MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets

What You Need to Know: October 2

Monday Takeaway

On Sept. 28, Marc Carig’s bombshell Newsday piece revealed that the Mets front office tried to fire manager Terry Collins “at various points during his tenure.” Drawing from over a dozen anonymous team insiders, the article alleged that owner Fred Wilpon prevented the front office from exploring different managerial options because he was “getting too chummy” with Collins.

Many were upset by the timing of the story, which seemed like an unnecessary attack on a manager whose contract was already expiring. “That’s a real cowardly thing to do,” said injured third baseman David Wright. “His door has always been open and he’s always listened.”

General manager Sandy Alderson also labeled the article “unfair” on the 68-year old manager, although he didn’t dispute its contents. He then stated that he was “totally happy” about his relationship with the Wilpons and threatened to fire informants if he discovered their identities.

“I’m the leader of this group,” Alderson said. “I feel responsible for every aspect of its operation, particularly in those areas where we may fall short.”

The cherry on top came during Sunday’s contest, the final game of the season, when Ken Rosenthal tweeted, “Terry Collins will announce after game he is resigning as #Mets manager, staying with club in front office role, source tells The Athletic.”

By the Way, the Mets Played This Week

In the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, Braves rookie Lucas Sims threw 6.2 innings of two-run ball. “He’s got a really good breaking ball, been locating his fastball,” said manager Brian Snitker. Shortstop Ozzie Albies, another promising rookie, homered against Chris Flexen in the fourth inning of the Mets’ 9-2 loss.

Two of the Mets’ bright spots this season, Travis d’Arnaud and Brandon Nimmo, carried the team to a 3-2 victory in the nightcap. Our favorite Wyoming-bred outfielder rapped three hits, including a first-inning double, while d’Arnaud hit his 16th home run. The ever-enigmatic Seth Lugo did his part over six strong innings. Throwing only 81 pitches, he struck out seven, allowed two hits, and walked none. Lugo later praised d’Arnaud for staying “on the same page,” which “makes his job a lot easier.”

Rookie infielder Travis Taijeron was the hero of Tuesday’s win against the Braves. The game had previously been dominated by R.A. Dickey, who blanked his former teammates over the first six frames. The Mets also faced an uphill battle after Ender Inciarte’s first inning score. Slowly, but surely, they rallied behind Kevin Plawecki’s offensive exploits. The back-up catcher hit a two-run homer in the seventh, bringing the Mets within two runs of the lead, and then opened the ninth inning with a single. He was driven in by Taijeron, sealing the 4-3 win.

On Wednesday night, the Mets beat the Braves 7-1 behind a strong start by Robert Gsellman. The rookie right-hander had a disappointing season, pitching to a 5.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in only 119.2 innings, but his six strong innings offered a glimpse of his potential. “I believe I need to get a lot stronger, in a lot better shape, run a little more, come back and open some eyes next spring,” Gsellman said post-game. On the other hand, rookie counterpart Sean Newcomb had a tough time with the Mets offense, allowing three runs (all driven in by d’Arnaud) over five innings. Dom Smith also continued his hot streak with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh.

The final three games of the season featured one win sandwiched between two losses. The victory came on Saturday versus the Phillies, where trade acquisition Jacob Rhames pitched two scoreless frames out of the bullpen and Asdrubal Cabrera rapped four hits. His three-run homer in the eleventh made the difference.

You may remember Ben Lively’s awe-inspiring start against the Mets last month, where he pitched seven strong innings, homered, and drove in four runs. The rookie right-hander wasn’t quite as impressive on Friday, but his six innings of two-run ball sufficed in the 6-2 Phillies victory. He was also aided by Matt Harvey’s poor four-inning performance. “The positive is that this nightmare of a season is over for me,” said Harvey, whose career record is now 34-35.

The final game of the season was adequately disappointing. Dom Smith, who’s struggled with a .201/.263/.402 slash line, made two careless defensive gaffes in a row. Meanwhile, the Mets were only able to muster two hits against the likes of Nick Pivetta and Victor Arano. The only bright side was Noah Syndergaard’s two-inning start. Throwing up to 101 mph, the recovering ace walked one and struck out two. “Man I missed playing this game….then the season ends,” tweeted Thor with an angry emoji.

Injury Update

Left-handed pitcher Tommy Milone was ruled out for the weekend with elbow soreness, so his ETA is 2018. Jacob deGrom was also scratched from his last start of the season with a stomach ailment.

Looking Forward

With Terry Collins resigning on Sunday, the search is on for the manager of the 2018 Mets. This New York Post article compiled a list of three potential candidates, all of which have ties to the organization.

Robin Ventura, the former third baseman and White Sox manager, is the most recognizable name in the running. After spending 1998-2001 with the Mets, Ventura is already familiar with the demands of the New York market. He apparently “is viewed positively by the Wilpon family” as well.

Another possibility is Alex Cora, a 41 year-old bench coach for the Astros. Cora played infield for the Mets in 2009 and 2010, and he is well regarded for his knowledge of analytics. If the Mets are looking for an antidote to Terry Collins, then Cora’s age and sabermetric background appear to be an excellent match.

Finally, the New York Post regards Mets hitting coach Kevin Long as an intriguing “outside the box” candidate. Citing his extreme popularity with players, “thorough understanding of analytics,” and old-school sensibilities, anonymous sources acknowledge that Long would be a strong communicator in the clubhouse. On the downside, Long has zero experience managing above Single-A and his contract expires after this season.

Quick Hits

  • Mets head trainer Ray Ramirez will probably return for 2018, indicating that he will not be the scapegoat for this season’s catastrophic wave of injuries. (NY Post)
  • Keith Hernandez will join the Fox postseason studio show, replacing Pete Rose. Despite all of his whining, there’s good chance the former World Series champion just wants to talk about some good baseball for once.
  • Next year, the Mets will select sixth overall in the draft. This will be their highest pick since 2004, when they selected Phil Humber third overall out of Rice University.
  • Marc Carig tweeted a depressing fact: “Of the 25 players that began this marathon with the Mets on Opening Day, only 11 will cross the finish line here in Philadelphia.”

Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports

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