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Dig Deep, Rafael (Mets Game 131 Preview) August 29, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
Tags: , ,
Rafael Montero pitches. Photo: slgckgc https://www.flickr.com/people/slgc/

Montero pitching. Photo: slgckgc

The Mets open a four-game series against the Marlins tonight. The Marlins are 8 games behind the first-place Nationals with a magic number of 25; the Mets can be eliminated from NL East contention by any combination of wins by the Nationals and losses by the Mets totaling 24. With 32 games left for each of those teams, even a .500 finish by the Nationals would require the Mets to go 25-7 over the stretch. That means nearly 4 wins for every loss – difficult to achieve.

Meanwhile, the Mets are 2.5 games behind the second wild card in the NL (St Louis) and 5 games behind wild card leader San Francisco. Since overtaking the second wild card necessarily involves passing the Marlins, this series is crucial – up to an 8-game swing hangs in the balance.

Surely, the Mets are bringing their best hurlers, right?

…. oh.

Rafael Montero starts for the Mets tonight against Jose Fernandez. In 24 games in relief for AAA Las Vegas, Montero has a 6.54 ERA. Although that’s a bit inflated, he’s still got a 2.95 ERA at AA Binghamton, and has started only twice. Montero is, of course, a bit of a sore spot for Mets fans after Terry Collins_going_to_see_injured_ra.html”>taking most of last season off. With Montero’s depth in question, and with him making his first major league start of the year, the Mets’ bullpen will be crucial. However, Josh Smoker and Jim Henderson each pitched both of the last two games; Hansel Robles has had a difficult August following a fantastic July, carrying a 10.38 ERA in 13 innings over 12 games. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia are both available, and Jerry Blevins pitched only 2/3 of an inning last night, but otherwise the bridge to the 8th inning will be Sean Gilmartin.

With Seth Lugo starting tomorrow’s game, this is a crucial win for the Mets. Tomorrow, Henderson and Smoker will be rested and Terry Collins will have a bit more flexibility. If ever there was a time for Montero to dig deep, it’s today.



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