Oct 26

Five Keys For Mets To Win

It is the day before the start of the World Series and who would have guessed I’d be previewing the Mets? I certainly wouldn’t have, but damn, isn’t this great?

FIVE KEYS FOR METS

FIVE KEYS

This is the Mets’ fifth trip to the World Series, and they’ve only been favored once, in 1986 against Boston. This time they are a pick `em against the Royals.

If the following are answered in the positive, there could be another parade down the Canyon of Heroes:

Pair of Aces: Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom go in the first two games and should be well rested. Sure, the Mets can lose both and come back to win, but those odds would be long. One of them has to win if the Mets are to win.

A Murphy-type stretch is needed: If not Daniel Murphy, then somebody needs to get hot. Nobody knows how the layoff will affect Murphy. Maybe it will be Lucas Duda, or David Wright, or Wilmer Flores. Whoever it is, somebody must turn it on.

Overcoming the aches and pains: Harvey has a bruise in the back of his throwing arm; Curtis Granderson has a jammed thumb; Yoenis Cespedes has a strained shoulder.

Building the bullpen bridge: The Mets have had to use Bartolo Colon to get to Jeurys Familia. The bullpen bridge from the starters to the closer hasn’t been strong. The Mets’ bullpen is not as strong as Kansas City’s and that will undoubtedly come into play. If the Royals are winning by the sixth inning that will be difficult for the Mets to overcome.

Shutting down the Royals early: Much has been made of Kansas City’s speed, ability to put the ball into play, and, of course, hit the long ball. The Royals’ offense is more balanced than Chicago’s, and their hitters aren’t intimidated by the Mets’ hard throwers.

There other variables, such as adjusting on the fly to an injury; coming from behind, which they never had to do against the Cubs; dealing with poor weather and bad calls; how nerves will come into play; and what happens when a key player goes cold.

The Mets have been a team of resiliency all season. They need to be that way just four more times.

Oct 22

2015 NLCS Recap: Mets Never Gave The Cubs A Chance

MLB: NLCS-New York Mets at Chicago Cubs

There were a several times this season when it didn’t look as if this would be a Mets’ summer. Through injuries, slumps and innings-limit controversies, this was going to be another long season.

However, Wilmer Flores’ tears told us why he wanted to remain a Met and why he loved this team like we do. A few days later GM Sandy Alderson brought in Yoenis Cespedes and the clubhouse was infused with an energy the Mets hadn’t known since 2006, the last time they played meaningful games in October.

“Are you kidding me?’’ said David Wright, who long after the final out in Wednesday night’s 8-3 victory to complete their NLCS sweep of the Cubs, went back to the field to slap hands with Mets’ fans who made the trip to Wrigley Field.

“I can’t describe the emotions going through me. We got tested this year. We were the underdogs against the Dodgers. We were underdogs against the Cubs. But, we made it. I can’t wait for the World Series to begin.’’

Here’s how the Mets reached their fifth World Series in franchise history to become Amazin’ Again.

GAME ONE: Harvey Shines In Opener

There’s something about Matt Harvey that makes you shake your head, then smile and say “I’m so glad he’s a Met.’’ Harvey wasn’t pleased with his Game 3 performance in the NLDS against Los Angeles, but worked into the eighth inning to stifle the Cubs, 4-2, and after the game, said: “I wanted this game bad.’’ Harvey got support from Daniel Murphy, who continued his torrid postseason with another home run.

GAME TWO: Murphy’s Homer Tees Off On Arrieta

Murphy homered in his fourth straight playoff game – who would have thought it? – to back the strong pitching of Noah Syndergaard in a 4-1 victory in a felt-like-snowy night at Citi Field. Murphy’s homer continued his pulverization of the game’s best pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and now Jake Arrieta. “We’re having a whole bunch of fun right now,’’ said Murphy, whose fun would continue in Chicago.

GAME THREE: DeGrom Brilliant Again; Ditto For Murphy

If the Cubs were to get back into the NLCS, it would have to be in the first game at Wrigley Field, but as he did against the Dodgers, Jacob deGrom labored but would not crack in the Mets’ 5-2 victory. The odds of the Cubs coming back 0-3 seemed as long as Murphy hitting another home run, but he did again for the fifth straight game.

GAME FOUR: Mets Dominate In All Phases

It could be said manager Terry Collins gambled this game when he started rookie Steven Matz on the mound and stuck with the slumping Lucas Duda at first base. Collins was rewarded as Matz gave up one run and Duda drove in five runs on three hits in an 8-3 rout. There’s hot, sizzling and Murphy hot, and the much maligned second baseman had four more hits, including a homer for a record sixth straight game and was named the NLCS MVP. Murphy hit 14 homers during the regular season and seven so far in the playoffs. Tyler Clippard called Murphy’s performance other worldly. Unbelievable.

mets win nlcs

Thoughts from Metsmerized Online’s Joe D. 

What began in Spring Training with all the unabashed talk that the team considered themselves pennant contenders that were to be taken seriously, much of it falling on deaf and unbelieving ears, ended on  Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with the team accomplishing what they said they’d do. And now the next stop is the World Series as they await their venue, Kansas City or Toronto.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have beheld it all and witness how they navigated, ever so gracefully, through a maze of adversity, controversy and battling the ghosts of past collapses. To the unbelieving masses, they were never taken seriously, always shrouded in doubt and never getting the accolades early on that they so richly deserved.

While it may appear that the NLCS was won by one man in Daniel Murphy, he would be the first to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. This incredible series win was an all hands on deck effort and there were many who rose to the occasion.

Matt Harvey set the tone in Game 1 when he laid down the gauntlet that would become the recurring theme throughout the series and in many ways it’s defining subplot – and that is the superb pitching performances by all four young flame-throwers that comprised the Mets starting rotation.

Sure the Mets scored 21 runs in the series, but our pitching held the Cubs to just 8 runs in four games. Furthermore, at no point did they ever allow Chicago to play with a lead. Talk about putting the pressure on… The Mets became the first team in NLCS history to sweep a series without ever trailing in a single game. Tremendous.

Another notable hero was closer Jeurys Familia who pitched in all four games and saved a franchise record three of them. In fact, the bullpen as a whole was stupendous. Along with Familia, Bartolo Colon, Addison Reed and Jon Niese combined for 8.0 scoreless innings out of the 36.0 total innings tossed in the series.

And even though the Mets left Eric Young Jr. off the roster, the Mets stole seven bases in this series, more than any other team in the postseason. There was a lot of guts and guile from Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes on the basepaths throughout the series, and some sparkling defense to go with it as well. Superb defensive play from David Wright and Lucas Duda was expected, but standout plays by Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto did not go unnoticed.

In a word, the Mets were relentless. They never let up once and just kept piling on. Joe Maddon and the Cubs never had a chance, This was a total team effort and one for all of us to be proud of. I tip my cap to all 25 players  as well as the manager and his coaches, for an amazing achievement and memorable series that none of us will ever forget. I can hardly wait to see where their journey takes us next. Let’s Go Mets!

2015 world series logo banner

Oct 18

Mets Lineup, Game 2 NLCS

The Mets can take a commanding 2-0 lead over the Cubs in the NLCS with a victory tonight at what will be a cold Citi Field. Here’s the lineup they’ll put out against Chicago’s Jake Arietta:

Curtis Granderson, RF

David Wright, 3B

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Yoenis Cespedes, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Travis d’Arnaud, C

Michael Conforto, LF

Wilmer Flores, SS

Noah Syndergaard, RHP

ON DECK:  Syndergaard can give Mets commanding edge

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Jul 17

Oddsmakers, And Numbers, Don’t Like Mets

Last year’s National League champions, San Francisco, won 88 games to qualify as a wild-card entry. For the Mets to win that many games, they must go 41-32, nine games over .500.

Oddsmakers have the Mets at 33-1 to win the World Series, this after being 25-1 on July 1. Evidently, that four-game winning streak entering the break carried little goodwill.

We shall see what the Mets are made of after the first three series of the second half – at St. Louis and Washington, and home to the Dodgers.

The Mets are stacking their rotation for the Washington series, with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. And, since Syndergaard goes tonight at St. Louis, it computes to the five-man rotation.

That means Harvey will get his way, for at least for the near future. You wanted it big boy, now just pitch.

“For us to stay in this race, we’ve got to beat Washington,’’ said Collins. “That is why we aligned the rotation the way we did.’’

Sure, the Washington games are important, but if the Mets lose in St. Louis but beat the Nationals, what have they gained?

The bottom line is all the games are important to the Mets, who will attempt to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, but with an offense ranked 28th in scoring at 310 runs, which is roughly 3.5 a game.

With a 3.23 ERA, there is virtually no margin for error, and making it all the more difficult is there’s no imminent help on the horizon, whether from outside the organization; in the minor leagues; or from the return of the injured David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets’ primary competition for the wild-card at Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Francisco. They currently trail the Pirates and Cubs, but are one game up on the Giants. Also, all three teams are .500 or better on the road while the Mets have been dismal away from home. And, of course, the Giants have a championship pedigree.

GM Sandy Alderson has taken heat, and deservedly so, for not being aggressive in the trade market.

He did an admirable job cutting payroll and jettisoning the likes of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and others, but somewhere in his contract his job description there needs to be a clause about putting a winning team on the field, not a cheap one.

Jul 12

Nieuwenhuis Powers Mets Into Break On High Note

The Mets couldn’t have asked for a better April, and couldn’t have had a better stretch heading into the All-Star break. After losing their first two games of the month to the Cubs, with their sweep of the Diamondbacks completed today the Mets cruised into the break by winning three straight series.

Who saw that coming?

NIEUWENHUIS: Who would have guessed this? (AP)

NIEUWENHUIS: Who would have guessed this? (AP)

They did it with stellar starting pitching, and believe it or not, another barrage of power. Today, it was Kirk Nieuwenhuis hitting three homers. In the first two games of the series Lucas Duda found his homer stroke.

The Mets enter the break in second place, two games behind Washington and five games over .500. I would have signed on for that in a heartbeat coming out of spring training, and I’m sure most of you would have done so also.

There are two schools of thought about the Mets’ situation heading into the second half:

1) The Mets are where they are for the most part without David Wright, little offensive production overall and an erratic first-half from Matt Harvey. Given that, the Mets are right there and should go for it by making a bold trade.

2) Since they are close, they should keep the status quo and hope for Wright and Travis d’Arnaud to come back.

Can you guess which option GM Sandy Alderson is most apt to take?

Alderson is taking a “wait and see,’’ tact regarding trades, saying the market hasn’t yet defined itself. Entering the break, there are 12 teams that are seven games or less out of first place. Subsequently, there are 12 teams – plus the six division leaders – who believe they are in contention, and that includes the Mets.

The Mets are close, but not in the money if the playoffs started coming out of the break.

By extension, these teams are considered buyers at the deadline. But, are they really? With more and more teams trying to hold out for more – and teams such the Mets who are prone to want to fleece the opposition – there could be limited activity at the end of the month.

I’m expecting the Mets not to do anything substantial at the deadline, but that would be a mistake. The Mets are close despite a myriad of injuries, but also because Washington has been crippled and not played well.

Injuries are always a wild card and we don’t know what to expect next season. Will Washington be healthy? What key Met could be injured? Will the Braves be better? We don’t know. We do know the Mets are this close in large part because they won 11 straight games in April. They can’t count on that again.

I think Alderson should go for it, because we never know what will happen in the future.