Jul 03

A No-Hitter Watch Always On With Matt Harvey

ESPN’s Mark Simon wrote an interesting piece on what it would take for Matt Harvey to throw a no-hitter tonight for the New York Mets. I can narrow it down for you: Be on his game and be lucky.

Nobody can predict a no-hitter, but Simon is on the right track in that Harvey is one of those pitchers you can’t help but watch because of the possibility. If you want to turn away from a Harvey start – and why would you? – just wait until the first hit because you never know.

Harvey has already had three no-hit bids through six innings this season, and lost a fourth into the fifth inning.

You can’t help but think it will happen eventually, but then again there have been plenty of overpowering pitchers who never threw a no-hitter, and some non-descript arms that made history. It is such a fickle achievement, and to think Johnny Vander Meer did it in consecutive starts.

One thing to consider when Harvey starts is his pitch count. He regularly tops 100 because he’s a high-strikeout pitcher, and after Johan Santana’s 134-pitch no-hitter last year Terry Collins won’t let him get close to that number.

METS MUSINGS: While Harvey remains a workhorse, Shaun Marcum’s durability is again an issue. Marcum opened the season on the disabled list and his start Saturday in Milwaukee is in doubt because of pain and/or stiffness in his upper back. Marcum underwent a MRI Tuesday. Carlos Torres could get the ball if the 1-9 Marcum can’t go. … Jon Niese will be re-examined this week and it could be determined then if he will need season-ending surgery on his shoulder to repair a rotator cuff tear. … It has taken him until July, but Collins is finally hinting Anthony Recker might get more playing time now that John Buck is in a dreadful slump. … LaTroy Hawkins hasn’t given up an earned run in 13 appearances. … Ike Davis is hitting .268 with six homers for Triple-A Las Vegas. He was 0-for-5 Monday night. Collins said the reports he’s getting on Davis are encouraging in that his hitch isn’t as pronounced and he’s going more to the opposite field. However, Collins gave no timetable for his return. With Josh Satin doing so well and the All-Star break approaching, it might be a prudent idea to keep him in the minors until the second half. … Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are expected to start against each other in the Futures Game.

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Jul 02

Resilient Mets Show Something; Josh Satin And Andrew Brown Star

No, Matt Harvey doesn’t get a partial credit for a win last night, but even so it was fun to watch the New York Mets turn aggravation to something to shout about.

They left 20 runners on base for the second time this season, but nonetheless came from behind twice to beat Arizona, 5-4 in 13 innings, before another sparse crowd at Citi Field.

BROWN: Coming through. (AP)

BROWN: Coming through. (AP)

`If you’re going to be out there that long you might as well win the game,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We were out of pitching, I can tell you that.’’

Actually, the Mets were out of everything, even using Anthony Recker as a pinch-hitter.

The Mets won largely from the contributions of three players – Josh Satin, Andrew Brown and Omar Quintanilla – and reliever David Aardsma, who weren’t on the Opening Day roster.

Factoring prominently was Satin, whom the Mets had to place on their 40-man roster to promote him when Ike Davis was finally sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Satin has been on a tear, batting .444 (12-for-27, including back-to-back three-hit games) in the last seven games.

Not to dump on Davis, but there’s no rush to bring him back with how Satin is playing.

“Josh deserves some at-bats,’’ Collins said of Satin’s increased playing time. “He’s getting some big hits. It doesn’t matter if they’re left-handed or right-handed. He’s getting big hits for us.

“I’ll tell you what: Every team has somebody that surprises you and saves you. And right now, he’s our savior `cause this guy has come up and filled a big hole for us.’’

Savior is a bit much, but he is playing well.

Down 3-0, the Mets scored single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, with Satin driving home Marlon Byrd to force extra innings.

Met killer Cody Ross homered to give Arizona a 4-3 lead, and you could imagine TV sets across the tri-state area turning off. After all, it was past midnight.

But with one out, Satin doubled to the opposite field – something we rarely see from Davis. Instead of trying to strike him out for a fourth time, the Diamondbacks intentionally walked John Buck. Enter Harvey, who bunted the runners to second and third. Quintanilla was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Brown singled to erase the sour taste of the weekend.

Quintanilla had three more hits and walked twice; Brown also delivered a sacrifice; and Aardsma pitched two innings for the win. It was the seventh time this year the Mets won in walk-off fashion.

“Walking a team off at the end – there’s no greater feeling,’’ said Satin, who unlike Harvey, is not dating a supermodel.

Even so, he had a point.

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Jun 27

David Wright To Rest Against Rockies

It wasn’t as if David Wright was going to challenge Cal Ripken in the first place. Wright will be out of the New York Mets’ lineup tonight in Colorado for their make up game against the Rockies.

There was speculation Wright might lobby manager Terry Collins to keep him in the lineup. Despite being on a tear lately, Wright knew he needed a night off and being the DH in Chicago wouldn’t have accomplished the same thing.

Over the past 19 games Wright has hit a blistering .383 with five homers and 11 RBI, and has played a sparkling third base. Oh, by the way, he also surged ahead of San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval to take the lead in the All-Star balloting.

“DH is playing, isn’t it?’’ Wright asked reporters. “It’s good, especially with the rainouts for us and doubleheaders and stuff. As much as you’d like to play, you understand that these are good for you, especially when your goal is to play 155, 160, 156 games.

“These are the types of days, when the manager says he wants to give you a day, that sometimes it’s best just to oblige and take it, because you obviously play better when you are rested. Especially with the way I want to play, it’s much better when I’m a little more rested.’’

Of course, Wright and Collins had to be tempted considering his lifetime numbers at Coors Field, where he’s a career .392 hitter with 10 homers and 38 RBI in 120 at-bats.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Eric Young, LF: Returns home. Hitting .414 with six RBI in seven games with Mets.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Collins said Ruben Tejada will have to beat him out to regain his job.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Struggling on the trip with .200 average.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Tied for second on Mets with 36 RBI.

Josh Satin, 1B: Hitting .313 on the road trip. Had nine homers with Vegas.

Zach Lutz, 3B: Had his first major league hit last April at Colorado.

Juan Lagares, CF: No Kirk Nieuwenhuis vs. Rockies right-hander. Could the job be Lagares’ to lose?

Anthony Recker, C: With the way John Buck has struggled, Recker needs to play more.

Jeremy Hefner, RHP: Has pitched a quality start in five of last six starts.

Jun 18

Zack Wheeler Lives Up To Hype

Zack Wheeler is here, so the New York Mets might as well get a real good look under his hood to see how the gears in his gut work.

The Mets believe they have another young star pitcher in their midst, but were on verge of watching a scoreless debut unravel. At the time, a Mets’ 6-1 victory and doubleheader sweep of the first-place Braves seemed highly unlikely.

WHEELER: Wins debut. (AP)

WHEELER: Wins debut. (AP)

The Braves had two on with one out in the sixth inning and Wheeler’s pitch count was approaching 100. The sixth was to be Wheeler’s last, but this time Terry Collins did not pull him so the rookie starter would have a “good feeling about himself.’’

No, Collins let Wheeler earn that good feeling by himself. Wheeler’s debut was already remarkably good, but he iced it by blowing away Dan Uggla for his seventh strikeout and getting Chris Johnson on a pop-up to second base.

It was a moment Wheeler will no doubt reflect on tonight before he falls asleep – if he falls asleep – and perhaps constantly before his next start.

Wheeler threw an emotional and encouraging 102 pitches, but only 55 of them were strikes, so that’s something he’ll work on. Six scoreless innings from Wheeler, giving up four hits and five walks.

Control was forecast to be an issue for Wheeler. It was in Las Vegas and was tonight, but that should be correctable over time. However, what can’t be taught are his 97 mph., fastball and composure to work out of trouble.

Wheeler walked two in the first, but got B.J. Upton on an inning-ending fielder’s choice. That inning could have gotten away from him easily.

Uggla hit a one-out double in the second, but Wheeler struck out the next two hitters.

Atlanta had runners on the corners with two outs in the third, but Wheeler retired B.J. Upton on a fly.

Wheeler never had a 1-2-3 inning, and seemed ready for another lack-of-support no-decision by a Mets’ starter, but catcher Anthony Recker hit a two-run homer, leaving the rookie starter to hope for his bullpen.

This time, the pen held and the Mets, unbelievably added tack-on runs. Couple this with Matt Harvey’s strong first-game effort and the Mets looked like a good team. They also made us greedy thinking how sweet it would have been to get the first game of the series.

The Mets had been riding this image since last season when Harvey burst into our consciousness. They were going to build around the young pitching of Harvey and Wheeler. That feeling intensified the past few days when it was imminent Wheeler would be promoted, and for one day at least, it all worked out for the Mets.

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Jun 15

Is Jordany Valdespin Experiment Part Of Mets’ Greater Plan To Trade Ike Davis?

We are almost over with the great Jordany Valdespin experiment by the New York Mets of playing him at second and hitting leadoff.

Now what?

VALDESPIN: Is there a plan here?

VALDESPIN: Is there a plan here?

Six days doesn’t seem like a long time because it isn’t. However, Terry Collins is staying with this a lot longer than some of his other experiments such as Collin Cowgill in center; Daniel Murphy at leadoff; a half-dozen other guys hitting first. The assumption is Collins will stay with this as long as Ike Davis is in Triple-A Las Vegas, but after that, by his own admission the manager doesn’t have a plan.

The path of least resistance would have been to play first baseman Josh Satin at first and leave Murphy alone at second, a position where he’s made strides.

What will the Mets infield look like as of August 1, the day after the trade deadline? Are they showcasing Valdespin for a trade? How about Murphy? Perhaps, they are hoping Davis pulls himself out of this funk so they can trade him.

The Mets could non-tender Davis as they did Mike Pelfrey last winter and let him walk, or, they could hope he finds some life in his bat and find a taker. If Davis isn’t part of their future, there are worse options. If Davis isn’t part of their future, they should move him as soon as possible.

So, the Mets, losers of five of their last six games and eight of ten, will attempt to salvage this homestand today and Sunday before starting a killer trip that includes five games in Atlanta; three in Philadelphia; two in Chicago against the White Sox; and a make-up game in Denver, before returning home to start a three-game series with Washington.

The Mets’ next off day will be July 11, the day after a three-game series in San Francisco. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for a team now 14 games below .500.

This afternoon, Jon Niese will attempt to start putting his season back together. Niese, 3-5, hasn’t won a start since May 16 in St. Louis, which seems ages ago. He is coming off a quality start last Sunday in a no-decision in a game lost to Miami.

Here’s Niese’s line-up, which only once in the past week scored as many as five runs:

Jordany Valdespin, 2B: Is making the most of this opportunity and to his credit is making clubhouse strides.

Daniel Murphy, 1B: Hitting just .219 in last 17 games.

David Wright, 3B: Hitting .462 during homestand and .333 this year with RISP.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has 10 homers with 31 RBI. That has to interest some team.

Lucas Duda, LF: Ten of his 11 homers have been with nobody on base.

Justin Turner, SS: Giving Omar Quintanilla a rest.

Anthony Recker, C: John Buck can’t catch them all.

Juan Lagares, CF: Got a hit last night, so Collins riding the hot hand.

Jonathon Niese, LHP: Is 2-3 with a 5.61 lifetime ERA in six starts against Cubs.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos