Jun 30

DeGrom Aces Phillies

There can be no doubt if the Mets are to salvage their season, if not make a run, they’ll need more of the same from Jacob deGrom, who pitched like the ace he is in keeping his team hot.

The Mets have now won six of their last seven games tonight in beating the Phillies, 2-1, at Citi Field, to pull within five games of .500.

De GROM: Aces Phillies. (AP)

De GROM: Aces Phillies. (AP)

“Going into LA was a wake-up call for us,’’ deGrom said. “We got our teeth kicked in. We know we had to play better. If we’re going to do it, we’re running out of time.”

Getting going means beating the teams you’re supposed to, which includes the Giants and Phillies.

This still could turn into a “trap series,’’ if the Mets stumble the next two days, but deGrom wouldn’t let that happen tonight. DeGrom had to be dog tired as the Mets’ flight from Miami didn’t land in New York until after 4:30 a.m.

DeGrom has turned things around since back-to-back starts when he gave up 15 runs. Since then, he’s gone 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA, walking only eight but with 31 strikeouts.

“He’s in a groove for sure,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s such a competitor. He won’t give in and throw one over the middle.’’

DeGrom’s fastball was superb tonight, but he also commanded his secondary pitches well, particularly his slider early in the game and his change-up in the later innings.

DeGrom, who had worked at least eight innings in his last three starts, worked seven innings and gave up one run on three hits and one walk. DeGrom, who had a string of double-digit strikeout games earlier this year, but not recently, struck out 12, which contributed to his higher than normal pitch count of 111. It is the sixth time this year he struck out at least ten.

“I was able to throw it tonight when I needed to and where I needed to,’’ deGrom said of his change-up. “My fastball command was good tonight. I was able to control it on both sides of the plate. Everything worked off the fastball tonight.’’

STILL NO CONFORTO: Today is Day Five without Michael Conforto and he’s still not close to coming back after being struck on his left wrist by a pitch last Sunday in San Francisco.

And yet, the Mets refuse to put him on the 10-day disabled list and continue to play shorthanded.

The only reason I can come up with is the Mets are reluctant to pay the major league salary to whoever would come up from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace him, even if it is only for ten days.

That’s speculation on my part, but would anybody really be surprised?

“There’s no break,’’ Collins said. “It’s the bone bruise that is causing him problems. He tried to swing the bat today and he had trouble.’’

CESPEDES SLUMPING: One of the ramifications of not having Conforto available is not being able to rest Yoenis Cespedes, who, with a broken-bat single in the eighth has four hits in his last 24 at-bats.

Of course, would it kill the Mets to start Brandon Nimmo for a game?

THINKING ABOUT COLON: The Mets are kicking the tires on bringing back Bartolo Colon, who was designated for assignment by the Braves.

Atlanta has ten days to either trade, release outright or assign him to the minor leagues (won’t happen). After which, the player becomes a free agent.

“He’s still a member of the Braves,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said when asked about Colon.

EXTRA INNINGS: Lucas Duda is still weakened with flu-like symptoms and was a late scratch. … Addison Reed has converted save opportunities in the last two games. … Curtis Granderson singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games. … Zack Wheeler will come off the disabled list and start Saturday.

 

Jun 29

Should Mets Bring Colon Back For Encore?

Why not? With their pitching staff in shambles, why shouldn’t the Mets consider bringing back Bartolo Colon for the rest of the season?

COLON: Why not? (AP)

COLON: Why not? (AP)

The 44-year-old Colon – who his 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA – was designated for assignment today by the Braves. (Part of that ERA has to be attributable pitching in Atlanta’s new stadium.)

Colon returned from the disabled list June 6 from a strained oblique and stiff back. If he passes a physical, why not bring him back, either as a starter or reliever? He’s failed to make it to the fifth in his last three starts.

After his last start, Colon said: “I felt good, I just feel like I’ve kind of hit a rough streak, to be honest, and it’s tough to just snap out of it. The reality is that I’ve been getting hit hard and that’s the truth and you can’t dance around it.’’

Colon can’t be any worse than who the Mets have thrown out there. The Mets know him and it would be a great story. The bottom line is the Mets have nothing to lose by bringing Colon back for an encore. They might even sell a few tickets.

 

Jun 12

Cubs-Mets Is Opening Day II

Call Cubs-Mets Opening Day II.  The World Champion Cubs – something I never thought I’d write – are in tonight for a three-game series. After them, the Mets play the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants over a two-week stretch that will define their season.

The Mets are feeling good about themselves these days after winning three-of-four in Atlanta, and the returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – who each worked seven strong in their starts – and Yoenis Cespedes, who ripped a pinch-hit grand slam.

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

“This is fun, you’re playing the world champs, you are playing arguably the best team in our division,” Collins said. “We’re a little healthier and having Ces back is big, but we’ve got to go pitch. It’s going to be a fun week. I just hope we go out and play well.”

In their last five games, Mets’ starters have given up three runs over 32.2 innings. However, none of those games include Jacob deGrom, tonight’s starter. DeGrom has given up 15 runs in his last two starts. We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month of starts, and if he doesn’t get back to that form the Mets can forget about sniffing the playoffs this year.

The big series, of course, is the four-game set against the Nationals. If they sweep that, then the Mets trail by only six games. That’s entirely doable.

However, for that series to mean anything they have to take care of business against Chicago as they can’t afford to fall any further behind. The Mets are fortunate in that they are playing a listless Cubs’ team that is only .500 at 31-31.

“We went through that last year,” Collins said of the Cubs. “Going to the World Series really beats up your pitching and as a team, it takes a while to get that energy back.”

The Mets seemed energized against the Braves, and they can’t afford any letdowns the rest of the way. These next two weeks will determine what they do at the trade deadline and whether there will be a summer worth watching.

ON DECK: What’s Wrong With DeGrom?

 

May 05

Mets Wrap: Small Ball And Bullpen Lift Comeback

The Mets can play small ball, and yes they can play it very well. They compiled 20 hits – with no homers – in Wednesday’s rout of the Braves, and then strung together six straight hits in the season’s largest comeback to beat the Marlins.

FLORES: Game-winning walk. And he does. (AP)

FLORES: Game-winning walk. And he does. (AP)

“I think [this game could give us] a huge lift,” manager Terry Collins said. “You have to be resilient you have to play nine innings and put up good at-bats.”

The Mets fell behind 7-1 with Rafael Montero, and began their comeback with a two-run homer by Curtis Granderson in the fourth.

Then came what could become one of the most important innings of the season when they strung together six hits against Brad Ziegler.

It began with a single by Wilmer Flores and a double by Jose Reyes. Rene Rivera and pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera followed with RBI singles. Michael Conforto singled to load the bases and T.J. Rivera – who hit a solo homer – ripped a two-run double.

“I was looking for something up in the zone where I could out the barrel on it … it just so happens it came on the first pitch,” said T.J. Rivera.

Right-hander Kyle Barraclough relieved Ziegler and struck out Jay Bruce and Neil Walker. He intentionally walked Granderson to load the bases and then walked Flores to force in the game-winner.

“I’m just trying to be patient,” said Flores.

The Mets have now scored at least five runs in eight straight games, all without Yoenis Cespedes. Collins, who managed his 1,000th game with the Mets – to trail Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine – said his hitters aren’t trying to do too much, which is common for teams losing its best hitter.

BULLPEN OVERLOOKED: As impressive as the Mets’ offense was, it was made possible by the bullpen. After the lines of Montero (five runs in 3.2 innings) and Josh Smoker (two runs in one inning), five Mets relievers combined to throw 4.1 scoreless innings.

A key moment came in the sixth when Hansel Robles gave up a leadoff double to Marcell Ozuna and one-out later a single to J.T. Realmuto, but escaped without giving up a run.

MONTERO TO START AGAIN: There was no waffling by Collins when asked if Montero will get the ball again.

Considering Montero has never taken advantage of previous opportunities and gave up five runs in 3.2 innings tonight, it was a logical question.

So was Collins’ answer: “If it’s not him, I don’t know who it will be. We have to get him going.”

UP NEXT: Rookie Robert Gsellman (1-2, 6.75 ERA) is coming off his first victory of the season Monday in Atlanta.

May 02

Another Lost Night For Harvey

Even when it became apparent Matt Harvey was no longer an ace on the Mets’ staff – giving way to Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard – he always held the belief of himself that he was among the elite.

HARVEY: Loses again. (AP)

HARVEY: Loses again. (AP)

Even after season-ending injuries – and surgeries – in 2013 and last year, Harvey and the Mets envisioned a return to prominence.

Things appeared promising for him after he won his first two starts coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. At the time Harvey appeared ahead of schedule because in spring training pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until mid-May when his stuff returned.

Harvey said he felt good, and the radar gun clocked him consistently in the high 90s, but stuff is more throwing a ball through a wall.

“The ball came out of his hand really good,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “When he was going good, he had great stuff and great command. Today he had great stuff, but his command wasn’t there.”

Stuff is more than just velocity; it is getting movement on his pitches. It is throwing a fastball three inches inside, but see it tail back over the corner for a strike. It is also locating all his pitches, including his secondary pitches anytime in the count.

None of that was there tonight.

Harvey gave up four runs in his two wins but has given up 17 in his following four starts, including 12 in these last two against the Braves.

“His command was off,” Collins told reporters. “His secondary pitchers weren’t there.”

Last time out, Harvey had the built-in reason – excuse if you will – of getting just a few hours notice to make an emergency start replacing Syndergaard. On full rest tonight, Harvey went a little longer, but wasn’t much better, giving up six runs in the 9-7 loss.

Harvey labored throughout, taking 100 pitches to work 5.1 innings, and said he was trying to compete.

“Today was the best I have felt in a long time,” Harvey said. “It was coming out of my hand better than it has in a couple of years.”

Just competing, however, won’t get it done for the Mets, who are trying to make up serious ground early in the season, and trying to do so without Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

To do so, they’ll need Harvey to put on his “big boy’’ pants and pitch to the level he still believes he can.

ON DECK LATER TONIGHT:  Mets Wrap: Bruce’s Hot Start Continues