Jun 18

DeGrom Carries Mets Again

With his father and son watching, Jacob deGrom had one of those dream games when he smacked his first career home run and dominated the Washington Nationals. The win prevented the Mets from being swept and temporarily stopped what could be a free fall.

Whether competing for a pennant, a wild card, or just trying to reach .500, a team needs a stud pitcher.

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

Sandy Koufax once told me that if you’re going to win you need a pitcher who is 12 games over .500,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You have to have that kind of guy. Jake is here to win.”

DeGrom has pitched back-to-back stellar starts after back-to-back stinkers in which he gave up 15 runs. DeGrom followed up his complete-game against the Cubs by going eight innings today, giving up one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

He’s given up one earned run in 17 innings after solving his mechanical issue of flying open and throwing across his body.

“I was able to keep my front side close,’’ was how deGrom explained what’s been working for him. “I was able to locate [my change-up] on both sides of the plate.’’

At 6-3, I don’t know if deGrom will finish 12 games over .500, but he’s pitching like an ace. Some pitchers when they struggle can’t turn it around, but deGrom seemingly has fixed his problems.

That’s what aces do.

With the Mets heading on a brutal trip to Los Angeles (four games), San Francisco (three) and Miami (three) represent ten games that could define their season.

DeGrom’s win comes before the Mets face Clayton Kershaw Monday to start a four-game series against the Dodgers. This has the potential to be an ugly week, and stopping losing streaks is also the definition of an ace.

CESPEDES RESTS: Twice Saturday Yoenis Cespedes legged out infield hits and went from first to third on singles. He also scored on a sacrifice fly and made running catch down the line on a fly ball. That proves his hamstring didn’t bother him yesterday, but it’s the day after that is important.

“I’m more concerned with fatigue and some of the other things that have happened in the past,’’ Collins said.

When they brought Cespedes off the disabled list, they did so with a plan. And, for once they stuck with their plan.

Too many times the Mets abandoned a plan with a player and he later was reinjured.

A struggling team like the Mets needs all the help it can get, but they did the right thing this time.

A SPOT FOR REYES: With Asdrubal Cabrera expected off the disabled list shortly, we’ll be seeing less and less of Jose Reyes at shortstop. And, as long as T.J. Rivera keeps hitting – four more hits today – he should play third base – or someplace, every day.

“He keeps getting hits,’’ Collins said. “He has to play.’’

Conversely, Reyes went 0-for-5 today to see his batting average drop to .193 and his on-base percentage to .269.

For now, Wilmer Flores must stay at second and Rivera on third. So, when Cabrera returns, Reyes has to go to the bench.

EXTRA INNINGS: With a ninth-inning double, Daniel Murphy has reached base in each of the 29 games he’s played against his former team. Murphy is batting .391 with ten doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI vs. Mets. … With the win the Mets are now 1-6 vs. Washington at Citi Field. …  Michael Conforto showed breakout signs with two hits and two RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets begin a season-defining stretch of playing 16 of their next 19 games on the road tomorrow night in Los Angeles when Zack Wheeler starts against Kershaw.

Jun 15

Mets Routed; Injuries Mount

The Mets aren’t fooling anybody with their new philosophy about not projecting how much time injured players could miss.

In placing Matt Harvey (stress injury to the scapula bone in his shoulder) and Neil Walker (partially torn left hamstring) on the 10-day disabled list, the Mets said they would each miss several weeks.

Figure at least a month before beginning baseball activities, and then add rehab time, so I’m guessing five to six weeks. Both players received platelet-rich plasma injections.

The Mets said they won’t begin rehab until pain-free, which is not what they did with Yoenis Cespedes. As if things weren’t bad enough, outfielder Juan Lagares – one of the few Mets who is hitting – fractured his left thumb attempting a diving catch.

Walker’s injury again raised the question of bringing up Amed Rosario, but GM Sandy Alderson again reiterated the intent is when he is brought up it will be for the long term and not a short fix.

In addition, Alderson said Noah Syndergaard won’t throw for at least four more weeks.

THE GAME: Once again the Mets gave up a first-inning homer – this time to Bryce Harper – but were actually in the game until the Nationals broke it open with a five-run fifth off Robert Gsellman and coasted to an 8-3 rout.

As usual, they couldn’t touch Gio Gonzalez, who increased his record to 10-1 lifetime at Citi Field.

Jun 13

Today’s Question: Is Cespedes Available?

The obvious question is will the Mets place Yoenis Cespedes back on the disabled list? Since the Mets don’t think the same way I do, it won’t happen.

While Cespedes’ left hamstring is clearly not 100 percent – he admitted as such when he came off the DL – he left last night’s game in the fifth inning with a sore left heel.

CESPEDES: Can't stay healthy. (AP)

CESPEDES: Can’t stay healthy. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes is scheduled to play tonight against left-hander Jon Lester, but it will depend on how he feels when he reports to Citi Field.

So, that leaves us with the question: Will Cespedes play tonight?

I’m guessing he won’t, which would be the smart decision considering he can’t run and the Mets have to baby him and don’t know from day to day whether he’ll play.

Compounding the Mets’ outfield is Michael Conforto didn’t play last night because of back stiffness and is questionable for tonight.

Jun 12

Mets Wrap: DeGrom Turns In Gem

It appears the real Jacob deGrom has been found. Backed by three home runs and four double plays, deGrom dominated the Cubs, 6-1, in the second complete game of his career.

“This was definitely big,” deGrom said. “I struggled in those last two starts, but I had to put that behind me.”

DE GROM: Resurfaces with gem. (AP)

DE GROM: Resurfaces with gem. (AP)

DeGrom gave up 15 runs in his previous two starts and concluded his front shoulder was flying open, a flaw he corrected by tucking his glove against his hip on the delivery to the plate.

“I was trying to stay within myself and not do too much. I concentrated on keeping the ball down and trying to get groundballs.”

Of the 27 outs, deGrom got 17 on the ground, including 4-6-3 double plays in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

DeGrom was in such command that the only question was whether manager Terry Collins would let him go nine. He had 106 pitches through eight and needed only ten in the ninth to finish his masterpiece.

“[I came in after the eighth inning] and said I wanted to finish,” said deGrom, who gave up one run on five hits and four walks with six strikeouts.

CABRERA MAKES STATEMENT: With two homers, Asdrubal Cabrera made a statement he’s not done yet.

Cabrera’s defense has been shaky – he committed another error tonight – but he made two sparkling plays Sunday. He also made a scintillating play in the seventh inning when he made a sliding, backhanded play to throw out Javier Baez.

The Mets needed a replay challenge to get the out, which turned out to be important because the next hitter, Addison Russell, homered.

CESPEDES NOT READY: The Mets have to baby Yoenis Cespedes as it is clear he wasn’t ready to come off the disabled list. He left the game in the fifth with a sore left heel.

He’s been told not to run hard if he thinks he will be out, and the Mets have to give him extra rest, which means they’ll have to play shorthanded.

Collins said Cespedes is scheduled to play tomorrow night, but my guess is he will sit.

The Mets’ best move would be to put Cespedes back on the disabled list for another two weeks. Better that than have him reinjure his hamstring and have him miss at least a month.

METS DRAFT LEFTY: With the 20th selection in the amateur draft, the Mets selected Oregon lefthander David Peterson.

Peterson, 6-6 and 240 pounds, went 11-4 with a 2.51 ERA this season, and had a 20-strikeout game against Arizona State. Overall, he had 140 strikeouts and 125 walks in 100.1 innings.

“He has been a tremendous man since he stepped foot on campus,” Oregon coach George Horton told The Register-Guard. “I always feel blessed as a coach to be around quality humans like him and when they perform spectacularly like that to go with what kind of a young man he is, that’s great. I hope everything goes well for him in the draft, and he gets what he wants because he deserves everything he gets.”

EXTRA INNINGS: With a double and homer, Bruce is on pace to have 84 extra-base hits this season which would set a club record. Bruce also added an eighth-inning single. … The Mets have beaten the Cubs in seven straight games at Citi Field.

UP NEXT: Zack Wheeler (3-3, 3.45, 1-0, 1.35 ERA lifetime vs Cubs) gets the ball tonight. Wheeler is 8-13 with a 4.38 lifetime at Citi Field. … He is coming off a no-decision in his last start despite giving up one run in seven innings last Wednesday against the Rangers.

 

Jun 12

Today’s Question: Which DeGrom Will We Get?

Jacob deGrom is the Mets’ unquestioned ace despite his sluggish start and even before Noah Syndergaard was injured. Where Syndergaard was determined to overpower hitters, deGrom could throw heat, yet set up the batter.

At least he could do it with greater consistency than Syndergaard.

DeGROM: Who will we get? (AP)

DeGROM: Who will we get? (AP)

In their last five starts – which does not include deGrom – Mets’ starters have given up three runs in 32.2 innings. In comparison, deGrom is coming off the worst start of the season, giving up eight runs in four innings. That wasn’t an aberration as he’s given up 15 runs in his last two starts.

“We have to fix Jake,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have to get him going.”

So, the question: What deGrom will we get? Will we get the guy who is 17-12 with a 2.17 ERA in 43 career starts at Citi Field or the pitcher who is 4-3 with a 4.75 ERA this season and 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in four regular-season starts lifetime against the Cubs.

DeGrom has been susceptible to the long ball and already five times this year has given up multiple home runs. DeGrom is also walking more hitters than ever before, 30 in 70.2 innings. He’s had games of six walks and two where he issued five.

DeGrom said his problems have been mechanical, claiming his shoulder is flying open too soon and he’s throwing across his body.