight is rained out, it will mean Games 1 through 4 are played four consecutive days, with a Game 5 coming on a fifth-straight day. The Mets bullpen is already a question mark. The lack of an off day will mean over-exposing it more than it already will be in a short series. A rainout also means the potential for a five-man rotation, because there is no off day to break it up.”

I have a few questions with this, chief among them – How would playing five straight games give the Royals an advantage over the Mets? Try as I can, I can’t make any sense out of that statement. It just doesn’t compute…

1. Why would the Royals bullpen be any more or less taxed than the Mets?

2. Isn’t the Mets bullpen more rested than the Royals who were still playing in the ALCS two days after we clinched?

3. Which four starters will likely pitch into the seventh inning, ours or theirs? The answer is a no-brainer if you look at average innings per start. We wipe the floor with them.

4. And if we did need a 5th starter who would you rather have the seasoned veteran Bartolo Colon or whatever the Royals end up throwing at us? Colon outpitched both Medlen or Duffy.

So I go back to this statement: “The rain helps the Royals, there is no way around it.”

Can someone please explain it to me?

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NLCS Game 4 Thread: Mets vs Cubs, 8:07 PM – Getcha Champagne Ready! Wed, 21 Oct 2015 18:43:28 +0000 steven matz nlds

Rookie left-hander Steven Matz will look to send the New York Mets to their first World Series since the Subway Series in 2000 when they take on the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Matz will be opposed by Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel in a 8:07 PM showdown at Wrigley Field tonight.

Only once in major league history has a team come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. That was Theo Epstein’s Boston Red Sox in 2004, against the New York Yankees. But as the saying goes, lighting never strikes twice in the same place. Sorry, Theo.

The Mets have never led a best-of-seven series, three games to none. New York has swept two postseason series in team history – 1969 NLCS vs. Atlanta and 2006 NLDS vs. Los Angeles) – both of those series were a best-of-five.

Mets Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson – RF
  2. David Wright – 3B
  3. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  4. Yoenis Cespedes – CF
  5. Lucas Duda – 1B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  7. Michael Conforto – LF
  8. Wilmer Flores – SS
  9. Steven Matz – LHP

The Mets can advance to the World Series tonight! The Mets took a commanding three games to none lead in the series last night. Murphy continued his tremendous post-season, hitting another homer, while Wright and Cespedes both had multiple hits. On the other side, deGrom labored in the first inning (well over 25 pitches) but managed to pitch 7 innings allowing only 2 runs. The Mets bullpen did the rest as they shut down the Cubs for the final two innings.

Steven Matz will try to clinch it for the Mets tonight. In the regular season he was 4-0 over 6 starts and 35.2 innings with 34 K’s. His line from his only post-season start doesn’t tell the whole story. He was pegged for 3 earned runs over 5.0 innings, but really he had only one poor inning, and the ball that allowed 2 runs to come in wasn’t that well struck. He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the Cubs roster in a major league game.

The Mets bats look to attack Jason Hammel tonight who was 10-7 this season over 31 starts and a 3.74 ERA while pitching 170.2 innings with 172 K’s. He pitched in the Cubs clincher game against the Cardinals where he allowed 2 ER over 3.0 innings while walking 3 and striking out 2. He had one start against the Mets this year back in May and it was very good allowing 1 ER over 8.0 innings. The Mets have the following numbers against Hammel:

  • K Johnson 9-30, 2B, 2 HR
  • Granderson 8-24, 2 2B, 2 HR
  • Murphy 6-11, 2 2B
  • Wright 1-7
  • Cuddyer 1-7

Let’s Go Mets!


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Familia Extends Postseason Saves Record With Perfect Ninth Wed, 21 Oct 2015 14:30:01 +0000 jeurys familia

Jeurys Familia was flawless yet again as he saved his fourth straight postseason game for the Mets last night, leaving them just one win away from their first World Series since 2000.

Familia came in and retired all three batters he faced in the 9th inning, and he now has the opportunity to close out all four games in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.

Lost in all the Murphy magic and Mets starting pitching has been the brilliance of Familia this postseason. He now has allowed just two hits in 8.2 innings pitched this postseason and he is perfect in his save opportunities. Familia may get the opportunity to get his sixth save on Wednesday night, which would give the Mets the National League title and send them somewhere they haven’t been in 15 years – the World Series.

“Obviously this year, we’ve had our struggles, but I can’t stress enough again just teammates, the atmosphere in the clubhouse, the people around you, it’s really put me in a good place, which is why I think I’ve succeeded this year. And I’m thankful to God and the team for giving me the opportunity to step into this role,” Familia said through an interpreter.

His historic regular season has carried over into this year’s postseason, as he now has extended the Mets postseason saves record to five. Previously it had been held by Armando Benitez, Tug McGraw, and Billy Wagner, who all recorded three postseason saves.

As a whole the Mets bullpen has been extremely solid this entire postseason, and there is now a serious level of confidence when the Mets have any kind of lead after the 7th inning.

Even though the lights have gotten a little brighter for Jeurys Familia in these crucial postseason games, he goes after these games the same as he would in the regular season, and attributes part of his success to his teammates

“I’ve had the good fortune of being around many veterans such as Bartolo and LaTroy Hawkins, so I’ve talked to them a lot about what this experience is like,” said Familia.

“I also just talk a lot with all of my teammates in general, and they’ve really built up my confidence. They’ve really helped build up my confidence, I can’t stress that enough.”

He credited veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon specifically as a mentor and friend.

“Bartolo the last two years we hang, he’s one of the guys that helps me not just in baseball, but as a person, too, to be a better person. I’ve got an opportunity to be close to him and learn from him because he’s been in baseball a long time. I just try to ask him whatever question I have about baseball or life, I ask Bartolo. For me he’s like another brother.”

An absolute beast on the mound but so humble in real life. Don’t change anything Jeurys.

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Matz Sharp, Hits 93-94 MPH In Simulated Game, Says Back Is Fine, Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:21:38 +0000 matz

Mets LHP Steven Matz tossed a five-inning simulated game this morning at the Mets Complex in Port St. Lucie.

The rookie southpaw threw 80 pitches and according to Treasure Coast reporter Jon Santucci who was on hand, Matz was consistently hitting 93-94 MPH with his fastball. Definitely a great sign.

Matz told a group of reporters after the outing that his back felt fine and that the team will make a determination on whether he will be added to the team’s NLDS roster after waiting to see how his back responds on Friday.

“I felt really good,” Matz said, according to the Daily News. “I took two weeks off, so I was a little rusty the first couple innings, but I feel really good, really strong. My arm feels great, back feels great. I’m ready to go.”

The Mets have until 1:00 PM on Friday to finalize their NLDS roster. 

If Matz makes the cut, he is expected to start Game 4. If not, then LHP Sean Gilmartin will be added to the roster in place of Matz, according to ,Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

October 7

Sandy Alderson told reporters at Citi Field that LHP Sean Gilmartin will be boarding the flight with the team this afternoon as a fallback option in the event that LHP Steven Matz is unable to make the NLDS roster.

Essentially, this means that the Mets bullpen is pretty much set and will include Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon.

Additionally, Carlos Torres will travel to Florida to join the taxi squad of players who will continue to train and stay in shape in case they are needed.

Steven Matz, as I’m certain you already know, successfully threw a side session and a bullpen this week. However what is most paramount is whether he can throw at least 90 pitches in an Instructional League start tomorrow in Port St. Lucie.

Hopefully that goes well and if it does, expect Matz to be the starter in Game 4 of the NLDS at Citi Field. If not, the Mets may just go with Jacob deGrom on short rest or perhaps Bartolo Colon reenters the picture.

I feel confident that no matter how this plays out the Mets are in a good position for that all-important fourth game. The Mets understand that if they are down 2-1 entering that game, how truly critical that start will be. And they seem to be pulling all the stops to make sure Matz has every chance to pitch in that all-important game. There’s a lot riding on that left-handed arm of young Steven Matz.

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MMO Roundtable: What Will Be The Key To Beating The Dodgers? Wed, 07 Oct 2015 21:29:49 +0000 jeurys familia

Here is the first of an 8-Part MMO Roundtable Series where our staff will handle a variety of questions about the Mets Post Season as well as looking ahead to the Hot Stove Season and 2016.

What Will Be The Key To Beating The Dodgers In The NLDS?

Mike SimonJacob deGrom reverting to mid-season form in Game 1. Facing Kershaw, deGrom and the Mets know runs will likely be hard to come by. DeGrom must go toe-to-toe with Kershaw, especially knowing that Noah Syndergaard is starting Game 2. That’s not to say at all that Syndergaard can’t pitch well and win, but it can’t necessarily be counted on given his struggles on the road for most of the year, and as a rookie he doesn’t need the added pressure of needing to tie the series for Mets to stay alive.

Gerry Silverman – Key to winning the NLDS? Probably nailing at least a split in the first two games in LA and showing that the team can hold its own against the Kershaw/Greinke combo in that ballpark. Since the Mets did this before earlier this year, I would expect that the psychological hurdle would not be as great. If Cespedes can smack a few, it would help also.

Michael Branda - Getting early leads, and forcing the Dodgers to use their bullpen. The Mets should be facing 2 of the 5 best pitchers in baseball twice in a 5 game series. If they are pitching in the 7th inning, then the Mets are in trouble.

XtreemIcon – The offense. The pitching can shut down any team and the bullpen is a strength, as well. The offense will have to scratch out a few runs.

Matt Fritz – To me, the biggest key to winning the NLDS over the Dodgers will be the effectiveness of the Mets bullpen. I am confident that our starting pitching will be good enough to keep us in these games, but will the bullpen be able to hold a one or two run lead? If the Mets are down 1-0 against Clayton Kershaw going into the bottom of the 8th, which Tyler Clippard will we see? The one who was 2-0 with a 0.51 ERA for the first month the Mets had him, or the one who had a 6.14 ERA in the final 14 games of the season?

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Joe Spector – Pitching, pitching and more pitching will be the key. If the Mets young guns can live up to their potential and stay focused, anything can happen. Of course if we don’t hit…

Andre Dobiey – DeGrom, Syndergaard and Harvey hold the keys to the NLDS for the Mets. If they can be on top of their games, they have the ability to match Kershaw and Greinke and have the edge vs. other LAD starting pitchers.

Logan Barer – In his postseason career, Clayton Kershaw is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 51 IP. If the trend continues and he falters, even if the Mets lose to Greinke, they would come home at least tied 1-1 with two favorable match-ups with Matt Harvey and Steven Matz pitching at home. The Dodgers may have the best one-two punch in the game with two Cy Young candidates, but the Mets have the best one-two-three-four punch in the game for sure. That starting pitching depth is key.

Robert Piersall – The key to winning the NLDS against the Dodgers will most certainly be having Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard go tit for tat with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Additionally, Mets hitters must make Greinke and Kershaw labor through a lot of pitches and chase them from the game early. The Mets’ offense will stack up better against their bullpen anyway, and once you get past Greinke and Kershaw, the rest of the Dodgers rotation isn’t elite.

Spencer Barnes – Bullpen performance will be the key to a series victory. It’s absolutely crucial for the Mets to take one of the first two games in LA. Even if they will be against Kershaw and Greinke, New York will be sending out two formidable options as well in deGrom and Syndergaard. This series should be filled with tight, low-scoring matches, and whichever team’s bullpen can keep its metaphorical eyes open without blinking will likely move onto the NLCS.

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Burn Out Or Fade Away? The Matt Harvey Quandary Fri, 25 Sep 2015 16:00:56 +0000 keith hernandez

Our NY Mets broadcast team is, in my estimation, by far the most interesting and engaging television crew in the majors. On any given night you may receive a clinic on the splitter from Ron Darling, incredible tidbits of trivia from Gary, and the always unique and entertaining perspective of the incorrigible Keith Hernandez. During the first game of the Braves series for instance the conversation inevitably turned to Matt Harvey’s shortened but brilliant start against the Yankees who mounted a disastrous comeback against the Mets bullpen. Darling went on to reference a fascinating article by Dirk Hayhurst – an ex player turned author and broadcaster — on the Matt Harvey innings limit situation. Hayhurst brought up a really interesting question that a reporter had once asked him when he was a player,

“Would you rather have a three-year-long career in the big leagues, breaking records and leaving your mark on the game, only for your arm to explode and never play again at the end of it? Or would you take an average career lasting ten healthy but yawningly mediocre years, which would undoubtedly disappear into the annals of history?”

He considered his answer a no-brainer, he’d opt for the 10 years. This surprised the reporter who responded with disgust and told him he was playing for the wrong reasons. Hayhurst put the question to his teammates and according to him, to a man, every one of them opted for the longer unspectacular career.

Hayhurst makes some good points. 10 years puts you on 10 teams with ten shots at a post season bonus, but more importantly it gets you a full pension and at least one “life changing” contract. Basically it sets you up for life.

Hayhurst elaborates: “Ten years of living the dream you hatched when you were a kid. Best of all, when you retire—in your thirties—you’re set for life and you can still shampoo your head with your throwing arm!”

When Keith and Ron got hold of this they were clearly perturbed. Both quickly articulated that in their time just about every player would have opted for the brief but glorious career, reminding me, somewhat morbidly, of Kurt Cobain’s Neil Young inspired suicide note, “better to burn out, than fade away.”

matt harvey

It makes you wonder, Is Harvey playing for the right reasons? Is the media focus on one player distracting from the accomplishments of the team as a whole? Is Harvey’s ostensible turn towards self-preservation eroding the team’s rolling playoffs-or-bust momentum? It isn’t lost on Mets fans that the team has appeared lethargic and uninspired since the Yankee series. Hayhurst concludes the piece with the following:

“For every Derek Jeter this game creates, there are dozens of players who through no fault of their own are disliked and reviled simply because they failed to live up to unrealistic expectations they had no part in creating. Fans are selfish, the media is fickle, and reputations come and go.”

It’s a strong argument to be sure. If Harvey blows his elbow out in some selfless act of heroic over-the-limit sacrifice for the sake of a championship or a playoff push, the fans would forever be grateful, but Harvey would have pitched himself out of a “set for life” payday. We all have fond memories of Mike Baxter but I don’t think any of us are willing to put his kids through college.

Ron and Keith’s dismay at players looking out for themselves is somewhat disingenuous. Both were paid rather well in their time and both had long productive careers, which begs the question, had they lacked the top-shelf talent to rest comfortably on the assumption that they could make a lengthy go of it, would they have thought differently? Would they have thought differently if more money was involved? Keith made just over $15 million dollars and Ron made just under $18 million over the course of their careers respectively. Harvey stands to make more than either of those figures in a single season once his arbitration years run out.

It’s easy to alter perceptions after the fact, framing yourself as a seeker of glory, an athlete dying young with laurels and whatnot, but if Ron and Keith really had to decide back when they were first or second year players I wonder whether they’d really choose the shorter career … on the other hand there is the indisputable fact that both Keith and Ron were ferocious competitors who appeared to embody the win at all costs mentality. One could just as easily argue that it was precisely their hell or high water attitude that allowed them to be integral members of the last Mets team to bring home a world title.

The notion that there are “winning players” who make invaluable contributions to winning clubs is a popular adage — players who leave it all on the field sacrificing body and mind for the sake of winning. As fans we cheer these selfless combatants who don’t shy from walls and barrel head first into the fray. We look at guys like Mike Trout admiring his abandon, all the while wondering whether he’ll be around in a few years. A body can only run into so many walls and arms have only so many bullets … in the end every player has to confront his mortality, some sooner, some later.

Harvey is a competitor, he has a fearsome will on the mound that allows him to dominate and which compels him to push harder and longer, but he’s not stupid. Nobody’s going to pass a hat around Citi Field in the event his elbow explodes, and unlike the young and the reckless likes of Harper (who himself was advised to tone it down) and Trout, Harvey has already experienced a major health setback early in his career. In addition, pitchers walk a far more precarious line when it comes to career ending injuries, always one awkward pitch from a catastrophic end.

Sure the whole innings limit fiasco could have been handled differently, the participants could have hammered out a plan in a back room early in the season without so much as a whisper of controversy. The Mets contend their due diligence on the matter is unassailable, that they made every attempt to safeguard Harvey’s well-being, and the at times profanity laden veracity of these claims from the Mets GM himself (not to mention the forays into a six man rotation) only adds credence to this. So maybe Matt was yanked around a bit by an agent who has always been too quick to resort to the media splash, maybe there were “hard and soft” layers of interpretation that were never rendered concrete because Boras and Alderson detest each other’s company … But lets hold off on putting Matt Harvey on the wrong side of some sort of Mets code of honor because he did some soul searching and realized he could lose everything.

If the team mistook his actions for selfishness it’s their own fault and it’s hypocritical as well because I am all but certain just about every player in that clubhouse would make the same decision. Ron and Keith can have their glory after the fact — they deserve it, they brought home the very biggest of prizes. Maybe they didn’t care as much about long careers back then, maybe they hearken to a devil-may-care youth when they felt invulnerable, who knows … but for every player who enjoyed a long prosperous career there are countless who lit up the baseball skies for a moment only to end up back in Dad’s hardware store in Topeka.

Lets not begrudge Matt Harvey for being mindful of this sobering baseball reality.

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Terry Collins Honored By Manager of the Year Chatter Wed, 23 Sep 2015 16:25:04 +0000 terry collins

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports says Terry Collins has done enough to merit the Manager of the Year award in the National League.

“In a league of Joe Maddon, Clint Hurdle, Mike Matheny and Don Mattingly, who’ve won their games and will get their Manager of the Year votes, nobody’s done more and put up with more and bled more freely than Collins. For a summer, he’s been the best of any of them.”

Collins told reporters that he is honored by all the Manager of the Year talk.

“I will tell you, it’s always nice to get an award,” Collins said. “It always is. But those kinds of things, it’s all about the players, believe me. I’ve talked to a lot of great managers in the game that have won this award hundreds and hundreds of times, and I will tell you what: very few of them have ever said, ‘Boy, I managed my butt off.’ They put the right names in the lineups is what they’ve done, and let them go play.”

Collins has waited a career to manage a team in the position of his current Mets. It’s too bad he can’t enjoy it. For Collins guiding the Mets to a Division title must seem like one of those pop-up games where you yield a hammer and try to hit objects scattered before you. Every time you connect with one object, another one pops up somewhere on the board.

With every game taking on monumental proportions for Collins and his Mets, managing the young Met pitching staff has to be just about driving Collins to insanity. Terry Collins has been around the barn. He’s seen and worked with all kinds of baseball pitchers including workhorse pitchers, anchors of a pitching staff, top pitching prospects, etc.

Collins knows at heart that’s what he has in his Met ace Matt Harvey. “I want you to understand something,” Collins told the press after Sunday’s Yankee game. “This kid is still a tremendous competitor. Tremendous. Regardless of what he’s been told to say, what he’s been told to do, he’s a tremendous competitor.”

But, in a day and age of blown out arms, pitch counts and innings limits, the world continually shifts beneath the Met manager’s feet. That was on full display Sunday night in front of a national baseball audience when Harvey threw five dominating innings with the Mets nursing a 1-0 lead over their crosstown rivals, the Yankees.

And, after their pitching ace threw only 77 pitches, Harvey was removed from the game, the Mets bullpen imploded, and Collins watched his team suffer an embarrassing 11-2 defeat.

Here’s Collins carefully trying not to explode after the game as reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports:

“It’s hard for me to get it. I am at heart an old school guy, but I understand where it’s coming from, therefore you adjust to it. You either adjust to it or get out. I might get out pretty soon, but I’m adjusting to it right now.”

In some ways what the Mets are asking of Collins must feel like being asked to lead his men to the front lines of the most important two week battle of his life, with water pistols as weapons.

On Tuesday, Collins will use Logan Verrett in place of Jacob deGrom in the starting rotation. It’s possible Collins will have Harvey for only three or four innings a start down the stretch prior to the final weekend against the Nationals.

“It’s hard. It’s hard. We’ve waited five years to be in this situation. And now you’ve got you’re # 1 pitcher, you’ve got to worry about what he does. You’re # 2 pitcher, we’re skipping. The # 3 pitcher, we’ve already skipped, in a pennant race.”

For five years, Terry Collins has been a good soldier. He’s prodded, he’s nurtured, he’s hemmed and he’s hawed, sometimes biting his tongue but always optimistic.

Now on the verge of attaining a success many predicted Terry Collins would never be around to see, the Met manager is being asked to get it done in the most unconventional of ways. In his day starting pitchers were the ultimate warriors, today they are pampered, protected and swaddled in bubble wrap.

“It’s for the best of them. It’s for the best of the organization. And, so you suck it up, and move on, and get ready for the next day.”

Terry Collins, an old school warhorse, yet so too is an organization guy who knows the ropes. With his eyes fixed on the finish line, Terry Collins soldiers on.


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Blame the Bullpen for Last Night’s Loss Mon, 21 Sep 2015 16:29:37 +0000 tim stauffer

Blame whoever you want. Blame Terry Collins. Blame Scott Boras. Heck, even blame Matt Harvey if you want. But really it’s the bullpen you should be pointing fingers at this morning.

Last night, after Matt Harvey pitched five dazzling innings of one-hit ball, he was removed from the game by his manager after throwing 77 pitches so that they could preserve him for a more significant role in the postseason.

If you happened to miss the first five innings of the game last night, you may have been tricked into believing this was a blowout from the start with the final score being 11-2. The truth is, when Harvey exited the game and the bullpen took over in the 6th inning, the Mets held a 1-0 lead over the Yankees and all seemed well.

As frustrating as it was to see Harvey get removed from a game in which he seemed just about as dominant as he’s been all year, we all knew it was going to happen. Terry Collins said it was the plan before the game and even alluded to it in an interview with ESPN’s Buster Olney in the 4th inning, “He’s done after five,” the Mets manager said.

The bottom line is, Terry Collins and the Mets needed four sharp innings from their bullpen to preserve a series win over the Yankees, and they didn’t get it.

Hansel Robles got things started for the Yankees when he surrendered five runs on three hits and wasn’t able to complete the sixth. Not exactly what the Mets were looking for from Robles. Sean Gilmartin, Eric O’Flaherty, Erik Goeddel, Carlos Torres and Tim Stauffer all followed and combined to allow six more runs in the final three innings.

In a perfect world, or at least the way the Mets had envisioned it, Robles, Reed, Clippard, and Familia all would have picked up where their ace left off, the offense would have tacked on a few more runs, and the Mets would have went to on to win and take the series.

But instead, the bullpen completely imploded and dropped the Mets lead over the Nationals for the division lead to six games.

The good news is the Mets will now go on to face the Braves, Reds, and Phillies before they close out the season at home against the Nats. However, with all the talk of innings limits and skipping starts, it is imperative that this Mets bullpen sharpens up down the stretch and brings some momentum into the playoffs should they get there.

Last night, was a playoff-like test for that bullpen. This time they failed. Hopefully the next time they are put into a high pressure situation it is a different outcome. After all, every game from here on out is a playoff game for the Mets.


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Amazin’ Again: This Was Never Supposed To Happen Wed, 09 Sep 2015 14:30:03 +0000

This was never supposed to happen.

The 2015 Washington Nationals are one year removed from a 96-win season and an NL East crown by 17.0 games. The Mets, meanwhile, could not muster 80 wins and tied for second place. The Nationals were the new kings of the NL East — and the Mets? Irrelevant for years, save for jokes that allowed a dead horse to be reincarnated and beaten to death again. The Mets could barely muster four wins in 19 games against the Nationals in 2014.

Fresh off a playoff appearance, the Nationals wanted to assert their dominance. They let go of Rafael Soriano, Adam LaRoche, and some guy named Tyler Clippard. How could that hurt? They signed Casey Janssen, acquired Yunel Escobar and Trea Turner and then exercised their option on Denard Span. Pretty basic stuff, once you overlook the fact that they dropped a $200 million investment on Max Scherzer. Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister — with Joe Ross waiting in the wings and a loaded offense? The Nationals were ready.

Meanwhile, what did those Mutts put together over in Queens? Michael Cuddyer and the loss of a first-round draft pick. Oh sure, it did not seem like much, but it looks a little better when you supplement the list with… John Mayberry Jr. and a handful of minor league contracts. Sean Gilmartin and Jerry Blevins were smart moves, for sure, but could they really turn the Mets into the Beast in the East? Let’s make it a little more interesting and remove Zack Wheeler, Vic Black, and Bobby Parnell while we suspend Jenrry Mejia. Matt Harvey would be back — but obviously, the Mets would fall short.

No, the Nationals saw no reason to be worried. This was never supposed to happen.

Even after an unlikely win streak, the Mets stood merely floating above .500 and in second place in July. The Nationals had no reason to worry — they had potentially the best hitter in the NL anchoring their lineup and a lead in the division. The Mets had kept it close and showed promise with their new young arms in Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, sure. But it was not enough — not yet, at least.

July 24th swung around, and our Mets acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for two pitching prospects. (If you’re still a fan Rob Whalen, best of luck, kiddo.) The best offensive prospect the Mets have had since David Wright hits the roster in Michael Conforto. The Nationals, however, acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies to shore up their bullpen, which seems to help bolster a potential position of weakness. The Nationals were in control folks…this was never supposed to happen.

yoenis Cespedes

In a twist of fate, the Mets shore up their bullpen with that same Tyler Clippard guy. After days of drama surrounding an emotional Wilmer Flores and a suddenly revitalized fan base, the Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes.

This was never supposed to happen.

Yet, the Mets took sole possession of first place on August 3rd. It was the first time they were alone at the top since June 19th. The Mets received ominous offensive production from Cespedes and Conforto that perhaps foreshadowed a narrative that some optimists could see on that night already — or maybe it could be found in the fact that the ageless Colon tossed eight dominant innings. Either way, this was never supposed to happen.

The morning of August 4th saw over a 30% improvement in the Mets chances of winning the NL East from where they stood less than a week ago.

Mets Odds

The Mets, at that point, were shown to statistically have the easiest schedule remaining — with a combined opposing win percentage of just .455. Consider the fact that a chunk of those remaining games were against teams like Phillies and Rockies that had further decimated their ranks, and there was cautious hope in Flushing. The Nationals, however, had the second easiest schedule remaining — so there was reason for fear too.

After all, we have been around. We know the Mets. It never really comes easy for us, does it? So why would this year be any different than the others? So even through a dominant month of August, we heard all the regular phrases.

“The Mets are the perennial chokers.”

“The Mets are only winning against bad teams — wait until they face some real competition. This is merely a phase.”

“It’s officially September, the Mets are in first place, and I’m nervous. The nightmare of 2007 and 2008 is baked in to my experience as a Mets fan. The Ghost of September Past.”

It becomes unbearable to think even fellow fans of the team you would bleed for were so quick to be downers.

Could you really blame them, though? This narrative seems all too familiar — and a little too hopeful for a team that has not sniffed the playoffs since 2006. This new culture would take some getting used to. The rest of August brought acquistions of a left-handed pitcher I would rather not discuss and ex-closer Addison Reed to further improve the Mets bullpen.

Cue September 7th, and the Mets roll into Washington with a four game lead.

This is where it happens, Satish. This is where the breakdown begins right in front of your eyes.

And then, it happened.

The breakdown? No.

The solidification of a bonafide contender? Damn right…

With all the drama surrounding the Mets in the past week or so, the last two days showed a little spark many have not seen in years. Some younger fans have never seen it at all — but they can recognize it from a mile away.

This is not a team you look forward to facing anymore. The swagger, the success, the pride… somehow, it all found its way back. The name on the front matters more than the name on the back again. It did not matter whether it was Wright, Flores, Nieuwenhuis, or Cespedes driving in runs — the important thing was that a Met player was doing the damage. Hell, it just mattered that the Mets were doing damage.

familia d'Arnaud

And that question mark of a bullpen? The one that has not allowed a run to the Nationals in their biggest series of 2015?

None of this makes sense. This was never supposed to happen.

Bryce Harper was supposed to lead the Nationals to an NL East crown in 2015 and an NL MVP for himself.

Max Scherzer was supposed to make their rotation the deepest and best in the NL.

Sandy Alderson was never supposed to make the MLB team better — I have even said it myself.

Jeurys Familia was supposed to falter as a closer and was definitely never supposed to debut a new pitch.

Michael Conforto was supposed to be a bust like Fernando Martinez.

David Wright was supposed to be a shell of the player he once was.

Yoenis Cespedes was supposed to fail under the big time spotlight of meaningful September baseball in New York.

The New York media and drama involving Matt Harvey were supposed to rip this team from the inside out.

On the morning of September 9th, 2015 — the Mets are in first place with a 6.0 game lead over the Washington Nationals and a magic number of 19, but it might already be over.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is setting now;
the band has quieted down, and Nationals fans wonder how?

Somewhere, there is hope, but not in that 8-7 score;
For there is no joy in Natsville — the mighty Mets won one more.

Like a child filled with awe and inspiration at the presence of a master storyteller, I am honored to have been able to watch this story unfold. I am not sure of how it ends yet — but the ride has been promising and thrilling.

This was never supposed to happen, but it did, and I could not be any happier.

Please enjoy a 2015 Mets Tribute Video created over the weekend by our own Avery Decker.

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Mets Pick Harvey Up After Tough Start, Unsure When He’ll Pitch Next Wed, 09 Sep 2015 10:00:17 +0000 CITY-METS-master675

Mets right-hander Matt Harvey has 20 no-decisions during his career, 15 of them in which he allowed one earned run or less. He has picked up the Mets time and time again. While some might disagree with how he handled the fiasco Scott Boras dropped in his lap, what Harvey has done for this team cannot be discredited.

Sure, Harvey has seen brighter days in orange and blue, but the Mets might not be at this point if not for him. He mans the front-lines of one of the best rotations in baseball and is a force to be reckoned with no matter if the opponent is the Miami Marlins or the St. Louis Cardinals.

Obviously, Harvey did not have his best stuff last night. Terry Collins said he tried too hard and was overthrowing taking away from his usual excellent command. He pitched 5 1/3 innings while allowing seven runs (although several of them may not have scored if not for a Yoenis Cespedes outfield blunder).

You could tell from the first inning that Harvey, who has pitched very well as of late, did not have his usual dominant repertoire. After Michael Taylor smoked a bases-loaded single in the sixth that trickled past Cespedes leading to all four runners scoring, a dejected Harvey hung his head as he walked back to the mound before being pulled. Harvey needed to be picked up in a way that he has picked up his team countless times in the past. His teammates responded.

The Washington Nationals’ bullpen combined to give up six runs while walking six in the seventh inning. It was a team effort that saw contributions from David Wright, Michael Conforto, Wilmer Flores and of course, Cespedes who had the decisive blow: a three-run, two-out double off  Drew Storen.

With the game tied 7-7, the Mets handed the Nationals the final blow, a pinch-hit, solo homer by recently recalled outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. That’s all it took and the Mets bullpen sealed the deal.

The Amazins are now six games up with their ace, Jacob deGrom, pitching tomorrow night as they go for the sweep.

After the game, Harvey was asked about his next potential start and he told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that he has no idea when it will be, but that he will be ready when the Mets call on him.

“If Matt doesn’t pitch anymore, we’re going to pick up the pieces,” Collins told Kristie Ackert of the Daily News. “We’ve got the bodies to do it. He’s a big piece but so is David Wright. So we’ll move forward.”

Matt Harvey’s mask has been removed this week and his unveiling came to climax last night during a rough outing. Maybe this is what he needed. While he will always be larger than life to some fans, he is still human and more importantly still a Met who deserves our support.

Terry Collins has done a nice job of deflecting a lot of the distractions and adversity and has kept his team focused on winning and picking each other up. Tuesday night was a great example of that.

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Mets Bullpen Prevails With A Dominating Performance Tue, 08 Sep 2015 14:10:03 +0000 familia d'Arnaud

Left-hander Jon Niese was unable to pitch out of the 4th inning despite a pre-game pep talk from manager Terry Collins who challenged him to pitch his best in the biggest game of his career.

For the third straight start, Niese allowed a five-run inning including a back-breaking grand slam by Met killer Wilson Ramos off a hanging curveball.

When all was said and done Niese pitched a total of 3.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out one.

But just when it seemed things were getting bleak, it was the Mets bullpen to the rescue that combined to pitch 5.2 scoreless innings and allowed the team to comeback and complete an exciting 8-5 victory over the Nationals.

Despite leaving the 5th inning with a calf strain, Carlos Torres relieved Niese and got things started with 1.1 solid innings to contain the damage and stop the Nats dead in their tracks.

Erik Goeddel, Dario Alvarez, Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia then combined to strike out eight batters and held the Nationals to just one hit over the final 4.1 innings of the game.

“Our bullpen saved us,” manager Terry Collins told reporters after the game. “It was a great win.”

Among the highlights was recently called-up Alvarez striking out Bryce Harper on a devastating 3-2 slider in the sixth after falling behind him 3-0. It left Harper shaking his head and talking to himself as he walked back to the dugout.

Robles was absolutely dominating, pitching a perfect 7th inning and striking out two including Ryan Zimmerman, who was caught looking at a 97 mph fastball after Robles quick-pitched him. Zimmerman glared angrily at Robles for a good long while as the Mets rookie smirked at him.

He stayed in to pitch the 8th and pitched another perfect inning and struck out two more, four total, while  hitting 99 mph a few times on the radar.

“After all the work I’ve been putting in, it’s worth it to see some good results,” a gleaming Robles said after the game.

Familia finished things off with an exclamation point, striking out the side to end the game. And it was the meat of the order,  Anthony Rendon,  Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, all on his new lethal splitter. Familia picked up his 37th save of the year.

It was an amazing effort in a huge game where everything was on the line. Well done, guys!

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Amazin Moments: Mets Trade For Felix Millan and George Stone Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:00:06 +0000 Felix Millan

I was on vacation in Japan when the Mets acquired Felix Millan in the winter of 1972.

I found out about the trade – Millan and lefty pitcher George Stone from the Atlanta Braves for starting pitcher Gary Gentry and reliever Danny Frisella – via a tiny mention of it in the International Edition of the New York Times.

1972 had been a very disappointing, injury-filled season for the Mets. Prior to the season, the Mets had acquired perennial All-Stars Jim Fregosi and Rusty Staub. Adding them to the lineup to go along with the best pitching in baseball figured to make the Mets a strong favorite for another championship.

Unfortunately, by the time the season ended, the pitching was intact, but the lineup was in shambles. In addition to the injuries, regular second baseman Ken Boswell finished the season batting .211, bad any way you look at it, but especially for a second baseman whose bat was considered his best asset. So the Mets looked for a replacement.

Millan was a former all-star coming off his worst season, but undoubtedly a better second baseman than Boswell. Gentry was, at 26, still young enough to become a star, although he was no better than a third starter with the Mets. Stone was a fringe major leaguer and Frisella a good reliever who was behind Tug McGraw in the Mets’ bullpen hierarchy.

At the time, the deal didn’t look all that good to me, because Millan at best was “steady” and Stone looked like he’d struggle to make the Mets, while the two pitchers the Mets gave up were young enough and good enough to have long, productive careers. But it turned out to be a steal for the Mets.

In seven seasons with the Braves, Millan batted .281 with a .668 OPS and a cumulative 9.4 WAR in 799 games. In that era, and long before the steroids era, those numbers ranged between very good and All Star level for a second baseman.

241-6After joining the Mets, “The Cat” as he was known, continued to produce at that level but also became very accomplished in another distinguishing aspect of his game. The three-time All Star batted .279 with a .663 OPS and 8.1 WAR in 4 1/2 seasons with the Amazins.

Millan also became MLB’s toughest player to strikeout and was always putting the ball in play and making things happen. For five consecutive seasons, one with the Braves and four with the Mets, he led the league in At-Bat to Strikeout ratio.

In fact, during his tenure with the Mets he finished with a remarkable 3.1% strikeout rate – the best mark in the majors during that span. To put that into raw numbers, that’s 92 strikeouts in 2,954 plate appearances.

With his trademark style of choking up on the bat, Milan was a catalyst for the Mets at the top of the order, batting second and hitting .291 while scoring 82 runs during the team’s incredible 1973 season. Unfortunately, the Mets ended up losing the World Series to the Oakland A’s in seven games.

A Puerto Rican native, Millan gave the Mets four very solid seasons before he was forced to retire in 1977 because of a serious shoulder injury he sustained in a brawl with Pirates catcher Ed Ott.

After Ott slid hard into Millan to break up a double play, the smallish second baseman punched Ott in the face with his fist clenched around the baseball. Ott responded by lifting Millan off his feet and then slamming him hard onto the ground. He did attempt to resurrect his career playing in Japan, but that was the last MLB game Millan would ever play.

George Stone was remarkable for the 1973 Mets, finishing 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 148 innings. After ’73, Stone did little to help the Mets and was gone after two more mediocre seasons. But clearly, this trade put the Mets in the 1973 World Series as much as anything.

As for Gentry and Frisella, elbow problems plagued Gentry for the rest of his career and he never really helped the Braves. He got one last spring training shot with the Mets a few years later, but was quickly released. Frisella was a mediocre reliever the rest of his career before his untimely passing in a dune-buggy accident before the 1977 season.

Did You Know?

On July 21, 1975, Joe Torre set an MLB record by grounding into four double-plays in a single game. Felix Millan had a nice 4-for-4 day at the plate singling all four times while batting ahead of Joe Torre in that game.

Afterward, Torre went into the clubhouse turned to the reporters at his locker and famously said, “I’d like to thank Felix Millan for making all of this possible.”

Millan jokingly responded, “Geesh, you’d think that big oaf would at least hit a two-run homer or something.”

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Mets Claim Padres Lefty Marc Rzepczynski Off Waivers Sat, 29 Aug 2015 21:37:49 +0000 Cleveland+Indians+v+Houston+Astros+8snlQBBoH1Jl

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets claimed LHP Marc Rzepczynski off waivers from the Padres and are working on a deal to acquire him.

Rzepczynski, 30, has a 4.88 ERA in 60 appearances with the Padres and Indians this season, however he has held left-handed hitters to a .257 batting average and a .650 OPS in 84 plate appearances.

He’s another one of those lefty relievers you never want facing a right-handed batter who are hitting .324 against him with an .851 OPS. But you know Terry.

* * * * * * * * * *

Despite several reports that the Mets will not trade for a reliever to help the team’s beleaguered bullpen, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is hearing quite the opposite and reports that the front office is  making progress today on acquiring a reliever.

He cautions that there is no guarantee that something comes together, but that talks are tangible.

On Friday we learned from MLB’s Peter Gammons that Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez and Baltimore Orioles right-hander Darren O’Day were both placed on revocable waivers and cleared on Friday.

Each of them are former Mets, but of the two I would imagine that 32-year-old O’Day would draw the most interest from GM Sandy Alderson.

The side-armed O’Day is owed less than $1 million for the rest of this season and is having a great year, boasting a 1.63 ERA and 11.4 K/9 – both of which are career highs.

Getting O’Day would be huge.

Meanwhile, because the bullpen is so spent, manager Terry Collins announced that Bartolo Colon would be available for an inning of relief on Saturday, perhaps a test run for a potential postseason bullpen role.

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Erik Goeddel Is Close To Returning Fri, 21 Aug 2015 14:02:47 +0000 erik goeddel

Lynn Worthy of the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin reports that Erik Goeddel is healthy and is close to making a return. He is currently working on his mechanics in a rehab assignment with Double-A Binghtamton.

“I’m healthy,” Goeddel said. “I’m just trying to fine-tune things, kind of get back to where I was before the injury in terms of sharpness of all three of my pitches so when they do call me back up to New York I don’t miss a beat.”

Goeddel has been out since June 12th with a strained right elbow.

He surprisingly thrived in a relief role earlier this season as he allowed only five runs in 23 innings while striking out a batter per inning.

“Like anything, I kind of had to earn my spot to get trusted in those situations,” Goeddel said. “I felt that I was throwing well so I was confident going out there. The bigger the situation is, the more fun it is. So I loved it.”

With the Mets’ bullpen struggling to find consistency, getting Goeddel back in the mix is great news. While it’s unlikely that he will maintain a 1.96 ERA over a larger sample, he appears to be a solid reliever and a much needed reinforcement.

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Tyler Clippard Believes Mets Will Blow Past Nationals Fri, 21 Aug 2015 07:52:14 +0000 tyler Clippard

Since being acquired from the Oakland A’s, setup reliever Tyler Clippard has become a formidable weapon for the Mets bullpen.

In 12 appearances with New York, Clippard is 1-0 with one save, four holds, a 2.38 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 11 1/3 innings pitched.

Clippard earned that save against his former team, the Washington Nationals, whom he believes the Mets should easily widen the gap against in the NL East.

“We could easily be up seven games on them right now,” Clippard told Mike Puma of the New York Post.

“It’s just we have lost a few of these tight ones as of late. We’re playing very good baseball and the confidence has never been higher. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t expand the lead.”

The Mets lead the Nationals by 4.0 games as they get set for a weekend series in Colorado against the Rockies.

Despite the recent struggles of the Mets bullpen, Clippard believes that they will ultimately right the ship.

“I feel like everybody is throwing the ball well. We are kind of where we need to be, it’s just kind of how these games have been going.”

Clippard may just end up being the most significant of all the pre-trade deadline acquisitions by Sandy Alderson.

On Wednesday, Terry Collins talked about the importance of having a strong bullpen.

“The game today is about your bullpen, pitching and starting pitching. You look at the teams that really have long bullpens – they are the team’s playing really well.”

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