This is perhaps a low point for the New York Mets and Thursday night at Citi Field that was certain after San Diego Padres rookie righthander Dinelson Lamet allowed one-run over 5.0 innings. You lose two of three to the worst team in baseball and throw Rafael Montero in the mix and it culminated in another loss.
And this one was not lost by the bullpen. Montero was dispatched to the mound on short notice because manager Terry Collins did not want the threatening rain and interruptions to disrupt Jacob deGrom who was moved back another day and will get the start in Pittsburgh Friday night.
It took three-innings and 87 pitches from Montero that have put the Mets at a low point to their season..
Say it again, a low point for the New York Mets. Losing eight of their past 11 games and going further down in the standings, and before one can say there is still time, and as Memorial Day approaches, there is every indication this is a low point that may be difficult to overcome.
And when a 24-year old rookie righthander from the Dominican Republic, Dinelson Lamet, debuts and handles the lefthanded Mets lineup in limiting them to three hits, well that is also considered a low point. Michael Conforto could not handle Lamet’s changeup and went down swinging three times.
It also was the first start and Major League win for Lamet of Santiago, Dominican Republic and it seems more than once that a rookie comes to Citi Field and makes things worse for the Mets.
In all, Conforto, the Mets most consistent hitter struck out four times, before getting a single in his final at bat off Padres reliever Brad Hand. There was also an outfield miscue from Conforto who lost a pop fly that dropped inside the leftfield foul line. That would cost a run for Montero and the Mets in the third inning.
But this is now about Rafael Montero and his inability to do the job, and with an ERA of 8.24, it may be time to seek other options. Spot start or not, Montero has become a mystery and there are no other pitching options for manager Terry Collins as he awaits the return of Seth Lugo and Steven Matz.
And who knows how much a difference it will be when Lugo and Matz return. If anything, they will provide reinforcements for a bullpen that has been at a low point with the worst ERA in baseball. And with Montero getting a start it is obvious the Mets need to go to the bullpen early, and for the most part Paul Sewald, Josh Edgin and Addison Reed kept it close.
“They gave us a chance,” Collins said. Montero did not give the Mets a chance allowing two runs in a 45-pitch first inning the most thrown by a Mets pitcher in a single inning since Jonathon Niese threw 48 in 2013.
A well reputed NL scout, when asked about the difficulties that Montero confronts said, “It could be mental and first look is, he throws and does not pitch.”
Simple to understand that is the command, and Montero at this low point shows no signs of getting that fixed. Then again, Collins and these Mets have a lot of issues to fix and that includes when the injured return, including Yoenis Cespedes. They can’t get back in the thick of things losing series, and more so having another starter fail to give them innings.
“He was in constant trouble,” Collins said about Montero. “The first inning, fortunate we limited the damage to what we did.” Again, Collins reiterated there is hope Montero can get his confidence back and how many times has that been said as the righthander continues to fail with that attempt.
Oh, talk about a low point and go beyond how Conforto could not handle the rookie pitcher. Lamet was able to get out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings with two on and none out, and then reliever Jose Torres got Lucas Duda to stop a rally hitting into a double play in the sixth.
The Mets went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and when the pitching is as bad as it is, that is another low point.
Don’t fault Conforto. He has become a positive part of a Mets season that is slowly but surely going down the drain, and the next three games in Pittsburgh could speak volumes before the team comes home on Memorial Day against the vastly improved Milwaukee Brewers.
“The mindset is always to go out there and win the game,” Conforto said. “I think there’s always that sense of urgency. I know absolutely from our coaching staff all the way down to the roster, we’re going out there to win.”
But the Mets can’t win ballgames with Montero on the mound, and that is obvious. This was a low point and in a matter of days it may be safe to say that it will get lower.