Jun 23

Mets Should Break Out Kid Gloves With Syndergaard

Just because the Mets received positive news with Noah Syndergaard doesn’t mean they should press their luck. Syndergaard was pulled from Wednesday’s game with tightness in his pitching elbow, news testily blurted out by clearly irritated manager Terry Collins.

SYNDERGAARD: Be careful with him. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Be careful with him. (AP)

A MRI at the Hospital of Special Surgery showed no structural damage, but the Mets aren’t saying his availability for Monday in Washington. Why is this even a question, similar to him pitching in the All-Star Game?

He threw a season-high 115 pitches in his previous start and his pitch-count in comparison to innings worked has been relatively high this season. The prudent thing would be to skip Monday to keep him fresh for the Cubs.

Is this a knee-jerk reaction? I don’t think so, considering this is the second time this season he’s been examined for elbow tightness. There’s nothing to be gained by pushing the envelope. It is better to miss a start now than possibly miss a lot of starts in the second half.

As for the All-Star Game? Sure it’s a big deal for him personally, but it was also a big thing for Matt Harvey in 2013 when he insisted on pitching – with the team’s blessing – after complaining of a tight forearm. Does anybody need to be reminded of what happened?

As for Yoenis Cespedes, well, he has a mild sprain of his left wrist that required a cortisone injection. He’ll miss a few days, but should miss the disabled list. Zack Wheeler was also examined and diagnosed with sensory nerve irritation in his elbow. He also took a cortisone injection and will resume throwing when he’s able.

It was a scary day on the injury front for the Mets, but they received the best news possible. They were lucky, but hopefully they’ll be smart enough not to push their luck with Syndergaard. Time to walk away from the table now and regroup for later.

Jun 12

Things Better Change Quickly For Mets

Last week I asked if there was a reason to be concerned with the Mets, but stopped short of saying they were in trouble. I’m not stopping short any longer. If the season ended today the Mets would make the playoffs as the second wild card, but there are more than a few reasons to believe they aren’t heading in the right direction.

MATZ: Roughed up Sunday. (Getty)

MATZ: Roughed up Sunday. (Getty)

There’s plenty of season left to turn things around, but also enough time has gone by to conclude despite their young pitching – and Bartolo Colon – that if there’s not a reversal soon the playoffs many of us took for granted on Opening Day might not happen.

Following their 15-7 April, including Sunday’s 5-3 loss in Milwaukee the Mets have gone 19-21. They are 4.5 games behind Washington, and one of seven teams lumped under the 4.5-game umbrella of wild-contenders.

Teams will lose, but the Mets didn’t play well during their 5-5 road trip. They weren’t just beaten, they beat themselves. On Sunday, they had breakdowns in all phases: 1) Steven Matz was roughed up in his second straight start; 2) the defense committed three errors and could have had a fourth; and 3) and their hitters struck out ten times and went 2-for-9 with RISP.

April’s storyline was the Mets’ propensity for hitting homers, but more importantly in their 62 games they have scored three or fewer runs in half (31) of them. That’s an alarming number. Overall, they are hitting .214 with RISP; and average around nine strikeouts and close to the same in runners left on base in a game.

Nine strikeouts mean in three innings they did not put the ball in play. For all those who don’t give credence to strikeouts as an important statistic, it is time to get a clue. Not putting the ball in play means no chance for hits; no chance to reach on an error; no sacrifice flies; and no productive outs to put runners in scoring position.

A positive note is Matt Harvey seems to have turned it around, but could that be offset by Matz’s two straight stinkers? And, Jacob deGrom hasn’t won in his last seven starts. The bullpen, so positive in April, is showing cracks. Closer Jeurys Familia is far from a sure thing. Their most reliable reliever is Addison Reed; with everybody else you hold your breath.

Injuries are a concern with David Wright, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud on the disabled list. They could get d’Arnaud back in a week or so, but he wasn’t hitting or throwing runners out on the bases before he got hurt. Michael Conforto has a sore wrist and is in a dreadful slump; Neil Walker has a tight lower back; and Juan Lagares has an injured left thumb.

The upcoming schedule is brutal as from now until the All-Star break they have three more games with Pittsburgh; two against Kanas City; three with the Marlins; four against the Cubs and seven with the Nationals. Beginning Tuesday, the Mets start a stretch of 26 games in 27 days.

Seriously, there’s a chance the trade deadline could be moot.

The Mets can get on a hot streak, turn things around and maybe add a couple of pieces just as they did last season. However, since the end of April we’ve seen precious few signs of that happening.

There’s reason for concern, and yes, they are in trouble.

Jun 08

What’s Your Concern Level For Mets?

We know the Mets aren’t playing well, but are they in trouble? They have coughed and sputtered for the past six weeks, and if not for their outstanding starting pitching, they could have conceivably fallen back to .500 if not below.

So what’s your concern level with the Mets?

In addition to a month-long hitting funk, there have been injuries and bullpen lapses. For all their home runs, this team hasn’t hit with runners in scoring position, has a low on-base percentage and strikes out way too much.

I liked reacquiring Kelly Johnson, but considering the depth of their offensive funk he won’t be enough.

For the most part the pitching has been good, but their three top starters came away empty in Pittsburgh.

Last season the Mets’ hitting slump began around this time before the overhaul that brought in Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Juan Uribe and Johnson at the trade deadline.

It remains to be seen what GM Sandy Alderson can accomplish before July 31. The next month should tell the Mets what they might get from Lucas Duda and David Wright in the second half and the level of urgency for Alderson to deal.

It’s premature to say the Mets can’t get back to the World Series, but it isn’t too early to draw the conclusion from now until All-Star break can be very telling as they have three more games with Pittsburgh; two against Kanas City; three with the Marlins; four against the Cubs and seven with the Nationals.

In trouble? Not yet, but there is cause for concern.

Jun 02

Mets’ May Review And Looking At June

Considering all that went wrong for the Mets in May, ranging from key injuries to slumps to Matt Harvey’s horrendous pitching, they were lucky finish the month at 14-15 and two games behind Washington.

The Mets ended the month by losing four series, but they enter June with the expected news third baseman David Wright will be placed on the disabled list for an extended period with a herniated disk in his neck.

CESPEDES: Mets May MVP. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets May MVP. (AP)

June starts with a ten-game road trip, beginning with consecutive three-game series at Miami and Pittsburgh, places where they have struggled. It ends with four games in Milwaukee.

Noah Syndergaard (5-2), Bartolo Colon (4-3) and Harvey (4-7) will start against the Marlins.

MAY MVP

It has to go to the only batter who hit with any consistency, which would be Yoenis Cespedes, who hit .342 with eight homers and 14 RBI for the month. Making that more impressive is he’s entering the Miami series on a 1-for-22 (.045) slide. It should also be noted Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda and Wright didn’t offer much protection.

PITCHER OF THE MONTH

Despite spitting the bit in his last start, Steven Matz was named the NL Rookie of the Month by going 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA for the month. He leads all rookie pitchers with seven victories, a 2.60 ERA and 53 strikeouts.

KEY GAME OF THE MONTH

There were several notable games and moments, beginning with Colon’s homer in San Diego and Harvey’s hoped-for turnaround victory on Monday. However, there’s really only one game that ratcheted everybody’s emotions, and that was when Syndergaard threw out Mets’ nemesis Chase Utley. Syndergaard was ejected in the in the third inning which disrupted the Mets’ bullpen for a week and Utley responded with two homers, including a grand slam.

KEY MOVE OF THE MONTH

The Mets had several options as what to do with the frustrated and struggling Harvey, but opted to give him one more start. Harvey responded by pitching the Mets to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox.

RED FLAG ENDURED

After losing Travis d’Arnaud to the disabled list, but Mets brought up catcher Rene Rivera, who has been impressive with his defense and throwing.

KEY ISSUE RESOLVED

The Mets traded for James Loney to replace Duda, who went on the disabled list with a back issue.

HEALTH ISSUES

Wright will be on the disabled list with a herniated disk for an indefinite length of time. … Duda and d’Arnaud are on the DL with no timetable for their return. … Hansel Robles has a sprained ankle.

SIX QUESTIONS RAISED

Will they generate any offense outside of hitting home runs?

How long will they be without Wright, Duda and d’Arnaud and can their replacements pick up the slack?

Will the new guys, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, keep hitting?

Was Harvey’s start Monday a fluke or a sign of things to come?

Can the bullpen pull itself out of its funk?

BY THE NUMBERS

1-4: Harvey’s record for May.

3-3: Record in May vs. Nationals.

5: Homers given up by Robles this season.

5: Third baseman used so far.

6: Extra-base hits by Conforto for May.

33: Strikeouts by Curtis Granderson in May.

.208: Mets’ average with RISP.

3.56: Bullpen ERA in May after it was 2.71 in April.

LOOKING AT JUNE’S SCHEDULE

It begins with ten games on the road, including three at Pittsburgh, where they have not played well. Perhaps Walker can catch a Penguins’ game.

They return home for three games each the Pirates and Braves, and two against World Series opponent Kansas City.

They end the month with four games in Atlanta and three more in Washington, before starting a four-game series at home against the Cubs that extends into July.

Apr 01

Matz Putting It Together At Right Time

The one pitching Met I was most concerned with appears to have pulled it together, and that’s Steven Matz, who pitched five hitless innings in an 8-1 rout of the Cubs that snapped a 14-game winless streak.

Matz struck out six and walked two, and there were no comments after questioning his stamina or conditioning.

“This is definitely a good way to go into the season,’’ Matz told reporters. “My slider was working and it’s definitely something I’m going to be using. I’m definitely getting to where I need to be.’’

However, “getting to,’’ isn’t exactly “being there,’’ and it should be pointed out starters are expected to work at least six innings and possibly seven in their final tune-up.

Matz threw 73 pitches, which won’t do in his first start. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom threw 71 pitches in a minor league game in Port St. Lucie.

All Mets starters operated under a reduced workload in spring training. It took awhile for Matz to come around, but Matt Harvey had a miserable spring. Manager Terry Collins said he won’t be concerned until the games count, and that will be Sunday with Harvey.

After the game, the Mets finalized their Opening Day roster with Kevin Plawecki being the last position player and relievers Jim Henderson and Logan Verrett rounding out the staff.