Mar 09

Wheeler “Must See” Met

So far, Mets’ starting pitchers have done well in their exhibition starts. Zack Wheeler is up next scheduled Monday afternoon against Miami at Tradition Field (1:10 p.m., SNY). Of all Mets pitchers, Wheeler is the one I am most intrigued with as he could have the biggest upside this summer.

WHEELER: Faces Marlins today.

WHEELER: Faces Marlins today.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey could have understandable issues; it would be interesting to see if 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom can have an encore season; Jon Niese can be an enigma; and Bartolo Colon is 41.

That leaves Wheeler, who was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA last year and threw 185.1 innings. Wheeler averages nine strikeouts per nine innings, which is ace worthy. However, his four walks per nine innings is something that must be reduced – by at least half.

Depending on whom you talk with, Wheeler’s stuff might be better than Harvey’s. Command is a different issue.

Wheeler must improve his control, and doing so would enable him to work deeper into games. In 32 starts last year, Wheeler worked into the seventh only 13 times. He also reached 100 pitches 24 times and 110 pitches 13 times.

That doesn’t seem like much, but there’s an accumulative effect on the arm when you factor what he throws in the bullpen between starts; the eight warm-ups between innings; and the 50 or more warm-ups before the game.

After April he did not throw less than 100 pitches in consecutive starts. That must change to not only preserve his arm, but he could add an inning a start that would also reduce the workload of the bullpen.

There are progressions in the development from a prospect to a quality starter. Wheeler has already shown he can be overpowering. Now he must prove he can dominate with his control.

If he does that, there’s no telling how good he can become.

 

Mar 07

Mets Today: deGrom Starts Against Braves

Following back-to-back perfect starts from Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and his under-construction curveball will attempt to make it three straight Saturday afternoon against Atlanta in Port St. Lucie.

DeGROM: Unveils curveball.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Unveils curveball. (Getty)

Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year is working on a curveball to give his repertoire more depth. Opposing teams will adjust to deGrom, and the curveball is an attempt to counter those adjustments, which is essential because the last thing a pitcher should be is predictable.

“It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch,’’ deGrom told The New York Post about his curveball. “Talking to Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens.

“Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance.’’

He will be that much more difficult if deGrom can control his curveball to get ahead in the count so he isn’t reliant on starting off each hitter with a fastball.

Last year deGrom was just trying to make the team. Things are a lot different this spring.

“This spring is so different,’’ deGrom said. “I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training.’’

Gee is currently slated to work out of the bullpen and manager Terry Collins will use him in that capacity today to get used to that timing.

The game will be telecast on WPIX-11.

Mar 05

Mets Matters: Colon Perfect In Loss To Nats

Bartolo Colon was perfect in his first exhibition start, retiring all six hitters in the Mets’ 5-4 loss Thursday to the Nationals.

“I felt pretty good today, but I’m not quite there yet – season-ready,’’ Colon told reporters. “I didn’t throw everything I needed to throw. It was my first time facing batters. But I was pretty happy with what I did. I had good control of all of my pitches.’’

mets-matters logoColon will next pitch Tuesday against minor league hitters. He is expected to throw over three innings.

At 41 entering the season, Colon said his goal is to exceed 200 innings for the second straight year.

METS MUST IMPROVE VS. NATS: Mets manager Terry Collins gives the edge to Washington’s rotation to that of his own team, “maybe because of experience.’’

If the Mets are to be competitive this year they must improve head-to-head against the Nationals.

“We can’t go 5-14 next year. You can’t,’’ Collins told reporters. “You’ve got to play better. … I think now our bullpen has settled down a little bit and I think we’re in a little bit better shape.’’

NEXT UP: The Mets host Detroit Friday at 1:10 p.m., with Matt Harvey getting the start. It will be his first game since Aug. 24, 2013. Noah Syndergaard will follow Harvey. … The sons of murdered NYPD officer Rafael Ramos will be the batboys.

Mar 05

Mets Today: Colon Goes Against Nats

The Mets play at Washington, Thursday (5:05 p.m.), with Bartolo Colon getting the start.

COLON: Goes tonight.

COLON: Goes tonight.

Colon, whom the Mets hoped to trade in the offseason, is under consideration to be the Opening Day starter.

The 41-year-old Colon won 15 games last season with the Mets and logged 202.1 innings. Colon averages 216 innings pitched during his 17-year career.

Colon has pitched for nine teams in his career, which began in 1997 with Cleveland. He also pitched for Montreal, the White Sox (two stints), the Angels, Boston, the Yankees, Oakland and the Mets.

Gabriel YnoaCory Mazzoni and Josh Edgin will also work tonight for the Mets.

ON DECK: Lay off Daniel Murphy.

Mar 02

No-Brainer: If Not Harvey, Colon Should Be Opening Day Starter

If the Mets are to name an Opening Day starter who isn’t Matt Harvey, there is only one logical choice and that is Bartolo Colon as he is the least likely to be overwhelmed by the circumstances.

COLON: A no-brainer.

COLON: A no-brainer.

Jon Niese has been an Opening Day starter before, but as a left hander I would slot him No. 3 to put a break in the rotation. Starting him in the first game would require too much juggling.

As for Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, neither is in what you would call in the ace category.

Ideally, they want Harvey, and personally, I think manager Terry Collins is biding his time to see how Harvey comes out of spring training before making the call. He doesn’t want to announce something today about Harvey and then having to change his mind.

I believe that is his reluctance in making an announcement on the Opening Day starter. Collins said Harvey would start one of the first five games, and he’s waiting this out to see what kind of spring he has. I would slot Colon behind Harvey, and the former wouldn’t get bent out of shape if Harvey were to be named at the last minute.

But, if he were to make an decision now, it must be Colon, who was his most reliable starter last season winning 15 games and working over 200 innings. But, Collins isn’t making a decision now, and I think it is because he’s hoping on Harvey.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.