Robert Gsellman bailed out the injured Jon Niese. Mets 6, Cardinals 3.
Discussion and Analysis
That the Mets would miss Jon Niese was supposed to be a #HotTake when I predicted it on April 4. Truth be told, despite his reacquisition on Aug. 1, the Mets have not appreciated Niese’s second act: Prior to the game, the team tweeted out his 9.28 Mets ERA rather than his seasonal 5.30 mark. Maybe somebody in Mets PR misread Baseball Reference. Maybe it was a brilliant subtweet. Either way, were it not for Matt Harvey and Steven Matz’s injuries and Zack Wheeler’s rehab setback, Niese would be nowhere near the Mets’ rotation.
He may never be again. Niese left after just four batters — walk, laser to left field that Cespedes picked off his shoetops, walk, single — having reaggravated his knee injury, so we lost an opportunity to see whether it’s at all predictive that Niese is 55-3 for his career when staked to a three-run lead.
Niese’s exceedingly early exit led to Robert Gsellman’s major-league debut with runners on first and second. His first big-league pitch, to Yadier Molina, was crushed to right-center field for a run-scoring double. Gsellman promptly settled down, getting Jhonny Peralta to ground out and striking out Jedd Gyorko. Gsellman threw first-pitch strikes to eight of the first nine batters he faced. He ended up throwing 75 pitches and allowing just 2 hits over 3 2/3 innings. Suffice to say, Gsellman is more likely to make the next start in this rotation spot than is Jon Niese.
The Mets started tonight 4.5 games back of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race (five in the loss column). If there’s any hope remaining for a playoff berth, it starts with this series. And the Mets started this series with a purpose. In the first inning, Jose Reyes walked and Asdrubal Cabrera singled. After Yoenis Cespedes popped to second, Wilmer Flores hit a fly ball to left field that Gary Cohen called as a sacrifice fly… and then as a three-run homer.
After Niese blew the lead and left the game, the Mets came up in the second tied at three. As they did in their first time at bat, the Mets made a statement. Travis d’Arnaud singled with one out, allowing Gsellman to sacrifice bunt in his first MLB plate appearance. Reyes then snuck a grounder under the glove of Cardinals “shortstop” Gyorko to plate d’Arnaud. Next man up Asdrubal Cabrera duplicated Molina’s first-inning slugging to double home Reyes. Cabrera and Reyes reached base in seven of their 10 plate appearances to drive the Mets’ offense.
The rest of the game wasn’t pretty, aside from a 461-foot Justin Ruggiano moonshot. After Gsellman navigated through the fourth inning, Josh Smoker, Jim Henderson, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia preserved the win.
Between Justin Ruggiano and Wilmer Flores, it's a bad idea to start a southpaw against the Mets.
— Scott D. Simon (@scottdsimon) August 24, 2016
“I can give my hits away now that I’m not playing, so I kinda rubbed up against [Jay Bruce] to try to give him a couple of my hits… I saved them, put them in the freezer.” — Keith
“You have cryogenic hits?!” — Gary
“It’s bad karma [to bring a bat up with you from the minor leagues].” — Keith
With their win last night, the Mets picked up a game in the playoff race against Washington, Miami and St. Louis. Aces up tonight at 8:15 p.m.: Jacob deGrom versus Carlos Martinez.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports