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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Not So Funny

Long night, short turnaround. Let’s rip the Band-Aid off, shall we?

In the bottom of the fifth, Steven Matz did something strange: he got his helmet and bat and headed for the on-deck circle, apparently all-business. Which was fine, except his spot in the order wasn’t up — it was several batters away. He wasn’t even close.

Matz was flagged down and returned to the bench, where he sheepishly endured a ribbing from his teammates. It all looked like great fun: the Mets were up 4-0 thanks to a pair of sac flies and another Neil Walker home run, Matz was cruising, and Mat Latos looked tired and ineffective and grumpy. It wasn’t quite a laugher, not yet, but the chuckling had begun.

Ready for the less-than-funny part? Matz never did get up to the plate. Latos retired the Mets 1-2-3, and when Matz went back out to the mound the proper procedure seemed to elude him there too. Jose Abreu reached on a misplay by new Met James Loney, whose familiar No. 28 called to mind Daniel Murphy‘s fielding misadventures but none of his hitting prowess. (One Twitter wag noted that Loney had been catlike at first base — if the baseball were a laser pointer.) Matz threw a slider to Todd Frazier, a strategy he’d tried all night and Frazier was wise to. Boom, and now it was 4-2 Mets. With two outs, mustachioed Tyler Saladino walked, stole second off an inattentive Matz and then promptly took third, where he was singled in by Dioner Navarro. It was 4-3, and just like that Matz’s night was over.

Jim Henderson held the White Sox at bay and gave way to Noah Syndergaard, getting his between-starts work in under the bright lights. Noah didn’t disappoint, rifling 100+ MPH pitches at the Chicagoans and flashing an ungodly slider and then, perhaps just for fun, a 92 MPH change-up that Frazier nearly lost his helmet flailing at. It was a great show, but just a cameo — Noah was there for an inning, next to be seen down in Miami.

Without him, well, things didn’t go so well. Hansel Robles took his place on the mound, walked Melky Cabrera and then threw a high fastball to Saladino that the young shortstop murderized for a 5-4 White Sox lead. More horrors followed, with Jerry Blevins failing to execute and Logan Verrett yielding an insurance run before the curtain finally came down. The stunned-looking Mets did nothing, and that was the ballgame.

I could cluck in sympathy with Robles’s sudden ineffectiveness (he’s basically naked when he located his too-straight fastball) and note that bullpens that are nearly automatic for a stretch are probably due for a dumpster-fire interlude. I could remind you that despite his gaudy career record and general air of pluck, Matz is still a young pitcher with some lessons to learn about predictability and focus. I could go back and craft some stirring lines to add to Syndergaard’s Saga.

But it’s late (or early, depending on when you read this), so let’s not. Rubber game tomorrow, matinee affair, Jacob de Grom on the mound. Let’s just move on and hope the Mets follow suit.

23 comments to Not So Funny

  • Jacobs27

    Man, that sure unraveled fast. Oof.

  • Jonathan

    After all the successes of last season, sometimes we get the reminder of what our team is. A team that can have One of the leagues most consistent lefties, and one of the most dominant righties pitch …and still wind up losing.

  • Dave

    Mets bullpen has been lights out all year, except when somebody leaves all the lights on.

  • Harvey

    Mets this year and last through the end of May:

    2015 2016
    April 15- 8 15- 7
    May 13-15 14-15
    Total 28-23 29-22
    Games Behind Nats 0.5 2.0

    • Jacobs27

      Hmm. Good comparison, Harvey. Since I don’t anticipate the Nats folding the way they did last year, the Mets better take it up a notch.

      They can’t let games like this one get away if they wanna keep pace.

  • eric1973

    Though some here can provide statistics that Robles is the best pitcher in baseball, it appears that day has not yet arrived.

    It may, someday, as he’s got the ‘swing-and-miss’ stuff many of us love so much. I do look forward to that day.

    • Rob E.

      Just for the record, those statistics say he is a GOOD pitcher. Now they say he is a GOOD pitcher who has had two bad outings. I don’t recall anyone saying he was the best pitcher in baseball, only that he was GOOD and still has upside. I don’t think two games has changed that any more than two games changed anything for Familia in the past week.

  • Stephen Kairys

    Whether or not one thinks Robles should have been brought in to start the eighth:

    He walks the first man, strikes out the second, and gives up a HR to the third.

    Don’t you think he should have been pulled then? Instead, he stays in to walk another batter. Only then, does Terry relieve him. The White Sox end up scoring again to go up 6-4.

    It may not have mattered, but in a 5-4 game, maybe there’s more pressure on Chicago’s struggling bullpen…

    Not to belabor the point, but am I the only one who thinks Terry stays too long with struggling relievers? I understand that he likes to show confidence in his pitchers- and there’s merit in that mindset – but there are times when his slow hook has been costly…

  • Greg Mitchell

    For all those who have defended Terry’s (over) use of Familia, last night a perfect example of the issue. Because he used him with 4-run lead on Friday (and then Sunday and Monday), Terry made him unavailable last night. So he has to hold Reed for 9th meaning you-know-who has to pitch in 8th (coming right off a game in which he gave up 3 dingers in one inning), and you know what happened. Domino effect. If Familia doesn’t pitch last Friday (and throws a bunch of pitches) then Terry for sure has him last night. Of course, in the you-never-know department, Reed and Familia could have gotten bombed last night. But last night still a great example of what can happen when a manager wastes a closer’s bullets. Even the best only have so many.

  • Mikey

    I am not looking forward to playing those effing Marlins again

  • Matt in Richmond

    Closers pitch in non save situations. There’s no way to predict the future. You never know how many days coming up you will need him, so sometimes you send him out with a 4 run lead. The Red Sox used Kimbrel in a 4 run game last night. I wonder how many Red Sox fans are losing their minds over this.

  • eric1973

    Of course it’s the (over) use of Familia that is causing this domino effect. A better word is (mis) use. TC created a problem where none existed.

    Each game is not played in a vacuum. One must logically anticipate that Familia will actually need to be used again in the near future. Foolish to believe otherwise, as that 4-run game was not Game 7 of the WS, or even Game 8 of this 2016 season (you know, must-win games). Just because other managers make foolish decisions that lead to losing games, does not make it ok for TC to do the same thing.

    The decision was UNNECESSARY, and that’s the point.

    You guys must believe it all comes down to destiny, and that decisions do not matter. In fact, decisions are the only thing that ARE truly controllable, as opposed to a hot streak or a slump, which everyone goes through.

    And as for Robles, he was not used in any leverage situations from AUG of last year up to now, because he has been absolutely horrible. That’s why the organization got ten different new pitchers to put ahead of him on the depth chart.

  • Daniel Hall

    That was a trash can game, allright, but the rubber game today was defying words. Worst 4:40 of my life…

  • Matt in Richmond

    You must not follow much baseball. Closers are used constantly in non save situations, as to hold them out for only save situations would have many of them pitching 30-40 innings. He had only thrown twice in the prior week, somewhere around 20-25 pitches. There was absolutely nothing illogical about bringing him in then. He faltered, as closers do from time to time, but clearly showed there was no fatigue problem as he got the 3 up 3 down one run save in the Harvey game. What are we talking about here?

    As to Robles, it is patently untrue to say he has been horrible. He has had 2 horrible games, but his whip, era, and k/bb numbers have been fantastic, PARTICULARLY for an unheralded guy who is still just getting his feet wet. He has had numerous clutch outings this year.

  • eric1973

    Like I said, fine, bring him in with a 10-run lead if you want, in order for him to get some work.

    But make it crystal clear that it’s 15 pitches and out, because he may truly be needed the next day. Perhaps bring him in with 1 or 2 out, but he has to be available the next day. He can never not be available because he’s busy pitching the day before with a 4-run lead. Totally illogical.

    Robles is pretty far down on the depth chart. He is never used when it matters. That pretty much says it all about him.

  • Matt in Richmond

    He was available the next day.

    Incorrect. Robles has been used often in tie and/or close games, & has succeeded more often than not. Viewing 2 games as an illustration of his worth is quite silly. Unless you think Conforto will never do anything but strike out for the rest of his career. I’m also amused as to your flip/flopping on Robles. When he was going great guns earlier in the year with eye-popping numbers I kind of needles you about it a little bit. Because of the way you beat on him last year. You responded by saying you always thought he was good. Now your back to trashing him again. At least be consistent dude.

  • eric1973

    Robles is everything I like about a reliever —- blazing fastball, and he does not appear to be intimidated. And he’s one of the few on the staff who’ll throw inside to protect his teammates. Tough guy. The 0-2 pitches down the middle drove me nuts, and he’s been pretty bad whenever they tried to ‘promote’ him.

    Sounds like I’m flip-flopping here, but he is quite the conundrum.

  • Matt in Richmond

    I actually agree with everything you just said. Those are my thoughts exactly. Swing and miss stuff. Not intimidated. But yeah, he needs some polish. Needs a more consistent breaking ball and work on locating the fastball better. I’ve just taken issue with some of your comments when you seem to regard him as hot garbage. But your last one was spot on. Cheers

  • eric1973

    Detroit just called up Parnell…. Can’t wait to see how he does!

  • Matt in Richmond

    Wow! Pelf and Parnell reunited. Good luck to them both.

  • Mikey

    ha, and we play the Tigers this year….I really hope we get to face one or both of those guys

  • Gary Arne

    I can take Matz implosion as he is still basically a `rookie’, but the lineup has too many AAA like players (Kelly, Pawlecki Rivera). Conforto & Cespedes in a funk with the bats makes for low run support. Lagares is starting to heat up and its great to have him in CF on a regular basis. Will give Loney a pass for a few weeks, but he seems like a 2 tool player at best. Time to start thinking longer term regarding Third Base as Wright appears to be an IR list regular. Hoping the Mets land a pro-catcher soon. Lets go Mets front office! Gary A in MA.