MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

Game recap September 4: Death, taxes, and crushing the Phillies

There are only a few true certainties in life. Death, taxes, and the Mets thrashing the Phillies. That’s just what the Amazins’ did in Flushing on Monday, rebounding from an abhorrent series against the Astros to defeat Philadelphia 11-7. The victory allowed the Mets to keep the grim reaper at the gate and stave off elimination for another day. While they certainly are not the most entertaining team to watch these days, there were some interesting takeaways from yesterday’s contest.

Big Bats Came To Play

The Mets had a unique connection to the opposing starter, Mark Leiter. You may remember his uncle, a guy who won 95 games as a Met and helped win them a pennant, by the name of Al. Nevertheless, the Mets did not show the Leiter family any love Monday. The offense was potent right out of the gate and exploded to a 10-0 lead through the sixth inning. Contributions came from all directions, as six different Mets recorded an RBI: Jose Reyes, Nori Aoki, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, and Gavin Cecchini. It may just be a product of facing the Phillies, but any time you see an offensive explosion featuring mostly young, no-name players, it’s always a pleasant surprise.

Have A Day, Young Man

Nimmo had a tremendous day at the plate, one of his best efforts this season. Posting three hits, two of which were RBI singles, and a run scored, Nimmo looked like the player we all dreamt of when the Mets selected him 13th overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. It’s hard to get a clear picture of what Nimmo’s role will be with this team beyond 2017, but if he continues to swing the bat well, he could easily write his way into the team’s 2018 plans. The uncertainty surrounding Michael Conforto and when he will be able to return from that freak shoulder injury will open up a good amount of at-bats (as long as the Mets don’t bring in anyone in free agency). Depending on how far his bat comes along, Nimmo could see significant playing time in a corner outfield role.

Will The Real Raf Please Stand Up?

If somehow we’ve accidentally slipped into an alternate universe where Rafael Montero is actually a competent Major League pitcher, then I’m okay with staying here for a while. Montero’s final line looks average at best, but he cruised through this game and didn’t have to do too much after being staked to such a big lead. Montero went 5.1 innings with three strikeouts, five walks, and four earned runs surrendered, but keep in mind he shut down the Phillies through the first four. When you couple yesterday’s effort with his last start, where he tossed 8.1 innings giving up only three hits, it kind of makes you wonder whether the often-criticized Montero is finally taking a turn. Is it possible? Probably not. Then again, I’m one of the biggest Rafael Montero haters on the planet, so take my word with a grain of salt.

Cabrera’s Audition Continues

Figuring out who can possibly be their full-time third baseman is one of the biggest questions the Mets face entering 2018. David Wright is now undergoing rotator cuff surgery and was a long shot to ever be a competent starter again. Jose Reyes is a poor defender at the hot corner and hasn’t done much with the bat to warrant a return to the Mets next season. Wilmer Flores could be an option, but we’re talking about another below average defender who doesn’t exactly dominate right-handed pitching. And at the bottom of the list, we really don’t know if Matt Reynolds or Gavin Cecchini has what it takes to be a Major League starter and I don’t think we’ll come any closer to finding out from now to the end of September. That leaves Cabrera, who has become the de facto third baseman since Amed Rosario arrived. Short of bringing in an established free agent like Mike Moustakas, I think it’s safe to say returning Cabrera on his team option is the best choice if this team wants to compete in 2018. Cabrera’s return to the Mets will be a polarizing issue, but the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Cabrera occupied the three hole Monday and launched a two-run homer over the centerfield fence, scoring Nori Aoki.

His inexperience at third also showed in the third inning when he committed a throwing error that allowed Cameron Rupp to reach second. There’s no simple solution and September will be a good indicator of whether he can be a competent full-time third baseman, but I’m willing to set aside his defense to have an experienced switch-hitting veteran like Cabrera in the lineup.

Mixed Results From the Bullpen

It’s hard to place stock in the performance of relievers in meaningless games, but at the end of the day this game is about one thing: getting outs. A bullpen is an emotional rollercoaster for any team, but when you watch guys like Paul Sewald and Hansel Robles flash signs of success, it hurts even more when they struggle. Yesterday, Sewald gave up two hits and earned run in two thirds of an inning of work, while Robles surrendered two runs on three hits in 1.2 innings of work. The game was never really in question thanks to a big lead, but if these guys want to be foundational pieces to this bullpen in 2018, they need to show how reliable they can be now. Oh, and Jerry Blevins added another scoreless inning to his spectacular season.

What’s Next

The Mets continue their series against the Phillies at Citi Field tonight at 7:10. Jacob deGrom takes the mound, facing off against Ben Lively of the Phillies.

Photo credit: Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports

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