NEW YORK -- The crazy part is that Rafael Montero didn't give up home runs in Las Vegas.
Everyone gives up home runs in Las Vegas. The ball flies in the Pacific Coast League.
Montero allowed just four home runs in 74 Triple-A innings there this season. But he has now given up eight homers in 25 innings for the New York Mets. He surrendered three more in five-plus innings Tuesday, in the Mets' 7-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
The 23-year-old Montero has plenty more to work on if he's going to become a successful big-league starter. His pitch count tends to soar way too quickly for a pitcher who built a reputation in the minor leagues as a strike-thrower.
But the biggest issue at the moment is that he can't seem to keep the ball in the ballpark.
"I know he's not afraid to throw it over the plate," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But you've got to make better pitches. You see he's got weapons to be successful, but he's got to learn to use them better."
Montero is with the Mets for the second time this season. He's theoretically here for two starts while Jacob deGrom is on the disabled list, and Collins said Tuesday night that he expects Montero to remain in the rotation for his next start.
But the Mets would like to think Montero is more than just a two-start fill-in. He's not as highly touted as Noah Syndergaard (who was passed over for this assignment and started for Las Vegas on Tuesday), but he is supposed to be someone who can help the team at some point.
He can't do ithat if the results are always going to be like this.
Montero has made five big-league starts, and has a 6.12 ERA. The Mets have yet to win a game he has started.
And he's given up eight home runs.
"When you're throwing it in the middle of the plate, you're going to get hit," Collins said.
Montero didn't seem overly bothered.
"I felt good going in," he said through an interpreter. "I still feel OK."
Why all the home runs, when he wasn't giving up very many in Vegas (never more than one in a game there)?
"The batters here are a little better," Montero said.
Fair enough, but if he wants to pitch here, Montero is going to need to be a little better, too.
Is Torres tipping? Carlos Torres also gave up another home run Tuesday, the sixth he has allowed in the past 10 innings he has pitched. Torres has allowed a homer in each of his past four appearances.
"We talked about maybe seeing if he's tipping his pitches," Collins said. "Because he's getting hit way too hard."