Oct 28

Mets’ DeGrom In Must-Win Game Tonight

Nobody can say for certain what big games Jacob deGrom might have later in his career that could carve legacy, but there’s no doubt the Mets’ run during these playoffs is contingent on him showing up large in Game 2 tonight against Johnny Cueto.

No deGrom; no World Series title.

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

The Mets’ best pitcher this season must fight through fatigue for his team to take this Series back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece. The must regain the command he lost in his last two starts against the Dodgers and Cubs.

Those teams couldn’t come up with the big hit to put deGrom and the Mets away. The Mets aren’t even here without his second start against the Dodgers in which he stranded five runners in scoring position.

Such grit rarely works against the Royals, who came from behind twice last night to beat the Mets.

“One of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out. We’ve got to put them away,” manager Terry Collins said after Kansas City survived 14 innings last night, and to do so needed to overcome Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.

That begins with scoring early and often against Cueto, and deGrom becoming overpowering again.

“They’re going to battle you,’’ deGrom said. “They’re not going to strike out a lot and they’re going to put the ball in play. I think my job is to keep the ball down.

“I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.’’

Against the fastball-hitting Cubs, deGrom said he had to temper his approach with more off-speed pitches and relied on his change-up. Much has been made of Kansas City’s ability to put fastballs in play, so that might be his formula tonight.

“There’s going to be adjustments to be made like there is in every game,’’ deGrom said. “I think it’s just seeing what’s going on out there.’’

And, recognizing it quickly because if he doesn’t the game can get away very fast.

Oct 28

Mets Lose Epic Game 1 In 14 Innings

It wasn’t the greatest World Series game of all time, but it will be pretty close. The Mets lost an epic Game 1 to Kansas City, 5-4 in 14 innings, that will be remembered for years to come, and one that undoubtedly kept Terry Collins and his team awake for most of the night.

The Mets, who have been a study in resiliency this season and found a way to win during these playoffs, could only lament what went wrong. The game began with Yoenis Cespedes misplaying Alcides Escobar‘s drive into the left-center gap on the first pitch of the game from Matt Harvey into an inside-the-park home run.

FAMILIA: Costly blown save dooms Mets. (Getty)

FAMILIA: Costly blown save dooms Mets. (Getty)

It ended over five hours later with Eric Hosmer‘s game-winning sacrifice fly. A few hours before that, Hosmer muffed Wilmer Flores‘ hot-shot grounder that briefly gave the Mets a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. Enter automatic Jeurys Familia and the Mets would tuck themselves in with an early one-game advantage.

But, it wasn’t to be.

Alex Gordon homered in the ninth to force extra innings, and the battle of the bullpens the Mets desperately wanted to avoid, became an unlikely duel between Bartolo Colon and former Met Chris Young.

Who could have guessed it at the start of the season?

But, this game wasn’t about the Royals getting to Colon in the 14th as much as it was about the Mets squandering numerous chances to win. How numerous? Well, their hitters struck out 15 times, stranded 11 runners and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

David Wright‘s throwing error opened the door to the Kansas City 14th inning, but only left the impression had he made the play it was only delaying the inevitable. Conventional thinking was the game was over with Familia’s blown save.

All of a sudden, the Mets’ sense of invincibility is over, that is, until Jacob deGrom is able to bring it back in Game 2.

Oct 27

Mets-Royals Matchups

There’s nothing more the Mets can do about it now, as they get ready for their fifth World Series appearance. Manager Terry Collins has his guys; so let’s see how they measure up against Kansas City:


Mets: Lucas Duda is notoriously streaky, but hit 57 homers with 165 RBI the past two seasons. He struggled in the first two rounds to the point of wondering whether to sit him in Game 4 of the NLCS, but he broke out with a big game.

Royals: Initially noted for defense, two-time Gold Glove winner Eric Hosmer hit .297 this season with career highs in RBI (93) and runs scored (98).

Edge: Even.



Mets: Daniel Murphy established a career high this season with 14 homers, then added seven in the postseason, including in each of his last six games. He hit .421 with 11 RBI in the playoffs. Can he maintain this unconscious pace?

Royals: Once on the Mets’ radar, Ben Zobrist is the personification of steady. He replaced Omar Infante and hit .325 with two homers in the ALCS.

Edge: Mets.


Mets: Wilmer Flores was traded in July only to have the deal for Carlos Gomez pulled. His tears that day made him into a cult figure. He has limits on defense, but hit 16 homers.

Royals: Murphy is hot, but so is Alcides Escobar with 17 postseason hits out of the leadoff position. The book on him is he likes to swing early, so the first pitch doesn’t have to be all that good.

Edge: Royals.


Mets: David Wright missed nearly five months this season with a strained hamstring and spinal stenosis, and has been inconsistent in his return. Wright was a miserable 1-for-16 in the NLDS, but started to show signs of offensive life against the Cubs.

Royals: Mike Moustakas improved offensively this year, but like Wright struggled in the playoffs. However, he hit a key homer in Game 6 of the ALCS.

Edge: Mets.


Mets: Injured early on, Travis d’Arnaud had a strong second half at the plate and hit three homers in the playoffs. He’s getting better defensively, but still has work to do.

Royals: Salvador Perez made his third straight All-Star appearance this summer and should win the Gold Glove. Perez only had three hits in the ALCS against Toronto, but two were homers.

Edge: Royals.


Mets: Let’s face it; the Mets probably aren’t here without making the July 31 trade for Yoenis Cespedes, who hit 17 homers for them. However, Cespedes needed a cortisone injection for a sore left shoulder at the end of the NLCS.

Royals: Alex Gordon was a star last season, but a groin injury limited him to 104 games this year.

Edge: Mets.


Mets: Juan Lagares won the Gold Glove last season, but struggles offensively, especially against right-handed pitching. He’s playing in Kansas City because of the designated hitter.

Royals: Lorenzo Cain scored the go-ahead run from first base on a single in the ALCS. In addition to his speed, Cain added 16 homers to his .307 average and 28 steals. He’s probably caused d’Arnaud to toss-and-turn the past few nights.

Edge: Royals.


Mets: Curtis Granderson was thrust into the leadoff role on Opening Day and thrived with 91 walks, a .364 on-base percentage, 26 homers with 70 RBI. He’s probably the Mets’ MVP.

Royals: Alex Rios never became the star projected of him, but is batting .368 in the playoffs.

Edge: Mets.


Mets: Collins opted for the veteran Kelly Johnson over Michael Conforto as the DH for Game 1. However, he could play in left field if Lagares sits when the Series goes to New York. The ceiling is high for Conforto, who hit nine homers with 26 RBI in 56 games. The Mets also have right-handed hitting Michael Cuddyer and hope Juan Uribe will be activated.

Royals: Kendrys Morals is another whom the Mets considered at one time. He hit 22 homers with 106 RBI during the regular season.

Edge: Royals.


Mets: Everybody raves about the Mets’ young starters, and with good reason: They throw smoke, are poised and love the spotlight. They also have reasonable contracts. Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71) will start Game 1, followed by Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54), Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) and Steven Matz) 4-0, 2.27). Their combined 147 career regular-season starts is the fewest for a World Series rotation.

Royals: Yordana Ventura had a breakout postseason in 2014, but seems to have regressed. In a word, he’s inconsistent. The Mets know Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto from their days in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, respectively. And, No. 4 starter is former Met Chris Young.

Edge: Mets.


Mets: Closer Jeurys Familia won the job when Jenrry Mejia was suspended for PEDs. In 76 games, Familia had 43 saves and 1.85 ERA. The bridge to Familia was constructed in late-season trades for Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard. Both have been shaky, and arguably the strongest middle-reliever has been veteran starter Bartolo Colon.

Royals: As with Familia, Wade Davis won the Royals’ closing job by circumstance, an injury to Greg Holland. Kansas City’s bullpen is deep and reliable with Luke Hochevar, Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, Danny Duffy and Franklin Morales.

Edge: Royals.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Notebook.

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Oct 27

Harvey Got What He Needed

This is what Matt Harvey always wanted. So, let’s see if he can give the Mets what they need – at least a split in the first two games of the World Series.

With Harvey tonight and Jacob deGrom in Game 2 Wednesday, the Mets are playing their two aces from the outset.

HARVEY: Game 1 starter. (Getty)

HARVEY: Game 1 starter. (Getty)

A little over a month ago, Harvey – then embroiled in a controversy about his innings – went into manager Terry Collins’ office and said he wanted the ball, needed the ball. He wanted the shackles off; he wanted to pitch the way he believed he always could.

“I think during all of the stuff that was going on, I wanted to make it clear that I wanted to pitch,’’ Harvey said. “I wanted to be there.’’

The Mets were being dutiful about Harvey’s innings and cutting him back. However, with the Mets on the cusp of the playoffs, and talk swirling whether Harvey will be able to pitch, the No. 1 pick told his manager he didn’t feel ready. Harvey had two more starts remaining and told Collins he needed at least 100 pitches in each to build himself back up.

He made it with flying colors. He beat Cincinnati in the game that clinched the NL East. He wasn’t great, but beat the Dodgers in the NLDS and worked into the eighth against Chicago. The way the Mets have it planned, Harvey will go tonight and Game 5 if needed.

And, should the Mets need him, he’ll be available for Game 7 in relief, just as Madison Bumgarner was last year for the Giants. Bumgarner worked into the eighth in Game 1 against Kansas City; pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5; then, unbelievably, pitched five scoreless innings in Game 7 for the save.

“The fact that they won, I think anybody wants to do what he did, and getting his team where they did,’’ said Harvey, adding he’s ready to do the same if his number is called.

Collins won’t let him throw 150 pitches tonight – he’s not stupid – but said Harvey will be given the benefit of doubt. If Harvey tells Collins he can go another inning, he’ll get it.

That’s how legacies are made.


ON DECK: Position-by-position comparisons.

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Oct 26

Five Keys For Mets To Win

It is the day before the start of the World Series and who would have guessed I’d be previewing the Mets? I certainly wouldn’t have, but damn, isn’t this great?



This is the Mets’ fifth trip to the World Series, and they’ve only been favored once, in 1986 against Boston. This time they are a pick `em against the Royals.

If the following are answered in the positive, there could be another parade down the Canyon of Heroes:

Pair of Aces: Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom go in the first two games and should be well rested. Sure, the Mets can lose both and come back to win, but those odds would be long. One of them has to win if the Mets are to win.

A Murphy-type stretch is needed: If not Daniel Murphy, then somebody needs to get hot. Nobody knows how the layoff will affect Murphy. Maybe it will be Lucas Duda, or David Wright, or Wilmer Flores. Whoever it is, somebody must turn it on.

Overcoming the aches and pains: Harvey has a bruise in the back of his throwing arm; Curtis Granderson has a jammed thumb; Yoenis Cespedes has a strained shoulder.

Building the bullpen bridge: The Mets have had to use Bartolo Colon to get to Jeurys Familia. The bullpen bridge from the starters to the closer hasn’t been strong. The Mets’ bullpen is not as strong as Kansas City’s and that will undoubtedly come into play. If the Royals are winning by the sixth inning that will be difficult for the Mets to overcome.

Shutting down the Royals early: Much has been made of Kansas City’s speed, ability to put the ball into play, and, of course, hit the long ball. The Royals’ offense is more balanced than Chicago’s, and their hitters aren’t intimidated by the Mets’ hard throwers.

There other variables, such as adjusting on the fly to an injury; coming from behind, which they never had to do against the Cubs; dealing with poor weather and bad calls; how nerves will come into play; and what happens when a key player goes cold.

The Mets have been a team of resiliency all season. They need to be that way just four more times.