As the Mets look ahead to their potential playoff rotation there’s been some speculation that rookie left-hander Steven Matz could be shifted to the bullpen, but manager Terry Collins shut down that notion.
Matz is due off the disabled list Tuesday after missing the past six weeks with a torn lat muscle and here’s what Collins told Mike Vorkunov of the Newark Star Ledger about the possibility of a bullpen role down the stretch and/or into October:
You’re talking about a guy who’s had injury issues. To ask him to do something he hasn’t done before. To try to go warm up fast and get ready in a hurry–I’m not sure it’s fair to him.
Which makes sense, but here’s the thing: Matz made just two starts for the Mets before going on the disabled list and unless he’s absolutely lights-out as a starter in September they seem unlikely to trust him enough to be in the playoff rotation ahead of, say, veteran Jon Niese. In which case it would either be a bullpen role or no role for Matz in the playoffs, and “no role” would be a shame for a young pitcher with so much upside.
Picking up where Drew left off on Sunday… Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez stayed hot on Monday against the Mets, hitting an opposite field two-run home run to put the Rockies up 2-1 in the fourth inning against starter Jon Niese.
Gonzalez has now hit 16 home runs in his last 28 games, giving him 26 on the season along with 64 RBI and a .282/.339/.551 batting line. He’s homered 13 times since the All-Star break, the most in baseball in that span of time. That’s as many as the Braves and four more than the Marlins have hit as a team in the second half.
We have a trend here. Last week we heard about Mets left-hander Jon Niese, but now it’s Ian Kennedy’s turn. According to Corey Brock of MLB.com, Kennedy watched the birth of his daughter on FaceTime yesterday before allowing two runs over seven innings against the Marlins.
Kennedy’s wife, Allison, went into labor with their fourth child yesterday morning. He attempted to make it back to Southern California, but his flight from Miami was delayed due to inclement weather and his wife eventually just told him to stay and pitch. His daughter, Evelyn Nicole, was born just about two hours before the start of the game.
Kennedy allowed a two-run homer to Christian Yelich in the first inning, but held the Marlins off the board the rest of the way. The special day functioned as motivation for him.
“Giving up the homer helped shake it up a little bit,” he said. “[I thought], ‘Hey, I’m out here on a big league mound, you’ve got to step it up. What are you going to tell your daughter after you’re all done?’ It was just fun to pitch. Now I get to go home. I just want to hold her.”
Kennedy, who was among the many prominent names who remained with the Padres through Friday’s trade deadline, was scheduled to leave the team this morning to be with his family. He’s expected to return for his next start on Wednesday against the Brewers.
With his wife about to give birth to their second child, Mets left-hander Jon Niese wasn’t sure if he would even be able to pitch last night. He ended up making the start against the Dodgers, giving up six runs over a season-low three innings, and his wife gave birth during the game. However, he didn’t miss the event completely.
According to Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News, Niese watched the birth of his son via FaceTime before departing on a flight to Ohio. Surely he wanted to be there in person with his wife, but technology is pretty cool. And seeing his baby boy probably took the sting away from a rough night on the mound.
The Mets placed Niese on the paternity leave list this morning and recalled right-hander Logan Verrett from Triple-A Las Vegas.
On so-called “getaway day”, the Mets played and won an 18-inning marathon in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Now, they have to hop on a late flight to Washington, D.C. for a three-game set against the Nationals before heading back to Queens, New York for a 10-game homestand. Not exactly fun if you’re wearing a Mets uniform.
The game was deadlocked in a scoreless tie through 12 innings before the Mets broke through with a run in the top of the 13th on Kevin Plawecki’s RBI single. But the Cardinals answered in the bottom half of the 13th when Kolten Wong hit a game-tying solo home run, sending the game into yet more extra innings. It wouldn’t be until the 18th that the Mets would finally capitalize on one of their many opportunities.
Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, in his fourth inning of relief, allowed back-to-back singles to begin the 18th inning, then committed a fielding error to load the bases for Ruben Tejada. Tejada lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in the go-ahead run and send a potential insurance run to third base. Eric Campbell followed up with a squeeze bunt, bringing in the Mets’ second run of the inning to make it a 3-1 game. Mets reliever Carlos Torres was able to set down the Cardinals in order to preserve the 3-1, 18-inning victory.
The game was beautiful in its ugliness. The Mets went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position, matching a club record with 25 runners left on base, per ESPN’s Adam Rubin. ESPN Stats & Info notes that the two teams combined to go 1-for-34 with RISP and left 39 combined runners on base.
Lost in the marathon was a stellar effort by Jon Niese, who tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out three. The lefty, a potential trade piece for the Mets, has a 2.28 ERA over his last eight starts spanning 55 1/3 innings.
The Mets are now 48-44, two games behind the Nationals for first place in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Cardinals maintain a 4.5-game lead over the Pirates for first place in the NL Central with their 58-34 record.