“I let my heart get in the way of my gut,” Terry Collins announced to the media following Game Five of the World Series. He took responsibility after the New York Mets were eliminated by the Kansas City Royals, but he never mentioned his brain. He probably should have mentioned it because his mind was in absentia when he made the decision that ultimately cut the remaining string the Mets were holding onto.
The Mets were already down three games to one and winning three straight against the Royals would have been nigh on impossible. However, Collin’s decision in Game 5 was a major turning point worth studying.
Up 2-0 going into the ninth inning, Collins could have stayed with pitcher Matt Harvey to finish off his dominant start or tab closer Jeurys Familia, who had already blown two saves in the series after blowing no opportunities since July. Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen decided to take Harvey out after eight innings and 102 pitches. With the Citi Field crowd chanting “We want Harvey,” the ace was able to convince the coaches to change their minds.
Harvey had only allowed four hits and had struck out nine while mowing down the Royals with ease, but Collins should have known better. He walked the first hitter in the ninth, Lorenzo Cain, and even though it was painfully obvious that Harvey was gassed, Collins let him face Eric Hosmer. The last batter of Matt Harvey’s 2015 season doubled to score Cain and the tying run was on second base with no outs. At this point, Collins turned to Familia to finish the Royals off.
In classic Kansas City fashion, the Royals managed to tie the score and send the game to extra innings. The two clubs dueled until the Royals exploded for five runs in the 12th inning.
The Times’ “Through the Order Penalty” simply states that with every turn through the order a lineup has against a starting pitcher, their offensive performance will be better. A noticeable decline in pitching performance happens between the second and third time through the order, but there is a significant change the fourth time through as well. It was totally expected that Harvey would struggle in his fourth time through the order compared to the previous three times. Collins failed to account for this principle and his decision cost the game.
Familia was called into a sticky situation and although he pitched well, he could not strand the runner that Harvey had left him. With the way he pitched, it is safe to assume that had Familia had the full inning, he would have picked up the save. Harvey had also pitched 216 innings this season including the playoffs, a record for a season following Tommy John surgery.
Many are claiming that Collins made the correct decision and would have been second guessed either way, but had he put Familia in to blow the lead, the decision would at least have been logical. Collins was persuaded by emotion, costing the Mets the game. Mets fans can find solace in the fact that it would have been improbable for them to win Games 6 and 7 in Kansas City.