Sep 30

How Mets Are Scrambling From Latest Injuries

Resiliency has been a Mets’ staple this season, and with the NLDS against the Dodgers eight days away, that quality figures to come into play again as a string of injuries is surfacing at a terrible time. The Mets needed to overcome injuries all season, and nothing has changed heading into October.

MATZ: Won't pitch Thursday. (AP)

MATZ: Won’t pitch Thursday. (AP)

The status of Juan Uribe with a bruised chest has been uncertain since the weekend; it has been several days for Steven Matz with back stiffness; and now, Yoenis Cespedes is day-to-day with two bruised fingers on his left hand after being hit on the left wrist with a pitch in the third inning Wednesday night.

Manager Terry Collins said Uribe might play this weekend – weather permitting – but left it open he could miss part of the NLDS. If Uribe isn’t ready, the Mets could replace him for the first round with Dilson Herrera or they could opt to carry him and gamble shorthanded.

The need for another infielder – at the cost of carrying ten pitchers instead of 11 – could be even more pronounced considering Wilmer Flores left tonight’s game with lower back stiffness. There is no projection as to the severity of the tightness, but it’s a back so it bears watching.

Also dealing with a stiff lower back is Matz, who was scratched from Thursday’s start. If Matz is held off the NLDS roster, figure Bartolo Colon going back into the rotation and the Mets adding a long reliever, preferably a left-hander, which could mean saying hello to Sean Gilmartin.

With the weather forecast poor for the weekend, the Mets could attempt to piggyback him after one the starters, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard. The forecast for Sunday is the best of the three games, but even so there’s a high chance for rain.

The Mets don’t have to set their playoff roster until next week anyway, so there’s no hurry to make an immediate decision.

As for Cespedes, he sustained bruises to his middle and ring fingers, but has almost a week to get ready. He was replaced by Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

I’d bet against Cespedes and Flores being available for Thursday’s game, which was moved up to 12:05 p.m., in hope of avoiding the rain.


Sep 29

Mets Define Harvey’s Role For NLDS

All indications point to Matt Harvey starting Game 3 in the NLDS, most likely against the Dodgers, following Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. It’s between Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon for Game 4. Matz’s start against the Phillies was pushed back to Thursday because of back stiffness, while Colon had a rough first inning tonight.

Although Harvey lobbied for, and was allowed to pitch into the seventh Saturday against Cincinnati, the Mets aren’t about to give him extra starts, which is why GM Sandy Alderson said he’ll only get one start in the NLDS.

Alderson called Game 3 a pivotal start, which is why he likes Harvey in that game.

“Game 3 is an important game,” Alderson said. “It doesn’t matter whether up 2-0 or down 0-2 or 1-1, it’s a big game.”

Harvey is scheduled to start Saturday against Washington and will get about 70 pitches. He’ll have a considerably longer leash in the playoffs.

“When he goes out and pitches, the reins will be off,” Collins said.

Which is what Harvey wanted all along.

Sep 28

Mets Need To Go For Home Field

The cynic in me thinks Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon set off Bryce Harper by saying, “you can find your ring in New York.” Maybe he’ll find it this weekend in Citi Field where the Nationals finish playing out the string against the Mets.

COLLINS: A lot to sort out. (AP)

COLLINS: A lot to sort out. (AP)

With the NL East in their back pocket, the Mets insist they still have something to play off, namely, home field advantage against the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Manager Terry Collins said the Mets won’?t coast the final week.

“I think you’ve got to get the edge back that we had,” Collins said. “We’re going to play to win as many games as we can, to try to get home-field advantage in the first round.

“I think it’?s very, very important to have that. It’?s something we should shoot for. And I think when you’?re still playing for something, it prepares you better.”?

Winning on the road had been difficult for the Mets in recent seasons, including earlier this year. However, the Mets have gone 20-3 since splitting a two-game series in Baltimore, Aug. 18-19. That stretch includes a three-game sweep in Washington, and four-game sweep over the weekend in Cincinnati. Where the Mets have had problems was at home where they are 6-12, since Aug. 14, when the lost the first game of a three-game sweep to potential playoff opponent, Pittsburgh.

Even so, it’s always better to play at home. It’?s Game 5 against Clayton Kershaw. Where do you want that game played?

Home field is only one of several issues Collins wants to settle this week:

ROTATION: As of now, the order appears to be Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey in the pivotal Game 3, and Steven Matz. This decision also involves how many innings Harvey would pitch. Presumably, after Saturday, that’s no longer an issue.

BULLPEN: Jon Niese volunteered to be a left-handed specialist, but that doesn’?t resolve all the bullpen issues, including whether he can do the job. The list includes Tyler Clippards back; Bartolo Colon‘s role; the effectiveness of Sean Gilmartin; and the bridge to Jeurys Familia.

MIDDLE INFIELD: Presumably, Collins won’t tinker with taking Daniel Murphy out of the lineup. That leaves who will play shortstop: Wilmer Flores or Ruben Tejada?

THE OFFENSE: After fluttering for much of the first half, the Mets received an offensive jolt with the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and the promotion of Michael Conforto. While much of the firepower was against sub-.500 teams, the Dodgers have two of the game’s best pitchers in Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

It won’t be as easy.

Aug 28

Second Part Of Harvey Gamble Plays Out Friday

Well, the Mets gave Matt Harvey his rest, 12 days to be exact, and it will be interesting to see how he responds tonight against Boston. Harvey missing a start was a two-part gamble. First, there was skipping him in favor of Logan Verrett. The second part is seeing how he would do on extended rest.

HARVEY: Plenty of rest tonight. (AP)

HARVEY: Plenty of rest tonight. (AP)

Harvey has been vocal about his preference working in a conventional five-man rotation where he works on four days rest. He was especially agitated when he lost to the Dodgers in Los Angeles, July 4, while working on eight days rest. On July 20, on nine days rest, he lost in Washington.

Harvey is 1-1 on seven days rest; 6-3 on six days rest; and 3-1 on five days rest. That’s seven losses for Harvey when not working on conventional rest.

When pitchers get too much rest they have a tendency to be overly strong and often overthrow and have a lack of command. You hear it all the time with sinkerball pitchers that they leave the ball up when too strong and need to be a little tired.

As bad as the Red Sox are, they can still hit and the Mets don’t need is for Harvey to be walking hitters in front of guys like David Ortiz.

Harvey has thrown 154 innings this season and including tonight is on schedule to make eight more starts on conventional rest. Assuming he goes seven innings in those games, that’s 56 more or 210 for the season. Using those numbers and how many innings they wanted for him, that leaves zero for the playoffs.

That obviously won’t work.

The Mets’ options are to skip him one or two more times; or severely limit his innings in September. But, with the Mets’ porous bullpen and need to win games – including six more with the Nationals – that’s not a good choice, either.

As the Mets calculate his potential innings for the playoffs, they must figure them through the World Series. They certainly aren’t going to calculate his playoff starts for just the first round. In doing that, the Mets must figure at least six more starts, which is two starts for every playoff round. Of course, they could figure sweeping each round, but this run already has a large dose of fantasy.

The Mets have done a decent job giving Harvey his rest, but not so much limiting his innings. Have I mentioned this before? It goes to not having a concrete program.

Aug 08

Want Mets To Go For The Throat

Let’s not have any of this wild card talk, it’s up to the Mets to go for the throat, and as Bob Murphy once so eloquently said, “win the damn thing.’’

For the first time in franchise history, the Mets overcame deficits in each of the last three innings to beat Tampa Bay last night.

MURPHY: ``Win the damn thing.'' (Mets)

MURPHY: “Win the damn thing.” (Mets)

It was an effort manager Terry Collins correctly labeled “pure character,’’ as the Mets increased their winning streak to seven straight.

Noah Syndergaard takes the ball tonight with the objective of putting the Mets games over .500, where they were when they won 11 straight games.

The Mets have won 18 of their 59 games – tied for eighth with the game’s best record – in those two winning streaks. It’s numbers like those that win pennants.

With things going their way and their lead over the Nationals now up to 2.5 games, the Mets want to win this thing going away as to avoid the wild-card play-in scenario and to set their rotation as they please. Honestly, I never thought I would write those words this year.

If the season ended today, the Mets, Cardinals and Dodgers would be the division winners and Pittsburgh and Chicago would be the wild cards.

Things frequently fluctuate this time of year and there’s so much more of the season to be played. The Mets are starting their push down the stretch at a good time, and they are gradually improving on some important team stats. They’ve now won four straight on the road to improve to 21-32 (still the worse among those National League teams that would qualify for the postseason) and their runs differential is now plus-16.

In addition, Lucas Duda is hitting homers; David Wright could begin a rehab-assignment on Monday; and the team was energized by the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe.

The Mets still have issues, including their bullpen (which is always critical in the playoffs), but as they were in April they are again a thrill to watch.

But, let’s not have them be content with playing well, but let’s have this be like the college football rankings and go heavy on the style points. Let’s have them put this away and “win the damn thing.’’