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.

 

Jun 10

Perfect Day For Mets And Matz

Pitching and power were to be the formula to carry the Mets this season, and today felt like it was supposed to be.

Today’s 6-1, 8-1 sweep was fueled by pitching; strong efforts from Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz, that were backed by Mets power, a grand slam from Yoenis Cespedes and a three-run homer from Jay Bruce in the nightcap.

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

“This is what we thought we were going to get with the guys we thought we were going to have,” manager Terry Collins said.

The last time the Mets swept a doubleheader was June 18, 2013, when they showcased fire-ballers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, their arms of the future. However, the circumstances then differed greatly from today’s mauling today.

Four years ago, the Mets were a team on the rise; a team to be carried with their young pitching. Today, the Mets are a team fighting to keep open their window of opportunity.

Cespedes came off the disabled list, said he didn’t feel 100 percent, then hit a grand slam in the opener. However, today’s real storyline was Matz’s return in the nightcap after ten months on the disabled list.

Matz gave up one run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in seven innings. He accomplished that with just 98 pitches. Conversely, in his start Friday, Harvey threw over 100 pitches in five innings.

“His command of his stuff,” Collins said matter-of-factly about the key to Matz’s success.  “He’s around the plate. This is the kind of outing we were hoping we’d see.’’

Matz said he had nerves, but said he always gets them. He said he had to step back and collect himself.

“It feels good to get back out there and compete,” Matz said. “I was able to locate my fastball away. My command was there and I felt really locked in.”

In the opener, Gsellman threw 6.2 scoreless innings while giving up three hits. There has been some talk after this stretch of 18 games in 17 that Gsellman might go to the bullpen, but today’s outing might give pause to that thinking.

While we’re at it, we should give pause to the thinking things will be all right now that Cespedes is back.

“I feel good, but I don’t know that I can run at 100 percent at this point,” Cespedes told reporters prior to the game.

So, why did GM Sandy Alderson activate him? Cespedes didn’t play in the nightcap and may not play Sunday, but could return Monday against the Cubs.

Alderson risked Cespedes for what he got today, the game-icing slam. But, if he can’t run, won’t he cost the Mets in the long run? His failure to advance from second to third on a fly ball could have cost the Mets.

It didn’t, and Collins matter-of-factly said the Mets would protect him, but it the player himself said he’s not 100 percent, then it could be only a matter of time before Cespedes pulls his hamstring again.

As for Matz’s return, he looked sharp and threw free and easy.  There never seemed a question that the Mets took their time to protect Matz.

I can’t imagine them starting Matz if he said his elbow was barking, so, why would they start Cespedes if he says he can’t run 100 percent?

 

Jun 10

Harvey’s Five Not Enough

Matt Harvey pitched well tonight for the Mets, but are you completely convinced he’s back. Or at least good enough the Mets to think they can rely on him every fifth or sixth day.

HARVEY: Five-inning man. (AP)

HARVEY: Five-inning man. (AP)

Harvey pitched five scoreless innings and issued only two walks and four hits. However, he threw 104 pitches in those five innings, which says he labored. For that many pitches, he needs to go seven innings.

I mean, that’s what Harvey would have done in 2013 or 2015.

It looks as if Harvey has been reduced to being a five-inning pitcher, which really isn’t acceptable on this level. It means the Mets must go into their bullpen for four innings.

That many pitches say his command if off and an inability to put hitters away. It also suggests he hasn’t fully recovered from his thoracic shoulder surgery.

So, from here on out, the Mets have to go into every Harvey start thinking five innings from him and four from the bullpen. With that thinking manager Terry Collins will have to go into the surrounding starts thinking more innings from the starters to preserve the bullpen.

Even so, defense cost the Mets tonight in the ninth. Dansby Swanson’s double was the epitome of hustle, and lack of it from center fielder Curtis Granderson, who played it casually.

It was ninth inning in a tie game. That’s when defense should be at a premium. That calls for Juan Lagares, and that’s on Collins.

The Mets might have been better off with Jose Reyes at shortstop instead of Asdrubal Cabrera because of range. The positioning of Cabrera more to the bag instead of toward the hole might have cost them on Rio Ruiz’s game-winning single to left.

As it was, Cabrera had no chance at the ball, but it makes one think the shortstop defense – especially in the later innings – needs to be re-evaluated.

With the season slipping away, a lot of things must be re-evaluated.

Jun 07

Talk Of Six Man Rotation Bogus

With the Mets about to enter a string of 18 games in 17 days, manager Terry Collins said he’s exploiting going to a six-man rotation. The only problem is, by definition, they wouldn’t be going into. six-man rotation if they will go through the cycle two or three times.

Collins said adding Seth Lugo and Steven Matz coming off the disabled list, to be added to Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, would take the Mets through this stretch. That should take the Mets through the month.

However, for it to be a true six-man rotation, then it should be full time, shouldn’t it?

I have no problem training these guys during spring training and then open the season in a six-man rotation. Personally, considering four starters were coming off arm surgery this spring, it would have been a good idea to start the season in a six-man.

Of course, DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Harvey would have balked, but that would have been expected.

What Collins suggested isn’t a true six-man rotation but simply plugging in an extra starter because of a double-header, which the Mets have this weekend in Atlanta. This isn’t the first time Collins has done this, but I’d actually like to see a six-man rotation.

But this isn’t a six-man rotation if it isn’t full time.

 

 

 

Jun 06

What Is Special About Mets?

Somebody asked me the other day if I thought the Mets were done for the year. As a follower of pennant races, I don’t like giving up on a season this early. I mean, it is only June. We’ve seen teams come from farther behind and later in the season to reach the World Series, so it could happen.

CESPEDES: He won't be enough. (AP)

CESPEDES: He won’t be enough. (AP)

However, before we can give up on the 2017 Mets, we must ask ourselves is there anything special about this team that makes one wonder if it has the capability becoming a historical icon.

Even when Yoenis Cespedes returns, he’s not enough to turn around the Mets, not with their multitude of pitching problems. Pitching was supposed to carry the Mets, but none of their vaunted young power arms have more than five victories. How can that be?

Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are due off the disabled list this weekend, with the side benefit of transferring Robert Gsellman to the bullpen. There is nothing guaranteed about either development. There’s also the unknown about Matt Harvey recovery from thoracic surgery and now Jacob deGrom is having issues.

And, no, we can’t expect Noah Syndergaard and/or Jeurys Familia to return this year.

Among the hitters, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud and Jose Reyes are all having off years with no signs of turning things around.

There are too many Mets battling injuries and struggling through off years to believe they can all come together to salvage this summer.