By now, Mets fans should have made their peace with Sunday night’s loss to the Kansas City Royals. They’ve aired their grievances with Terry Collins’ decision to leave Matt Harvey in, be it on WFAN or sports comment sections across the Internet. It’s all in the past, Collins took the blame and subsequently, the heat for the decision. At this point it’s time to move on and not place blame on a goat for the World Series.
For some, it’s easy to put the blame on Harvey, having pitched brilliantly for eight innings, he pleaded to Collins to keep in him. He wanted to finish what he started, even though Collins planned on using Jeurys Familia in the ninth. With agent Scott Boras hammering the front office and coaching staff with an innings limit on Harvey all season long, a complete game was uncharted waters (his only official complete game being August 7, 2013). Collins gave in to the plea from his staff ace. His intention was to use Familia, but he went with his player. A lively Citi Field with fans chanting “Har-vey, Har-vey” and a pumped-up starter releasing emotion after every third out he pitched, might have helped to sway the skipper.
In reality, Collins went with his best arm, not named Noah Syndergaard. Make no mistake, Familia had an amazing 2015. He proved he could be a top reliever for the Mets, but this World Series, he looked human. He blew the Game 1 save on Alex Gordon’s solo home run. In Game 4, Familia inherited Tyler Clippard’s mess and the ground ball inducing closer was done in by an error by Daniel Murphy. His final failure was having to save Harvey’s ninth on Sunday night. It’s hard not to find fault in a closer with three blown saves in a series.
Harvey will/is being cast as the scapegoat. The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff feels the only way the Mets can improve would be to place Harvey on the trading block in exchange for a bat. That’s fairly harsh treatment (along with referring to him as a diva) for the one pitcher who has been a saving grace for this baseball club. Let’s not forget, Harvey was the one pitcher the front office was hoping would revive this franchise, especially after dealing R.A. Dickey. He is the anchor of a Mets staff, that Keith Hernandez thinks is better than the 1969 or 1986 rotations. Without Harvey, this team would not have made it to the World Series.
Let’s be honest, even with Harvey, no one expected the Mets to win the pennant. This was a fringe playoff team at best back in April. The Mets were expected to play second fiddle to the Washington Nationals in the NL East. The Miami Marlins were getting more praise as a sleeper playoff team, a squad that has been all hype, no results. Yet it was the starting pitching that got the Mets to the division title, pennant, and ultimately the World Series.
Even then, the Royals deserve credit. Watching the ninth inning unfold, the Royals were going to come back. They’ve done it before and were going to do it again. You can throw out the Kansas City stats concerning their success against power pitchers, runs scored from the seventh inning on, batting average with runners in scoring position, this team was going to win. They were a complete team built on strong starting pitching, deep bullpen, contact hitting, speed and being able to wear down pitchers. They proved their worth Sunday night.
The Mets had many holes. The starting pitching feasted on an unbalanced Los Angeles Dodgers lineup to advance, and then obliterated a young, talented, but undisciplined Cubs team. The Dodgers put so much on their two aces — Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke — that the Mets took advantage of their few mistakes, along with the LA defense. The Cubs pitching was not much better.
The defense for the Mets was lacking to say the least. Baseball has a way of exposing a team’s weaknesses on defense. The baseball gods exposed Daniel Murphy and Yeonis Cespedes. If Juan Lagares could have avoided injury throughout the year, he would have been their starting centerfielder. Unfortunately, Cespedes had his bad moments in the centerfield, further magnifying the decision to use the Gold Glove Lagares as a substitute.
It was Kansas City’s World Series. They were hands down, the best team in baseball. They were not the sexy pick like Washington. They were drastically better than Harvey and the Mets. New York is a season away. The lineup is not perfect. The middle infield still has questions. The bullpen needs more depth. Not much fault could be placed on the starting rotation.
Matt Harvey does not deserve any blame for the Mets losing Game 5. He’s given so much to an organization that provided him with two seasons of no support. He’s not a goat, but rather the GOAT to what could possibly be the greatest Mets rotation in the franchise history.