Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.

 

 

 

Jun 14

Harvey Has Tired Arm

Mets manager Terry Collins turned to his pitching coach, Dan Warthen, in the third inning after a Matt Harvey pitch and asked, “What was that pitch?”

The radar gun read 89, and Warthen said he thought it was a slider, but wasn’t sure.

“Well, we better find out,” said Collins, who was concerned about his starter, who gave up back-to-back homers to Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ to open the game.

Warthen reported back, telling Collins it was a fastball, but Harvey also told him his arm felt tired. Collins decided to give Harvey at least another inning, which could have proven costly after Kyle Schwarber’s monster homer over the Shea Bridge.

The amateur diagnosis is a fatigued arm, or dead arm, but the Mets will get something more official after he’s examined Thursday.

“It’s pretty tired,” Harvey said of his arm. “My arm wasn’t working at all. It’s frustrating to be taken out that early. It’s very difficult. There’s been a lot of discomfort. It’s been pretty hard on me physically.”

Harvey threw 104 pitches in five scoreless innings in his last start, but gave up four runs on three homers in four innings in tonight’s 9-4 victory over the Cubs.

Things haven’t been easy for Harvey this year following thoracic outlet surgery last year. Harvey used to be overpowering, averaging at least one strikeout an inning, but has only 54 in 70.1 innings this season. He’s also given up 67 hits and 35 walks for a lofty 1.45 WHIP, and 16 homers in 13 starts.

GRANDERSON HITS MILESTONE: If there is a positive about Yoenis Cespedes’ lingering leg issues since coming off the disabled list, it is giving Curtis Granderson more playing time. After battling back to tie the game at 4-4, Granderson hit the 300th homer of his career to jumpstart the Mets’ five-run eighth.

TODAY’S INJURY: Expect Neil Walker to go on the disabled list Thursday with a hamstring pull.

 

 

 

Jun 02

Mets Wrap: Harvey Doesn’t Have It

After a rough start, the Mets’ Matt Harvey struck out five of six hitters to provide the illusion he might have turned things around. However, that stretch became the illusion to give credence to speculation his last start was more smoke than substance, if not a fluke.

It’s hard to believe Harvey’s 31-pitch first inning was his high point as he ended up giving up six runs on five hits and four walks in five innings in taking the loss in losing to Pittsburgh, 12-7, tonight at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Didn't have it. (AP)

HARVEY: Didn’t have it. (AP)

Once again, it was Harvey’s inability to locate his fastball and command his secondary pitches. In short, nothing worked for Harvey, now 4-3 with a 5.43 ERA.

“Last week he was so good,” said manager Terry Collins said. “There are times when you have to battle through it.”

Coming off thoracic outlet surgery, pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until mid-June at the earliest that Harvey would regain his velocity. Well, he’s topped out at 97 several times but was consistently in the low 90s tonight.

`My location wasn’t there,” Harvey said. “When you score seven runs you should win the game. … My location was off. I felt good (physically), but the location was off.”

However, regaining his pinpoint command has been another issue. It was clear in the first his command was off by the high pitch count, and further underscored by a leadoff walk and three runs given up in the fourth.

After Lucas Duda’s homer gave the Mets a lead for a second time, Harvey helped give it back again with a leadoff homer by Josh Bell and walk to Andrew McCutcheon in the sixth.

Why Collins let Harvey come out for the sixth is beyond me.

BULLPEN LOSES IT IN SIXTH: It’s hard to figure out what Collins was thinking as he left Paul Sewald in to struggle in the sixth inning as he retired only one of the eight hitters he faced.

Sewald gave up a single, two-run homer, infield hit, RBI double, single, hit a batter and issued a bases loaded walk.

Yeah, I know the Mets are short-handed in the bullpen, but one would think sometime before the walk to Bell to force in a run a light-bulb would have gone on in Collins’ head telling him Sewald didn’t have it tonight and short-handed or not, the Mets still had a game to win.

The Mets lead 7-5 going into the inning and trailed 11-7 when it was over.

Sewald should have been pulled after Elias Diaz’s homer (he drove in three with a bases-loaded double in the fourth off Harvey).

“It was one of those nights,” Sewald said. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I didn’t have my best fastball. I was struggling to get people out.”

Yeah, I get it, Collins doesn’t have many reliable relievers in the bullpen. Sewald was one of them before tonight.

“We were short tonight in the pen,” Collins said. “We didn’t want to burn too many guys in the pen. … He’s got to get us through the inning and he couldn’t do it.”

Now what?

If Collins doesn’t trust his relievers, then they shouldn’t be on the team, and that’s on GM Sandy Alderson.

DUDA’S POWER WASTED: Duda homered twice against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole giving him ten for the season.

Duda has been sizzling with six homers in his last eight games.

Too bad it was wasted.

 

May 23

Big Pitching Night Awaits Mets

Should the Mets put the brakes on their current slide, tonight might be circled as a potential turning point with regards to their battered starting rotation. Both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo will make minor league rehab starts, but the headliner will be Matt Harvey’s first home start since he was suspended for blowing off a workout the day before a start.

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

The hope is Matz and Lugo will replace Tommy Milone and Robert Gsellman in the rotation, and the vision the Mets always held for Harvey will finally emerge with no more health questions, or for that matter, no more diva issues.

Harvey alluded as much to that: “It’ll be good to go out and concentrate on the game plan that we go over before the game instead of thinking I have to stay with a certain mechanic. … We’ve figured out what I need to do and now it’s just about going out and executing pitches.’’

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until the end of May or early June when his velocity would return for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Harvey is throwing hard again, but his command has been off and there hasn’t been an edge to his game.

The Mets were to be defined by their pitching, and they have – it has been the single biggest disappointment to this season to date.

Warthen said the current issue for Harvey (2-3, 5.56 ERA) is mechanics, ranging from arm slots to his timing. In his last start at Arizona, Harvey gave up three runs with five strikeouts, but four walks.

The returns of Matz and Lugo could carry significant weight, even more if one of them eventually replaces Harvey.

May 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.