May 30

Mets Wrap: Harvey Takes Step Towards Prominence

Let’s savor this one by Matt Harvey and remember he might not turn it around in a single start. He could, but both he and the Mets said all along getting back to prominence is an on-going process.

Harvey said it again after his blast-from-the-past performance in Monday’s 1-0 holiday blanking of the Chicago White Sox.

HARVEY: Leaving the mound after the 7th. (AP)

HARVEY: Leaving the mound after the 7th. (AP)

It could have been a rediscovery of his lost mechanics and fastball that was consistently in the middle 90s early in the game. It could have been facing a team in a tailspin. Maybe it was working with catcher Rene Rivera. Perhaps he was just due.

Whatever the reasons, Harvey demonstrated what he has shown in the past and what he’s capable of when everything is working for him, which was the case Monday afternoon.

“There have been a lot of emotions,” Harvey told reporters about his feelings. “It has been awhile. The idea is to do everything you can to help your team and I hadn’t been doing that in awhile.”

Manager Terry Collins said Harvey might have regained some of his confidence.

“Mental,” Collins matter-of-factly told reporters when asked if the biggest change was mechanical or mental. “When you’re mentally strong you can fight through things.’’

That was the case in the seventh when the White Sox put runners on second and third with one out, but he regrouped to get Todd Frazier on a pop-up and J.B. Shuck on a grounder to shortstop.

That’s right, the seventh. It was the first time this season Harvey (4-7, 5.37) threw a pitch in the seventh inning.

“Emotion, intensity,” Collins said about what he liked about Harvey.  “When he got out of the seventh he was genuinely fired up. It was good to see.”

Harvey had been working with pitching coach Dan Warthen about his mechanics, ranging from his arm slot to his landing foot.It was nice to go out there and do some of the things I have been working on,’’ Harvey said. “To hold the runners on base is a good feeling.’’

“It was nice to go out there and do some of the things I have been working on,” Harvey said. “To hold the runners on base is a good feeling.”

It was easily the best game of the season, and for the next five days at least should silence the whispers.

His fastball? Harvey hit 98 on the gun a couple of times.

His breaking ball and off-speed pitches? His slider had a familiar bite to it and when you’re throwing 98,the change-up has a wider gap.

His control? One walk and only two other times did he reach three balls in the count.

“It’s a first step,” Harvey said. “This doesn’t mean anything if I don’t continue doing the things I’ve been working on.”

METS GAME WRAP

May 30, 2016, @ Citi Field

Game: #50          Score:  Mets 1, White Sox 0

Record: 28-21     Streak: W 1

Standings: Second, NL East, half-game behind the Nationals.  

Runs: 190    Average:  3.8   Times 3 or less: 24

SUMMARY:  Harvey was scintillating, and backed by Neil Walker’s 12th homer of the season, put the brakes on a season-long funk.

KEY MOMENT:  Wilmer Flores’ diving snag of Brett Lawrie’s line drive was converted into an inning-ending double play in the fifth. Knowing how things have turned on Harvey this year, Collins called the play of the game.

THUMBS UP:  A 1-2-3 ninth by Jeurys Familia to covert his 17th straight save opportunity this season after two horrendous outings in non-save opportunities over the weekend. … Two hits from Asdrubal Cabrera. … Two strikeouts from reliever Addison Reed.

THUMBS DOWN:  Nothing.

EXTRA INNINGS: David Wight did not play again because of herniated disk in his neck. He’s on anti-inflammatories and the disabled list remains a possibility. He will be re-examined Tuesday. … James Loney is expected to be activated Tuesday. … Michael Conforto did not play. … Ty Kelly got his first major league hit. … This was the Mets’ 28th 1-0 victory in their history. …

QUOTEBOOK:  “Harvey … Harvey … Harvey,’’ fans chanting Harvey’s name in the seventh, something we haven’t heard this year.

BY THE NUMBERS:  3: Total hits Harvey has given up in 16 combined innings over two career starts against the White Sox.

NEXT FOR METS:  Steven Matz (7-1, 2.38) will make his first career start against Chicago.

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May 30

What Will Mets Get From Harvey?

The Mets set the bar low for Matt Harvey’s last start. It’s been set even lower for what could be a water-logged Memorial Day start this afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.

Before the Nationals ripped him last week, manager Terry Collins wanted a “quality’’ outing from his former No. 1 starter. He didn’t get it, Harvey’s ERA zoomed to 6.08 and he left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.

HARVEY: What will we get? (AP)

HARVEY: What will we get? (AP)

This time out, “I’m hoping that he relaxes,” said Collins.

If he does, Harvey will have to shift it into a higher mental gear we haven’t seen before.

“I’m hoping that he just goes out and pitches like he knows how – and that is worrying about making pitches, not so much about the mechanics,” Collins said.

Meanwhile, Collins believes Harvey’s problems are a combination mechanical and mental. In addition to working with pitching coach Dan Warthen on his mechanics – from release point to where his lead foot lands – Collins said Harvey is also working with the Mets’ mental skills coach.

Collins wouldn’t specify the next step for Harvey if he gets routed.

“I just think we’ve got to wring the rag dry here,” Collins said. “This is not just a Triple-A guys who’s up for a tryout. This is a guy who pitched in an All-Star Game a couple of years ago and was one of the best in the game. And, I think we need to push a little bit farther.”

Nobody knows what will happen today, but perhaps Harvey will come up with a performance worth talking about.

May 29

Loney Was Best Possible Available Option For Mets

James Loney might not have been the best player the Mets could have gotten to replace Lucas Duda at first base for the next two months, but considering how they do things he was the best possible option.

The Mets considered several internal options – including Wilmer Flores – but acted with unusual swiftness for them by getting Loney, 32, from San Diego for cash.

LONEY: Best available choice. (AP)

LONEY: Best available choice. (AP)

I would have preferred Adam LaRoche, but the speculated cost in coaxing him out of retirement from the White Sox would probably have been too high. However, I definitely prefer Loney over a mix-and-match platoon of Eric Campbell and Flores. He’s also a better option than moving Michael Conforto or David Wright to new positions.

“Loney was an immediate, obvious possibility in terms of ease of acquisition and a variety of things,” GM Sandy Alderson told reporters. “We had someone go and look at James a couple of games last week and earlier in the month. We felt this was the right move for us at the moment.

“We felt we needed another left-handed bat. James doesn’t have a lot of power. He hasn’t demonstrated that, but we’ve got that elsewhere in the lineup. He’s someone who hits from the left side, a contact hitter, doesn’t strike out a lot. He could be a nice fit for us.”

Manager Terry Collins, whose roots are in the Dodger system as are Loney’s, has known him for 15 years.

“He’ll add a nice dimension to us,” Collins said. “He’s a very good first baseman. He’s a good offensive player. He’s not necessarily a big power guy. He’s a tremendous guy in the clubhouse.”

Loney was released by the Rays this spring and had been with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, Texas, where he was hitting .342 with two homers and 28 RBI in 158 at-bats.

Loney was to make $9.6 million this year, but because he was released by the Rays, the Mets are responsible for the pro-rated major league minimum for him.

All in all, it was the best possible deal the Mets could have made.

 

May 28

Mets Wrap: Plenty Of Deserving Fingers To Be Pointed In Syndergaard Fiasco

The Mets ignored the ancient Chinese proverb, “when pursuing revenge remember to dig two graves.”

The Mets finally chose Saturday night to seek retribution against Chase Utley for his hard take-out slide during last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers that resulted in a broken leg for their then shortstop Ruben Tejada.

SYNDERGAARD: Payback is a bitch. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Payback is a bitch. (AP)

The only grave filled was by the Mets and Noah Syndergaard.

The Mets eschewed retaliation against the Dodgers for the rest of the playoffs; during the four-game series in Los Angeles earlier this month; and Friday night. One school of thought was the Mets would continue to let Utley wonder, which would have been the best choice.

Instead, Syndergaard threw behind Utley’s back with one out in the third. Plate umpire Adam Hamari booted Syndergaard before the ball stopped rolling at the backstop. Utley calmly kept his head down and smoothed the dirt with his foot.

Utley homered in the sixth. If that wasn’t enough to rile Mets’ fans, then surely his grand slam in the seventh that sealed the Dodgers’ 9-1 blowout win should have been.

Utley maintained a stoic look throughout the game showing zero emotion. None.

Hamari had no choice but eject Syndergaard because whenever a pitcher deliberately wants to hit a batter he throws behind him, the thinking being the hitter will step back into the pitch.

Please, let’s not insult our intelligence by saying the ball got away because he had only walked nine hitters entering the game. Please, also don’t blame our intelligence, as SNY did, by saying Hamari didn’t have a handle on the situation because he is only a third-year umpire.

Since it’s all about blame these days, my finger is pointed at three parties for Syndergaard’s ejection.

First, let’s look at Syndergaard, who should be smart enough to know that after the buildup there would be no way he could go after Utley and skate. He’s young, but not naïve.

Second, there’s manager Terry Collins, who is not having the good start to this season. Collins has to understand the ramifications of losing Syndergaard. He made a big deal of wrongly justifying his poor decision to bring in Jeurys Familia in a non-save situation Friday because he wanted to win the game.

Don’t you think the Mets’ chances to win are enhanced with Syndergaard? When the teams played in Los Angeles, Collins warned his team about retaliation, saying he didn’t need to have anybody hurt or suspended. He didn’t have a similar message prior to this series.

For his efforts, Collins was also tossed. Collins said he was “surprised” Syndergaard was ejected so quickly without a warning. Seriously? Hasn’t he been paying attention?

Finally, Major League Baseball needs to take a bow for totally screwing up this whole situation. Here’s how:

* The umpires have discretion for ejecting a player they believe intentionally tried to injure a player. They did not.

* In response to the uproar from media and Mets fans about the play, MLB feared an incident at Citi Field when the NLDS moved to Citi Field. MLB suspended Utley for two games not because they judged it a dirty play, but because they feared an ugly scene. Joe Torre, who handles these decisions for MLB, should know more than most that is not the basis for a decision.

* When Utley’s appeal was heard this spring the original suspension was not upheld. MLB would say it was because of a new rule change, but the incident was committed under the old format.

* Finally, knowing the tension heading leading into the series – surely, the Commissioner’s office reads the New York papers – it would have been prudent to issue a warning.

This has been a total screw up from the beginning, and if Syndergaard is suspended – as Collins fears – it will only get worse.

METS GAME WRAP

May 28, 2016, @ Citi Field

Game: #48          Score:  Dodgers 9, Mets 1

Record: 28-20     Streak: L 1

Standings: First, NL East, four percentage points ahead of the Nationals.  

Runs: 187    Average:  3.87   Times 3 or less: 23

SUMMARY: Syndergaard’s retaliation attempt at Utley failed and resulted in his ejection. The Dodgers homered five times, including two by Utley, who drove in five runs.

KEY MOMENT:  Syndergaard’s ill-fated attempt to put the hammer down.

THUMBS UP:  At least they didn’t need Familia. … Juan Lagares homered for the second straight game. … Nobody got hurt. … The Nationals also lost.

THUMBS DOWN:  The whole night. … Now they have to face Clayton Kershaw. … Just three hits. … They gave up four homers. … They still don’t have a clue as to how to pitch to Utley. … The bullpen gave up nine runs and the hitters struck out ten times.

EXTRA INNINGS: David Wright did not play because of pain in his neck. There exists a possibility he could be placed on the disabled list Sunday. … Wilmer Flores could be activated from the DL Sunday. … The Mets sent cash to San Diego for first baseman James Loney.

QUOTEBOOK:  “It would be fair.’’ – Collins on if he was upset with the decision to eject Syndergaard.

BY THE NUMBERS:  34: Pitches thrown by Syndergaard.

NEXT FOR METS:  Bartolo Colon against Kershaw Sunday night.

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May 27

Mets Wrap: Granderson Saves Familia, Collins

The Mets won tonight despite Terry Collins’ over-managing. They overcame a rocky start by Jacob deGrom to take a four-run lead into the ninth. Everything seemed to be falling in place for the Mets.

Addison Reed worked the eighth and got Justin Turner on an inning-ending double play. He needed only seven pitches, so there was no concern about him being overworked.

FAMILIA: Tough night. (AP)

FAMILIA: Tough night. (AP)

That’s when Collins started poking at embers on the grill.

“You can’t worry about tomorrow,’’ Collins inexplicably told reporters as to why he used Jeurys Familia in a non-save situation. “You want to win the game.’’

How many times can you remember the Mets expanding a lead and have Familia sit down and somebody else enter the game?

Collins said he’s used Familia in non-save situations before. Friday was the eighth time he’s done it. Sometimes a closer will be brought in that way if he hasn’t had a lot of work.

Including tonight, Familia has pitched five times in the past week and converted three save opportunities, so it’s not as if he needed the work.

Familia hasn’t been effective in that role and certainly was off Friday, giving up three straight singles and a bases-loaded walk to bring in one run. Collins could see Familia didn’t have it, but what was he going to do, pull his closer for somebody else to close the game?

Instead, he let him pitch to Chase Utley, who drilled a three-run double into the right-center gap. All that talk about retribution with Utley seems tired and moot right now.

Familia eventually got out of the inning – he struck out three – but needed a season-high 32 pitches to do so. It remains to be seen if Familia will be available Saturday.

Curtis Granderson homered down the right-field line off Pedro Baez on the second pitch he saw to take both Familia and Collins off the hook.

METS GAME WRAP

May 27, 2016, @ Citi Field

Game: #47          Score:  Mets 6, Dodgers 5

Record: 27-19     Streak: W 2

Standings: First, NL East, four percentage points ahead of the Nationals.  

Runs: 186    Average:  3.95   Times 3 or less: 22

SUMMARY:  Instead of his fourth victory, Jacob DeGrom came away with a no-decision when Familia couldn’t hold a four-run lead in the ninth. Granderson took a night of angst away from Familia and Collins by hitting his ninth homer.

KEY MOMENT:  Granderson’s leadoff homer in the ninth.

THUMBS UP: DeGrom’s ability to pitch out of trouble, highlighted by a fastball in the mid-90s. It could have been his best fastball of the season. … David Wright homered for the third straight game. … No unnecessary fireworks involving Chase Utley. … Asdrubal Cabrera’s defense and guess what, he got another hit. … Two hits from Neil Walker.

THUMBS DOWN: Collins’ decision to go with Familia and the closer’s dismal performance (four runs on four hits and a walk). … Mets’ hitters struck out 12 times. … Granderson struck out three times and is now hitting .195. … Familia struggled in a non-save situation, giving up four runs in the ninth.

EXTRA INNINGS:  GM Sandy Alderson said the team is still exploring external first-base options. Kelly Johnson and James Loney are being considered. … Eric Campbell started his fourth straight game at first. … Wilmer Flores is expected to return from the disabled list soon, perhaps during this series. He can play first. … The Mets discounted the idea of using Conforto at first. … Matt Harvey pitched to Alejandro De Aza and Matt Reynolds prior to the game as the team still is searching for answers. Harvey is scheduled to start Monday against the White Sox.

QUOTEBOOK: “He doesn’t get down. He’s level. He’s a professional.’’ – Collins on Granderson.

BY THE NUMBERS:  13: Mets homers in their last seven games.

NEXT FOR METS:  Noah Syndergaard (5-2, 1.94) starts against Kenta Maeda (3-3, 3.29).

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