Mets starting pitcher Rafael Montero allowed five earned runs, seven hits and two walks Wednesday afternoon during a loss to the Marlins in Miami.
"I felt good, I think they were just able to make adjustments. They weren't falling for my changeup," Montero said after the game. "I think they were aware of my changeup early on, so they weren't biting or swinging at it and instead going for my sinker and slider."
In the third inning, Montero tossed a 93.8 mph fastball that Marlins 1B Justin Bour hit for a two-run home run. It was the first home run Montero had allowed in six starts.
Montero, 26, entered Wednesday's game 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA during his previous four starts.
"He didn't have his best stuff today," Terry Collins added. "When he needed to make it a pitch it was mostly over the plate, not on the edges like it had been lately. It's just one of those games when they're swinging the bats well and you've got to make quality pitches as we didn't do that."
Matthew Cerrone (Twitter | Instagram | About Me): Montero can be good. He can be ineffective. He can be great. It all depends on whether he can command the edges of the plate. Regardless, though, he's incapable of managing any inning.
So, his success or failure inevitably seems to come down to the flight of the ball, as opposed to his approach or ability to strategically sacrifice a run for an out or potential double play that could end the inning and limit the damage. It is this quality that is essentially for pitchers that are not able to rev up and get instant swings and misses with a fastball.
This type of thinking and pitching is what Matt Harvey is struggling to adjust to as well. However, in the case of Montero, it's essential. And so far, it hasn't clicked for him...
To be fair, despite it being three years since his big-league debut, Montero has pitched in just 56 games. And a lot of that time has been spent on the disabled list, being promoted and demoted and bouncing between roles, so I'm sure he hasn't been able to build a routine and mindset.
That said, the Mets have to decide what he is to them in 2018. Frankly, I have no idea how they're going to choose. I see him in Vegas just as much as I see him in the bullpen or being non-tendered. He's a total mystery, despite having moments of success this past summer.
The fact is, for all the positive headlines that Montero produced in August, he has only pitched at least six innings and allowed three or fewer runs in five of his 17 starts this season. And in those 17 outings as a starting pitcher, he's just 5-8 with a 5.12 ERA and 1.65 WHIP.
Meanwhile, in 15 appearances as a relief pitcher this season, he's 0-3 with a 6.10 ERA and 2.03 WHIP. Worse, the two WHIP and ERA numbers are approximately the same as his career line when pitching in those respective roles during the last three years.
So, what do the Mets do with him? I really have no idea.
It probably comes down to how they build out the roster this winter, and how many Triple-A, journeymen, starter-reliever options they can pick up in free agency. In short, while I still see potential in Montero's arm, I'm less confident in his mind and approach. Like most young pitchers, he's mostly focused on commanding his body. But, without a command of every situation, I believe he'll keep being inconsistent, average and relying mostly on luck.