Jun 27

Mets Matters: Matz Hurting; Lineup At Nats

If the Mets aren’t sure whether Steven Matz should make Wednesday’s start in Washington because of elbow soreness, then maybe he shouldn’t. That’s especially necessary if the ESPN report is true he’s had elbow soreness in at least three of his last eight starts.

The most recent diagnosis, as reported by ESPN, is Matz has a bone spur.

I always react on the conservative side when it comes to pitcher’s injuries, primarily because the interests of the team and players sometimes differ. Sometimes greatly.

Matz has already had arm problems, so why push it? Noah Syndergaard has complained of elbow soreness twice already this season, including after his last start. I’m already on record saying the Mets are pushing him tonight.

No structural damage was found when Matz was examined, but he’s still saying he feels uncomfortable.

Pitchers always want to pitch, that’s in their DNA. It is to be expected. They are also not to be believed when they say they are fine.

As I’ve said before, caution is the way to go with pitcher’s arms.

NEXT STEP FOR REYES:  After Monday’s game for Class A Brooklyn, Jose Reyes‘ climb back to the majors next step will be to go to Class AA Binghamton. How long he plays there remains to be seen. Also to be determined is if he’ll remain there or go to Class AAA Las Vegas before joining the Mets.

The Mets are saying a week to ten days, which means he could rejoin the team for the second series with the Nationals at Citi Field.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

Curtis Granderson – RF: Expect Granderson to be dropped in the order when Reyes returns. Hitting .109 (5-46) with RISP.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is a career .257 hitter (9-35) lifetime vs. Nationals. Has six hits in six games against Washington this year.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Is hot again, hitting .350 (21-60) over his last 16 games. Playing with sore hip and ankle. Is batting .327 with four homers in 14 games vs. Nationals since joining Mets.

Neil Walker – 2B: Lifetime .301 hitter (43-143) vs. Washington. His 14 homers are tied for second with Detroit’s Ian Kinsler in the majors for a second baseman behind Seattle’s Robinson Cano.

James Loney – 1B: Has reached base in 21 of the 24 games he’s played with the Mets. Loney Is batting .294 (5-17) with RISP. Has more than adequately filled in for Lucas Duda.

Wilmer Flores – 3B: Is batting .308 (20-65) since replacing David Wright at third base, yet he’s the one the Mets want to replace.

Brandon Nimmo – LF: Went 0-4 with a strikeout in his debut Sunday. Was the Mets’ first-round selection in the 2011 draft.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Is a lifetime .333 hitter (15-45) lifetime at Washington. Hit .317 in 11 rehab games after going on DL with sore rotator cuff.

Noah Syndergaard – RHP: Pitched seven scoreless innings vs. Nationals, May 17. Is 2-0 with 1.33 ERA in four starts lifetime vs. Nationals.

Jun 14

Moving Granderson To Third Is Best Mets Can Do

The argument for the Mets using Curtis Granderson in the leadoff spot last year was his high on-base percentage. Fueled by 91 walks, it was a solid .364 last season, which enabled him to score 98 runs.

His current numbers refute that argument. Granderson’s on-base percentage is a puny .316 this year with only 27 walks, but 61 strikeouts. These are numbers not befitting a leadoff hitter, which is why the decision to move him to third in the order, sandwiched between Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes is a good one.

GRANDERSON: Seeking a spark, Mets move him to third on order. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Seeking a spark, Mets move him to third on order. (Getty)

Actually, there is not much else the Mets could have done. They aren’t hitting, especially with runners in scoring position. They aren’t getting on base. They have three starters on the disabled list and Neil Walker’s back and Michael Conforto’s wrist have them sidelined. With no help coming from the minors or in a trade, it is time to tinker.

With no help coming from the minors or in a trade, it is time to tinker. Moving Granderson to a traditional RBI spot seems like a logical first step, For his 12 homers, he should have a lot more than 20 RBI.

The Mets’ order tonight reminds me of when managers of slumping teams pulled the lineup out of a hat. It’s not quite that bad for Terry Collins, who was released from a Milwaukee hospital and will be on the bench.

Here’s tonight’s order:

Alejandro De Aza, LF: His .181 average isn’t encouraging, but he’s fast enough to be considered at the top of the order.

Cabrera, SS: Is hitting .267, but has been fairly consistent. Is not really a No. 2 hitter in the classic sense, but is comfortable here.

Granderson, RF: Not the prototypical No. 3 hitter, but his power (12 homers) fits in the middle of the order. He should have more RBI and should get more opportunities more RBI opportunities with Cabrera, and perhaps in the future, Juan Lagares hitting ahead of him. Hitting ahead of Cespedes, his walks could increase.

Cespedes, CF: Has hit five of his 16 homers with RISP. Overall, in the 57 games in which he has played, he’s batting .282 with 16 homers, 40 RBI and 34 runs scored. In his first 57 games with the Mets last year, he hit .287 with 17 homers, 44 RBI and 39 runs scored.

Kelly Johnson, 2B: Is 4-for-9 since coming over from Atlanta. Has gone 55 at-bats since his last homer, so he’s due.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Is hitting .406 (13-32) since taking over for David Wright. Hit a game-winning single to beat the Pirates, June 8, at Pittsburgh.

James Loney, 1B: Has done well in place of Lucas Duda, including hitting a two-run homer, June 3, at Miami. Is a lifetime .314 hitter against Pirates.

Kevin Plawecki, C: Hitting only .205. I can see the Mets sticking with Rene Rivera as the backup when Travis d’Arnaud comes off the disabled list probably next week.

Jacob deGrom, P: Lost to the Pirates, June 7, giving up three runs in six innings. DeGrom hasn’t registered a win since April 30, getting two losses and five no-decisions in that span.

As I wrote the other day, the Mets are floundering and in dire need of a spark. Maybe this is it.

Jun 11

Mets Wrap: Walker Injured; Options Available

Here’s a shock, the Mets have another player down with a lower back injury and it has manager Terry Collins concerned. Very concerned.

VERRETT: Torched by Brewers. (AP)

VERRETT: Torched by Brewers. (AP)

Neil Walker left Saturday’s 7-4 loss at Milwaukee with tightness in his lower back. He won’t play Sunday and beyond that the Mets don’t know of his availability.

At this point, the disabled list can’t be discounted. David Wright (herniated disk in his neck) and Lucas Duda (stress fracture) are already on the disabled list with back-related injuries.

Walker grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third and was out of the game in the fourth.

“`With what we’ve been seeing, yeah,” Collins told reporters if he was concerned, saying Duda’s soreness turned out to be a broken back.

“Any time you’re talking about the lower back there is a concern.”

Collins said Walker will be examined Sunday, but what happens next nobody knows. Of course, you must assume the worst, which is usually what you have to do when it comes to the Mets and injuries.

Walker said he’s not concerned and hopes to play Tuesday.

Kelly Johnson will likely play tomorrow, but beyond that we could end up seeing Dilson Herrera up from the minors sooner than we expected. I floated the idea of signing Jimmy Rollins, but unless Walker’s injury is severe, they won’t do anything substantial.

METS GAME WRAP

June 11, 2016, @ Milwaukee

Game: #61          Score:  Brewers 7, Mets 4

Record: 34-27    Streak: L 1

Standings: Second, NL East, three games behind Washington.  Playoffs: First WC.

Runs: 226    Average:  3.7   Times 3 runs or less: 30

SUMMARY:  Logan Verrett gave up three homers in a spot start and Mets’ pitching surrendered five overall.

KEY MOMENT: Curtis Granderson tripled to lead off the third and was stranded. … Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

THUMBS UP: Two hits by Cabrera, including a two-run homer in the second. … Granderson had three hits and fell a double short of a triple. …

THUMBS DOWN:  Verrett gave up five runs on four hits and four walks in four innings. … Reliever Hansel Robles walked two. … Antonio Bastardo gave up two homers in the seventh. … Mets’ hitters struck out nine and their pitchers walked seven.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets had won six straight before losing Saturday. … The Mets have 83 homers, third in the league. … The Mets’ pen has given up 18 homers. … Travis d’Arnaud caught in a rehab assignment in Port St. Lucie.

QUOTEBOOK: “He threw 80 pitches in four innings. That’s a lot.’’ – Collins on Verrett’s performance.

BY THE NUMBERS:  5-for-51: The numbers behind Michael Conforto’s recent slump.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz (7-2, 2.39) vs. RP Zach Davies (4-3, 4.29) at Milwaukee, Sunday. … The Mets are off Monday then begin a three-game series Tuesday against Pittsburgh at Citi Field.

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Jun 11

June 11, Mets’ Lineup At Milwaukee

The Mets will try to make it four straight this afternoon in Milwaukee behind Logan Verrett. The Mets were beyond fortunate to win last night, 2-1 in 11 innings, mostly because the Brewers had a mind cramp in the field.
Matt Harvey had his third straight strong start and Yoenis Cespedes homered to overcome the Mets’ horrendous situational hitting, going 1-for-12 with RISP and stranding 11.
Here’s the order:
Curtis Granderson – RF: Has 11 homers but only 18 RBI. If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know about his production, then try this one: 3-for-35 (.086) with RISP.
Michael Conforto – LF: He was supposed to be the No. 3 hitter, but is now batting second. Of his 29 RBI, 13 have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead.
Cespedes – CF: His slump is over as he’s 7-for-15 in his last three games. Hit his 16th homer Friday.
Neil Walker – 2B: Has 13 homers with 25 RBI and batting .297 with RISP. Makes you think he’ll be walking this winter.
James Loney – 1B: Filled the void left by Lucas Duda‘s injury. Has hit better (.286 RISP) than people expected.
Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Was the No. 2 when David Wright went down, but that seems by the boards, too. Lifetime .300 hitter vs. Brewers.
Wilmer Flores – 3B: Is batting .500 (13-26) since taking over at third base. Has seven hits in the last three games.
Rene Rivera – C: Was reported to be Harvey’s catcher, but didn’t play Friday. Turns out it didn’t matter. Mets are 9-5 when he starts.
Verrett – RHP: Took a loss, May 14 at Colorado, in his last start. It’s like he’s pitching against the Mets when there’s RISP.  Hitters batting .167 with RISP against him.
Jun 09

Meet The New Mets: Never Bad Idea To Take Pitching

There are no guarantees in the baseball draft, but selecting power arms is generally a good idea, which was the Mets’ thinking when they used their first two picks to take junior pitchers Justin Dunn of Boston College with the 19th overall selection, and left-hander Anthony Kay of Connecticut 12 picks later.

You might wonder why a team struggling offensively and pitching rich would go after more pitching. Quite simply, we’re talking about Dunn and Kay not being ready for up to three more years, and a lot can happen in that span.

(05/31/2016 Chestnut Hill, MA) Boston College pitcher Justin Dunn throws in the bullpen as the BC baseball team prepares for the NCAA tournament  at  practice at Shea Field on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Photo by Matt West.

(05/31/2016 Chestnut Hill, MA) Boston College pitcher Justin Dunn throws in the bullpen as the BC baseball team prepares for the NCAA tournament at practice at Shea Field on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Photo by Matt West.

From the Mets’ current staff, there are injuries and trades, not to mention free agency. Of course, the way things have been going for him, you could exclude from that mix Bartolo Colon, who gave up one run in seven innings Thursday in Milwaukee.

Also, as the Mets proved with Yoenis Cespedes last year, hitting is generally more easily obtainable.

The 6-2, 184-pound Dunn started the college season in the bullpen, but his 90-mph., plus fastball and power curveball were moved into the rotation in April and went 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA in eight starts.

However, what the Mets should really love is he struck out 49 and walked just 13 in 47 innings.

“I try to pitch in the range of 90-92,” Dunn told The Boston Globe. “That’s where mentally I’d like to think I’m pitching. If it comes out harder than that, it comes out harder than that. Lately, it has been, which is a blessing. I feel pretty confident in all four pitches. That’s what makes it so hard for hitters. A hitter in a 1-and-2 count can’t eliminate one.”

Dunn throws a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. Dunn, who is from Long Island, will be pitching this weekend to send the Eagles into the College World Series.

Kay is also from Long Island and from the same high school that produced Steven Matz.

KAY: Following Matz to Queens. (UCONN)

KAY: Following Matz to Queens. (UCONN)

Kay throws in the low 90s and throws a fastball, changeup and curve.

UConn coach Jim Penders says Kay has a Long Island swagger, and you know what he means by that when you watch Matz.

“`It has kind of grown since I left Long Island,” Kay told The Hartford Courant. “It means you don’t care what anybody thinks about you – you just go out and do your job and get it done the best you can.”

Kay was 5-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 83.1 innings.

The Mets drafted Kay in 2013 and made him a six-figure offer, but he opted for college. They got a second chance Thursday.