Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Daniel Murphy – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Michael Conforto – LF
Wilmer Flores – SS
Matt Harvey – RHP
If there is one word to describe the 2015 Mets, for me it would be resiliency. There have been numerous times this season when they could have fallen off the ledge, but found a way to get it done – which is the essence of any championship team.
From a multitude of injuries, including losing David Wright for nearly five months to a near two-month slump to a leaky bullpen to the circus around the trade deadline to the current mess pertaining to Matt Harvey‘s innings, it has been a wild ride. Today’s 8-5 come-from-behind victory in Washington capsulized the season in a wild three hours.
When Max Scherzer escaped a no-outs, runner-on-third threat in the first it looked like a bad omen for the Mets. However, momentum turned on solo homers by Michael Conforto – who, by the way, needs to play against all kinds of pitching, Kelly Johnson and Yoenis Cespedes, this would be a day to remember.
However, it would be an unforgettable day on the down side when the Nationals roughed up Jon Niese, including with Wilson Ramos‘ grand slam. Scherzer would settle down, but the Mets persevered. And, when Jeurys Familia blew away Ryan Zimmerman to end the game and make we wonder if Bryce Harper still doesn’t care about what’s going on with the Mets these days.
Here’s what I’ll take from today’s game, or as Collins said, Game 1 of the September playoffs:
TERRY COLLINS: He needs to sharpen his motivational skills. When you have a pitcher like Niese, whose confidence is shaken, you don’t tell him “this is the game of your life.” What manager does that? Niese’s confidence is peanut brittle tough as it is so you don’t apply additional pressure. Furthermore, your team has lost two games recently in walk-off fashion, but it still had a four-game lead heading into the series. So, Collins applied even more pressure. What’s the purpose? On a positive note, give Collins points for starting Johnson at second.
DAVID WRIGHT: He showed his captaincy mettle when he talked to Harvey for four innings Sunday in Miami. He underscored it in bold Sunday when he drove in the game-winning run and scored in the seventh. This guy is a winner. If anybody deserves this, it is him.
YOENIS CESPEDES: You don’t think he’ll get some MVP votes? If there was an MVP award for a late-season acquisition he would get it hands down. Cespedes will cost money, but he’s worth bringing back. With Curtis Granderson‘s contract up in two years and one more for Michael Cuddyer, there will be |money. Plus, I never bought the Mets’ cries of poverty.
BRYCE HARPER: Whether he cares what’s going on with the Mets or not is irrelevant. What matters is what he thinks of Nationals’ fans. For him to rip his fans for leaving early, it shows his head isn’t in the game and he’s looking for excuses. There aren’t many clearer signs the Nationals are showing signs of cracking. The teams have five games remaining, and the Nationals need to win them all.
MATT HARVEY/SANDY ALDERSON: If you’re scoring at home, the early rounds go to Harvey, who’ll make two or three more starts and not the four the Mets want. Alderson had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he spoke about Harvey prior to the game. What is clear is the Mets don’t have control over their diva pitcher as they have caved to his demands on nearly every turn.
Harvey wants to be limited during the September, but pitch in the playoffs. That could limit his effectiveness in October. Alderson wouldn’t say how much Harvey might pitch in the playoffs. Then, when faced with not having Harvey for two or more starts in September, Alderson doesn’t bring up Dillon Gee. Here’s a guy, Gee, who has done everything – and generally produced – the organization has asked, yet when they need another starter they ignored him. Rather shabby on Alderson’s part. Harvey pitches Tuesday and he damn well better produce. If he gets ripped and misses some starts and the Mets start falter, he’ll hear some boos next time he pitches at Citi Field.
THE BULLPEN: Today it threw 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Niese. The bad news is they’ll lose Carlos Torres indefinitely with a pulled calf muscle. With Harvey’s innings uncertain, they could use a long man. It was sterling today, simply sterling. And, I’ve noted this before. Familia is the team’s MVP. That is, if Cespedes hasn’t moved ahead. One thing for certain, it isn’t Harvey.
JON NIESE: Evidently, Niese’s wife didn’t wear her lucky panties. Today marked the 175th start of Niese’s career, and as Collins and SNY emphasized, it was his most important and he spit the bit. In parts of eight seasons, Niese is 60-61 and never has won more than 13 in a single season. Frankly, I’m thinking this might be as good as it gets for Niese. The Mets were wise to try to trade him last winter. They’ll increase those efforts this offseason.
I am happy for David Wright and his return to the Mets. In the handful of games he’s played last week, he’s swung the bat well and after an awkward first game in the field his defense has come around.
For all he’s gone through and all he’s meant to the Mets, he deserves the opportunity to play in October. That being said, I don’t want to see him play today.
Wright did not play Saturday because of stiffness in his throwing shoulder, and despite two straight losses to Boston, there should be no sense of urgency to get him in the lineup.
Collins said there’s nothing wrong with Wright’s lower back, but why take the chance? Give him an extra, two if need be, because they have Juan Uribe.
Uribe can field the position and has been productive at the plate.
Plus, his heads-up play Saturday in which he backed up a throw to second and almost caught David Ortiz shows his head is always in the game.
The last thing I want right now is a setback with Wright. He’ll say he’s fine, because that’s what he does, but Collins should sit him and only use him as a pinch hitter.
Be smart, Mets.
COMMENTS: The place should be rocking tonight like never before. … I like Cespedes hitting third. … Good to see they haven’t forgotten Lagares. Cespedes is the new toy, but the Mets might not have him next season. Best to keep Lagares happy and interested. … No question, Wright gets the biggest cheer. … It will be interesting to see how Harvey responds on 11 days rest.
At one time this season the Mets were desperate for outfielders. Looking ahead to next spring they appear to be in good shape, especially if they bring back Yoenis Cespedes.
More importantly, he’s making adjustments. When pitchers starting working him away, he went to the opposite field. Hopefully, he’ll keep making them, but some hitters never learn. Ike Davis never did, and Lucas Duda is now getting the idea.
“It’s crazy,’’ Conforto told reporters. “The way it’s been happening, you don’t like to see that, you don’t like to see guys going on the DL. But the fact that I’m still here, I’m very excited. It’s where I want to be.’’
It might be difficult for the Mets to keep Cespedes, but he would solve a lot of problems. The Mets will have Curtis Granderson for two more years and Cuddyer for next season.
Conforto has three homers, but has been adept at hitting line drives and playing a solid defense. He’s hitting only .258, but has a .356 on-base percentage and .840 OPS. He runs the bases well, and who knows, perhaps he could be the answer to the Mets’ leadoff question.
It isn’t hard to envision Conforto starting and Cuddyer coming off the bench.
What do you know, the words “next season,’’ in connection with the Mets isn’t a depressing thought.