There was more questionable – and costly – bullpen maneuvering by Terry Collins on Friday

Terry Collins 1 slice


BaronThere’s just no seventh heaven for Terry Collins and the Mets, and there may not be at all down the stretch of the season.

The seventh inning continues to serve as a black plague for the Mets, as they once again failed to keep the opposition at bay on Friday night with their relief corps.

Once again, Collins was taking a bullpen – now deeper with options thanks to roster expansion on September 1 – and putting it’s cast in uncomfortable roles.

On this night, he used Sean Gilmartin, the clubs trusted long reliever, as a left-handed specialist in the seventh inning, something which has proven unsuccessful throughout the 2015 season, holding them to a .243 average in 80 plate appearances.

Nevertheless, he was asked to get Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich – who Terry Collins felt were both susceptible to the, “soft stuff” – to start the seventh inning just after the Mets had taken a 4-3 lead thanks to a two-run home run from Yoenis Cespedes.

“I thought I’d start [Gilmartin],” Collins said about Gilmartin. “And if we got to Prado, then have [Addison Reed] ready.”

He failed to get them out, instead yielding consecutive singles to set the table for Martin Prado.

So Collins inserted Reed, who yielded a run scoring single to Prado to tie the game. He then walked Marcel Ozuna to allow the go-ahead run to score.

It seemed like a good opportunity to try out Dario Alvarez instead of Gilmartin. Yes, it would have been his 2015 debut, and he would’ve been thrown right into the fire with an assignment to protect a one-run lead in a low scoring game. But he was more or less dominant against left-handed hitters in the minor leagues this year.

Alternatively, Collins could have gone with Erik Goeddel for the seventh inning entirely, who with his new splitter has been an effective all-around cross-over reliever and save the mixing and matching for a more critical situation. That way, Gilmartin would’ve been saved for long relief if needed.

But Collins went against the grain with Gilmartin, essentially on a hunch, and got burned.

The Mets showed their trademarked character by fighting back in the ninth inning after the Marlins retired the first two batters by tying the game at five apiece.

But the Marlins bullpen stymied the Mets bats in the 10th and 11th innings.

With Goeddel in for a second inning of work in the 11th, he allowed a leadoff single to Cole Gillespie in the 11th, but retired Gordon on a popped up bunt. That’s when Collins inserted Eric O’Flaherty to face Yelich, and he actually retired him on a groundball to first.

But then Collins left O’Flaherty in the game to face Prado, who already had four hits on the night.

The idea was to hopefully retire or limit Prado to a single to get O’Flaherty to face Justin Bour.

O’Flaherty never got to face Bour.

Instead, Prado laced a game-winning double up the right field line. The game was over and the Mets lead in the National League East was down to five games with 28 games to go.

“You just don’t want him to get something good to hit because you’ve got Bour on deck,” Collins said. “You’re starting to get a little thin down in the pen. So you think, ‘Hey, at least let him face Bour with the slider.’ That’s who we were trying to get to.”

The problem is, O’Flaherty has been more or less ineffective since joining the Mets, especially against right-handed hitters.

“The goal there is to get a ground ball, [Prado] is not going to beat you with a homer to the opposite field,” O’Flaherty said. “So you figure any ground ball he hits is going to be a single and he happened to sneak it down the line.

“I was trying to get a ground ball from him, and if he gets a single you get Bour,” O’Flaherty concluded.

It was another night filled with questionable bullpen maneuvering by Collins, and another night the Mets lost in part because of it.

Better execution can certainly make the manager look like a genius for these bold rolls of the dice. But when players are put in a position where they’re more likely to fail than succeed, it’s hard to comprehend why those gambles are being made to begin with, especially in a pennant race.

It’s that thought process which might be the greatest concern for the Mets over the final month of the season.

7 Comments

As long as Terry Collins is the manager this won’t make the playoffs he sucks as a manager and his baseball IQ is bad

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And why does Collins—in the late innings—insist on his corner infielders not playing near the lines?

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I have to humbly disagree with Baron. While things did not work out – sometimes they just don’t – Collins thinking was correct. As for the 7th, Gilmartin was the right choice. Yes he is not a “loogy” but his has been one of the better bullpen performers this year. If the score was say 5-3 I might have considered Alvarez, but with a one run lead this late in the season, I go with the established rather than a pitcher who has thrown only 1.1 major league innings no matter how well he performed at triple A (Gordon and Yellich are not minor league hitters).

Yes he could have gone to Goeddel, but here as well despite his more than solid pitching prior to his injury to throw him right into the mix in a one run game would be unfair. Yes he might have done well but in his 1.1 innings of relief he gave up 2 hits and 3 of his 4 outs were against righty hitters (Gordon’s bad bunt the lone exception).

As for O’Flaherty, he has been a grave disappointment, but the calls to have him DFA (I thought such angry venting took place in the comment section on the other Mets blog) is foolish at this stage of the game with about a sixth of the season to go. He would be best used to get one lefty out and get out of there, but this situation did not allow for it. If you took him after he got out Yellich, who would you have brought in – – Parnell or Torres, neither of whom inspire confidence. In addition, even if one of them retired Prado, the pitcher was up third the next inning and if you pinched hit for him, you had to have used Parnell since you would have needed Torres to be your long man. And if Parnell gave up a single or a walk (more likely) to Prado, would you have brought in Alvarez to face one batter and then be left with Torres and Familia (if Mets got lead).
Terri may not be the Einstein of managers, but in this case I fault the performance of the pitchers not his thought process.

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Melvin, you are right TC had maybe a 50% chance of it working out? What kind of odds are those? O’Flaherty is completely destroyed by righties. Its like turning a regular player into Barry Bonds when he faces them. In a tie game to you put yourself into a place where a Barry Bonds can beat you? Anyone watching any Mets games or looking at any splits will tell you that was a horrible decision. I 100% agree TC has cost us 2 games in the last week from bullpen management. I am legitimately worried about the Nats despite the odds in our favor. The bullpen mismanagement, innings restrictions on our good starters, injuries with Duda/Murph, our top starters also looking a little worn down over the last month. DeGrom/Thor have been good but not spectacular and even Harvey pitching well is doing it with higher pitch counts than he was before.

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I agree with Melvin, though I wouldn’t have brought in O’Flaherty (if I were ever to be in such a position!). Still, Baron’s description of the 7th inning is incredibly misinformed.

Gilmartin has been a long man? He’s pitched 45 innings in 43 games. Does that sound like a long man to you? What’s more, he’s entered a game before the 7th inning only four times. The only difference is that this time, he entered in a high leverage situation–something Baron and others have been asking for. And look at his minor league splits–he’s terrific against lefties historically. Gordon got a single on a slider/curve that almost hit the dirt and Yelich’s single was on an ill-advised inside fastball that caught too much of the plate.

It was a fine move, and i hope all the naysayers don’t have an effect on TC’s future decisions.

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We are all better managers after the fact. That is not to defend TC. I have never been his fan. Before he had expanded bullpen he had one excuse. Now he has others. All done like a man running scared. And we’ll he should. He is fighting for next years contract and he shouldn’t get it. Win or lose its time for the Mets to move on. As far as winning now I get more afraid every day. Tired looking pitchers, injuries, and except for Cespidis no real offense. Those 25 games will feel like 100 unless they right the ship immediately.

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I am not a TC fan, but his critics are way too harsh. Lets keep in mind that the Mets are 22-10 since the San Diego debacle, and of the 10 losses 6 (Parnell 2, Torres 2, Gilmartin and Goeddel) have been by the pen. In some cases, these were the pitchers of almost last resort as was the situation yesterday. I think the 2 Parnell losses can be partially attributed to TC, who at least somewhat understandably was hoping to get BP back to his former self. Yet even in this cases, fans lose sight at times that you may have to lose battles to win the war.

Again, if you want to critique TC that’s fine but offer the alternative and explain how you see that playing out better. Also Dave’s point on Baron and others calling on Gilmartin to be used in high leverage situation, but in retrospect now being critical, is spot on.

There is 28 more games to go, and I wouldn’t see us hitting the stretch run for another 10 games (leaving 1/9 of the season to go). At that point I will start to hyperventilate. As for now, enjoy what has been accomplished.

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