Jun 12

Mets’ Lineup, June 12, Cubs

When Terry Collins was asked the other day about pinch-hitting for Michael Conforto with Yoenis Cespedes, he said he wasn’t unhappy with Conforto and just wanted to give Cespedes an at-bat.

Conforto isn’t in the lineup tonight, but the Mets are saying it is because of back stiffness, however, he’s available to pinch-hit. However, there’s no word on if anything is wrong with Wilmer Flores.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Curtis Granderson – CF: Is .260 (27-104) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Is hitting .319 with 11 extra-base hits and 11 RBI over last 24 games.

Neil Walker – 2B: Is .269 (87-323) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hit .321 with four homers and 18 RBI during May.

Cespedes – LF: Is .256 (10-39) lifetime vs. Cubs. Came off DL and hit grand slam Saturday.

Jay Bruce – RF: CF: Is .255 (118-463) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Leads Mets with 16 homers and 43 RBI.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Is .217 (23-106) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Has six homers with 15 RBI.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is .250 (5-20) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hopefully snapped out of defensive funk Sunday in Atlanta.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Is .294 (10-34) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hot with three homers in last 10 games.

Jose Reyes – 3B: Is .273 (53-194) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hit .133 on trip.

Jacob deGrom – RHP: Is 17-12 with a .217 ERA in 43 career starts at home. … Is 1-2 with 5.31 lifetime vs. Cubs.

ON DECK:  Breaking news and/or Mets Game wrap.

Jun 12

Mets Need The Real DeGrom

Even when the Mets had a healthy Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey on staff, Jacob deGrom was still the best they had to offer. Nothing seemed to rattle him; he had no prima donna instincts; he had the best combination of velocity and command.

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DeGrom said he’s healthy which is what makes his sluggish start so puzzling.

The 4-3 record isn’t such a big deal because it can be written off as a lack of run support or a leaky bullpen. However, the 15 runs he’s allowed in his last two starts and 4.75 ERA are particularly head scratching.

We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month – maybe five starts – not eight innings in his last two. That’s not deGrom.

“It’s frustrating, but I’ve been able to go out and pitch that way, and you have to make an adjustment,” deGrom said after his last start against the Rangers. “You have what you have that day and I’ve done a poor job of that my last two starts, not being able to get outs without having my best stuff, which in the past I was able to do.”

DeGrom said he’s been able to pinpoint the problem but can’t get a handle on the solution. It’s akin to having an itch in the middle of your back and not being able to scratch.

In detailing his problems against the Rangers in his last start, deGrom said: “If you look at my misses, they were either to a righty down and away or up-and-in,” deGrom told reporters last week in Texas. “I’m either yanking the ball or it’s sailing on me, so that tells me it’s rotational.

“This game is not easy. These are big league hitters and when you make mistakes over the middle of the plate, that kind of thing happens, which obviously I have done over my last two starts.”

DeGrom said he’s flying open too soon with his front shoulder while striding to the plate. This is about timing, about muscle memory, and about the placement of his lead arm and shoulder as he begins his stride toward the plate.

Is this related to his elbow surgery? DeGrom says no; he says he’s not ailing.

DeGrom has always been honest and not condescending, unlike Harvey and Syndergaard have been in the past.

 

Jun 12

Cubs-Mets Is Opening Day II

Call Cubs-Mets Opening Day II.  The World Champion Cubs – something I never thought I’d write – are in tonight for a three-game series. After them, the Mets play the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants over a two-week stretch that will define their season.

The Mets are feeling good about themselves these days after winning three-of-four in Atlanta, and the returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – who each worked seven strong in their starts – and Yoenis Cespedes, who ripped a pinch-hit grand slam.

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

“This is fun, you’re playing the world champs, you are playing arguably the best team in our division,” Collins said. “We’re a little healthier and having Ces back is big, but we’ve got to go pitch. It’s going to be a fun week. I just hope we go out and play well.”

In their last five games, Mets’ starters have given up three runs over 32.2 innings. However, none of those games include Jacob deGrom, tonight’s starter. DeGrom has given up 15 runs in his last two starts. We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month of starts, and if he doesn’t get back to that form the Mets can forget about sniffing the playoffs this year.

The big series, of course, is the four-game set against the Nationals. If they sweep that, then the Mets trail by only six games. That’s entirely doable.

However, for that series to mean anything they have to take care of business against Chicago as they can’t afford to fall any further behind. The Mets are fortunate in that they are playing a listless Cubs’ team that is only .500 at 31-31.

“We went through that last year,” Collins said of the Cubs. “Going to the World Series really beats up your pitching and as a team, it takes a while to get that energy back.”

The Mets seemed energized against the Braves, and they can’t afford any letdowns the rest of the way. These next two weeks will determine what they do at the trade deadline and whether there will be a summer worth watching.

ON DECK: What’s Wrong With DeGrom?

 

Jun 12

Today’s Question: Which DeGrom Will We Get?

Jacob deGrom is the Mets’ unquestioned ace despite his sluggish start and even before Noah Syndergaard was injured. Where Syndergaard was determined to overpower hitters, deGrom could throw heat, yet set up the batter.

At least he could do it with greater consistency than Syndergaard.

DeGROM: Who will we get? (AP)

DeGROM: Who will we get? (AP)

In their last five starts – which does not include deGrom – Mets’ starters have given up three runs in 32.2 innings. In comparison, deGrom is coming off the worst start of the season, giving up eight runs in four innings. That wasn’t an aberration as he’s given up 15 runs in his last two starts.

“We have to fix Jake,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have to get him going.”

So, the question: What deGrom will we get? Will we get the guy who is 17-12 with a 2.17 ERA in 43 career starts at Citi Field or the pitcher who is 4-3 with a 4.75 ERA this season and 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in four regular-season starts lifetime against the Cubs.

DeGrom has been susceptible to the long ball and already five times this year has given up multiple home runs. DeGrom is also walking more hitters than ever before, 30 in 70.2 innings. He’s had games of six walks and two where he issued five.

DeGrom said his problems have been mechanical, claiming his shoulder is flying open too soon and he’s throwing across his body.

 

Jun 11

Lugo Keeps Mets Rolling

You guys are too smart to believe the Mets are alive and well again after this weekend, but for the first time since early April, they are playing like the team we all hoped we would see.

And, the reason is the same as it was last season and the year before that – excellent starting pitching. Make that superb.

LUGO: Keeps Mets rolling. (AP)

LUGO: Keeps Mets rolling. (AP)

Seth Lugo came off the disabled list and gave up just one run in seven innings in today’s 2-1 victory in Atlanta. Yesterday, Robert Gsellman pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in the first game of a day-night doubleheader and Steve Matz gave up one run in seven innings in the nightcap.

And, in the only game they lost in the series, on Friday, Matt Harvey pitched five scoreless. The previous game, Wednesday in Texas, Zack Wheeler gave up one run in seven innings.

That’s three runs over 32.2 innings in the last five games.

“The starting pitching is getting where it needs to be,” manager Terry Collins said. “Now we have to get Jake (Jacob deGrom) back on track.”

The pitcher the Mets need to fix is deGrom, tomorrow’s starter against the Cubs, who gave up eight runs in four innings last Tuesday in Texas.

So, if the Mets are going to a six-man rotation, this is the way to go into that change, for as long as it lasts. It figures to last for the next two weeks, which can be defined as the turning point to this season.

The Mets return home for three games against the Cubs – struggling, but still the World Champions – four against the Nationals; then on the road for four at the Dodgers and three in San Francisco.

“The next 11 days are very big for us,” said Collins, overlooking the Giants. “If we’re going to get back into this we’re going to have to win.”

Gsellman and Lugo helped carry the Mets into the playoffs last year and will be asked to do the same this season, or at least give them a chance.