The questionable bullpen decisions in the seventh inning of game two
Lost in the insanity that was Chase Utley’s late and costly slide into Ruben Tejada on Saturday night were the events which followed, and arguably preceded this controversial play.
Noah Syndergaard entered the seventh inning having thrown 97 pitches, but suddenly finding a groove in the two previous innings after four bumpy innings. But he found immediate trouble when he allowed a one out walk to Enrique Hernandez and a single by Utley to put runners at the corners and one out.
In need of a groundball, manager Terry Collins pulled Syndergaard and inserted Bartolo Colon, who only had a 42 percent groundball rate in 2015. But he was assigned Howie Kendrick, who was 2-for-22 lifetime against Colon.
Collins was clearly playing the matchup. As it turns out, Colon got the groundball he needed from Howie Kendrick.
He bounced a ball behind second base in which Murphy made a running grab and a flip to second base, pulling Tejada ever so slightly off the base. But Utley slid late and directly into Tejada’s legs with the intent to completely take him out as opposed to touching second base, breaking the Mets shortstop’s leg in the process.
While Utley was ruled out, the call was ultimately overturned. The game was tied, and runners were at first and second with one out and Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate.
In his career, Gonzalez is 0-for-11 lifetime against Jon Niese. One of the reasons Niese was put on the postseason roster as a reliever was for an assignment against either Utley or Gonzalez, as they are a combined 3-for-47 against Niese in their careers.
Instead, Collins turned to Addison Reed, who held left-handed hitters to a .253 opposing average with 22 strikeouts in 95 plate appearances.
That decision cost Collins and the Mets dearly.
Gonzalez, who had struck out six times in the first two games of this series, finally delivered for the Dodgers with a double into the right field corner to plate both Utley and Kendrick to give Los Angeles a 4-2 lead.
Reed then surrendered another double to Justin Turner to make the score 5-2 in favor of the Dodgers, which ended up being the final result in game two.
First off, Reed has been lights out good since joining the Mets. He had only allowed two runs in 15 1/3 innings since he was acquired, although five of the seven inherited runners he had were allowed to score.
Niese was inserted into the game to face Justin Ruggiano, who struck out looking to end a disastrous seventh inning for the Mets.
It was just a bad all around night for Reed, although that doesn’t mean it was the favorable matchup against Gonzalez specifically, especially with Niese’s availability and encouraging history in Collins’ back pocket.
If Niese isn’t going to be used in situations against Gonzalez or Utley, it’s fair to question why Niese is even on the roster.
After all, that’s his specific assignment in this series – to be the left-handed specialist and really, to be the late-inning Gonzalez/Utley specialist.