Last night the New York Mets were swept by the Atlanta Braves in heartbreaking fashion by way of Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte robbing Yoenis Cespedes of a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth. If the Mets are to miss the postseason, that catch will be played over and over in Mets fans minds all offseason. What also will be replayed through our minds will be the way Terry Collins mismanaged the eighth inning of that ballgame, as the Mets held a 3-2 lead over the Braves.
Addison Reed was brought on in the seventh inning to get the final out, with the assumption that he would be giving a four-out bridge to Jeurys Familia. Reed didn’t get help from his defense after James Loney committed an error to allow Ender Inciarte to reach base, before Reed retired Adonis Garcia on a fly out. For whatever reason, Collins pulled Reed in the middle of the eighth for lefty Josh Smoker to face Freddy Freeman. Yes you read that correctly. Now I understand he wanted the left-handed Freeman to face a lefty out of the bullpen, but it shouldn’t have been at the expense of the best set-up man in the league. Reed has been as dominant of a reliever in baseball this season as anyone, and the move left many scratching their heads. Including Reed who declined to speak reporters after last night’s defeat. As a matter of fact lefties have hit .196 against Reed while lefties have hit .381 against Smoker this season.
Smoker quickly gave up a single to Freeman and Collins made his way to the mound again, to bring Familia in to get a five-out save. Another very questionable decision. With runners on first and second base, a double steal put Familia immediately in a jam, which allowed Matt Kemp to tie the game on a sacrifice fly.
With a tied game in the bottom of the eighth inning, Collins placed Kelly Johnson on deck to pinch hit for Matt Reynolds, but he actually never stepped in the batters box. Collins removed him for Eric Campbell to face Braves lefty Ian Krol, with runners on first and second with two outs. Campbell was intentionally walked, and Collins again opted to bring in another pinch-hitter by bringing in Kevin Plawecki to hit for James Loney. Plawecki would ultimately go down swinging and the Mets would waste an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.
First and foremost Collins has every reason to be ripped by fans for his questionable moves last night. At this point you trust your guys who have gotten to you this point this late in the season. Collins pulled his most dominant reliever, his best bench bat, and our starting first basemen in critical spots for three players who have been playing in Triple-A for most of the season. If we were to go down with Reed, Johnson, and Loney last night it would’ve been an easier pill to swallow than three guys who haven’t been in many big spots this season, let alone thrown right into one of the biggest moments thus far of the postseason race.
If the Mets want any shot of making the postseason, Collins cannot afford to overmanage the way he did last night. He has done an admirable job of keeping this team together through all the adversity they have faced this season, however his managing moves have left a lot to be desired. The Mets have ten games left to right the ship as they are tied with the Giants and Cardinals for the first NL Wild Card spot. Let’s hope our manager has learned from last night, and trusts his key players to get the job done in high-leverage situations, or we will be relieving Inciarte’s catch all winter.