Apr 05

The Only Statement Today Is An Old One, Jacob deGrom Is Special

As always, it was great to see Jacob deGrom beat the Nationals today, 8-2, but let’s not get carried away, the Mets didn’t make any great statement other than to say they are off to a great start.

Nobody expected the Mets to get off to a 5-1 start, so let’s just enjoy it while we can. Let’s just see where the Mets are at the end of April or after 50 games before making any proclamations about making any statements or sending any messages.

There’s no reason not to be excited, but let’s keep things in perspective. After all, that’s what they are doing in that clubhouse.

DeGrom Defines Being an Ace: Despite hitting three homers, the game’s turning point came in the sixth after back-to-back walks loaded the bases for the Nationals with no outs.

The Mets were clinging to a 4-2 lead with the Nationals’ 4-5-6 hitters coming up. DeGrom got Ryan Zimmerman on a shallow pop to right, got Howie Kendrick on a liner to shortstop and struck out Trea Turner looking on three pitches.

Manager Mickey Callaway already knew deGrom was good, that inning showed he was special.

“Obviously his stuff is really good to bail him out when times start getting tough,’’ Callaway said. “But he never backs down.’’

DeGrom had trouble gripping the ball in the 40-degree temperatures, but composed himself to turn around the game.

“I slowed it down and was able to locate,’’ said deGrom, who now has seven straight quality starts at Nationals Park.

Outfield does damage: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce all homered, with the latter’s a grand slam in the seventh.

After deGrom escaped the sixth, Brandon Nimmo pinch-hit for him and doubled. Conforto, who was activated from the DL before the game, and Cespedes walked to load the bases. Then Bruce unloaded for the slam.

If Nimmo continues to hit, Callaway has to find a spot for him in the lineup.

Apr 04

Mets’ Bullpen Rising To Occasion

It has only been five games for the Mets, but the early returns on manager Mickey Callaway’s use of his bullpen, especially with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, have been good.

Tuesday night, Lugo relieved Matt Harvey – and two other relievers – after five innings and pitched two scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory, and today, Gsellman relieved Noah Syndergaard after four innings (92 pitches) in a 4-2 victory.

Gsellman pitched two scoreless innings in earning the victory, then was followed by single scoreless innings from Hansel Robles, AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia.

After Harvey was pulled, Ramos entered and allowed two runners to reach and got two outs before he was replaced by Jerry Blevins, who closed out the sixth. Normally, Ramos and Blevins wouldn’t have been in the game that early.

However, Callaway’s theory is to not restrict his relievers by assigned innings, but go with the best match-ups.

And, Lugo and Gsellman pitching multiple innings is something Terry Collins normally wouldn’t have done.

“Our bullpen has done a fantastic job so far this season and we have faith in them,’’ said Callaway. “Everybody is doing the right thing. We are working on the small things, like Robles for example. He went down [to minor league camp], worked on the right things and comes out today and pitches a huge inning for us. I am really proud of those guys for that.”

Robles, who I’m not a fan of, has been terrific and today struck out the side in the seventh.

It has been a good start of the season for the Mets, who at 4-1, will be in Washington for the start of a three-game series. Oh, by the way, snow is forecast for Washington this weekend.

There are a lot of reasons why the Mets collapsed last season after consecutive playoff appearances and the bullpen was as big of an explanation as any. A lot of things have to happen if they are to recover enough to be competitive. And, the bullpen has to play a big part.

So far, so good.

Apr 02

Mets Finally Bag Game

Finally. Nearly five hours after the Yankees postponed their home opener, the Mets postponed tonight’s game against the Phillies. The game will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader in July. Now, was that so hard?

The snow has stopped, but the temperatures will be in the 30s. That they even thought of making their players play under such conditions – and risk injury – and make their fans sit in such miserable conditions is irresponsible and reprehensible.

That the Mets would wait so long to postpone tonight’s game is emblematic of an organization that cares little for its fan base.

Tonight’s scheduled starter, Matt Harvey, will start tomorrow. Tuesday’s starter, Seth Lugo, will be skipped and Noah Syndergaard will start Wednesday.

Too bad the Mets waited so long to make the inevitable announcement. After spending the last six weeks in Florida, the Mets played games on three of the last four days. They were off Friday, so many of the players haven’t had much time to get acclimated to their new city.

Had they called the game at 9 when it was clear the game wouldn’t be played it might have given them a full day to take care of personal business. Just making their lives a little easier.

Apr 01

Matz Fails First Test

It didn’t take long for Mets manager Mickey Callaway to learn today wasn’t going to belong to Steven Matz. When a pitcher throws 26 pitches in the first inning, even if he doesn’t give up any runs, you know he won’t be long for that game.

Callaway knew it was the same old problem for Matz – fastball command.

“He struggled with his release point and couldn’t establish the fastball needed to set-up his other pitches,’’ said Callaway. “He battled himself all game. He didn’t execute his pitches. He was struggling from the get-go and couldn’t locate his fastball.’’

Callaway said Matz didn’t have confidence, but that’s now how he started the day that ended in a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals.

“I was trying to do a little too much out there. I was really smooth and easy before the game and was feeling really confident,’’ Matz said. “Then when a hitter stepped in, I was trying to make my pitches better and that’s when I get in trouble.

“I was leaving the ball up a lot and they were able to get their barrels on it. When I don’t have my fastball command that’s where it all starts for me.’’

Matz threw 73 pitches after three innings and finished with 89 pitches in four innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks, including solo homers to Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong.

I’ve been saying all along that it is way too early to make any definitive judgments on anything pertaining to the Mets and that includes on Matz. However, today does raise a red flag.

With Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard the Mets have a strong front end of the rotation. But, it’s what they get from Matz and Matt Harvey that determines what will happen with the Mets this season.

EXTRA INNINGS: Juan Lagares started in center because Brandon Nimmo had flu-like symptoms and responded with three hits. Nimmo was sent home and not available. … Michael Conforto will return to New York and is scheduled to face Jason Vargas in a simulated game Monday. There is a chance Conforto could be activated from the DL as early as Thursday. … Anthony Swarzak will have his sore left oblique muscle re-examined Monday.

 

Apr 01

Mets’ Matz Has Questions To Answer

That the Mets won with Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom isn’t surprising. If Steven Matz is healthy and pitching well that would tell me more about this team. Ditto Matt Harvey tomorrow, assuming they play in the snow.

Both Syndergaard and deGrom could win 20 games this year, but the Mets aren’t going anywhere unless they get stellar production from the back end of their rotation. And wins today and tomorrow would just be a start.

Matz and Harvey have had difficulty staying healthy and productive. Matz struck out 21 in 20 innings during spring training, which is great. Any pitcher would take those numbers. However, he had a 6.30 ERA, which is damned awful.

Things haven’t worked out for Matz since his debut, which is why they got Jason Vargas.

Other thoughts on today’s game: I’m glad Wilmer Flores gets the start at first base. Once again, Mickey Callaway is living up to his word of getting Flores involved. Yoenis Cespedes continues to hit second, which I’m not hot on. I know Callaway loves him there, but I’m still a traditionalist and want my power in the 3-4-5 holes. It will take me awhile before I get used to that lineup.