Apr 17

Mets Not In Tailspin … Yet

Two losses do not a tailspin make for the Mets, but red flags are waiving. And, if not checked, they have the possibility to derail a season. Let’s take a look at some ugly numbers:

  • The Nationals stole three more bases, and all three runners scored. The final was 5-2, so you do the math. Opposing runners have stolen 21 bases in 22 attempts this season. When the Mets are hitting, it can overshadow that weakness.
  • The Mets went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners overall. They’ve been leaving a lot of runners on lately and that must change.
  • The strikeouts continue to mount. Mets hitters continue to strike out at an alarming rate. They fanned 12 times tonight. Overall, five Mets starters have more strikeouts than hits: Todd Frazier (17-15), Amed Rosario (16-12), Michael Conforto (12-8), Jay Bruce (13-11) and Yoenis Cespedes (27-13).
  • The starters’ pitch counts continue to be too high for the number of innings worked. Mickey Callaway liked how well Wheeler threw, but 99 pitches over six innings don’t cut it.

Callaway said during spring training that he didn’t care about the Mets’ record, just that they played well. There’s no reason to be concerned about two straight losses. There is a reason, however, to be concerned about how they have played the last two games, even if it wasn’t the Nationals.

Apr 07

Mets Wrap: Matz Keeps Club Streak Hot

Much, much better was Steven Matz today for the Mets. Hammered by St. Louis in his previous start, Matz was everything the Mets could have hoped for in today’s 3-2 victory at Washington.

MATZ: Marked improvement. (AP)

MATZ: Marked improvement. (AP)

Once again Matz threw too many pitches for the innings worked – 93 over five innings – but this time for the most part he avoided getting hit. He allowed three singles, walked two and struck out eight while giving up an unearned run.

“There was a lot more confidence,’’ manager Mickey Callaway said. “Total conviction on most of his pitches. You could see it in the way he released the ball. He did a great job of making an adjustment.’’

Matz said pitching coach Dave Eiland helped him finish off his pitches.

“It was just a minor adjustment, something I was doing in spring training as well early on, just not having that last bit of conviction with my pitch,’’ Matz said. “Mentally and physically as well, just finishing.’’

BORN TO RUN: Mets’ pitching has been terrific so far, but an old nemesis resurfaced today as the Nationals stole five bases. Even so, the Mets still managed to escape. That’s a problem that must be corrected because they won’t always be so lucky as they were today.

“We have to do a better job,’’ Callaway said. “We don’t want runners going at will against us.’’

Matz gave up for stolen bases but said he wasn’t worried, “because none of them scored,’’ which isn’t the right attitude to have.

ROSARIO MAKES SENSE LEADING OFF: They won’t do it now because you never want to mess with a streak, but if Amed Rosario stays hot, shouldn’t the Mets consider moving him to the leadoff spot? After all, he’s the fastest Met.

LAGARES STARS IN CENTER: Centerfielder Juan Lagares came up with the play of the game when he threw out Brian Goodwin at the plate in the second inning.

“That feels great, especially how the game was,” said Lagares. “I felt great in the moment.’’

Mar 31

No Problems With Mets’ Lineup Change

Two Mets who were hot Opening Day – Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki – are sitting today, and it was another good move by manager Mickey Callaway.

“I don’t want guys to sit around for five days,’’ explained Callaway as to why Travis d’Arnaud is catching and Juan Lagares is in center. “I have faith in every player here and guys should play.’’

That’s not to say Callaway will ignore the hot hand. For example, Amed Rosario had two hits batting ninth and Yoenis Cespedes drove in three runs in the second spot. In theory, it is supposed to give Cespedes more RBI opportunities. Now, if Rosario doesn’t hit or gets a day off, that might change.

It’s only the second game of the season so it is too early to make any judgments. Let’s hope this makes it easier for Rosario and he adapts to hitting in the majors.

Mar 30

Callaway Made Right Call With Syndergaard

While Mickey Callaway’s lineup decision continues to be analyzed – just check out today’s papers – I believe his most important one was removing Noah Syndergaard after six innings.

After throwing 85 pitches, it might have been tempting to squeeze out another inning, perhaps even two, but Callaway’s niche is pitching and he made the right call.

Syndergaard left with an 8-4 lead, and while four runs isn’t an insurmountable deficit, it certainly is large enough to warrant Callaway’s confidence in his bullpen.

With the temperatures in the high 40s and Syndergaard having to sit through the Mets taking batting practice against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, there was a reasonable-to-good chance the pitcher could have stiffened up. And, with Syndergaard having sustained a torn lat muscle that cost him most of the 2017 season, Callaway was protecting one of his biggest assets.

“I felt like he had done his job,’’ Callaway said. “We wanted to get some of our relievers in the game, so there was no second thought there at all.’’

There shouldn’t have been.

Syndergaard, who was one of former pitching coach’s biggest supporters, had no problem with being pulled: “I think that was the right managerial decision, just because we were up by a lot.’’

As far as batting the pitcher eighth, Amed Rosario ninth and Yoenis Cespedes second, I can appreciate the logic, but I prefer Cespedes hitting in the traditional run-producing slots in the batting order.

I would do it again Saturday because it worked and you never want to mess around with success

Mar 27

Seven Things For The Mets To Make The Playoffs

Can the Mets reach the playoffs? It would take at least 86 victories, which is 16 more than last season, and that’s a reach. I don’t think it will happen, but stranger things have happened with the Mets. If it does happen, the  Mets need the following seven things fall into place:

DE GROM: One of the few answers. (AP)

           DE GROM: One of the few answers. (AP)

No injuries: They are due for a healthy season, beginning with their rotation. They already had a few this spring, and Steven Matz and Matt Harvey are coming off surgery. They have to be incredibly lucky from here on out.

As far as their position players are concerned, they need Michael Conforto (shoulder) and Yoenis Cespedes (shoulder and hamstrings) to return and have monster seasons. Conforto will miss the first month, so that’s at least 100 at-bats they’ll miss.

Who will fill that void?

Rotation lives up to the hype: Zack Wheeler will open the season in the minors and Jason Vargas on the disabled list. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom will have to win at least 17 games each, and Harvey has to win at least 15.

Relievers must fill their roles: Manager Mickey Callaway hinted at a closer-by-committee format, but Jeurys Familia will get the first chance to close.

Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo will combine for the Andrew Miller role (once the latter is replaced in the rotation by either Vargas or Wheeler). That’s something new with Callaway and it is a gamble that must work.

The older guys’ encore: Specifically, that would be Todd Frazier, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce. Frazier and Bruce must have big seasons, defined as at least 20 homers and 80 RBI.

The young guys can’t be intimidated: Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares will get at-bats in April with Conforto injured. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith – when he comes up – are offensive liabilities. That has to change.

Win the East: When the Mets reached the World Series in 2015, they did so in large part by Washington getting off to a miserable start and the Mets beating up on the Nationals and Braves. That has to happen again.

Sandy Alderson must not blink at the deadline: In 2015, when the Carlos Gomez trade fell through he immediately went after Cespedes. If the Mets are close at the end of July, Alderson can’t be afraid to pull the trigger.