Maybe the decision was not that controversial given Jeurys Familia's struggles since returning from suspension. Still, Terry Collins exposed himself to the potential for serious second-guessing when, clinging to a two-run lead with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning on Friday night, he pulled his closer and inserted Josh Edgin to face Bryce Harper.
Edgin then coaxed a game-ending 1-2-3 double play and the Mets survived for a desperately needed 7-5 win at Washington to snap a six-game losing streak.
"The way things have been going, that's a big weight off our shoulders," Collins acknowledged postgame. "… Once in a while you have to make a decision. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't."
Collins indicated that the Mets' skid played big factor in his decision to lift Familia, even though Harper was 1-for-10 in his career against the closer. This is no time to passively manage and let players work out of funks.
Collins also noted that while Familia's fastball is fine velocity-wise, the ball does not have its typical groundball-inducing sink. So Collins took his chances with a lefty-versus-lefty matchup, and Edgin's performance rewarded the gamble.
Make no mistake: Yoenis Cespedes will be out for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury, Familia has not found his groove since returning, and the Mets still are 6½ games behind the Nationals in the NL East.
Yet Jacob deGrom's performance Friday -- coupled with Travis d'Arnaud's two-homer night to break out of an 0-for-16 rut, signs of an awakening from Jose Reyes' bat, Noah Syndergaard having an apparently issue-free throwing session that puts him on track to start Sunday, and Lucas Duda beginning a rehab assignment with Class A St. Lucie -- are positives to seize on at the moment.
The Mets treated their starting pitchers ultra-conservatively for much of April, with their coveted arms combining to make only one start of 100-plus pitches during the opening 15 games of the season.
Now, though, the bubble wrap is thankfully being peeled off. And when deGrom logged 112 pitches on Friday, it marked the sixth time in the last seven games a Mets starter has been allowed to reach a triple-figure pitch count.
Coming off an outing against the Nationals last weekend at Citi Field in which he walked a career-high six batters in a season-low 5 2/3 innings, this time deGrom possessed a sizzling upper-90s fastball and overcame second-inning homers to Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters.
DeGrom ultimately limited Washington's high-octane offense to three runs on six hits and one walk in seven innings. The Nationals entered the game ranked first in the majors in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
"I'll tell you one thing: When he gave up the homer to Wieters, that ticked him off," Collins said. "He came inside and you could tell by his expression and the way he went about things he was going to turn it up."
DeGrom struck out 12, which marked his third straight game with a double-digit strikeout total. That's the longest streak of consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts by a Mets pitcher since Sid Fernandez and David Cone both had three straight in 1992.
Thankfully, in another rewarded decision, Collins allowed deGrom to return to the mound for the seventh inning despite being at 101 pitches entering that frame. Remember, deGrom was pulled at 97 pitches after seven innings two starts ago. Fernando Salas proceeded to surrender homers the next inning to Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton that day as the Marlins rallied for a 5-4 win.
"He found his command as the game went on, actually," d'Arnaud said about deGrom on Friday. "He kept battling out there."
Are the Mets out of the woods? That would be a premature pronouncement given all the lingering issues. But for a night, at least, Collins made the appropriate decisions and the signs were positive for a reversal of fortunes.
"That was a huge win for us," d'Arnaud said.
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.