Manager Terry Collins has become revered by those inside the New York Mets, but his impending departure could have unforeseen benefits.
Jacob deGrom had pitched magnificently and looked well on his way to his first win of the 2017 season on April 15 in Miami. The New York Mets held a 4-2 lead over the Marlins in the bottom of the eighth inning, and reliever Fernando Salas had already retired the first two batters he faced that frame.
However, everything imploded after that. Salas walked Miguel Rojas on four pitches, leading to the more dangerous part of the Marlins lineup.
After getting ahead in the count, Christian Yelich hit a monster two-run homer off Salas to tie the game. Giancarlo Stanton then followed his outfield-mate by hitting a bullet over the center field wall to put the Marlins ahead for good.
The Mets wound up losing 5-4, and, yet again, manager Terry Collins was to blame for mishandling his bullpen. There are multiple ways Collins could have handled that eighth inning that would have been much smarter than leaving the inconsistent Salas in to face the left-handed hitting Yelich.
The most obvious choice would have been to go to lefty specialist Jerry Blevins. Who cares if you’ll be wasting your best left-handed reliever on only one batter? Two outs in the eighth inning with the game on the line, against one of the best southpaws in the majors, is a good time to use him. Besides, the Mets had two other left-handed relief pitchers available in Josh Smoker and Josh Edgin.
Another wise move would have been handing the ball to temporary closer Addison Reed to try and complete a four-out save. The instant Salas walked Rojas, that should have been the end of his leash, especially because Reed had not pitched the day before, so he would have been capable of pitching more than one inning.
After surrendering back-to-back home runs in the second, deGrom had pitched remarkably well through seven, and, at the very least, could have come out to start the eighth. But Collins has a tendency to be overly protective of his starting pitchers, and this was yet another instance of that issue.
That loss in Miami was far from the first time Collins proved to be inept at handling late game situations. There were multiple times last season where he cost the Mets games due to his poor decision making involving his bullpen. Luckily, he was bailed out from some of those decisions because the team rallied late in the year to get themselves a postseason berth.
There were reports before the 2017 season started that Collins could be serving his last year as manager. The oldest current manager in the MLB, he’s uncertain if he could handle the stress of the position beyond this year. If Collins does indeed step down as manager, it might be the most ideal scenario for himself and the Mets organization.
It would be a shame to see Collins get fired after everything that he’s done for the franchise. People often forget what dire straits the Mets were in when he took over as manager prior to the 2011 season.
With a team in financial turmoil and a payroll weighed down by the high salaries of aging veterans, many thought Collins was set up for failure when he took the job, and there were probably very few who believed he would help the Mets reach a World Series this decade.
Collins also deserves a great deal of credit for helping the Mets reach the postseason last year.
Even though their stint in the postseason was rather short-lived, he still helped a club missing three of its starting pitchers erase a 5.5 game deficit in late August to clinch the top Wild Card spot in the National League. On top of that, Collins also had to deal with keeping his players focused on a playoff race while also dealing with a tragedy.
The Mets were the first team to face the Marlins following the tragic death of superstar starting pitcher Jose Fernandez prior to the final week of the regular season. Collins did a tremendous job keeping his team focused on a close playoff race, while making sure his team paid their respects to the Marlins family for their loss.
Many also believe the Collins was a huge reason that slugger Yoenis Cespedes has re-signed with the organization twice since being acquired in the middle of the 2015 season. Cespedes seems to enjoy playing under Collins and enjoys the type of clubhouse he runs.
However, at the end of the day, it might be time to realize that Collins isn’t the answer at manager if the Mets want to take that next step and have a legitimate shot at winning a World Series in the near future.
He’s become way too inconsistent with his decisions late in games, and sometimes appears to make choices that work perfectly, but then other times his decisions blow up in his face.
It’s also very important to realize that the Mets now have a team that would be very appealing for somebody to manage. This isn’t as it was six years ago, when the franchise looked like they’d be rebuilding for the next few seasons, making their list of potential managerial candidates quite slim.
Having helped the Mets win one of the team’s five NL pennants throughout their franchise history, Collins will be regarded as one of the best managers the team in Queens has ever had. While he may not be the answer for winning a championship, it would be shame to see him leave on bad terms the way Bobby Valentine did.