NEW YORK -- The New York Mets will take part in a solemn event Monday.
The Mets will be the visiting team in Miami as the Marlins return to playing baseball after the death of 24-year-old ace Jose Fernandez in a weekend boating accident.
Cognizant that the Mets must balance the proper respect with the need to win ballgames during the final week, Terry Collins said he will meet with his players Monday afternoon in the visitors’ clubhouse at Marlins Park.
Fernandez’s next scheduled start had been for the series opener against the Mets.
“I know they’ll be very, very respectful,” Collins said. “There’s still a lot at stake. I know Jose Fernandez well enough to know the one thing he wants is the game played -- and the game played right, because that’s how he went about it. So in honor of him, we’re going to go out and play the game right.”
The Mets (83-73) lead the San Francisco Giants by one game and the St. Louis Cardinals by 1½ games in the National League wild-card standings. Both of the Mets’ adversaries lost on Sunday.
The Mets have a pair of three-game series remaining -- at Miami, then at Philadelphia to close the regular season.
Collins believes the Mets have the correct pitcher on the mound in the opener at Marlins Park in 43-year-old Bartolo Colon, since the veteran should be best prepared to be unaffected by the emotional surroundings. Colon and Noah Syndergaard will combine to start four of the final six games if the Mets’ fate is not resolved until the final day of the regular season.
If the Mets can clinch early, they can hold back Syndergaard for the Oct. 5 wild-card game.
On Sunday at Citi Field, Yoenis Cespedes taped a Mets jersey with “FERNANDEZ” and No. 16 on the back to the wall of the Mets’ dugout. Cespedes indicated the Mets will bring the jersey to Miami and hang it in the visitors’ dugout as a sign of solidarity with the Marlins.
"It's going be another tough day," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "I can tell you that we're going to take the jersey with us and we'll be putting it up again. We want to let him know that we're still thinking of him -- knowing that's his town and we're on his field."
MONDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
- Read reports about Fernandez’s passing in the Miami Herald as well as Mets-related angles in the Post, Daily News, Record and at MLB.com.
- The Mets produced the most lopsided shutout victory in franchise history with a 17-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. Robert Gsellman tossed seven scoreless innings. Jay Bruce followed up his pinch-hit homer Saturday by going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Curtis Granderson produced his 30th homer of the season. Asdrubal Cabrera contributed a grand slam. The Mets have matched a franchise record by scoring eight or more runs in four straight games. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post notes the complexity of the Mets’ games in Miami given the tragedy.
- Syndergaard, who missed Saturday’s start with strep throat, indicated he is ready to return to the rotation Tuesday in Miami. “It's just kind of all about getting my strength back,” Syndergaard said. “I didn’t eat a whole lot for two days, so I feel a little weak. But I threw a bullpen Saturday and felt great. I’ll be ready to go Tuesday.” Read more in the Daily News.
- Columnist John Harper in the Daily News notes the advantage the Mets have in completing the regular season at Philadelphia. The Giants’ final series is at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals' final series is at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Writes Harper: “Judging by the way the team down the New Jersey Turnpike played this weekend, that's about as comforting a thought as the Mets could want as this race with the Giants and Cardinals seems destined to go to the wire.”
- Mets farmhand Josh Zeid tossed three no-hit relief innings and Israel advanced to next March's World Baseball Classic with a 9-1 qualifier win against Great Britain on Sunday in Brooklyn. Former major leaguer Jason Marquis opened the game with four no-hit innings. Ike Davis went 0-for-3. Zeid, 29, started for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season. He has major league experience with the Houston Astros.
- From the bloggers ... Mets Report applauds the respect the Mets showed for Fernandez.
BIRTHDAYS: Doug Sisk turns 59.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
I'm still waiting to wake up from this nightmare. I lost my brother today and can't quite... https://t.co/1wD0h3IBaG
— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) September 25, 2016
NEW YORK -- A homestand filled with wild emotional swings ended refreshingly drama-free for the New York Mets on Sunday. Now it’s left to determine whether the Mets have played their final 2016 game at Citi Field.
Rookie Robert Gsellman tossed seven scoreless innings, Curtis Granderson produced his 30th home run, and Jay Bruce showed further signs of awakening as the Mets routed the Philadelphia Phillies 17-0 in the series finale at Citi Field. It was the largest shutout win in franchise history.
It was a topsy-turvy final homestand for the Mets. On Wednesday, after Jacob deGrom underwent surgery to move the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow, Ender Inciarte robbed Yoenis Cespedes of a would-be walk-off homer, and the Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep.
A day later, the Mets twice overcame a two-run deficit while down to their final two outs and beat the Phillies in 11 innings.
On Saturday, after spot starter Sean Gilmartin got knocked out in the first inning, the Mets nearly overcame a 10-run deficit. They fell short by two runs after bringing the winning run to the plate in the ninth.
Finally, players arrived Sunday to news that Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had been killed in an early morning boating accident. Cespedes, at the suggestion of Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, taped a Mets jersey to the dugout wall with the name “Fernandez” and his No. 16. The Mets will bring that jersey to Miami this week.
The Mets, while respectful of the tragedy, overcame the emotional hurdle on Sunday. They needed a day to exhale on the field without overtaxing the bullpen.
“Our bullpen was shot,” manager Terry Collins said. “When you run 27 pitchers out in three games, you’re out of gas. It was nice to be able to have comfortable innings at the end of the game.”
Bruce, starting for only the second time in the past eight games, doubled and scored in the second inning to open the scoring. Granderson hit a solo homer in the fourth for a 2-0 lead. The Mets later scored runs on a pair of bases-loaded walks to Jose Reyes, when Rene Rivera was hit on the left hand with a pitch to force in a run and on a wild pitch. Asdrubal Cabrera offered an exclamation point with a seventh-inning grand slam.
After struggling in games started by emergency starters Gabriel Ynoa and Gilmartin the previous two days, Gsellman (3-2) stabilized things with a 107-pitch effort. He limited the Phillies to three hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings, and he departed to a standing ovation. His ERA now stands at 2.56.
With Steven Matz’s return on indefinite hold because of renewed shoulder discomfort and deGrom’s season over after elbow surgery, Gsellman and fellow rookie Seth Lugo figure to get starts in a division series against the Chicago Cubs -- if the Mets get that far.
“Hopefully we get to the postseason. He’s got to be a part of it,” Collins said about Gsellman. “I thought it was really, really important to build him up to the 100 pitches, so whether he throws 70 or 75 pitches in a playoff game, it’s easier for him.”
Of course, the Mets first have to qualify for the postseason. They have two series remaining -- three games apiece at Miami and Philadelphia. The series at Marlins Park will be particularly emotional and complicated because the Mets’ postseason pursuit will be secondary to the still raw emotions surrounding Fernandez’s death.
Collins will meet with his players before the game. He feels the Mets have the correct pitcher, 43-year-old Bartolo Colon, starting Monday on what surely will be a difficult night. The manager also feels good because Colon and Noah Syndergaard will combine to toss four of the final six regular-season games if the Mets still need to qualify on the final day of the regular season.
“We’ve got six games to go. We’re going to run, basically, our two best pitchers out there twice each,” Collins said. “Tomorrow is going to be a rough one for everybody because I’m sure they’re going to be all fired up not only to beat us but in honor of Jose. But we’ve got to do what we’ve been doing -- go out and play, execute. We’ve got to feel good because we’ve got Bart going tomorrow night because if anybody can handle those situations, it’s him. We’ll see what happens.”
The Mets will be better situated to earn a wild-card spot if Bruce can awaken from his funk, and there are signs that is beginning to take place. After he hit a homer as a pinch hitter Saturday, Bruce went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the series finale. He had been hitless in 15 straight at-bats before Saturday’s long ball.
Although 25 of Bruce’s homers came with the Cincinnati Reds before an Aug. 1 trade, the Mets now have three outfielders sitting at precisely 30 long balls. Granderson joined Cespedes and Bruce at that total on Sunday. This marks the first time the Mets have had multiple 30-homer hitters on the roster since 2008, when Carlos Delgado and David Wright reached the total.
“Guys are swinging the bat as a collective group, and that means a lot,” Collins said. “You’re not just looking at three or four guys. You can spread the lineup out. I’ll tell you, Jay Bruce, with last night and today’s performance, that’s going to be big for us as we move forward.”
The Mets have matched a franchise record by scoring eight or more runs in four straight games. They have done so on six previous occasions -- most recently in July 2011.
“We want playoffs!” fans chanted with one out remaining Sunday.
The Mets finished 44-37 at home this season. Whether they have another home date on Oct. 5 in the wild-card game or afterward remains to be determined.
“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day,” Collins said. “Tomorrow is really going to be a tough one. But we got through this one today. Robert Gsellman was real, real good. I’m glad it’s over. And I’ll be glad when tomorrow is over, I’ll tell you.”
NEW YORK -- Miami Marlins president David Samson, with the entire team joining him on Sunday, discussed the importance of resuming play Monday as a way to honor Jose Fernandez. In New York, Mets manager Terry Collins echoed those remarks, noting that the proper tribute to Fernandez would be to play the game with passion.
Fernandez, the Marlins' ace, died early Sunday morning in a boating accident.
The Mets and Marlins begin a three-game series on Monday at Marlins Park.
The Mets will face the delicate balancing act of showing the proper sensitivity for Fernandez's passing while competing for a wild-card spot. Fernandez had been slated to face the Mets in Monday's series opener after Marlins manager Don Mattingly decided to give him an extra day of rest.
"Obviously, when we get down there, we will have a meeting -- we will get together -- so that we keep things in perspective," Collins said. "It's going to be really a tough night for a lot of people. Certainly we lost a great player, but the respect for the game itself -- and he had it -- it's got to be played, and it's got to be played right. Because I know that's how Jose would want to do it. That's how he would want it played. And so we've got to keep that in our minds also."
Before Sunday's game against the Phillies, Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes helped tape a Jose Fernandez Mets jersey to the wall of their Citi Field dugout.
"[Mets chief operating officer] Jeff [Wilpon] came to me and [Asdrubal] Cabrera
With exactly one week remaining in the regular season, the New York Mets (82-73) and San Francisco Giants (82-73) are tied for the National League’s wild-card spots, with the St. Louis Cardinals (81-73) only a half-game behind.
The Mets then wrap up the regular season with three games apiece at Miami and Philadelphia.
The Washington Nationals, by the way, clinched the NL East with their victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Mets’ loss on Saturday. At least the Nats had to wait to celebrate at PNC Park because of the uncertainty over the Mets’ outcome. The Mets-Phillies game didn’t end until just before 11 p.m. ET.
“We got too far behind,” Terry Collins said about the Nats clinching the division. “They were going to clinch it sooner or later.”
Said ex-Met Daniel Murphy to Washington reporters after watching the conclusion of the Mets game: "I don't know if I've ever rooted for the Phillies so hard."
SUNDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
- The game nearly ended magically, but the Mets’ patchwork starting-pitching staff stumbled Saturday. Sean Gilmartin, making a spot start with Noah Syndergaard recovering from strep throat, got knocked out with two outs in the first inning. Gilmartin and Rafael Montero ultimately combined to surrender 10 runs. The Mets, in an early 10-0 hole, then made it interesting despite pulling four starting position players. They brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth before losing to the Phillies, 10-8. Jay Bruce snapped an 0-for-15 drought with a pinch-hit solo homer in the final frame that pulled the Mets within two runs. Michael Mariot then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto, but Lucas Duda popped out and Travis d'Arnaud grounded out to end it. The largest comeback in franchise history remains overcoming an eight-run deficit in an 11-8 win at Houston on Sept. 2, 1972. The Mets, by the way, have used 23 pitchers in the series -- a franchise record for most pitchers used in a three-game stretch. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Syndergaard will rejoin the rotation Tuesday in Miami. That means Bartolo Colon and then Syndergaard are lined up to pitch the final two days of the regular season in Philadelphia, if necessary. Syndergaard could be held back for the Oct. 5 wild-card game if the Mets clinch before the final day of the regular season. If it goes down to the final day of the regular season and the Mets qualify, the Mets would have to decide whether to use Colon on short rest in the wild-card game or use a rookie instead. The good news: Colon and Syndergaard will combine to pitch four of the Mets’ final six regular-season games, if necessary.
- Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Seth Lugo.
- James Wagner in the Times, Maria Guardado at NJ.com and Marc Carig in Newsday write features about Asdrubal Cabrera staying in the lineup and producing despite balky knees.
- Syndergaard needs to carry the Mets to the postseason, columnist Kevin Kernan writes in the Post.
- Building a rotation that can stay healthy and intact for a prolonged period is supremely challenging, columnist Joel Sherman writes in the Post.
- Jacob deGrom, who already has rejoined his teammates, said doctors believe Wednesday’s surgery to remove a compressed nerve in his pitching elbow was a success. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.
- Wilmer Flores' season might be over because of no progress with the right wrist he injured 15 days ago in a plate collision. Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.
- If Steven Matz (shoulder impingement) contributes in the postseason, the best-case scenario appears a relief role.
- Lloyd Carroll in the Queens Chronicle advocates bringing Colon back in 2017.
- From the bloggers … Faith and Fear admires the Mets' improvisational skills. ... Mets Report suggests there are no moral victories with a week remaining in the season.
BIRTHDAYS: David Weathers turns 47. ... Argenis Reyes is 34. ... Bill Hepler is 71. ... Colton Plaia is 26.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
@AdamRubinESPN I can be ready by Tuesday
— dan haren (@ithrow88) September 24, 2016
YOU’RE UP: Would you use Colon on short rest in the wild-card game over Lugo or Gsellman if Syndergaard is needed on the final day of the regular season?
NEW YORK -- In a tight, three-way battle for the two National League wild cards, the Mets have looked like a team of destiny for almost two weeks now. It has been a parade of punctures, which figured to sink their boat, but every patch they’ve applied has worked. Players who are virtual unknowns and reclamation projects have filled in and thrived in both the starting rotation and the lineup, and this cavalcade of tiny miracles has all unfolded on a path paved with sub-.500 opponents.
On Saturday, the Mets got the acid test -- reliever Sean Gilmartin starting the game after Noah Syndergaard was scratched with strep throat -- and they failed it. Gilmartin was battered for five runs and didn’t get out of the first inning. Rafael Montero, the other option to start Saturday, came on and gave up five more runs.
For the first time in a long, long time, the patch didn’t hold. Things didn’t turn out rosy as the Mets fell behind by 10 runs before a bunch of inspired reserves led a comeback against the Phillies which fell short, a 10-8 loss before 39,995 at Citi Field.
The loss isn’t devastating. The Mets are still grasping on to a wild-card spot, just as they have at the end of every day since Sept. 11. New York and San Francisco are tied, with St. Louis a half-game back.
The acid test? It might have been a fail, but the players off the bench made it interesting and even got the potential winning run to the plate twice in the bottom of the ninth.
Getting a positive outcome in the face of defeat has been the story of this Mets season so far. Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes have been big-time run producers the past month despite injuries that would have put them on the DL earlier in the season. The club has gotten major offensive production by calling up undrafted free agent T.J. Rivera, snagging James Loney off the scrap heap and resurrecting Jose Reyes. With three key starting pitchers lost for the season or sidelined -- Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz -- the organization turned to Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, and they have shined.
But could manager Terry Collins really expect one more tiny pitching miracle?
“You know, one of these times something is going to happen,” he said.
What went wrong for Gilmartin? “Pretty much everything,” Collins said.
Still there was a big piece of good news: Syndergaard had a good bullpen session on Saturday before the game and is now slotted in to start Tuesday. It means he and Bartolo Colon are lined up to possibly start four of the last six games.
And though it’s a loss, this defeat might produce dividends in the season’s final eight games.
After the Mets failed to score and stranded two runners in the fourth, Collins did the smart thing: He looked ahead and pulled his four workhorses from the game for a much needed break.
Cabrera has been battling a left-knee injury, but fouled a ball hard off his right knee in Friday’s win and ultimately had to leave that game. He demanded to be back in the lineup Saturday because of the game’s importance -- Collins called him “a gamer” -- but he probably needed the day off.
Cespedes has a bad quad and has had only one full game off since Aug. 19. Reyes has had two games off since Aug. 13. Curtis Granderson has played in every game, coming off the bench just three times since Aug. 1.
And now the Mets also have a bench full of self-confident reserves after they fired up a rally that nearly resulted in the biggest comeback victory in franchise history. Gavin Cecchini had a pair of run-scoring doubles, his first big league hits. Rivera had a pair of RBI singles. Ty Kelly had a hit, an RBI and threw out a runner trying to score with a throw from left field. Brandon Nimmo had a run-scoring double.
Slumping Jay Bruce even hit a home run.
“That’s exactly what these kind of games provide,” Collins said. “They give those guys confidence they can play. Look at Gavin Cecchini with two hits; all of a sudden he thinks, ‘Hey, I do belong here.’
“Those are things that are going to help us as we go to the final week. You put them in a game now ... they think they belong. It’s going to help.”
The Mets might not be the team of destiny, and they might have lost a game in which they were the favorite on paper. But they also might be a better team going forward.
NEW YORK -- If Steven Matz pitches again for the Mets this season -- and that's no certainty -- he will be making his first career relief appearance.
Matz is 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA but hasn't pitched since Aug. 14 because of a shoulder impingement. He rehabbed the shoulder and was ramping up to make a possible start earlier this week, but Matz felt pain again after throwing the bullpen session that would precede the outing.
The club hasn't shut down Matz yet. They sent him for a medical exam on Friday, hoping they can get some contribution from him before the end of the regular season or in a possible postseason appearance -- or both. But the window appears to have closed for him to build up to a starting assignment.
"Right now, if he's able to throw -- able to pitch -- maybe we'll put him in the 'pen and see if we can get him an inning here or an inning there to see how he reacts to it," manager Terry Collins said before the Mets squared off with the Phillies at Citi Field.
"Right now, where we are, today, you're looking at: we've got a spot starter today (Sean Gilmartin), [Robert] Gsellman tomorrow, who's one of our guys, and I'm not sure where we're going to get him in."
All 28 of Matz's appearances have been starting assignments. Collins was asked if he had any hesitation to deploy the lefthander as a reliever, especially in a postseason setting.
It has been a rough go for New York Mets catchers at the plate this season, with Travis d’Arnaud injured, with issues seemingly robbing him of power and arm-strength, and Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera gamely trying to fill in. Their numbers rank at or near the bottom at the position in notable areas, including OPS and RBIs.
But during this run at a wild-card bid, Mets catchers are doing something better than any of their counterparts -- help their pitchers get extra strikes through pitch framing. It’s the hidden key to their success.
The Mets rank third in the majors in terms of extra called strikes gotten. The system we (and others) use, with the help of our friends at TruMedia, is to look at every pitch and determine how often it is called a strike, based on the count on the batter and the pitch location. Catchers are rewarded for getting called strikes that other catchers don’t and demerited when a ball is called on a pitch that is often a strike.
The top four teams in the majors in getting extra strikes are the Dodgers, Giants, Mets and Cubs. In fact, if you rank the top seven NL teams in that stat, they’re a match for the seven teams that entered Friday with winning records.
And this is something that has been there for the Mets during the run that began on Aug. 20, when Yoenis Cespedes’ home run to beat the Giants got their season pointed towards a playoff spot. They rank second to the Dodgers since that date.
But what’s distinct about the Mets is this: The Giants and Dodgers each have one great pitch-framer (Buster Posey and Yasmani Grandal) and the Cubs have two (Miguel Montero and David Ross). The Mets have three.
What’s the tangible impact?
On a game-by-game basis, take Friday night's win as an example. Rivera and d'Arnaud had a great game. They got 5.5 more strikes than would have been expected from the pitches that Phillies' hitters took. It was their sixth-best game of the season in that regard
On a broader basis, the Mets led the league in called-strike rate last season and lead again in 2016. Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom ranked 4-5 in the NL in strikeout-to-walk ratio last season. Noah Syndergaard ranks second in 2016 (though admittedly he’s more reliant on swinging strikes). Addison Reed’s 6.6 strikeout-to-walk rate dwarves any of his previous four seasons. Jerry Blevins’ ratio is the second-best in his career.
D’Arnaud may take a lot of heat from New York sports-talk radio and fans for his offensive and defensive struggles, but his pitch-framing work has been All-Star caliber. Since the start of the second half, d’Arnaud ranks third in strikes looking above average (known as SLAA), behind only Grandal and Posey. For the season, he ranks third in SLAA (think of that stat as a counting stat like home runs) and eighth in SLAA+ (the “rate” version of the stat -- think of it as catching’s version of home run percentage). Though each of the Mets’ three catchers excels at making sure pitches in the zone are called strikes, what gets the attention of the pitching staff is the ones outside the zone on which they get calls.
“There’s been a couple of times just this season that I’ve went back and looked at video just because I wanted to see how low the ball was, and how good of a strike (d’Arnaud) made it look,” Reed told ESPN's Adam Rubin in April, and he reiterated that point on Thursday.
“He’s the best I’ve ever thrown to at doing that. Just the way he frames the ball, it’s unbelievable. He makes balls that are four or five inches below the zone look like they’re almost right down the middle by just the way he flicks his wrist. I couldn’t even tell you how he does it.”
The numbers bear Reed out. With the White Sox and Diamondbacks, when Reed threw a knee-high fastball (or a pitch below the knees) that the hitter didn’t swing at, he got called strikes 38 percent of the time. Since joining the Mets, that rate has jumped to 49 percent. D’Arnaud is largely responsible for that.
“Travis is the one who really stands out,” Reed said on Thursday. “And that’s not to take anything away from Kevin or Rene.”
Pitch-framing has been Plawecki’s forte since he arrived in Flushing. Over the last two seasons, he ranks eighth in SLAA and ninth in SLAA+, adjacent to d’Arnaud in both cases. Rivera came to New York with a rep for being good at pitch-framing (he ranked second in SLAA+ with the Padres in 2014) and that has held true, even with the challenge of trying to frame the 99-mph fastballs and dirt-bound sliders of Syndergaard.
And it’s Rivera who gets the last word on the subject
“I just catch the ball,” Rivera said when the topic was brought up to him earlier this season. “Know what the ball is going to do. Just set up in the right place and catch the ball. I try to be in the right position. That’s the main thing. Know your pitcher. You want to be comfortable, feel the best way you can feel.
“I never call it framing. I call it receiving the ball in the right place.”
In this case, that place may be the postseason.
With Noah Syndergaard scratched because of strep throat, Gilmartin is set to become the 12th starting pitcher the Mets have used this season. Gilmartin (0-0, 4.76 ERA) opposes Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Alec Asher (1-0, 2.16) on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field.
Gilmartin has not thrown more than 18 pitches in an appearance since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas on Aug. 25. As a result, his appearance may be brief.
SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
- Michael Conforto launched a three-run homer and Hansel Robles recorded the final eight outs for his first career save as the Mets beat the Phillies, 10-5, Friday. Terry Collins indicated that he intends to start Conforto again Saturday as Jay Bruce gets further buried on the bench. Collins yanked Gabriel Ynoa after two innings and pieced together the victory with six relievers. Asdrubal Cabrera departed the game in the eighth after earlier fouling a ball off the area just below his right knee. Collins said Cabrera would not have left the game, even though the area was sore, had the Mets not opened a five-run lead. The manager said he likely would give Cabrera off Saturday. But Cabrera, who is perhaps the biggest gamer on the team, said he did not intend to sit. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Collins hopes Syndergaard returns to the rotation no later than Tuesday, which would allow for two more regular-season starts if the Mets need to win those games. That would disrupt Syndergaard’s availability for a wild-card game. But Collins noted the Mets need to worry about qualifying before lining people up. If the Mets have clinched with games remaining in the regular season, Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon could be saved for the Oct. 5 wild-card game. Read more from columnist David Lennon in Newsday and news recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record writes about the overtaxed back end of the bullpen: “[Jeurys] Familia and [Addison] Reed will have all winter to rest.”
- From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear celebrates the contributions of “the three amigos.” ... Mets Report sees Conforto getting back in the mix.
BIRTHDAYS: Hubie Brooks turns 60. ... Bernard Gilkey is 50.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
— Rob (@stromile88) September 24, 2016
YOU’RE UP: Would you rather the Mets host the Giants or the Cardinals in a wild-card game?
It’s starting to look that way, even if it’s not the prettiest baseball ever seen.
A night after twice overcoming two-run deficits while down to their final two outs, manager Terry Collins used six unheralded pitchers to piece together a 10-5 win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday at Citi Field.
Michael Conforto's three-run homer -- his first long ball since Aug. 7 -- highlighted a six-run fifth inning as the Mets overcame an early 3-1 deficit and a quick hook for Ynoa.
The Mets (82-72) opened a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants and a 1.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card standings. The Cardinals lost earlier in the day against the Chicago Cubs, while the Giants lost late Friday at San Diego.
Collins used “only” 20 players on Friday. That came a day after setting a franchise record by using 27 players in the series opener against the Phillies.
“I know one thing: You come to the park these days, you know you’re going to get in a game,” Collins said. “I was pretty happy I only had to use seven [pitchers] tonight. I had eight or nine ready.”
The Mets had hoped Steven Matz would return from the disabled list to start Friday’s game. But Matz, who has not appeared since Aug. 14 because of a shoulder impingement, felt pain after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday and was scratched. Ynoa took the start, and Collins gave him a quick hook with the Mets trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the second and the tying run on second base with two outs after Travis d’Arnaud’s RBI double.
Collins said he would not have lifted Ynoa except for the fact that there was a runner in scoring position. Ynoa already had allowed five hits and a walk.
Collins certainly is managing for the moment given the magnitude of each game. He yanked Ynoa even though the Mets will be throwing Gilmartin on Saturday in place of Noah Syndergaard, who has been scratched with strep throat. Gilmartin has not thrown more than 18 pitches in a game since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas in late August, which may mean additional heavy bullpen use.
“When we found out Noah’s not available, I guess you just brush it off and say, ‘What else can happen?’ But you play through it,” Collins said. “We played through it tonight. And we’ll play through it again tomorrow.”
After Ynoa departed, Logan Verrett, Josh Smoker, Erik Goeddel, Josh Edgin and Hansel Robles combined to get the Mets to the finish line on Friday. Robles recorded the final eight outs to earn his first save since 2011, when he was pitching with Class A Kingsport.
“I saw he had five or six baserunners in the first couple of innings,” Collins said about Ynoa, “and I said, ‘I don’t like the way this is looking.’ So I thought we’d try to score early. We got some innings out of some guys, certainly, that kept us in the game. Then the offense got it going.
“I tip my hat to all those young kids. We’re putting them in a tough spot.”