By: Joe Messineo

Evaluating Terry Collins’ Game 5 Decision-Making


The New York Mets’ 2015 season is over, but the second-guessing has only begun. Despite a media narrative that the Royals contact-hitting team was tailor-made to beat the Mets, the reality is that the Mets came very, very close to forcing a six- or seven-game series. The Mets blew an eighth-inning lead and two ninth-inning leads to earn three of their four losses. As much as that suits the narrative of the come-from-behind Royals, it also indicates that the Mets were in this series right to the end – making managerial decisions all the more important.

Terry Collins drew plenty of criticism for his in-game management in games one through four. His Game 5 decision-making won’t let him get off any easier. Let’s take a look.

The Lineup

Let’s start with something Terry did right. Some might argue that Cespedes (who has been gaffe-prone in center field and isn’t hitting well lately) should have been benched for Lagares, but Cespedes had been key to the Mets’ offense ever since coming over from the Tigers at the trade deadline, so it would have been madness to bench him in such a crucial game. Cespedes didn’t play well in Game 5, but hindsight is 20/20: with the information he had, Collins fielded the proper lineup.

Substituting for the Injured Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes left Game 5 injured after taking a ball off of his knee. But he didn’t leave right away – first, he hit a pop fly out with the bases loaded.

It was a strange spectacle. Cespedes had only recently been writhing in pain on the ground. He didn’t look like he was in any condition to hit. But Terry Collins was convinced that he could do it, and so Cespedes made an out before leaving the game. As soon as Cespedes made contact, it was clear that he would not (and could not) run. He said as much after the game ended.

Why did Terry Collins let an injured player finish an at-bat with the bases loaded? Yes, a pinch hitter would have had to inherit the 2-strike count, but still: if Collins puts a healthy batter in there and they get a base hit, the Mets win this game.

Leaving in Matt Harvey

The fans may remember the errors in this game best, but Terry Collins’ decision to leave Matt Harvey in for the ninth was probably the most crucial mistake of all. It’s also the most inexplicable thing Collins has done all series.

It’s not so much that Harvey was put out there again, though that was clearly not the right call (with a pitch count over 100 and a lead of just two runs, calling in superb closer Jeurys Familia with a clean slate to start the inning should have been the call). The truly bonkers thing about this sequence was that Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen did decide to take Harvey out of the game – and then let their pitcher talk them out of it. Who is in charge of whom in this dugout?

Leaving Harvey in had the predictable result: it forced the Mets to call Jeurys Familia into yet another late-game mess. The normally reliable Familia blew his third save of the series. That’s disappointing, but unsurprising: all series long, the Mets have used Familia in high-stress situations. Instead of working clean ninth innings, he’s been cleaning up other pitchers’ messes – or, in this case, letting them get out of hand.

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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