May 30

Niese Future Looking Bleak

Jon Niese went into the season as one of the Mets’ most important questions, and it isn’t being answered in the positive. Niese’s record is 3-5 and over the past three weeks his ERA has more than doubled to 4.42.

He wasn’t tagged with the loss today, but deserved to as he gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings. Yes, that’s pretty bad when you come down to it.

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

About the only certainty when it comes to Niese, is that at this rate there’s no way the Mets will trade lefty Steven Matz. At this rate it is becoming clear Niese’s future with the Mets is dwindling.

What else can you conclude with Niese giving up 22 runs is his past four starts?

Manager Terry Collins said Niese is healthy – he has been on the DL in each of the past two seasons – but his problem has been hitters driving the ball in the air (he gave two homers gave up today) when he’s a natural groundball pitcher.

It wasn’t long ago that Niese was a hot commodity as a hard throwing, healthy left-hander signed to a long-term contract.

That list is getting shorter and shorter, perhaps like his time with the Mets.

May 12

Mets Need To Be Concerned With DeGrom

Should the Mets be concerned about Jacob deGrom? Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year was off from the outset Monday night and later told reporters, “it boils down to location.”

Well, it always boils to location and deGrom (3-4, 3.46 ERA) has been off in three of his last four starts. To put it bluntly, he’s been bad since his April 24, three-homer debacle at Yankee Stadium. Some hitters get their swings screwed up after a series in Fenway Park. Maybe this is the pitcher’s version.

DE GROM: Something isn't right. (AP)

DE GROM: Something isn’t right. (AP)

DeGrom entered the Yankee Stadium game with a 2-1 record and 0.93 ERA and only one homer and three walks given up in his previous three starts. Since then, he has failed to pitch out of the sixth in three of those four starts. His ERA has spiked to 3.46, with five homers and nine walks given up. Batters are hitting .269 off him, which is 31 points above his career average.

“`I can’t throw the pitches that I want for strikes,” deGrom said about last night, but easily could have been speaking about the last month. “I made some mistakes over the middle of the plate and they seemed to hit it a long way.”

When deGrom missed with his location last season, it was inside off the plate or outside. Either way, hitters couldn’t reach the ball. It was as if Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo ordered room service.

The pregame talk was of deGrom’s secondary pitches, but that’s the icing. The most important thing for a pitcher is getting ahead in the count with his fastball, and that’s something he’s not doing with consistency.

That’s how Collins described the problem.

“When he had to make a pitch, he didn’t make it – couldn’t make it,” Collins said. “You can talk secondary pitches all you want. You’ve got to locate your fastball. That’s what made him so good last year was the location – moving it around side to side.”

Collins said two words that are most important: locate and moving. With a fastball there’s velocity, movement and location. By order of important, it goes location, movement and velocity.

There’s no doubt his velocity is good, otherwise we would have heard of it decreasing. Because we haven’t, we can rule out something wrong with his arm.

Collins also said deGrom’s body language has been bad, which is a great, but startling admission for a manager to make. If he can see it from his dugout, the opposition can from theirs as well.

Last year was last year. DeGrom doesn’t have the same “stuff’’ or the same demeanor as he did last season.

Something is wrong. Collins didn’t come out and use the word “concerned,’’ but he didn’t have to.

ON DECK:  Previewing Noah Syndergaard.

Dec 08

Hodges Falls Short Of Hall Again

What you and I both expected came to fruition when Gil Hodges was not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the veterans committee; in fact, no players from the Golden Era were elected.

An eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Hodges was instrumental in leading the Dodgers to seven NL pennants and two World Series titles.

To Mets’ fans, he’ll always be the recalled as the manager who guided the team to the 1969 World Series championship.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough for the voters. Damn.

Sep 21

DeGrom Shines Again In Sweep Of Braves

There isn’t any doubt in my mind Jacob deGrom should be the National League’s Rookie of the Year. What he did in today’s 10-2 rout of the Braves to complete a rare sweep in Atlanta – one earned run with ten strikeouts in six innings – should seal it.

What today also might have sealed – although Terry Collins isn’t saying – is deGrom’s ledger for the season. The Mets figured 180 innings for deGrom this year and he’s at 178.2.

Collins will make a decision early this week.

“We’ll regroup here in a couple of days and decide what we’re going to do with him as far as his next start goes,’’ Collins told reporters after the game. “He’s real close to where we wanted him to get anyway on the season. We were talking from 180 to 185 was going to be max anyway. We’ll just see if he starts the next game.’’

DeGrom: Impressive again. (AP)

DeGrom: Impressive again. (AP)

Collins said he’s impressed with deGrom’s stuff, both on the mound and from within.

“I know one thing: He walked in here and he said he wanted to pitch,’’ Collins said. “He’s not sitting back saying, ‘OK, I’ll just shut her down.’ He wants to go back out there.

“That was impressive to hear. This time of year, in our situation, it would have been very easy for a lot of guys to say, ‘I’m done. I’m washed up.’ He’s not like that.’’

Collins has been impressed with the Mets’ unwillingness to pack in the season, and that’s a good reflection on him and why he’ll be back.

I have no problem with the Mets shutting down deGrom now, although it would be nice for him to take a bow at Citi Field in the season’s final weekend. The Mets are being ultra cautious, which is what to expect from them evidenced by their treatment of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

If today was deGrom’s final start, he finished at 9-6 with a 2.63 ERA, 43 walks and 144 strikeouts. Those are definitely Rookie of the Year credentials.

Assuming deGrom is shut down, Rafael Montero would start next Saturday against Houston

Sep 19

Wheeler Leaves Us Wanting More

There is something about Zack Wheeler that leaves you – and the New York Mets – wanting more.

Tonight he threw his 21st quality start of the season; defined as at least six innings with three or fewer runs.

WHEELER: Needs to cut pitches. (Getty)

WHEELER: Needs to cut pitches. (Getty)

Wheeler struck out seven in six scoreless inning, and Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia and Buddy Carlyle combined to retire the final 13 Atlanta hitters in the 5-0 victory.

Even so, in this age of counting pitches, Wheeler threw 105 pitches in those six innings. Sure, as a strikeout pitcher he’ll run up the pitch count, but in exchange for at least one more inning I’d give up a few strikeouts.

Is Wheeler a great pitcher? At l1-10 with a 3.51 ERA it is too soon to tell, but he is 8-2 over his last 15 starts.

For Wheeler and the Mets – who were officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday – to reach the next level, it is imperative for him to go further with his pitch count.

Only twice in 31 starts did Wheeler complete at least seven innings, and 11 other times he worked into the seventh.

Am I being too picky? Probably so, but the Mets have been boasting about Wheeler, and to completely buy into what they are saying, he needs to at least go seven.

Nobody is asking for complete games, but seven isn’t much to ask for a player being touted as an ace.