Recently, Rafael Montero has been one of the best—if not the best—Mets starting pitchers. While some promising signs are still there, this 3-2 loss also showed he has still has some things to work on if he wants to be a viable option in the future.
Walks have plagued Montero throughout his major league career, but that surprisingly was not the issue in this start. He looked sharp early and had a good slider working in the early part of the ballgame. Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp both struck out twice against Montero in their first two plate appearances against him. The Braves did push a run home in the second after a couple of singles and a groundout, but the damage was minimal and the typical lack of control was not evident.
The biggest issue was the pitch count. Montero departed the game having thrown 108 pitches in 4.2 innings. The fifth inning is where it all unraveled and the Braves picked up the go-ahead runs against the righty. It all started when Brandon Nimmo misjudged a ball in the outfield that fell for a double. Sean Newcomb struck out, but then Ender Inciarte singled home the first run of the inning. He stole second and Ozzie Albies walked. After a wild pitch, Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked.
Next up was Lane Adams who was inserted into the game after Matt Kemp exited the game early with hamstring tightness. He came to the plate with the bases loaded, and this time Nimmo made a nice diving grab on the ball hit to him, but it counted as a sacrifice fly and the Braves’ had a 3-2 lead.
Montero lasted only one more batter when Nick Markakis’s infield single loaded the bases. His final line was not pretty. He pitched 4.2 innings and gave up seven hits and three runs. He only walked two, one unintentional, and he struck out six. Not a disastrous outing but far from a great one.
Despite getting down early, the Mets at one point had a 2-1 lead. They tied the game 1-1 in the third after Gavin Ceechini led off the inning with a double. Montero sacrificed him over, and he came home on Jose Reyes’s groundout. They took the lead an inning later when Asdrubal Cabrera doubled, and with two-out, came home on Dominic Smith’s RBI single. Smith has been red-hot all September and this his was especially promising since it came against lefty starter Sean Newcomb.
Smith was in the middle of a rally when the Mets chased the Braves’ starter in the sixth. Cabrera has also been on a tear this month and he started the rally when he singled with one out. Kevin Plawecki followed with a single of his own, and then Smith walked to load up the bases. The Braves went to their bullpen and the Mets squandered their golden opportunity when Juan Lagares grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Mets didn’t put together another rally until the eighth, but Smith did not find any two-out magic this time when he flew out with runners on first and second. A potential rally in the ninth looked like it could be brewing when Norichika Aoki looked safe at second on Ceechini’s ground ball, but the umpires ruled he was out when they reviewed it. Matt Reynolds ended the game after that call on a ground ball, and the Mets have now lost five in a row as they limp toward the finish line.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Asdrubal Cabrera +15.9%
Big losers: Juan Lagares -36.5%, Rafael Montero -21.4%, Brandon Nimmo -10.3%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dominic Smith walk in sixth
Teh sux0rest play: Ender Inciarte RBI single in fifth
Total pitcher WPA: -2.8%
Total batter WPA: -47.2%
GWRBI!: Lane Adams