Terry Collins has made three very interesting moves recently that warrant analyzing. Two of them were definitely against-the-book types moves that you wouldn’t expect from by-the-book Collins.
The by-the-book move was Wednesday night, when Collins removed R.A. Dickey from the game after seven innings and that magical 100-pitch mark. Zach Lutz pinch hit for him with two outs and none on in the bottom of the seventh with the Mets up 2-1, so there was no offensive reason to do it. And Dickey was cruising along; yes, he had just walked his first batter in the top of the seventh, and yes, the Marlins mounted something of a threat, but that was because of a poor throw by Dickey to second base on a sure double play and an error by David Wright, not because he was struggling.
Unless there is something that no one else knows, there is no reason why Dickey could not have remained in the game. One hundred pitches is nothing for a knuckleballer. I feared the Marlins would do to the Mets bullpen what the Mets did to the Marlins bullpen Monday night when a dominant Josh Johnson was removed — mainly, win the game.
The move worked out as four Mets relievers were able to nail down the game, but still, why remove a starter just because he reaches 100 pitches?
On Monday night, with the Mets down 1-0 in the seventh, two outs and a runner on first, Collins chose to pinch hit Justin Turner for Ike Davis. A lefty was in the hill, and Davis is struggling, but I still found this curious. The Mets needed a home run to take the lead. Even a slumping Davis has more of a chance to hit a home run than Turner.
Also, that had to play havoc with Davis’s confidence. Davis is an integral part of the Mets offense – they need him to break out. It certainly couldn’t have helped being benched at a crucial point in the game.
The move did not backfire — Turner walked, and the Mets would tie the game after two subsequent walks.
The move for which Collins deserves kudos is removing his closer when he clearly was in trouble. In the ninth inning of Saturday’s near disaster against the Giants, Frank Francisco faced four batters, getting one out, but allowing two hits and a walk as the Giants cut the Mets lead to 4-2. Collins pulled Francisco from the game.
Managers never do this, and it is something I have railed about for years. If a closer just doesn’t have it, he should get the hook, yet managers consistently leave in their closers to blow the game. While I’m sure Francisco wasn’t too happy, Collins did the right thing and should be commended.
On this particular day, it didn’t matter who was on the mound — the rest of the bullpen blew the lead, but the Mets were able to pull out the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Even though I disagreed with a couple of these moves, it is nice to see Collins thinking outside the box. The Mets can use all the help they can get this season, so if their manager can win a few ballgames for them with some innovative strategy, so much the better.