Sep 20

Mets Bullpen Again An Issue

It was a horrible pitch and Josh Edgin is the first to admit it. He called the fastball Ryan Howard crushed last night “a meatball,’’ and it cost Matt Harvey a victory.

Even so, Edgin has been one of the few encouraging notes out of an otherwise negative bullpen this summer and had a streak of 16 straight scoreless appearances snapped last night. One stinker and 16 good games is a good ratio.

Discouraging about Edgin’s performance is the one thing he’s counted on to do, he didn’t, and that’s get out left-handed hitters. He walked Chase Utley and Howard went deep.

“If Josh Edgin is going to pitch in this league, he’s got to get one of those two guys out,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Actually, both would have been better.

Overall, Edgin has been good against lefties, limiting them to a .148 average. All hitters are batting .196 against him. His 30-10 strikeouts to walks ratio is good. That’s a lot to like.

On the not-so-positive side, four of the 18 hits he’s given up have gone for homers.

A lot has gone wrong for the Mets this season, including GM Sandy Alderson’s inability to build a bullpen. The Mets overused lefty Tim Byrdak to the point where he blew out his arm, thereby giving Edgin and fellow lefty Robert Carson an opportunity.

Carson hasn’t been as effective, but had his moments, such as escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam with no inherited runners scoring recently against Washington. He has a dynamite fastball. That and being left-handed will earn him a shot next spring.

This isn’t to say the Mets’ bullpen is fixed – far from it – but they have two lefties to build around for next season. That’s more than they had last spring.

Toronto imports Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco had their moments, mostly in the first half when the Mets were 46-40, but also showed why the Blue Jays didn’t keep them. Francisco has injury problems and another year on his contract.

There’s nothing certain about the rest of the bullpen. Ramon Ramirez can’t find the plate half the time; Manny Acosta has averaged giving up over a hit and close to a run an inning; and Bobby Parnell has been inconsistent and unable to grasp the closer or set-up roles when given the opportunity.

Edgin’s blown save gave the Mets a 59-2 record when leading after eight innings, which is more than fine. However, they have 18 blown saves on the season meaning the problem has been more during the bridge innings.

Building a bullpen is a crapshoot, but essential for a team to compete. Overall, Baltimore has given up more runs than it scores but has been dominant in one-run and extra-innings games, indicative of a strong bullpen. The Pirates are fading, but kept in contention in large part because of their bullpen.

Edgin has promise, but the Mets have a lot of work to do in building their pen if they are to become competitive again. A lot.

Sep 14

Should Be Calm Weekend in Brew Town; Keep Duda In Left

My guess is there won’t be any retaliatory fireworks this weekend when the Mets are in Milwaukee this weekend.

When DJ Carrasco plunked Ryan Braun this spring, Terry Collins pulled David Wright from the game to protect his All-Star – over Wright’s objections – yanked Carrasco and cut him the next day. Collins then made sure of talking with Braun at the All-Star Game to smooth over any lingering animosity.

Odds are that conversation, plus bouncing Carrasco, was proof enough for the Brewers that stuff wouldn’t be tolerated by the Mets. Also, tempering the emotions this weekend is that Milwaukee is suddenly in the wild-card race.

With the games growing increasingly important, and scarce, why would the Brewers risk riling up the Mets and possibly exposing Braun to another beaning? That would be the height of stupidity.

This should be an interesting series even without the dramatics.

The Mets will start Jenrry Mejia tomorrow in his first start of the season.

After all this time, unbelievably there are some in the organization split on what his role should be. He’s had some degree of success at both in the minor leagues, but also a measure of frustration on the major league level.

They’ve stretched him out already and with Matt Harvey shut down after one more start, that would open up an opportunity for Mejia to get three starts in the final month. That should be enough for the Mets to get a clue as where they should put in during spring training.

With Johan Santana and Dillon Gee coming off injuries, Harvey in his first full season, and the uncertainty of Zach Wheeler, there will be starting opportunities next year, and with the Mets not likely to spend in the off-season, having Mejia in place in a must.

Another reason Mejia should be in the rotation is that starters are harder to come by than relievers. It seems every winter there is a closer available. The caveat with closers is they can be hit or miss, and Mets fans don’t have to go back far to recall Frank Francisco and Frankie Rodriguez. Both saved more than they blew, but both also provided anxious moments. Come to think of it, so did Billy Wagner.

One thing I’m not getting lately, unless the Mets’ intent is to showcase him in a trade, is the sudden need to see Lucas Duda again at first base. We saw plenty of him last year, and what the Mets need to find out is if he can play left field because he plays right as if it were a minefield. Duda is in left and Ike Davis back at first tonight.

The Mets like Duda’s power potential, and unless they move him, he seems destined to platoon with Jason Bay in left field. If both Duda and Bay are on the team next season, I’d rather see Bay in right field.

 

Jul 19

Mets Can’t Wait Any Longer

The losing streak is now six and the Mets clearly are in a freefall now. You know things are getting desperate when the manager calls a meeting to try to pump up his team’s confidence.

The Mets need something to jumpstart their belief October is still possible, and I don’t think two ninth-inning homers is the alarm they are looking for.

No, the bullpen didn’t cost the Mets the game last night, although it did put it out of reach. The bullpen, far and away, is the tourniquet the Mets need most and they can’t wait the 12 days until the deadline. Hell, Frank Francisco won’t even be back by then.

The Mets need to do something now. Whether it be Huston Street or Jonathan Broxton, or Frankie Rodriguez or Grant Balfour, the need an immediate lift. The season could be lost in two weeks; it could already be lost.

GM Sandy Alderson failed miserably in patching up the bullpen during the winter, but he always said the Mets had the resources to make an addition if they were in the race. They’ve been in the race all season, so let’s see something.

The last thing I want to hear is come the deadline and Alderson intimating the team didn’t think it could win. If management doesn’t do it immediately it is sending that very message to the players and the fan base it teased in the first half.

Do it now!

Jul 14

Mets Matters: Rough Start To Second Half

The Mets limped into the break and continued that luck into the second half.

It began with Dillon Gee undergoing shoulder surgery and continued with Frank Francisco aggravating his strained left oblique. He’ll be out indefinitely.

Then there was last night’s game, which began with a 36-pitch first inning from Chris Young, who gave up five runs in three innings.

Let’s take a look at them individually:

1. GEE:  Underwent surgery Friday to repair an artery in his right shoulder in St. Louis and will be discharged from Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Tuesday or Wednesday. In all probability Gee is done for the year. Miguel Batista could take his spot in the rotation for a few starts and the Mets could dip in the minors for another starter. The odds are slim the Mets will make a trade, but if they do they won’t give up any of their highly touted pitching prospects such as Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler.

2. FRANCISCO: Oblique injuries, as the Mets learned with Jose Reyes, have a tendency to linger. While there doesn’t appear to be a drop off with Bobby Parnell assuming the closer duties, losing Francisco weakens an already thin bullpen. If the Mets do something prior to the trade deadline, it will be adding a reliever.

3. YOUNG: Last night was a serious red flag. Having already lost Gee, the Mets can’t afford  a problem with one of their starters. They know Young is a five, six-inning starter tops. Last night he wasn’t even that good.

 

Jul 13

Mets’ First Half Disappointments; Don’t Forget Pelfrey

No evaluation of the Mets is complete without a list of disappointments. While 46-40 at the break, the Mets have more to be happy about than not.  However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t laments.

PELFREY: Gone?

Had everything broken right in the first half, the Mets could be sitting on top of the NL East.

Here’s what went wrong:

The struggling bullpen: Most of Sandy Alderson’s off-season tinkering was made with improving the bullpen in mind. Frank Francisco has pitched well enough, but is a house of cards. He’s coming off a strained oblique, so there are no guarantees in the second half.  Set-up man Jon Rauch has also been hurt an ineffective.

Mike Pelfrey’s injury: Considering how well the Mets’ rotation has performed, is this a disappointment?  You’d have to say yes, because a well-functioning Pelfrey should be worth at least five victories. Compounding the disappointment is the injury to Dillon Gee, which could keep him out the remainder of the season.

Dillon Gee’s injury: Gee will have surgery to repair an artery in his shoulder Friday and could miss the rest of the year. The Mets have little depth in the farm system and are reluctant to part with their premier prospects.  The Mets, who will temporarily patch things with Miguel Batista, have two weeks before the trade deadline.

Jason Bay’s slump and injury: Is it really a disappointment when the expectations were so low to begin with? Probably not, but the team severely lacks right-handed pop. Bay should be activated from the disabled list within the next two weeks. GM Sandy Alderson said the need for right-handed power must be supplied from Bay. On a positive note, Bay’s injury should keep him from getting the at-bats needed for an option to kick in.

Ike Davis’ slump: Davis is starting to hit, but struggled most of the first half, almost to the point of the Mets considering sending him down to work on his swing. Their thinking in not doing so was the belief he already knows how to hit minor league pitching.

Andres Torres’ slump and injury: The Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan gone, Torres represents what little speed the Mets possess. Kirk Nieuwenhuis filled in well, but struggled the past three weeks.