Apr 16

Bullpen Collapses To Waste DeGrom Start

How the Mets respond from losing tonight will send a greater message to the Nationals than their 12-2 record going into the game, which includes a sweep in Washington the first week in April. The here-to-fore excellent Mets’ bullpen coughed up a five-run, eighth-inning lead – and in the process kicked away a brilliant outing from Jacob deGrom – in a potentially defining moment for both teams.

Will the Nationals build off their 8-6 victory and this climb their way back to the top of the NL East? Or, will the Mets revert to the form most expected of them heading into this season?

Or, can they brush this off and keep showing their early-season resiliency?

“It’s one inning — it wasn’t even a game,” manager Mickey Callaway said of the crazy eighth in which five Mets’ relievers faced 12 Washington hitters and gave up six runs. “We outplayed them for the rest of the game. We just have to realize it was one bad inning, we didn’t get the job done. We’ll learn from it and make sure it doesn’t throw us into some kind of tailspin because we’re a real good team and we’ve been showing that.”

That Callaway would even the acknowledge the possibility of one game exploding into a slide shows an understanding of recent Mets’ history.

DeGrom cruised into the eighth, but quickly gave up hits to two of the first three hitters he faced. Callaway went to Seth Lugo, who walked the only hitter he faced to load the bases. Enter Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper, who greeted him with a two-run single.

AJ Ramos came in and gave up a single and bases-loaded walk to former Met Matt Reynolds. Then say hello to Jeurys Familia, who gave up a two-run single and another bases-loaded walk. Callaway might expect one or two relievers to have problems, but not the entire bullpen.

“It’s a rare thing. It shouldn’t happen, but maybe guys shut down mentally,’’ Callaway said his relievers collectively mailed it in because they didn’t expect to pitch.

Ramos wanted no part of that thinking.

“We pride ourselves on being ready,’’ Ramos said. “We just didn’t get the job done. There are no excuses.’’

None at all.

 

Apr 09

Shouldn’t The Mets Always Play This Way?

Ron Darling made a big deal about Noah Syndergaard backing up a play at third base tonight in the fifth inning. In fact, SNY has been gushing non-stop how fundamentally sound the 8-1 Mets have been so far this season.

From their hustle and aggressive baserunning, to their situational hitting, to manufacturing runs without the benefit of the home run, to their defense, to their bullpen. SNY has been gushing non-stop and newspaper columnists are doing the same.

Their points are valid, but also painfully obvious. How the Mets are playing is how they should be playing all the time. It begs the question: Why weren’t they doing this for the past ten years?

Is it just Mickey Callaway? Was Terry Collins that bad? Although my head still hurts from him saying, “we are a home run hitting team.’’

That, of course, stemmed from GM Sandy Alderson’s love affair with analytics. However, as much as Major League Baseball seems married to sabermetrics and launch angles, and seemingly has abandoned the game’s traditions, it really remains a simple sport relying on pitching, defense and timely hitting, one-two-three, with home runs a distant fourth as a matter of importance.

SYNDERGAARD STRUGGLES: Syndergaard threw 46 pitches through four innings, then threw 44 combined in the fifth and sixth innings. For all the talk about Syndergaard being an overpowering pitcher – and at times he can be – he’ll never all he can be until he lowers his pitch count and goes deeper into games.

The same applies to Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, and to a lesser extent, Jacob deGrom.

We’re only nine games into the season and the Mets have already had two days off and a rainout, so their bullpen has not been taxed despite the starters not working long innings.

However, eventually, the starters will have to do better than the six innings Syndergaard gave them in tonight’s 4-2 victory.

SNY TAKES SHOT AT JETER: SNY took a not-so-subtle jab at Miami figure-head owner Derek Jeter after the third inning when it ran a montage of departed Marlins stars Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna with a sentimental ballad in the background.

EXTRA INNINGS: Assuming nothing happens and Zack Wheeler starts Wednesday’s game at Miami, it will mark the first the Mets’ highly-touted rotation. … I realize Hansel Robles gave up a homer to Bryce Harper the other day, but overall, he’s pitched very well. I liked that Callaway went right back to him. … It might be time to give Yoenis Cespedes a day off.  He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including with the bases loaded.

Feb 27

Is Syndergaard Flaunting His Thordom?

We’re a week into spring training and already the Mets have a long list of nagging injuries. There’s no reason to be immediately concerned because it’s early in camp.

However, something I find more concerning is Noah Syndergaard topping 100 mph. in 11 of 22 pitches. Then he gave a shirtless interview. Flaunting his Thordom?

SYNDERGAARD: Radar gun waves red flag. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Radar gun waves flag. (AP)

Manager Mickey Callawaywhose resume highlights pitching – already cautioned Syndergaard about overthrowing and doing too much too soon.

We already know Syndergaard can throw 100 mph. And, we already know Syndergaard likes to do this his way, evidenced by him bulking up last winter and then tearing his lat muscle trying to blow away Bryce Harper.

“My heart might have been beating a little fast when I saw 100, 101,’’ Callaway told reporters. “But I look more at the delivery and if he’s trying to overthrow. He wasn’t doing any of that.’’

But, Syndergaard has to overthrow just once to re-injure himself.

It’s not unreasonable to wonder if Syndergaard didn’t learn from last season, and like Matt Harvey seems to be caught up in his comic book superhero persona.

I don’t want to get overwhelmed by negative thoughts this early in camp, but Mets’ history tells me Callaway would be better served by keeping a close eye on Syndergaard.

Also, concerning is Jacob deGrom, who is bothered with stiffness in his lower back. DeGrom threw today, but the Mets haven’t scheduled his next start. Callaway said today he’s not sure deGrom will be strong enough to be the Opening Day starter. We’ll know more in a week or so.

You had to figure Yoenis Cespedes’ name would pop up sooner or later on the Mets’ spring training injury list. I didn’t expect it would happen this soon.

Cespedes, who admitted to not throwing over the winter, has a sore right shoulder and is listed day-to-day.

“It gets like this because I spent the whole offseason without throwing a ball,’’ Cespedes said through an interpreter. “I am used to that so there’s no reason to be concerned.’’

It’s not unusual for a player who hasn’t thrown to come down with a sore shoulder early in camp. However, it is unusual for a player not to throw at all in the offseason.

The most serious injury is Dominic Smith’s strained right quad – an injury usually associated with Cespedes – but he’s not expected to even make the Opening Day roster.

Other injuries are Juan Lagares, who is day-to-day with a strained left hamstring, and Jay Bruce has plantar fasciitis.

The only injury that could be alarming is deGrom’s simply because it is a back and he’s their best pitcher.

However, if the Mets proceed cautiously, it’s early enough in camp for them to overcome.

 

Aug 15

Why Not Trade Grandy To Nationals Or Yankees?

If the Mets are hell bent on trading Curtis Granderson, and they can get something decent in return in the form of a prospect or not having to pay any part of the $4 million remaining on his salary, I have no problem with them dealing him to the Yankees or Nationals.

Why not?

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

The season is over and if what they get back can help the Mets, what’s the problem? What I think is stupid is the Mets possibly missing out on a deal for Granderson because they want him for the Subway Series.  Could that really be a reason not to trade him now?

Granderson will be a free agent after the season and said he’ll retire if he can’t find a good deal as a player. So, what are the odds he’ll come back to bite the Mets next year?

Relations with the Yankees are frigid at best following the Jay Bruce and Neil Walker trades, so that’s a long shot at best. However, with Bryce Harper out indefinitely, the Nationals have more of a need.

Of course, the Mets would rather not trade within the division, but they have already gotten their money’s worth out of Granderson’s four-year, $60-million contract, so why not?

It might be fun to see Granderson match up against Bruce in the World Series.

 

Apr 28

Mets Wrap: D’Arnaud, deGrom Combine To Defeat Nats

The Mets have long waited for Travis d’Arnaud to flex his muscles. He did so Friday night when he crushed two 420-foot-plus homers in a career-high five-RBI night to carry the Mets to a 7-5 badly-needed victory over the Nationals.

“We’ve seen him swing the bat, so we know what he can do,” manager Terry Collins said.

D'ARNAUD: Powers Mets with two homers. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Powers Mets with two homers. (AP)

D’Arnaud was facing Max Scherzer, who usually has his way against the Mets. Not what you’re looking for if you are to break out.

“I knew it was going to be tough against Scherzer,” d’Arnaud said. “I wanted to keep things as simple as I could.”

What’s more basic than a two-run homer in the second and a three-run blast in the fourth?

You might answer by saying have one of your stud pitchers gut out seven innings. That’s what Jacob deGrom did to earn his first victory of the season.

DeGrom, after Matt Harvey faltered in his last start and the uncertainty surrounding Noah Syndergaard, needed a big effort and was all grit in striking out 12 and giving up three runs in seven innings. It was the third straight game in which he struck out at least ten hitters.

If there was a moment of decision for deGrom, it came in the second. After being given a two-run lead on d’Arnaud’s homer in the top of the inning, deGrom coughed up the lead on a solo homer by Ryan Zimmerman and two-run drive by Matt Wieters.

After the inning deGrom stormed up the runway from the dugout to avoid what the cameras might capture.

“I need to put up a zero there,” deGrom said. “I can’t be doing that. After that, my goal was to continue to put up zeroes.”

DeGrom did that, including striking out Bryce Harper with a runner on base to end the fifth.

SYNDERGAARD TO START: Desperate for some positive news of any kind, the Mets hope they got some after Syndergaard said he felt great and expects to start Sunday at Washington.

Syndergaard missed his last start Wednesday against Atlanta with what the Mets called biceps tendinitis. There has been considerable speculation – including here – that Syndergaard would be placed on the disabled list and Sean Gilmartin would start Sunday.

“I should have started yesterday,” Syndergaard said prior to Friday’s game.

RIVERA SURFACES: Almost lost with Travis d’Arnaud’s muscles and deGrom’s grit, is T.J. Rivera, the former minor league batting champion, got a start at first base and contributed three hits and scored three runs.

The unconventional start of Rivera at first base sent Jay Bruce back to right field and Juan Lagares to the bench.

Rivera will undoubtedly start at first Saturday and could stay there until Lucas Duda returns from the disabled list.