Jun 02

Mets’ May Review And Looking At June

Considering all that went wrong for the Mets in May, ranging from key injuries to slumps to Matt Harvey’s horrendous pitching, they were lucky finish the month at 14-15 and two games behind Washington.

The Mets ended the month by losing four series, but they enter June with the expected news third baseman David Wright will be placed on the disabled list for an extended period with a herniated disk in his neck.

CESPEDES: Mets May MVP. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets May MVP. (AP)

June starts with a ten-game road trip, beginning with consecutive three-game series at Miami and Pittsburgh, places where they have struggled. It ends with four games in Milwaukee.

Noah Syndergaard (5-2), Bartolo Colon (4-3) and Harvey (4-7) will start against the Marlins.

MAY MVP

It has to go to the only batter who hit with any consistency, which would be Yoenis Cespedes, who hit .342 with eight homers and 14 RBI for the month. Making that more impressive is he’s entering the Miami series on a 1-for-22 (.045) slide. It should also be noted Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda and Wright didn’t offer much protection.

PITCHER OF THE MONTH

Despite spitting the bit in his last start, Steven Matz was named the NL Rookie of the Month by going 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA for the month. He leads all rookie pitchers with seven victories, a 2.60 ERA and 53 strikeouts.

KEY GAME OF THE MONTH

There were several notable games and moments, beginning with Colon’s homer in San Diego and Harvey’s hoped-for turnaround victory on Monday. However, there’s really only one game that ratcheted everybody’s emotions, and that was when Syndergaard threw out Mets’ nemesis Chase Utley. Syndergaard was ejected in the in the third inning which disrupted the Mets’ bullpen for a week and Utley responded with two homers, including a grand slam.

KEY MOVE OF THE MONTH

The Mets had several options as what to do with the frustrated and struggling Harvey, but opted to give him one more start. Harvey responded by pitching the Mets to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox.

RED FLAG ENDURED

After losing Travis d’Arnaud to the disabled list, but Mets brought up catcher Rene Rivera, who has been impressive with his defense and throwing.

KEY ISSUE RESOLVED

The Mets traded for James Loney to replace Duda, who went on the disabled list with a back issue.

HEALTH ISSUES

Wright will be on the disabled list with a herniated disk for an indefinite length of time. … Duda and d’Arnaud are on the DL with no timetable for their return. … Hansel Robles has a sprained ankle.

SIX QUESTIONS RAISED

Will they generate any offense outside of hitting home runs?

How long will they be without Wright, Duda and d’Arnaud and can their replacements pick up the slack?

Will the new guys, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, keep hitting?

Was Harvey’s start Monday a fluke or a sign of things to come?

Can the bullpen pull itself out of its funk?

BY THE NUMBERS

1-4: Harvey’s record for May.

3-3: Record in May vs. Nationals.

5: Homers given up by Robles this season.

5: Third baseman used so far.

6: Extra-base hits by Conforto for May.

33: Strikeouts by Curtis Granderson in May.

.208: Mets’ average with RISP.

3.56: Bullpen ERA in May after it was 2.71 in April.

LOOKING AT JUNE’S SCHEDULE

It begins with ten games on the road, including three at Pittsburgh, where they have not played well. Perhaps Walker can catch a Penguins’ game.

They return home for three games each the Pirates and Braves, and two against World Series opponent Kansas City.

They end the month with four games in Atlanta and three more in Washington, before starting a four-game series at home against the Cubs that extends into July.

Jun 01

Mets Wrap: Mets’ Lousy Hitting Wastes Another DeGrom Start

DeGROM: Great start wasted. (Getty)

DeGROM: Great start wasted. (Getty)

The Mets’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position, and manager Terry Collins’ insistence they are a home run-hitting team is beyond aggravating. It has gotten tiresome. Unless there’s a reversal in this trend, forget about reaching the World Series, much less getting there.

I don’t know how many times Collins said this year the Mets “don’t play small ball,” that “this team is built on power.”

Collins was at it again after Wednesday’ 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the Chicago White Sox, telling reporters: “We’re not a small ball team. We don’t steal bases. We don’t hit-and-run. To ask them to do something to do that they aren’t used to doing you’re asking them to fail.”

That’s blue-and-orange colored crap. Collins said the Mets work on their situational hitting all the time in batting practice.

“Every team talks about situational hitting,” Collins said. “Now it has to be applied.”

Now it has to be applied? It should have been applied since spring training.

Collins said it should be noted the team is without David Wright, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud, all now injured, and Yoenis Cespedes, who asked for the game off.

While that’s fair to note, it should also be remembered Wright is hitting .226 with 14 RBI; Duda .231 with 19 RBI; and d’Arnaud .196 with one RBI. The three have a combined 94 strikeouts. Cespedes appeared as a pinch hitter and struck out for the 45th time.

The power-laden Mets lost two games each to the Dodgers and White Sox. They scored only six runs during the Chicago series.

The Mets’ situational hitting wasted a superb outing by Jacob deGrom, who is winless in his last six starts, including a loss and five straight no-decisions. Three of those no-decisions turned into a one-run loss by the Mets.

Today they had 20 runners, but only one scored. They went 1-for-8 with RISP and stranded 14 runners. Also horrible were 12 strikeouts and scoring just one run after getting 13 walks.

Today was a microcosm of how off-base Collins’ reasoning is, and if correct, how poorly this team has been constructed by GM Sandy Alderson.

Yes, the Mets’ 73 home runs are great, but they are an aberration. Everything has to be perfect to hit a home run. The stride, the swing, making contact at the precise split second all have to come together. It might be the most perfect moment in sports.

But, you can’t live off swinging for perfection. History is full of powerful teams that didn’t win a World Series. Take a walk and advance the runner; bunt; steal; hit-and-run; get the clutch hit; and don’t strike out.

A more important and telling stat is in half their 52 games the Mets scored three runs or less.

METS GAME WRAP

June 1, 2016, @ Citi Field

Game: #52          Score:  White Sox 2, Mets 1 (13)

Record: 29-23     Streak: L 2

Standings: Second, NL East, 2.5 games behind Washington prior to the Nationals’ game Wednesday night.  Playoffs: Second, half-game WC behind Pittsburgh.

Runs: 195    Average:  3.75   Times 3 or less: 26

SUMMARY:  It just goes to show you can never tell what might happen in a major league game. Relief pitcher Matt Albers doubled off Logan Verrett to lead off the 13th inning – his first hit in nine years – took third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly.

KEY MOMENT:  The Mets left the bases loaded in the sixth. Hell, they Mets left a lot of men on base all day. … Albers double was pretty big, also.

THUMBS UP:  DeGrom was superb and deserved better. He struck out ten. … Two hits by Rivera. … One run in six innings from the bullpen. … Two walks each by Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Juan Lagares.

THUMBS DOWN:  Hansel Robles left the game with one out in the 11th inning with an injury. Jerry Blevins came out but Collins wanted Verrett instead. … The Mets grounded into five double plays. … Michael Conforto struck out four times while going 0-for-6. That includes grounding into a double play. He could use the off day. … DeGrom’s bad pitch to Todd Frazier resulting in a home run.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Wright will get more treatment and One join the team in Miami. …

QUOTEBOOK: “He really battles. When you’re living on the edge, it takes a lot out of you.’’ – Collins on deGrom.

BY THE NUMBERS:  .208: Mets batting average with RISP in the last ten games.

NEXT FOR METS: They are off Thursday, then start a three-game series in Miami against the Marlins, with Noah Syndergaard starting.

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Jun 01

June 1, Mets’ Lineup Analysis Vs. White Sox

Jacob deGrom starts to get the Mets back on the winning trail after the pitching broke down Tuesday night. First, Steven Matz lost in all at once and the bullpen – after Noah Syndergaard – never had it. That would be Hansel Robles, who gave up five homers in May.

mets-logoball-2Here’s the lineup behind deGrom:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Is heating up, batting .303 (10-33) over his last ten games. His on-base percentage still must improve.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is very comfortable hitting No. 2. Has hit in 10 of last 12 games. Has 12 career homers vs. White Sox.

Michael Conforto – LF: After blazing April settled down and is hitting .261 with eight homers and 24 RBI. Still hitting third for the most part.

Neil Walker – 2B: Moved to cleanup with Yoenis Cespedes getting the day off. Off the top of my head, who is the last cleanup hitter who played second base. Maybe Robinson Cano.

James Loney – 1B: Hitless in for at-bats in his Mets’ debut. Hit .280 in 104 games in 2015 with Tampa Bay.

Juan Lagares – CF: Average is up to .278. Would like to see more of him in the lineup.

Ty Kelly – 3B: Today’s third baseman of the day. He’s the fifth different player to play the position. This is Kelly’s fourth start at third.

Rene Rivera – C: Good to see him play. Nothing against Kevin Plawecki, but the staff ERA with Rivera is nearly a run better.

deGrom – RHP: First start against White Sox. Is coming off his fourth straight no-decision. Has given up three runs or less in seven of eight starts.

COMMENTS:  Cespedes is hitting .462 (6-13) and Alejandro De Aza (.571) lifetime against White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez but are not starting. And, Granderson is hitting .071 against Gonzalez. Puzzling. And, please don’t tell me about rest. De Aza hardly plays and Cespedes could rest almost any time. … Wright not in today, but Mets could know more about placing him on the DL later today.

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May 31

Mets Wrap: Looking At Wright’s Future And The Bullpen Meltdown

A bad back ended Don Mattingly’s career, one that could have landed him in the Hall of Fame had he not been injured and forced to retire at age 34. A bad back ended Larry Bird’s career. The Mets are facing the same prospect with David Wright.

WRIGHT: What's he thinking now? (AP)

WRIGHT: What’s he thinking now? (AP)

Wright spent four months on the disabled list with spinal stenosis last season. He’s currently facing the prospect of the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck. The Mets delayed the disabled list when they made room for James Loney by sending Eric Campbell to Triple-A Las Vegas.

When the Mets gave Wright a long-term contract in December of 2012, they pared down the amounts for the last two seasons in anticipation of his skills diminishing. Wright will get $20 million a season through 2018; $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020.

With his recent injury history, manager Terry Collins told reporters he’s sensing those skills fading now.

“This guy has been a special player,” Collins said. “Certainly being the captain and the face of this organization, a manager’s worst nightmare is to see a star start to fade. I think David’s got a lot of baseball left in him because of the way he prepares and the way he gets himself ready. But it’s hard to watch what he’s going through.

“He’s still special. He’s still a great player. We just hope this neck thing goes away in a few days and he’s back in our lineup.”

Wright didn’t play in Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Chicago to miss his fourth straight game, and the injection he received will take at least two more games before taking effect. That makes the disabled list a real possibility.

It won’t happen this season, but the Mets and Wright should be thinking about the next four years because it is fairly obvious he’s not going to make the end of his career at third.

There are several options:

FORCED RETIREMENT: They could buy him out, which is what they did with Jason Bay and Michael Cuddyer. Neither side wants this, but Wright’s pride probably will make him consider this option over time.

Wright, at 33, has seven homers, but only 14 RBI, He has a respectable .350 on-base percentage. What is not are his strikeouts, with 55 in 137 at-bats. Wright is batting .226 with 31 hits. If you flipped the strikeouts with hits, his average would be .401. That emphasizes the importance of the strikeouts.

There are a lot of reasons for the strikeouts, with his back one of them. I know Wright doesn’t like how he’s playing, but I also know he has too much pride and integrity to just take the money. He has to know something has to change.

POSITION CHANGE: Where would he go? First base and left field are the only possibilities.

I floated the idea of left field last summer because it would have the least amount of stress on his back. His throwing shouldn’t be a problem because he wouldn’t have to throw sidearm.

There’s less pounding on his back in the outfield because he won’t have the deep bending before every pitch. I know you’re thinking about Michael Conforto, but it wouldn’t hurt to try him at right field. As far as Curtis Granderson, he has one more year after 2016.

Yes, there’s crouching at first base, but it isn’t as intense as playing third base because a lot of time he’ll be holding runners which does not require as deep a crouch.

As a corner infielder, Wright should quickly pick up the nuances of the new position. As for Lucas Duda, the Mets don’t have to offer him arbitration and he can leave as a free agent.

METS GAME WRAP

May 31, 2016, @ Citi Field

Game: #51          Score:  White Sox 6, Mets 4

Record: 29-22     Streak: L 1

Standings: Second, NL East, two games behind the Nationals.  Playoffs: Tied with Pittsburgh for No. 1 WC.

Runs: 194    Average:  3.8   Times 3 or less: 24

SUMMARY:  Steven Matz finally broke down by giving up three runs in the sixth inning, and the bullpen imploded by giving up three runs. The consensus was Matz was rushing his pitches. Matz worked 5.2 innings, but he was getting hit so I have no problem with pulling him at that time. I don’t think Collins had a quick hook.

Noah Syndergaard, who threw only 34 pitches Saturday before being ejected, worked the seventh and threw 17 pitches. If they were going to use Syndergaard in relief, why not let him work one more inning? It would be like his throw day between starts. Had Syndergaard worked the eighth, there wouldn’t have been the Hansel Robles meltdown.

Robles gave up three runs on one hit – Tyler Saradino’s two-run homer – and two walks.

Giving Syndergaard another inning would’ve been the way to go, especially since he said Jeurys Familia wasn’t available.

KEY MOMENT: Saradino’s two-run homer. … Matz was coasting before he gave up a two-run homer to Todd Frazier.

THUMBS UP: SNY had a good night with its feature on catching. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling calling the game from the stands was a nice angle. By the way, a little ketchup on a hot dog isn’t such a bad thing. … Matz for five innings was pretty good. … The Mets manufactured a couple of runs on two sacrifice flies. … Neil Walker’s two-run homer was his 13th of the season. … Granderson had two hits. … Jim Henderson and Syndergaard in relief.

THUMBS DOWN:  If Collins wasn’t going to use Syndergaard for more than an inning, then why not give Henderson a full inning? He only threw two pitches to get out of the sixth. Maybe using Syndergaard screwed up Collins’ bullpen rotation. If that is the case, then Syndergaard shouldn’t have been used. … Watching Saladino steal second and third uncontested in the sixth and score on a single is giving away a run. Overall, the White Sox stole four bases with ease. … Mets hitters struck out nine times, went 2-for-7 with RISP and stranded nine runners. … The idiot who called Collins “coach.’’

EXTRA INNINGS:  James Loney started at first base and committed an error. He went 0-for-4. … Before Tuesday night, Matz had given up two runs or less in seven straight starts. … The Mets have homered in 11 straight games. … The Mets’ bullpen has given up 20 earned runs in its last 21 innings. … Overall it has given up 15 homers.

QUOTEBOOK: “He said he was rushing a bit and all the balls were over the middle of the plate.’’ – Collins on what catcher Kevin Plawecki said of Matz’s problem.

BY THE NUMBERS:  4: Number of walks and homers Robles has given up in his last 13 hitters.

NEXT FOR METS:  Jacob deGrom will start Wednesday afternoon.

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May 31

May 31, Mets’ Lineup Vs. White Sox

Steven Matz will be going after his eighth straight victory tonight against the Chicago White Sox. He’s given up only six runs in his last seven starts.

Here’s the lineup behind him:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Has been starting to hit, but his on-base percentage and walk ratio isn’t what it was like last year.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: With David Wright not playing and a DL possibility, Cabrera could be the perfect No. 2 hitter.

Michael Conforto – LF: I like how the Mets shot down the idea of Conforto playing first base quickly. No reason to let something like that linger.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Is having an All-Star season. Perhaps he’ll be joined by Matz or Noah Syndergaard. Remember, the better the numbers the greater the chance he’ll opt out after this year.

Neil Walker – 2B: With 12 homers he should also merit some All-Star consideration. He’s on pace to hit over 40, but I’m taking the under.

James Loney – 1B: The first-base answer to Lucas Duda. I hope they keep him here and don’t monkey around with a platoon.

Wilmer Flores – 3B: Will get the bulk of the time at third base if Wright can’t play. Eric Campbell was sent down today.

Kevin Plawecki – C: He’ll need to hit better to earn more playing time as Rene Rivera will likely catch Matt Harvey and Syndergaard more.

Matz – LHP: The numbers say he’s the ace of the staff. It is hard to argue with 7-1.