Oct 20

Mets Lineup, Game 3, NLCS

Here is the Mets’ lineup for Game 3 of the NLCS tonight in Chicago:

Curtis Granderson – RF
David Wright – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Michael Conforto – LF
Wilmer Flores – SS
Jacob deGrom – RHP

COMMENTS: Up 2-0, there’s no reason to substantially change anything. … There was some thought as to dropping Wright in the order, but to where?  Keep him second and hope he snaps out of it. And, whatever Murphy is doing keep everything the same. Don’t even change his socks. … They really aren’t doing anything with Cespedes and Duda, are they?

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Oct 20

DeGrom Says Fatigue Not A Factor

Fatigue has been an underlying issue for Mets pitchers in the second half of the season and playoffs, but Game 3 starter Jacob deGrom is hearing nothing about it.

The Mets’ All-Star pitcher cruised through the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS with 13 strikeouts, but labored in Game 5 stranding five runners in scoring position.

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

However, he never gave up that one hit that could have changed the Mets’ season.

I felt fine the whole time,’’ deGrom said. “The adrenaline definitely helps. This is the most I’ve thrown in a year. It’s tough to say if I had this many innings in the regular season how I’d feel. But, I think playoff time, the adrenaline definitely kicks in.’’

The Mets can take a 3-0 games stranglehold on the NLCS with a victory tonight behind deGrom, who clearly knows what is at stake.

Only one team in history – the 2004 Yankees – lost a 3-0 series lead.

“I think we have a lot of confidence going into this game,’’ deGrom said. “We matched up well against two great pitchers and we got a chance to take a 3-0 lead tomorrow. The guys are putting up runs for us, and our job is just to keep it close and let them do what they’ve been doing.’’

Confidence, however, is measured in part by an ability to forget.

In three career starts against the Cubs, deGrom is 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA, including giving up eight runs in 10 innings at Wrigley Field. In his seventh start of this season, deGrom gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings.

After that game, deGrom went on a 16-start run where he posted a 1.44 ERA and opposing hitters batted .167 against him.

“I haven’t looked back at it too much,’’ deGrom said. “I know they weren’t very good starts. I’m going to flush that. I know this is the playoffs, so it’s going to be a good start for me.

“That’s what we play for. We play to get this chance, and you never know how many times you’re going to get it. So when you get this chance you want to make the best of it.’’

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Oct 19

Mets’ Series Lead Could Enable Harvey To Rest

In addition to the historical percentages of advancing to the World Series, winning the first two games of the NLCS against Chicago, gives the Mets the advantage of bypassing the injured Matt Harvey in Game 5 if necessary.

Harvey took a line drive off the bat of Dexter Fowler to the back of his pitching arm in the sixth inning of Game 1, and already, manager Terry Collins is alluding to possibly of starting Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon.

HARVEY:  Questionable for Thursday. (Getty)

HARVEY: Questionable for Thursday. (Getty)

“He’s pretty sore and pretty swelled up,’’ Collins said Monday at Wrigley Field. “He, as we sit here today, is a go. But that could certainly change in the next couple of days.

“I was pretty surprised at how swelled up it was yesterday. So we certainly are going to keep a really close eye on it the next couple of days.’’

Of course, the Mets want to wrap this up as soon as possible, but if they win one of the next two games, they’ll be sitting pretty with a 3-1 series edge heading into Game 5.

Harvey, who won his first two postseason starts, played catch today. Harvey’s innings became a focal point at the end of the season, but if he’s held back Thursday, it will have nothing to do with his workload.

Harvey stayed in the game after he was struck, and pitching coach Dan Warthen said that was beneficial because it enabled him to keep his arm stretched out.

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Oct 18

Bringing Back Murphy A No-Brainer

You have to admire modesty, but Daniel Murphy needs to take a bow. Seriously, he might be having the best offensive postseason in Mets’ history, and all he did was talk about Noah Syndergaard and the bullpen.

I like that, especially in this age of self-congratulatory athletes, but if anybody deserves to pat himself on the back, it is Murphy, who has five homers and eight RBI in seven playoff games. That production comes against the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and now Jake Arrieta. Tonight’s two-run drive off Arrieta in the first inning jumpstarted a 4-1 victory to put the Mets two games from the World Series.

MURPHY: Bring him back. (Getty)

MURPHY: Bring him back. (Getty)

Now, who expected that coming into the season, which many of us thinking it would be free-agent to be Murphy’s last with the Mets? Murphy, who made $8 million this season, was not expected to be in the Mets’ winter shopping plans, especially with considering Yoenis Cespedes.

However, Murphy worked with hitting coach Kevin Long about being more selective and trying to turn on the pitch. It paid off.

“I don’t think this is a phase for him,’’ said GM Sandy Alderson. “I think that in some ways he’s a fundamentally different hitter than he was, as recently as three, four months ago. And the intensity that he has in the playoff situation certainly is evident, as well. He’s really focused, and he’s always been sound mechanically. But I think his approach is a little bit different, which has made him a more dangerous hitter.’’

But, dangerous enough to bring back?

The Mets won’t pony up the money needed for Cespedes, who reportedly is seeking at least $120 million over seven years. With Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares signed long-term, two years left with Curtis Granderson, and Brandon Nimmo in the wings, the Mets could let Cespedes walk.

However, the infield could be suspect with David Wright and Ruben Tejada coming off injuries. That would make Murphy somebody they couldn’t afford to lose.

I don’t expect the Mets to give Murphy four years, but a $16-million qualifying offer could keep him around for another year until they sort this out.

Whatever happens in these playoffs, that sounds like a no-brainer.

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Oct 18

Refined Syndergaard Aims To Give Mets Commanding NLCS Lead

Several month ago, when it didn’t feel like snow and the Mets had not morphed into the team three games from the World Series, Noah Syndergaard debuted against the Cubs in Wrigley Field. They lost, but the game was circled as one that would come back to bite them in the rear.

imagesIt did not and Syndergaard developed into what we expected: A stud pitcher with star potential.

Since then, the Mets got back Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright, brought up Michael Conforto, and added Yoenis Cespedes to their stagnant lineup. In those few months, Syndergaard also added refined mechanics to his 100 mph. fastball.

“My mechanics are completely different,” said Syndergaard, who is now able to throw his secondary pitches for strikes behind in the count. “`I think my mentality out there is a lot different. I’ve been able to go out there with a lot more confidence in myself and getting myself out of certain situations by using necessarily uncomfortable pitches that I might have used at a different time.”

When Syndergaard came up in early May to replace the injured Dillon Gee, it was thought he might eventually end up in the bullpen. He eventually did in Game 5 of the NLDS, and it seemingly put manager Terry Collins in the corner as to his Game 2 NLCS starter when he warmed up four times.

“The first couple times he only threw 16, 18 pitches before the inning was over,” Collins said. “But he said, `I feel great. I’m not stiff. I’m not sore.’ And I said, `Well, then you’ve got [Sunday].’ ”

With the Mets to start Jacob deGrom in Game 3 at Wrigley Field, this is as close to a must-win game for the Cubs as can be.

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