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New York Mets Need to Pull the Plug on Rafael Montero Now

May 18th, 2017 at 2:51 PM
By Mike Phillips

The New York Mets lost their seventh straight game yesterday, and the unquestioned goat was reliever Rafael Montero. Montero faced one batter in a tie game in the bottom of the 11th inning, and that batter hit a walk off home run. In 11 appearances this season, including one start, Montero is 0-3 with a 9.69 ERA and a 2.85 WHIP. Those numbers are atrocious, and the WHIP is actually scarier than the ERA, because it means that Montero is allowing almost three base runners per inning. Montero has also continued to nibble on the corners instead of attacking hitters, and as a result he has walked 11 batters in 13 innings pitched, a ratio that is completely unacceptable.

Prior to yesterday, the Mets had been using Montero in mop up situations, but manager Terry Collins turned to him in a big spot yesterday because of the state of his bullpen. Collins had already used four relievers, and indicated after the game that he wanted to stay away from both Fernando Salas and Hansel Robles, who had struggled recently due to overuse. That left the Mets with three options: Montero, Paul Sewald, and the newly signed Neil Ramirez. Collins indicated that Sewald was his potential closer, so instead of putting Ramirez into a tough spot in his first game action in two weeks he chose to go to Montero to presumably try and pitch multiple innings. Montero rewarded his manager's faith by giving up the game after facing only one batter.

This is nothing new for Montero, who has long teased the Mets with flashes of his potential, including a dominant spring training showing that earned him an Opening Day roster spot this year. The Mets even held onto Montero this winter at the expense of potentially viable bullpen arms like Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa, both of whom got traded to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations in moves to clear 40 man roster spots. Both pitchers fared well in the minors and earned promotions to the Orioles, where they are a combined 3-0 and have allowed no runs in 11 innings pitched. Either Verrett or Ynoa would be a massive upgrade over Montero, who has been a predictable disappointment.

With a bullpen in shambles, the Mets can't afford to keep someone who has shown no ability to get big league hitters out consistently in it like Montero. Montero may be biding time until the Mets can bring back Josh Smoker from the minors after the 10 day optional assignment period is up. Smoker was demoted to the minors ahead of Montero so he could utilize all four of his pitches in starts, and he is eligible to rejoin the big club tomorrow. Things went well for Smoker in his one minor league start, where he tossed 4.2 scoreless innings and struck out three without walking a batter. Even if the Mets want to see Smoker duplicate his results, they have other pitchers in Triple-A who are pitching well, like Chasen Bradford (4.08 ERA), Kevin McGowan (3.86 ERA), and Alberto Baldanado, who dominated in the Eastern League for AA Binghamton before earning a recent promotion to Triple-A.

None of those players are on the 40 man roster, but with the Mets' bullpen struggling to find answers it's hard to argue any of them wouldn't deserve a shot ahead of Montero. Adding anyone other than Smoker to the big league bullpen would require a 40 man roster move, and its hard to argue with potentially designating Montero for assignment. The Mets have given Montero plenty of chances to live up to his potential, and he has squandered every one of them. Getting Montero off of the Mets is long overdue, but the team has to admit that he isn't going to be helpful here and try and use his roster spot on someone who can help right the ship.

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Tags: Baseball, MLB, New York, New York Mets, Rafael Montero

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