Mets and Nats Tie up Race to Get Swept by Dodgers

against the at Nationals Park on April 9, 2014 in Washington, DC.

The Mets-Nats series this past weekend was absolutely sick; a crucial division lead was on the line and it was easily the most entertaining series of the regular season this year.  While the play on the field (mostly the Mets pitching) was great to watch, the abysmal in-game management from both managers was also quite comical to witness.  Let’s quickly review the boneheaded moves from the weekend…

1. Terry Collins benches Lucas Duda for Game 1

Lucas Duda has had an atrocious summer for the most part, but he has been on absolute fire over the past two weeks.  Leading up to the game on Friday, the Mets were 7 games into a homestand that Duda was completely tearing up: 24 AB, 8H, 6HRs.  That’s right – 1 out of every 4 at bats resulted in homers…  Huge for a team near the bottom of the league (behind the Phillies) in runs scored.

Inexplicably, Collins benched him on Friday because he had three strikeouts the game before.  I understand that it is important to keep your men in check if they are getting too cocky and undisciplined at the plate, but you cannot bench one of your best offensive players in the most important game of the season.

This benching is even more unacceptable when you consider the putrid play of Duda’s replacement, Eric Campbell.  His average for the season lies at a disgraceful mark of .175.  Against lefties (the Nats rolled out lefty Gio Gonzales), it is an appalling .074!  That is just like putting two pitchers in the back of the order in the most important game of the season… (for the record, Duda’s average against lefties this year is .299)

So how did Campbell fare in this incredibly important showdown?  A solid four at bats, two pop outs, and two strikeouts.  The worst at bat of all came in the bottom of the 4th when the Mets had just scored their only run of the game and had Gonzeles looking shaken up.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd and a golden opportunity to blow the game wide open for Harvey shut down, he manages to strike out looking…

2. Matt Williams has two top tier closers, uses neither one of them

Bailed out by the incompetence of the Duda benching, the Nats managed to tie the game up at one in the 8th and headed into extra innings with momentum and a deeper bullpen.  It was shaping up to be a typical Mets choke job and a new stranglehold on the NL East for Washington.

Fortunately for the Mets, Matt Williams decided to one-up the Duda benching by refusing to put in Storen or the newly acquired Papelbon.  Instead he opted for two innings of Aaron Barrett and three innings of Felipe Rivero, thus mitigating the enormous bullpen advantage he had.  Absolutely inexcusable.

Nats beat writers cite Williams’s obsession with the save stat as a reason he will never put a closer in a tie game.  That is very stupid and will destroy him in the playoffs (if he makes them), but at least it explains why Papelbon was not in the game.  Storen?  I have no idea why he’d be out.  Maybe he was refusing to play because he’s pissed about the Papelbon trade?  Sounds fishy…  It probably just has to do with shit managing.

Even more fortunate for the Mets, Bryce Harper decided to throw another hissy fit…

Which gave momentum back to New York and led to the most exciting play of the season so far…

3. Williams walks Cespedes to pitch to the hottest hitter in baseball

Game 2 shaped up to be just as exciting as the opener.  Unsurprisingly, the game was close til the end and swung on a horrible managerial decision.  Coincidentally, the centerpiece of the decision involved the very same player we just ripped on Collins for benching.

With the game tied at two in the bottom of the 8th with one out and a runner on second, Williams delighted his haters again by calling for Matt Thornton (who, again, is not Storen or Papelbon) to intentionally walk Yoenis Cespedes and pitch against Lucas Duda.

It might be worth mentioning that the reason for the 2-2 tie was two solo homers by Duda earlier in the game (so, yes, eight in his last seven games).  It also might be worth mentioning that Thornton is a lefty, and Cespedes is hitting .181 against lefties on the season.  So not only did Williams commit a cardinal sin of putting the winning runner on base in order to get to the hottest hitter on the Mets, he showed us all that he has less knowledge of opponents’ batting splits than the average fantasy owner…

Of course, here’s what happened next…

The Mets clinched the sweep in game three to blow the division wide back open, but the incompetency on display from both teams in the earlier games show us that, as entertaining as the postseason chase will be, neither of these teams have a chance against St. Louis or LA in the NLDS.

Mets and Nats Tie up Race to Get Swept by Dodgers