Apr 16

Mets Wrap: Indians Rip Harvey

METS GAME WRAP

Indians 7, Mets 5

Game:  #10  Record:  4-6  Streak: L 1

SUMMARY:  Perfect through four, Matt Harvey couldn’t make it at of the sixth and came away with his third straight loss to open the season. Down 7-1 at one point, the Mets rallied to tease on Yoenis Cespedes’ three-run homer and Neil Walker’s third homer of the season.

KEY MOMENT: When it was apparent Harvey didn’t have it in the sixth following RBI hits by Jason Kipnis and Mike Napoli that made it 4-1, manager Terry Collins stuck with him and the game soon got away.

THUMBS UP:  Curtis Granderson showed breakout signs with a homer and double. … Three more homers from the Mets. They have seven in the two games in Cleveland. … The Mets showed comeback capabilities, but couldn’t finish the deal.

THUMBS DOWN: Harvey gave up five runs on six hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. … Travis d’Arnaud was hit by a pitch and has a bruised left forearm. … Two more strikeouts by Cespedes to give him 16 in just ten games. … Rafael Montero was rocked in relief.

EXTRA INNINGS: Jason deGrom was placed on family emergency leave due to complications with his newborn son, Jaxon. He could be away from the team for up to seven days. He’s expected to throw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday and possibly to hitters Tuesday. Eric Campbell was brought up to take his spot on the roster. … Collins said David Wright will get Sunday off. … Don’t expect d’Arnaud to play Sunday.

QUOTEBOOK: “It’s hard to explain. I don’t have an answer for you.” – Collins in response to a question as to why Harvey lost it all of a sudden.

BY THE NUMBERS: 16: Strikeouts by Cespedes already this season. He had two Saturday.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz attempts to rebound from being rocked in his season debut.

ON DECK: Is It Time To Wonder About Harvey?

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Apr 16

Mets Place DeGrom On Family Leave List

The Mets placed pitcher Jacob deGrom on the family emergency leave list due to complications with his newborn son.

“I have spoken to him every day,” manager Terry Collins told reporters this afternoon in Cleveland. “He’s where you would expect him to be [mentally]. He’s not sleeping. … We’re all praying and pulling for him.”

DeGrom will be on the list from three to seven days. Eric Campbell was activated to take his spot on the roster.

Collins said deGrom will not pitch Tuesday because of his son’s condition. He will throw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday and face hitters Tuesday in Florida.

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Apr 03

Mets’ Roster With Thumbnail Reports

Like it or not, Mets manager Terry Collins has selected the 25-man roster that will open the 2016 season Sunday in Kansas City. Most of the selections were obvious, with nothing considered a major surprise.

Introducing the 2016 New York Mets:

STARTING PITCHING

Matt Harvey: He’s not talking, but most babies can’t. That’s all right as long as his pitching gives us something to talk about. It hasn’t so far this spring, but he gets a clean slate starting tonight.

Noah Syndergaard:  Will start the season’s second game. There’s talk of retaliation, but that’s ludicrous. He just might have the highest ceiling of any of the Mets’ young arms.

Jacob deGrom: Will get the ball for the home opener Friday. Is carving a reputation as the Mets’ best big-game pitcher.

Steven Matz: Roughed up early in spring training, but closed strong. Still hasn’t been determined when he’ll get first start.

Bartolo Colon: Has been an invaluable addition. Could work out of the bullpen for the games in Kansas City. Will be the fifth starter until Zack Wheeler is ready to pitch.

BULLPEN

Jeurys Familia: Had great regular season, but struggled in the World Series. He might have won job by default, but he controls his own destiny.

Addison Reed: The designated set-up reliever, but is capable of closing if needed.

Antonio Bastardo: Lefty specialist. Had a rough spring training.

Jerry Blevins: Lefty is back after missing most of last year with a broken arm.

Logan Verrett: Capable of working in long relief and as spot starter. Started over Harvey last year to give Mets vital victory.

Jim Henderson: Former Brewers closer won spot.

Hansel Robles: Will serve two-game suspension to start season. Has reputation for quick-pitching and losing his composure.

CATCHING

Travis d’Arnaud: His health and throwing are two biggest concerns. Scouts believe if he stays healthy he could have 20-homer capability.

Kevin Plawecki: Thought he might open season in Triple-A. One of Collins’ challenges is to get him enough at-bats to stay sharp.

INFIELD

Lucas Duda: Has hit 57 homers over the past two years. Needs to cut strikeouts and use the entire field more than he does.

Neil Walker: A Daniel Murphy duplicate? Says he feels at home. Considered an upgrade defensively and has more power potential than Murphy.

Asdrubal Cabrera: Missed much of spring training with a strained knee but will start tonight. Considered a defensive upgrade.

David Wright: His back will always be a question. It’s anybody’s guess as to how many games he’ll play this season.

Wilmer Flores: Scheduled to back up each of the infield positions, which could turn out to be his niche. Are 20 homers a possibility?

Eric Campbell: Can also play in the outfield. Could be the first choice to back up Wright.

OUTFIELD

Michael Conforto: Just let him play against left-handers so we can see what he’s all about. It could be a breakout year for him if they give him the at-bats.

Yoenis Cespedes: They are tied into him for $27.5 million this year. Should play left instead of center. Mind and hustle have tendency to wander.

Curtis Granderson: Surprised a lot of people last year at the leadoff spot. I’d love to see another 90-plus walks with 30 homers.

Juan Lagares: The team’s best defensive player won Gold Glove award two years ago. Is seemingly healthy. When he plays it should be in center with Cespedes moving to left.

Alejandro De Aza: Was signed as the reserve outfielder before Cespedes was brought back. Could be available in a trade.

ON DECK:  Mets’ over/unders for 2016.

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Apr 02

Top 20 Mets’ Questions

Fortunately, spring training results don’t count. While the Mets won’t carry their exhibition record to Kansas City, let’s hope they don’t bring with them their quality of play.

After all, there are reasons why they finished 8-17 this spring, and some of them include their regulars not playing well. (The Nationals were 19-4 this spring, and if things counted they would open the season with a 12-game lead on the Mets).

Can the Mets get back to the World Series? Well, of course, they can, but it is dependent on how they answer the following questions:

COLLINS: Doesn't have the answers, yet. (Getty_

COLLINS: Doesn’t have the answers, yet. (Getty)

Q: Will they have a World Series hangover or let down?

A: Things happen during a season that have nothing to do with cockiness or an emotional let down. You certainly can’t draw a definitive conclusion based on spring training, but there were a few red flags, such as Matt Harvey letting a few back-page headlines get to him and Yoenis Cespedes’ brain cramp. Will there be a carryover? We shall see. But admit it, you weren’t pleased with how they played this spring. Nobody was.

Q: How will manager Terry Collins respond to being a favorite?

A: No Collins-run team has had expectations this high. It’s not enough for him to maintain a steady hand. There will be times when he has to go to the whip. I thought he let Harvey play him last season, which only inflamed the innings issue. This year, Harvey and no other pitcher can bully him to stay in a game. This will be Collins’ most demanding season. He’ll also need to formulate a playing time plan with David Wright and not take any garbage from Cespedes when be decides to mail it in. Collins got a free pass for the most part in previous seasons because the expectations were so low. They aren’t low anymore.

Q: What’s going on with Harvey?

A: Let’s face it; a 7.50 ERA stinks, whether it is in the exhibition or regular season. A lot is always expected from Harvey, and this year is his second coming off Tommy John surgery. That makes the expectations even higher. Harvey marches to his own tune, which is fine if he can back it up. So far, he’s only shown glimpses. Time to back it up, big boy. If you want to be Batman, you’ll need to develop a thicker skin.

Q: Will Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard pitch to ace status?

A: Many scouts think their ceilings are higher than Harvey’s. That’s one of the reasons, along with their current contractual status, why I believe they should be signed to long-term deals before Harvey. This will be our first season of watching Syndergaard full time, and frankly that’s one of the most intriguing things of the season for me. And, who can’t envision deGrom winning a Cy Young?

Q: What can we expect from Steven Matz?

A: This will also be our first season watching Matz fulltime. As a lefty, his ceiling is enormous, but he must stay healthy. There were concerns, voiced by Collins several weeks ago. Most starters get up to six starts and 30 innings in spring training. The Mets’ starters got far less.

Q: How long can the Mets ride Bartolo Colon?

A: The plan is for him to be in the rotation until Zack Wheeler is brought up, which should be around July 1. He then could be sent to the bullpen. They shouldn’t be too hasty to cut ties with Colon, especially if he’s pitching well because things happen. You’re a Mets’ fan. You know things happen.

Q: How thick is Jeurys Familia’s skin?

A: As much as a having a signature pitch, a great reliever needs the ability to bounce back and forget. Mariano Rivera said one of the best things to happen in his career was when Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar beat him in the 1997 playoffs with a home run. He said it shaped his emotional development. Familia wasn’t as effective and blew a save in the World Series. Maybe he got the job by default after Jenrry Mejia kicked away his career, but it’s Familia’s job to keep.

Q: How sturdy is the bridge to Familia?

A: As of now Addison Reed is the set-up reliever and Antonio Bastardo the lefty specialist. In recent years, the composition of the Mets’ bullpen has been fluid at best. The Mets will also carry lefty Jerry Blevins. Hansel Robles will open the season serving a two-game suspension. Robles is a hot head that needs to learn composure. The Mets will also keep Jim Henderson and Logan Verrett, the latter whom can pitch in long relief or as a spot starter. Henderson, who has major league experience, should be interesting to watch. However, this isn’t a proven group collectively. Seriously, does anybody here take your breath away? Ideally, the bridge to Familia would be even stronger if the starters can go seven innings.

Q: Paging Travis d’Arnaud, are you there?

A: The Mets need a healthy d’Arnaud to give them a full season. He’s shown occasional pop, but what can he do with 500 plate appearances. His career high is 421 plate appearances in 2014, when he had a .302 on-base percentage with 13 homers and 41 RBI. However, he hit 12 homers with 41 RBI and a solid .340 on-base percentage in 268 plate appearances last year. The pitchers like how he calls a game, but he needs work holding on runners and his throwing.

Q: Will Lucas Duda be more consistent?

A: Although his on-base percentage has been decent, .352 and .349 in 2015 and 2014, respectively, he still strikes out too damn much for my liking (138 times last year and 135 times in 2014). Maybe I’m just too picky. He’ll hit eight homers in one month and one in another. Five a month, which is roughly one a week, would be perfect. It adds up to 30. But, hell yes, I’d love to see 40. Who knows, back-to-back with Cespedes can give the Mets their best power duo since Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson. I like watching Duda and think he can develop into a real basher. I’d like to see more productive outs.

Q: Will Neil Walker make people forget Daniel Murphy?

A: Murphy was a terrific Met, despite his occasional mental and fielding lapses. Walker is a .272 lifetime hitter with a .338 career on-base percentage. However, his 162-game average is 18 homers and 81 RBI, which surpasses Murphy. It won’t be easy forgetting Murphy, as he’ll face the Mets 19 times while with the Nationals.

Q: Is Asdrubal Cabrera an upgrade over Wilmer Flores at shortstop?

A: While their 2015 power numbers are similar, sending Flores to the bench deepens the bench, which is a significant plus. Cabrera hit 15 homers with 58 RBI last season for Tampa Bay, while Flores hit 16 homers with 59 RBI. Cabrera is considered better defensively. Cabrera committed nine errors in 443 chances last year while Flores made 14 in 400 chances.

WRIGHT: Nobody knows. (AP)

WRIGHT: Nobody knows. (AP)

Q: What can we expect from Wright?

A: It’s only a coincidence the 13th question is about Wright, who hasn’t played in 150 games since 2012. Injuries have limited him to less than 140 games in four of the last five years. To project 140 games, much less his production is folly. Right now, I’d take 120 games and be happy. In addition to his pregame hitting and fielding, Wright puts in at least 90 minutes before games with exercises designed to loosen up his back.

Q: One and done for Cespedes?

A: That’s the chance the Mets took when they gave Cespedes an out clause after one season in his three-year deal. I have limited confidence he won’t be sidetracked by the money and glitz of New York. Never mind his brain cramp in spring training, but last year in September and during the playoffs he had some head-scratching moments. But, if Cespedes lets it all out, this could be another special season.

Q: A breakout year for Michael Conforto?

A: I’m not saying he’s another Tony Gwynn, but the expectations are high. Let’s just hope Collins isn’t tempted to rest him against left-handers. Let him play and give him a chance to develop into a real talent, not a part time flash.

Q: Will we get another 90 walks from Curtis Granderson?

A: I confess I didn’t like Granderson leading off, but his ability to draw walks changed that thinking. If Granderson can improve his walks by cutting down his 151 strikeouts he can be a greater offensive force. If he does that he might hit 30 homers (he hit 26 last year with 70 RBI) again.

Q: How deep is the bench?

A: I like Flores’ ability to play anywhere in the infield, but hope he doesn’t languish for weeks before getting a chance to play. Alejandro De Aza was to be a big piece before Cespedes was brought back. His role is undefined at best. Juan Lagares won a Gold Glove in center field two years ago but is now coming off the bench. When he does play, it has to be in center. Eric Campbell has always produced coming off the bench, but his weaknesses are exposed the longer he plays. Kevin Plawecki was kept, but I don’t want him to wither on the bench for weeks. If that happens, he’s better off in Triple-A.

Q: Who gets injured?

A: That’s always the wild card. None of the starting pitchers are ailing. Cabrera missed significant time in spring training, but will play Sunday night. Conforto and Cespedes missed some time, and Wright is always a question. If they stay healthy and produce, there’s no reason they can’t make the playoffs again. Health is always the biggest variable for any team.

Q: What’s going with the Nationals?

A: The Nationals were a buzz saw in Florida and appear to have a federal budget sized chip on their collective shoulders, beginning with MVP Bryce Harper. Their rotation isn’t as deep as the Mets, but their front three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg (in his walk year) and Gio Gonzalez can stack up with the front end of most staffs. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has a lot to prove, and if Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman stay healthy there’s no reason they can’t wrestle back the NL East.

Q: Can the Mets get off to another fast start?

A: An 11-game winning streak keyed a 15-8 April record last year and gave them a buffer to overcome injuries and a drastic hitting slump. The Mets lost their first-place lead on May 20 (it grew to a 4.5-game deficit in July) before they wrestled back the division for good from Washington, Aug. 2. The Mets caught a break last year when the Nationals stumbled. They can’t count on that again.

I will revisit these questions periodically throughout the summer.

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Mar 23

Matz Sends Mixed Message

After his last start, I wrote it might not be the worse thing for Steven Matz to open the season in the minor leagues. I’m thinking pretty much the same thing after last night’s mixed-message loss to the Yankees.

MATZ: Preseason puzzle. (AP)

MATZ: Preseason puzzle. (AP)

Matz was hit for five runs in the second inning, but regrouped to retire the final seven batters he faced. On one hand, you always want to see a pitcher recover, which Matz undoubtedly did. However, the better thing is to not get in trouble in the first place.

And, let’s face it, an 8.31 ERA this spring means he’s been getting into a lot of trouble.

“You try to work on stuff, but at the same time you’re facing the New York Yankees,” Matz told reporters in Tampa. “So that stuff is going to happen. But I’m pretty happy how I bounced back there. I got some results the last few batters.”

Matz was visibly upset after his last outing. His emotions were in check last night, and that’s a positive sign. Very positive.

“That’s another thing I’ve been working on – just trying to stay level out there,” Matz said. “I know last time I got frustrated. This time that was huge for me to come back out there and get some hitters out after that and keep my composure. … I see Matt [Harvey] and Jacob [deGrom] out there, and they don’t let stuff affect them out there. And that’s why they’re really, really successful. I try to take that stuff from them and use it in my game as well.”

After his previous start, manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t sure Matz was in prime pitching shape. Matz said his conditioning shouldn’t be an issue.

“I really do feel ready,” Matz said. “I had one bad inning this time out but, like I said, I bounced back from it. It’s the stuff you’re going to deal with during the season, too.”

The Mets have options – Logan Verrett and Rafael Montero – should they opt to leave Matz behind. I think that’s what they should do, but I don’t see Collins and GM Sandy Alderson going in that direction.

However, this much I do know, Matz needs to show a lot more if the Mets are to get to where they want to go.