Before he made the Mets' roster out of spring training and made an appearance in the team's first victory of the season on April 5, Jim Henderson hadn't pitched in a major league game since early in the 2014 season. He missed the majority of that season and the entire 2015 season because of shoulder problems.
In his 111 major league appearances, Henderson—a late-inning reliever who very rarely pitched for more than one inning—had thrown thirty or more pitches in just three. On August 11, 2012, he threw 33 pitches, and he didn't pitch again until four days later. He threw 30 pitches on April 8, 2013, and he didn't pitch again until six days after that. He threw 33 pitches again on July 11, 2013, and didn't pitch again until three days after that—and only threw two pitches in that outing.
Fast forward to this year, and Henderson was dominant in his first three appearances back in the big leagues. He was bound to come down to Earth, and he did a little bit in his fourth game. Thanks mostly to a sixteen-pitch at-bat by Dee Gordon on Tuesday night, Henderson needed 34 pitches—a new career high—to pitch just one-third of an inning.
Thanks to a very short start by Steven Matz on Monday night, the bullpen had to throw a lot of innings over the first two games of the team's series with the Marlins. And thanks to the Mets' continued reluctance to place Jacob deGrom on either the disabled list or paternity leave, that bullpen was without Logan Verrett because he was slated to fill in for deGrom in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite all of that, the Mets brought Rafael Montero to New York on Tuesday just to have him on their taxi squad. After their loss on Tuesday night, they activated Montero and optioned infielder Eric Campbell to Las Vegas.
So the Mets came into play on Wednesday with a fully stocked bullpen, at least in terms of the number of relievers on the active roster. Here are the seven pitchers who were on the roster for Wednesday's game and the number of pitches they had thrown on Monday and Tuesday.
|Pitcher||April 11||April 12|
After six great innings from Verrett, Terry Collins turned to the bullpen. That was understandable, as Verrett had thrown 85 pitches and hadn't been in the habit of starting games. But the first pitcher Collins called upon was Henderson.
Of the seven relievers on the roster, only Rafael Montero started the day with plenty of rest. Henderson, however, was the only pitcher in the group who had a history of long-term, throwing-related injury. Jerry Blevins missed the grand majority of the 2015 season, but that was because of of a freak broken—and re-broken—forearm.
This was Henderson's first pitch:
That's an 89-mile-per-hour fastball. Having averaged 95 miles per hour on his fastball in his first four appearances, he sat in the low-90s on Wednesday afternoon and topped out at 92. And he wasn't effective, as he allowed a single to Martin Prado and then lost his control. He walked Justin Bour and then walked J.T. Realmuto. The game was scoreless at the time.
Despite his career-high workload on Tuesday night and injury history in general, Henderson was brought into a game less than twenty-four hours later. And despite significantly-diminished velocity, Henderson was left in the game long enough for the Mets to get into a big jam that took two other pitchers—Robles and Blevins—to escape the inning without giving up a run.
In Terry Collins's mind, there might not have been any ideal options to pitch the seventh, but the pitcher the Mets activated specifically to help a beleaguered bullpen wasn't used. If Montero wasn't going to be trusted to pitch in a close game, perhaps the Mets should have called up a pitcher that Collins might use in either Sean Gilmartin or Erik Goeddel.
Given the options available when the seventh inning started, though, Henderson did not look like the best option for either short-term or long-term success.