May 28

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation Proof They Didn’t Get It Right With Harvey Initially

While some are giving the Mets kudos for the inventiveness of going to a six-man rotation, they are doing so to protect Matt Harvey and his surgically-repaired money elbow. More to the point, they are doing it because they didn’t properly calculate a program to monitor his innings in the first pace.

The Mets entered the season with a “play it by ear” approach with Harvey, but it didn’t take long to second-guess several decisions by manager Terry Collins, and yes, to take some jabs at the young star.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

First, they let him pitch with a strep throat, when Collins should have told Harvey to stay home. However, Harvey wanted to pitch that day – of course, he did – and left the impression he wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer, which is to paraphrase Collins.

Starting him was bad enough. Letting him pitch into the seventh that day compounded matters.

When they had a chance to rest Harvey, the Mets spit the bit. Soon it would bite them in the butt.

Entering the season, part of the Mets’ “play it by ear,” plan was to take advantage of one-sided games to give Harvey a few innings off. But, when they could have pulled him after seven in a blowout win over the Yankees, he pushed the envelope because he wanted the complete game.

Collins, of course, caved.

What followed were back-to-back no-decision games for Harvey in which the bullpen coughed up 1-0 leads. Obviously, with benefit if hindsight the Mets would rather have had Harvey pitch longer in those games than stay in for a few more innings in a meaningless game against the Yankees.

Then Harvey was hammered in the worst start of his career and Collins thought he had a “tired arm.”

The goal, said pitching coach Dan Warthen, is to have the pitchers make 30 starts over the course of the year instead of 34.

The fatal flaw to this plan is pitchers are creatures of habit and it is difficult to jump into this format in midstream, a move that has all the pitchers annoyed to some degree.

At the start of spring training, I wrote the Mets should map out Harvey’s starts from April through September with a definitive idea of how many innings he would throw in each start. Well, the Mets didn’t want to do that because they didn’t want to come across as having a leash on Harvey, an idea he despised.

However, in the end it looks as if they will have to do what they should have done in the first place.

There’s a saying the smart carpenter measures twice but saws once. However, the Mets come across as Gilligan trying to build a grass hut.

May 26

All The Numbers Add Up To Good News For Harvey

Matt Harvey topped out at 96 mph., Saturday when the Mets were routed in Pittsburgh. That velocity belied manager Terry Collins‘ guess of a tired arm, which often it the first choice of those who really don’t know.

So far, everything adds up to just a bad start.

HARVEY: Encouraging news.  (AP)

HARVEY: Encouraging news. (AP)

Harvey, who is coming off a career-worst seven-run hammering at the hands of the Pirates, had his normal between-starts throw-day today, and left without saying anything. This normally could be interpreted as troubling news, but pitching coach Dan Warthen said things went well.

Why would Warthen say that if it weren’t true?

To date, Harvey has not been seen by an orthopedic specialist, nor has he had X-Rays or an MRI – at least the Mets aren’t reporting such – so all that has to be looked at in a positive light.

Harvey will be working with an extra day of rest Friday because the Mets are off Thursday, but if Collins is sure something was wrong with his pitcher’s arm, it would be a no-brainer to totally skip him.

So, unless the Mets are concealing something, it all adds up to Harvey stinking up the joint last Saturday. It happens.

 

Apr 14

Mets Game Thread: Harvey Off His Game

Matt Harvey looking rather ordinary after starting this game with back-to-back strikeouts. His command has been off despite the seven strikeouts, throwing it into that “sweet spot’’ zone to the lefty hitters.

Chase Utley’s drive was a hard slap in the face, but he’s done that to a lot of Mets’ pitchers.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Even so, Harvey has not been sharp, and not very smart, either. OK, you want to stand up for your hitters, but you with a runner in scoring position you don’t throw behind Utley.

It was so blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner moved up, and Utley got to hit with a runner on third?

No way Dan Warthen told him to hit Utley. Harvey did that on his own, and it allowed Philadelphia an opportunity to take the lead.

Plus, why take the chance jump starting the Phillies? First and foremost you want to win the game. Harvey will deny it after the game, but he was wrong there.

Offensively, you have to be thrilled with Lucas Duda, who jumped on that first pitch with that quick stroke on a breaking ball. Maybe last year he would have taken that pitch.

Michael Cuddyer is out of the game after being hit by a pitch. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in. It’s a close game and you have to wonder if having a thin bench will come back and bite them on butt.

Mets 5, Phillies 3 (5th)

 

Mar 28

Murphy, Black Should Open Season On DL

It’s getting to be time for the Mets where they must start seriously thinking about their Opening Day roster and whom might be on the disabled list. While there’s nothing official, the Mets are holding out hope for Daniel Murphy (right hamstring) and reliever Vic Black (right shoulder) to be ready.

Seems like wishful thinking.

MURPHY: Should open on DL.  (AP)

MURPHY: Should open on DL. (AP)

The Mets backed off a little Friday on Murphy when they said he would only play in minor league games next week. The Mets can backdate the injury that way and the most he would miss are the season’s first six days. However, if they played him in a major league exhibition game and was injured, the clock would start at the time of the injury.

There’s no point in pushing Murphy, especially considering the nature of his injury. It will be cold in April and hamstrings don’t respond well when it’s frigid.

It’s a no-brainer, actually.

The same could be said of Black, who has been sidelined for two weeks with weakness in his shoulder. Currently, Black is being treated with anti-inflammatory medicine and is only throwing on flat ground.

It is incomprehensible considering where Black is, how pitching coach Dan Warthen would actually claim Black is “right on the cusp,’’ of being ready for Opening Day. If Black pitches again this spring, the Mets are crazy if they didn’t use him the same way they plan to use Murphy.

When you factor in the Mets’ history in handling injuries, why is there any debate to this? Let’s cut the nonsense and have them both open the season on the disabled list.

Why is this so hard to figure out?

Mar 17

Alderson Defense Of Handling Of Wheeler Injury Weak

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered many of the questions pertaining to Zack Wheeler’s injury Monday. However, that doesn’t mean he answered them all, and that’s not to say the Mets’ handling of the injury couldn’t have been better.

Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury, and as he frequently does with these things, his tenor came off as condescending and maddening. As usual, he came across as the lawyer treating us like idiots.

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

Most irksome was how he described Wheeler’s breakdown as “inevitable,’’ much as it was for Matt Harvey and saying the Mets’ treatment of each was the same.

“Let me just ask, why would we treat somebody like Harvey with the kind of caution that we did and then throw somebody else under the bus – somebody of essentially equal value to us as an organization?’’ Alderson said to reporters today. “That wouldn’t make any sense. I understand people can debate the number of pitches and the number of innings and this and that. We simply wouldn’t treat two guys that differently.’’

But, they did.

Harvey was shut down shortly after the All-Star break in 2013, but Wheeler continued to pitch at the end of last season despite soreness in his elbow. Alderson and manager Terry Collins even conceded Monday how Wheeler managed through the pain at the end of last year.

Alderson maintained Wheeler’s elbow was eventually going to break down, yet he was trotted out there every fifth day.

“The other thing is, when a guy is being managed, you understand what the sort of apocalyptic result could be – he blows something out,’’ Alderson said. “But the question is, what’s the alternative? If it blows out, it blows out. The alternative is that you manage somebody to the point where he’s not useful to you.’’

Which is what happened, as it has numerous times with other Mets.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, the club has a long list, including: Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Johan Santana, Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Jon Niese.

That’s more than an entire rotation and nearly a complete staff. A common thread in these injuries have been Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

The Mets didn’t have Harvey last year, but nonetheless made a run at respectability, as in finishing .500 or better. You can’t help but wonder if the goal to be competitive forced them to push Wheeler too hard.

Questions linger about the others, although not all had Tommy John surgery. What was their training routine like? Did they throw too hard, too soon, at the start of spring training? Were they properly monitored? Did they throw too soon in the offseason? Did they throw too much between starts? What was the rest of their conditioning program like?

Alderson answered the question as to why he didn’t immediately order a MRI for Wheeler. It seemed somewhat plausible at the time, but after sleeping on it and considering the long list of ailing Mets’ pitchers under his watch, it left something to be desired.

Using “lawyerspeak,’’ Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury. There was his usual fancy language, but a sharp district attorney would nail him.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s Notebook.