Oct 30

In Noah, The Mets Do Trust

It’s funny how things worked out for the Mets. They were reluctant to bring up Noah Syndergaard in May, but now in October they are counting on him to extend their dream season. Down two games to Kansas City, Syndergaard will take his 100 mph., fastball to the mound tonight at Citi Field.

“We’ve got great confidence in him,” said manager Terry Collins. “I think as much as you’d like to go to that crusty, veteran guy who’s been here, who’s done it, to help bail you out of the hole you’re in, we’re not asking that. We’re asking this kid to go out and pitch his game, and his stuff should play.”

SYNDERGAARD: The future is now. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: The future is now. (Getty)

The Mets entered the World Series with a decided edge in starting pitching, but Matt Harvey (6) and Jacob deGrom (5) gave them a combined 11 innings in the first two games. Syndergaard must give them at least seven innings to keep the Royals away from the Mets’ bullpen.

Along with the Mets’ starters, another story line was the Royals’ hitters ability to make contact, especially against fastballs over 95 mph. Syndergaard is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA and spoke as if he has this playoff thing down pat.

The question has always been posed to pitchers for years: Does he pitch to his strength, even if it is the hitter’s strength as well?

Syndergaard knows a pitcher never wants to get beat with his secondary pitches; if he goes down it will be with his best.

“My main focus is to pitch to my strengths and being able to execute all my pitches, and just focus on winning one pitch at a time,” said Syndergaard, speaking like the veteran he isn’t.

It’s funny how things work. The Mets didn’t want to bring up Syndergaard in May to delay his arbitration and free-agent years to have him conveniently locked up for the future. The Mets singled out their young pitching as the foundation for their future, but the future is now for the Mets.

It is tonight.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 30

Five Reasons Why The Mets Can Still Win

The Mets are down two games in the World Series, but I am here to give you five reasons why they can come back and win this thing. Never mind the odds, the beautiful thing about sports is anything can happen, including a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Here’s how it can happen:

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

TERRY COLLINS: Let’s start with the basics. You need to win four games to win a World Series and the Royals have only won two. The Royals haven’t won anything yet and they know it.

Manager Terry Collins will make that his first point when he talks to his players today. He must stress the Mets need to win just one game. They win Friday and go to work Saturday. One game at a time is a cliché, but a cliché becomes a cliché because it is true.

As long as the Mets have the mindset all they need to do is concentrate on that day’s game they will be fine. Sure, they are in a hole. If they think it’s a big hole they are in trouble. If they look at it as a matter of one game they can win. (See: 1986 Mets; 2004 Red Sox).

For the most part, Collins pushed the right buttons this year. He knows his team, knows its temperament and knows how to pull them out of funks. He lost a couple of gambles in the first two games, but made them for the right reasons.

Collins made a good decision Thursday when he made the workout optional. Collins knew his team was fatigued and the questions they would be asked. He knew his team needed a breather.

That’s a manager having the pulse of his team.

THIS CAN’T LAST: The Mets played maybe their worst game in a month in Game 2. We have seen them bounce back from bad games numerous times this year to play well.

These Mets have put bad moments behind them and responded with wins. That’s a quality you don’t forget and I expect them to do the same starting Friday.

Teams go into slumps, and the Mets are no different. They got here because they played well and I believe they will snap out of it.

I’m counting on it.

THEY STILL HAVE THAT PITCHING: The main storyline going in was the Mets’ rotation. Just because they didn’t win with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in Games 1 and 2 doesn’t mean they went away for good. That advantage still exists.

Remember, both pitched with a lead, but were victimized by a bad inning. They could each get another start, with Harvey getting Game 5 at home and deGrom Game 6 on the road.

It’s hard to remember them pitching poorly in back-to-back starts. In case you’re wondering about fatigue, neither pitched deep into their games and that will work in their favor.

Noah Syndergaard goes Friday and has done well at home.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe Jeurys Familia will be scarred by Game 1. You don’t save that many games by letting things bother you.

SPEAKING OF HOME: The 2-3-2 format works in the Mets’ favor. Three straight games at Citi Field with that rocking crowd can turn the tone of the Series.

The Mets won 60 percent of their Citi Field games this season and definitely have a home field advantage. I would bet on the Mets returning to Kansas City.

A player who thrives at Citi Field is Lucas Duda, who hit 19 of his 27 home runs in the direction of the Pepsi Porch.

A HOT BAT WILL SURFACE: Whether it be David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Duda, or Curtis Granderson, I expect one or more to snap out of it.

The Royals seemed to have solved Daniel Murphy, but he’s getting hits. If Murphy is to be a player of the ages we thought a week ago, he’ll need another spurt.

The Mets have struck out a lot, but this is something that can be addressed with patience. They’ve snapped out of it before and have the ability to do it again. A little hit-and-run, a little stealing has a way of jumpstarting an offense.

Remember, they didn’t win 90 games by accident. Strat-O-Matic believes that. The game we played as kids – before such things as Fantasy Leagues – projected the Royals to win the first two games.

And, for the Mets winning the next four.



Oct 29

It’s Baby Steps Now For Mets

My headline last night was, “Mets Routed; In Huge Hole.” There’s no denying it, but a huge hole doesn’t mean they can’t climb out of it, despite the odds of 80 percent against them. That’s just a number. The Mets sent out on Twitter today that despite the 0-2 hole they are not giving up.

I wouldn’t expect it any other way from a team whose foundation this year was resiliency. Would you?

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

Through injuries, losing streaks, bullpen lapses and hitting slumps the Mets found their way to Game 3 of the World Series. Of course, all of you would have signed up for being in a 0-2 hole in the Series at the start of the season.

Don’t lie, of course you would.

However, the mistake is thinking of this as a 0-2 hole. The Series is tied is the message manager Terry Collins must give his team. Before the Mets can win the World Series, they must first win a game.

I don’t want to hear how Noah Syndergaard’s future is great. I don’t care how great he’ll be in 2017. I only care about him being great Friday night.

And, let’s not worry about sending an inexperienced Steven Matz out for Game 4, or whether they might move Matt Harvey up on short rest. Game 4 doesn’t exist. The only thing that matters is Game 3.

I covered arguably the greatest collapse in baseball history, the Yankees blowing a 3-and-0 lead to the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Players from that Boston team said they never looked at the hole, but only that day’s game. That was the only thing that mattered. As long as they won that day, they were fine.

That’s the attitude the Mets had in 1986, when they lost the first two games to the Red Sox – at home – yet came back to win. Of course, several things had to happen – “the ball gets by Buckner’’ – but before the miracles happened, they had to claw back into the Series. Baby steps.

The percentages say different, but remember, in 2004, NO team ever came back from down three games to win. That’s why they play the games. The beauty of sports is you never no what can happen.

The Series is not over until one team wins four games, which hasn’t happened. Can the Mets win four of five games? Damn straight they can, but before they do, they must win Friday.

That’s the only game that matters.




Oct 28

Mets Routed; In Huge Hole

When you don’t hit, don’t pitch and don’t catch the ball, you’re not going to win. See, this game isn’t that complicated after all. Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto had no problem figuring out the Mets hitters, and Royals’ hitters solved Jacob deGrom pretty quickly.

The Mets gave deGrom a run, but as we’ve been told all along, the Royals would eventually peck away. That came in the fifth inning as the Royals strung together hit after hit against deGrom as Jon Niese warmed in the bullpen.

CUETO: Superb tonight. (Getty)

CUETO: Superb tonight. (Getty)

The cameras focused on Mets manager Terry Collins, who stared blankly into space as if hit in the head with a bat. It probably was a Mets’ bat because they certainly weren’t doing anything against Cueto, who went the distance in the 7-1 rout.

Collins never went to the pen until it was too late, but it was easy to understand his hesitancy. Niese gave Collins two solid innings the night before and you could understand doubting he’d get an encore. Collins was riding his horse, deGrom, and hoping for the best.

It never came, and by the time the inning was over, the Mets were down, 4-1, and with the way they were facing Cueto, they had no chance.

DeGrom labored in his previous two playoff starts. Collins said he was fatigued; deGrom said he wasn’t. Either way, both agreed deGrom’s command was off. It wasn’t that way for the first four innings, but come the fifth, the game was over, and likely, the Mets’ chances in this World Series.

Teams winning the first two games go on to win the World Series 80 percent of the time. An exception was the 1986 Mets, but that was a different team in a different era.

We can list all the things the Mets didn’t do Wednesday night, but Game 2 was all about the things the Royals did right. The Royals don’t strike out. They put the ball in play. They attack strikes when they get one. They catch the ball. They do the right things and they do them consistently.

They play the game the way it is supposed to be played, and that style – while not sexy – is about to win them a championship.