Apr 29

Today’s Question: Can Wheeler Encore DeGrom’s Effort?

Jacob deGrom pitched like an ace last night to ease the Mets’ hemorrhaging. Today’s question is obvious: Can Zack Wheeler duplicate that effort?

WHEELER: Pressure start for him. (AP)

WHEELER: Pressure start for him. (AP)

Wheeler is 1-2 after missing the last two years following Tommy John surgery. It’s not a great record, but he is coming off a strong seven-inning performance last weekend against Washington. Wheeler gave up four runs on four hits with six strikeouts while throwing 101 pitches.

After the Mets’ 7-5 victory Friday night, to keep the momentum going they need to win at least twice in this series and preferably sweep. If they lose the next two they’ll trail the Nationals by 8.5 games. There’s plenty of time to make that up, but two losses would mean giving away the momentum created by deGrom.

The Mets have long waited for their dream five-man rotation of Noah Syndergaard, deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Wheeler to dominate. However, the five have never gone one cycle in that rotation. That might not come until next year as when Matz is ready to come off the disabled list, Wheeler’s innings limit might sit him.

Apr 28

Collins’ Gamble With Edgin Saves Mets

For one night, at least, the Mets answered manager Terry Collins’ desperate plea for energy, and for somebody – anybody – in their shell-shocked clubhouse to step up to stop the bleeding.

The sense of urgency suffocating the Mets, who entered with a six-game losing streak, was overcome for one night at least by Travis d’Arnaud and starter Jacob deGrom, reserve infielder T.J. Rivera and lefty reliever Josh Edgin, who all responded in a clutch way in a dramatic 7-5 victory over the Nationals.

EDGIN, D'ARNAUD CELEBRATE

EDGIN, D’ARNAUD CELEBRATE

“It was big win against a great ball club,” said d’Arnaud. “This was something we needed.”

However, what they need now is to build on tonight’s effort, as this is not enough. They have two more games in DC, and while sweeping is the ultimate goal they have to win at least one more to not give back this momentum.

Collins asks a lot of his players, but tonight he reached within himself to make the unconventional call that might springboard his team.

The Nationals loaded the bases against closer Jeurys Familia and had one out when Collins went to Edgin against Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon were to follow, and the Mets were staring at seven straight losses.

Collins wasn’t worried about bruising Familia’s tender ego and went with his gut.

“If we had won seven in a row, I would have left [Familia] out there,” admitted Collins. “But lefties have had success against Jeurys in the past. [Pitching to Harper] was a bad match-up for me. I didn’t like the way he looked tonight so I went with Edgin.”

The lefty specialist got Harper to ground back to the mound for a 1-2-3, game-ending double play. Nobody knows how the season will unfold, but as of now that was the play of the first month.

“I’m glad he did,” Edgin said when asked about Collins’ confidence in him. “But, whether it is the sixth inning or the ninth, the objective is the same.”

After a slight pause, Edgin added, “but there’s more pressure in the ninth.”

And for the Mets, there was more pressure than to just win a game. There was pressure to possibly save a season.

 

Apr 27

Syndergaard, Cespedes Lost … Is Season Far Behind?

Welcome, my friends, to Panic City, where your mayor, GM Sandy Alderson and his deputy, Terry Collins, have some serious scrambling to do before they take their last place Mets into Washington for a three-game series with the Nationals.

While Alderson was in his office after today’s 7-5 loss to the Braves – the Mets’ sixth straight – weighing his limited options, Collins was delivering his annual, closed doors, “nobody is going to feel sorry for you … it’s time to grind it out, starting now,” address to his shell-shocked team, losers of ten of their last 11 games.

CESPEDES: Yes, things can get worse. (AP)

CESPEDES: Yes, things can get worse. (AP)

Collins was in a testy mood following a day when starter Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes were lost.

Syndergaard has biceps tendinitis and the Mets hope he’ll be ready for Sunday, but they are accomplished at wishful thinking. Cespedes, whom the Mets gambled was back from a tight hamstring, significantly pulled it legging out a double in the fourth inning and will be lost for an extended period.

Cespedes will get another MRI Friday and likely will be placed on the disabled list before facing Max Scherzer in Washington. There, he will join Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, David Wright, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Brandon Nimmo.

Collins, his voice getting louder with each name, ticked them off one at a time, Duda, Wright, Matt Harvey, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cespedes, Matz, Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud, and said the Mets eventually pulled it together to reach the playoffs.

“I told them, ‘We can do it again, but it’s got to start now,’ ” Collins said. “OK, so the weather is gonna start changing. That can no longer be the excuse. It’s now time to go out and grind it out as we did last year.

“It’s still April, I understand that, but, we can no longer sit back and say, ‘It’s ugly weather, we’ve got some guys hurt.’ No one cares. [The Braves] don’t care, the Nationals don’t care. The only thing that matters are the guys in [the clubhouse], because that’s the product. They’ve got to care. They’ve got to come out, play with some energy and get this going and I truly believe they can do it.”

When asked the timing for this message, Collins played the perception-reality card, Collins said he’s aware of the talk energy is down, but that’s to be expected when your team batting average is .184 and on-base percentage is .268 during this slide.

“Look, it’s just April, I get it, but it’s time,” Collins said. “We’ve got a tough road trip ahead. … We’ve got to grind it out. We can do it, but we’ve got to start now.”

Now, is best defined as Friday in Washington, where the Mets, currently 7.5 games behind the Nationals, will try to stop their free-fall. As of now, deGrom, Zack Wheeler and to-be-announced will start, but Collins can’t say whether the offense will show, especially with Cespedes out.

“We’ve got to go out there and have energy,” said third baseman Jose Reyes. “We know we are going to better than this. … We’re going to see what we’re made of. It’s only April, we have five more months. We don’t want to go too deep in the standings. We have a good ballclub and we’re going to turn it around.”

It’s going to be difficult without Cespedes and Syndergaard. Collins said losing Cespedes “is a big hole.”

Losing Cespedes could have been prevented had the Mets acted proactively, which they did not. Instead, they kept hoping he’d get better. By putting Cespedes immediately on the disabled list, he might have missed both Washington series. Instead, foolishly gambling on a player with a history of muscle pulls, they not only miss Cespedes for both Nationals series, and for possibly up to a month.

“No,” a defiant Collins said when asked if he had any regrets by not putting Cespedes on the disabled list a week ago.

“He did all the things that were required to get in the lineup,” Collins said. “It just happens. It’s easy to say you should have put him on the DL. Well, you know what? Every time you turn around for every little thing, if you keep putting guys on the DL, we can’t run anybody out there.

“The guy pulled a hamstring. He’s wound tight. I am going to go with that. Now he’s going to be out for awhile.”

In saying Cespedes is wound tight, and especially after last season, are specifically the reasons why he should have been put on the disabled list. But, Collins doesn’t make those decisions; he’s there to shield GM Sandy Alderson from the flack he deserves.

As for Syndergaard goes, the Mets can afford a few extra days in making a decision because as a pitcher he works every five days. Syndergaard was supposed to start Wednesday, but was scratched because “I wanted to,” said Collins, not because he felt something in his arm while shagging fly balls before the game.

Syndergaard said the discomfort is in his shoulder and biceps area and isn’t a reoccurrence of the bone spur that bothered him last season.

“It’s quite obvious we can’t take a chance on him,” Collins said. “He’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

Prior to the game, Syndergaard said, “it’s a little thing right now, but we definitely don’t want to become a big thing,” but after the game got testy with a team official for not preventing reporters from questioning him.

Harvey started in place of Syndergaard and was lit up by the Braves. He got a phone call early today saying he would start.

“I really physically prepared for starting today,” said Harvey, who lifted weights Wednesday. “Having those workouts that I did yesterday and the throwing that I did yesterday, I just definitely wasn’t prepared.”

That’s odd because had he paid attention Wednesday when Syndergaard’s arm was barking and he was scratched, should have realized something was going on. Of course, that wouldn’t have taken away the workout, but Harvey could have been more mentally prepared.

Should have, could have, would have can’t turn this thing around for the Mets, who are in desperate need of something to go right.

“We need to be cognizant, when things aren’t going your way, not to go through the motions,” said Jay Bruce, one of the few bright spots for the Mets. “We’re up to the challenge.”

They better be, because 21 games into a season they all believed a World Series was possible, they are looking at that opportunity slipping away.

Apr 20

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Takes Responsibility For Botched Play

It is one thing to lose, but how the Mets are doing so is extremely head scratching. Their bullpen has been spotty at times, but lately it has been their lack of offense coupled with shoddy defense.

i-5Of course, if they don’t hit several home runs, they will end up wasting a strong pitching effort by one of their starters, as was the case in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Phillies at Citi Field.

The Mets committed three more errors tonight and seven for the series, and if not for Jay Bruce’s two homers Wednesday, they would have been swept at home by Philadelphia.

Instead, they lost two of three and five of their last seven, which is not the way they want to be playing with Washington coming in for three this weekend.

It is said the ball will find the inexperienced glove, but don’t blame Bruce for the mix-up at first base in the second inning that lead to three runs.

Bruce gloved Freddy Galvis’ dribbler, but his throw fell between pitcher Noah Syndergaard and second baseman Neil Walker.

Although Bruce was charged with an error, manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t to blame.

“Noah has to get over there,” Collins said. “Jay made a nice play on it.”

Syndergaard called it a freakish play, and it was, but ultimately pointed the finger at himself.

“It was a mess up from the get go,’’ Syndergaard said. “But, it is my responsibility to get over there and cover the bag.”

Another error, this time by Asdrubal Cabrera on room service double-play grounder, lead to two runs in the third.

“I can’t remember Asdrubal Cabrera missing a play like that,” lamented Collins. “The fact that we didn’t make two plays turned the tide of the game.”

Syndergaard gave them the chance to win, but Collins summed it up perfectly.

“We have to start scoring some runs,” Collins said. “We have to start playing better.”

SYNDERGAARD COMES UP EMPTY: Syndergaard was splendid in his season-high 114-pitch effort over seven innings in which he gave up five runs – two unearned – with no walks and ten strikeouts.

In four starts overall, Syndergaard has 30 strikeouts with no walks in his four starts.

“For the most part, I felt pretty good,” Syndergaard said. “I felt this was the best my mechanics have been for a long time.”

FAMILIA UNIMPRESSIVE: Jeurys Familia wasn’t effective in his first relief appearance of the season, issuing two walks in the ninth inning.

“Rusty, to say the least,”” was how Collins evaluated Familia’s outing.

Collins said Familia needs the work, which is why he left him in to throw 30 pitches. Collins said Familia should be ready for Friday.

CESPEDES INJURED: The Mets’ injury woes continued when Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the fifth inning with a left hamstring cramp while running the bases. He was replaced by Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto moved to left.

“Anytime you talk about hamstrings it is a concern,” Collins said. “When you have a hamstring with his body (tightly muscled), it is a concern.”

Cespedes will have a MRI Friday.

Don’t forget, Cespedes took over a month to recover from a strained quad last season, so I wouldn’t bet on seeing him Friday night against the Nationals.

INJURY UPDATES: Lucas Duda, who sustained a hyperextended left elbow the night before did not play. … Travis d’Arnaud, who sustained a contusion to his throwing hand, appeared as a pinch-hitter. … Wilmer Flores was unavailable with an infection in his knee.

“Our training room is starting to fill up and we don’t need that,” Collins said.

NATS UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom starts Friday night against Washington.

Apr 06

Game Wrap: Harvey, D’Arnaud Carry Mets Past Braves

GAME:  #3

SCORE: @Mets 6, Braves 2

RECORD: 2-1    RISP: 2-for-7, four LOB

HOMERS: 1 Wilmer Flores (1).

HARVEY: Big step. (AP)

HARVEY: Big step. (AP)

ANALYSIS

Perhaps the two Mets carrying the weight of the heaviest expectations for this season – Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud – came up big in Thursday night’s victory over the Braves.

Harvey, whose velocity was an issue during spring training, gave up a pair of homers to Matt Kemp, but was generally superb, giving up three hits overall in 6.2 innings. Harvey’s fastball clocked between 94-97 mph., but also important was his ability to command his secondary pitches.

“Obviously, it has been a long time since I’ve gone into the seventh inning,” Harvey told reporters. “For me, the big thing for me was to pound the zone and go as deep into the game as I could.”

As for d’Arnaud, his inability to stay healthy, hit and throw out potential base-stealers has caused many to speculate as to his future with the Mets. It’s just one game, but d’Arnaud’s two-run double in the fifth put the Mets ahead to stay.

ON THE MOUND: Fernando Salas – who was working for the third straight game – struck out Dansby Swanson with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning. … It wasn’t a save situation, but Addison Reed worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

AT THE PLATE: Flores, batting cleanup, hit a two-run homer. … Jose Reyes had his first hit of the season. … Jay Bruce scored a run and walked. He’s drawn four walks in the first three games and leads the Mets in hitting with a .333 average.

IN THE FIELD: Flores played first base. … I would still like to see Michael Conforto get a start in the outfield.

EXTRA INNINGS: In a testament to screwy scheduling, the Braves are back at Citi Field again at the end of the month.

ON DECK: The Mets continue their homestand Friday against Miami with Zack Wheeler getting his first start in nearly two years.