In my mind you want your best players to decide the pennant race. Once upon a time the Mets season hinged on Kenny Rogers walking in the losing run in the 1999 NLCS against the hated Atlanta Braves. He pitched in 16 games for the Mets that year and he ended their season. Reliever Eric O’ Flaherty has pitched in 13 so far and he’s responsible for a few losses. His 13.50 ERA should be proof enough that he can’t pitch in New York. Now it’s not all his fault. Manager Terry Collins is culpable here as well.
I thought the former A’s pitcher would be an exclusive lefty specialist. He had a nice .182 battering average against lefties and the A’s used him against some righties and clearly they sold Sandy Alderson that bill of goods even though the results weren’t good. A month ago righties were hitting .412 against him and yet Terry Collins has insisted using him that way at least twice in recent memory? Why?
I’ve often thought Terry Collins has burnt guys out in the bullpen. Bobby Parnell is his most recent example. With Familia available Friday night, he went with a middle reliever to try and hold a lead in a very important game. O’Flaherty has an 0-0 record and yet he’s affected a small portion of the pennant race so far. One more thing about Collins. You don’t bring in a pitcher to pitch to a good righty, Prado, who got the walk off double, hoping that he can pitch to the batter on deck, Justin Bour.
O’Flaherty works best with two outs. He’s got a .083 ERA in that spot. If I were Terry and I still believed in him, I would only use him against lefties with two outs. After that, his numbers rise to the point where it’s a bit risky.
Alderson has a pipeline to Oakland for better or worse. The Mets have gotten more players like O’Flaherty and Collin Cowgill than Yoenis Cespedes. You can go to the well once too often and this is a case of that.
Mets fans will be nervous right up until the last out when that magic number changes to zero. It’s not about panicking. It’s about seeing their team come through in the clutch. They haven’t seen that in a very long time. This team has done that time and time again but as they head down the stretch they will have to keep that up to hold off the Washington Nationals who seem to be getting their act together.
The last series of the season against the Nats could still determine the season. It shouldn’t. But if it does, it means the Mets let their lead on them slip to the point where it is anybody’s division.