May 21

Collins Made Right Call To Pull De Grom

It would have been nice to see Jacob deGrom finish today’s start for the Mets, but manager Terry Collins‘ decision to pull him was totally reasonable.

At the beginning of the season Collins said deGrom and Matt Harvey would be watched carefully in terms of pitch counts and monitoring, which fell into line his decision to not let him come out for the ninth.

DEGROM: Pulled out of caution. (AP)

DEGROM: Pulled out of caution. (AP)

In fact, even though deGrom’s pitch count was at 104 and he was cruising having retired his last 23 hitters.

Collins volunteered deGrom was dealing with soreness in his hip and shoulder recently, so it was actually a no-brainer. All Collins has to do is think about the 134 pitches Johan Santana threw in his no-hitter.

“I already lived through one of those harrowing experiences,’’ Collins told reporters. “At my age, you can’t live through too many more.’’

In that regard, it didn’t hurt the lone hit deGrom gave up came in the first inning.

Sure, deGrom wanted to stay in, but didn’t push matters with Collins.

“I haven’t thrown a complete game in the big leagues,’’ deGrom said. “That’s something I want to do. But I had a lot of pitches early on. My goal was to try to stay in there for at least seven. Then, whenever they let me go back out for the eighth, I was just happy to do that.”

The prevailing theory is deGrom altered his mechanics to compensate for hip stiffness, which consequently lead to shoulder soreness. Whether or not this was the result of mechanics remains in question, but what isn’t in doubt is Collins made the right call.

May 16

Mets Call On DeGrom To Stop Slide

The other day in Chicago, Mets manager Terry Collins said, “what slide?’’ Well, by the end of tonight, that slide could erase the Mets’ once seemingly comfortable lead over Washington into a half-game deficit.

The Mets are in a 7-13 skid, including five straight losses where they scored just 10 runs while hitting .192. In their last two losses, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon gave up 12 runs in 11.2 innings.

Asked to stem the tide is Jacob deGrom, loser of three of his last four starts. That includes giving up four runs and two homers with four walks in a loss Monday at Chicago.

His problem has been fastball command that runs up the pitch count.

“It boils down to location,’’ deGrom said after the Cubs lost. “I can’t throw the pitches I want for strikes and make some mistakes over the plate and they seem to hit a long way.’’

DeGrom will especially be wary of keeping Ryan Braun in the park. Braun homered twice Friday as Milwaukee mugged Colon.

DeGrom’s opponent is Matt Garza, who has thrown four straight quality starts. Garza will face this lineup:

Curtis Granderson, RF

Juan Lagares, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Eric Campbell, 3B

Kevin Plawecki, C

Jacob deGrom, RHP

May 14

Numbers Glaring As To How Bad Mets Were In Chicago

On April 23, after the Mets wrapped up their 11th straight victory to move ten games over .500 and build a comfortable eight-game lead over the Washington Nationals, all seemed right in their world.

They won because their starting pitching overcame injuries to David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud; a lack of consistent power from Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer; a slumping Daniel Murphy; and defensive flaws up the middle, in particular with shortstop Wilmer Flores.

At the time of their 11-game winning streak, the Mets were playing at a pace that would have resulted in 132 victories. None of us expected them to continue at that rate. Realistically, after six straight losing seasons most of us would take .500, although the buzz number was 90 victories. Today, after losing four straight to the Cubs, they are on pace to win 93 games.

The Mets weren’t as good as they appeared when they won 13 of 16 games, and likely not as bad as they are in going 7-12 since.

Quite simply, the flaws in their game at the start of the season caught up with them, in addition with a poor stretch from Jacob deGrom; a continued lack of power; Juan Lagares’ injury; and cracks in the bullpen bridge to Jeurys Familia.

Collectively, the Mets aren’t hitting, and their pitching was off during the Cubs’ series. Fundamentally, they had four miserable days in a great city.

Overall, their hitters were 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position; stranded 21 runners; grounded into five double plays and struck out 40 times. Only one hitter in today’s game, Duda at .296 is batting over .250.

Their pitchers walked 19 batters and hit four batters during the four games.

The statistics in this series were so glaringly bad to as to poorly the Mets performed. Overall, here are two more: 1) they scored three or fewer runs in 18 of their 35 games, and 2) 11 of their 15 losses were by one or two runs.

In the big picture, the Mets might be considered to be lucky to be where they are, which is 20-15 with a slim one-game lead over Washington.

 

May 13

Trading Syndergaard Or Matz Not A Good Idea

Less than 24 hours after Noah Syndergaard made his Mets’ debut, the radio call-in shows were buzzing today with talk of trading him or Steven Matz for Troy Tulowitzki, or Addison Russell, or any other hot-shot shortstop.

Personally, I don’t want Tulowitzki. He’s too expensive salary wise and in terms of prospects that would need to be dealt and has a significant injury history.

SYNDERGAARD: Keep him.

SYNDERGAARD: Keep him.

Here’s another thing, of his career numbers, how much is because of Coors Field? Yes, we’ve seen him hit at Citi Field, but how much of that was against crummy Mets’ pitching?

Syndergaard showed good things last night and I can see why teams would want him, but on this issue I agree with GM Sandy Alderson, I don’t want to give up him or Matz just yet.

There are lots of reasons why the Mets shouldn’t give up Syndergaard, most significantly is the future state of their pitching.

* Matt Harvey has pitched well coming off Tommy John surgery, but for at least the next year the Mets need to be cautious with him. They have said so themselves. Sometimes pitchers hit a wall coming off this surgery.

* Bartolo Colon will be gone after this year and most likely so will Dillon Gee. Won’t the Mets need to replace them?

* The Mets won’t get Zack Wheeler back until next July at least, and nobody knows how he will be then. Without Colon and Wheeler, I’m counting two spots that must be filled for sure at the start of next year.

* Jacob deGrom is off to a slow start, which, if it continues should make us wonder how much last year was a fluke. I like deGrom a lot, but if he continues to struggle somebody must pick up the slack.

* They’ve been trying to trade Jon Niese, who is basically a career .500 pitcher with an injury history.

* And, realistically the 5.1 innings Syndergaard gave the Mets last night isn’t enough to dust off a shelf at Cooperstown just yet. We don’t know how he and/or Matz will perform.

Also, we know the Mets’ offense has been weak and nobody can project when David Wright will return and at what level. And, because the Mets have other issues other than Wilmer Flores, they must hold onto their pitching if they are to compete this year or next.

Other teams aren’t stupid. They won’t trade the Mets a top-flight shortstop in exchange for guys like Niese, or Gee, or Flores. It won’t happen.

Consequently, the idea of trading Syndergaard or Matz isn’t something they should be considering, no matter who is on the other end of the phone line.

 

May 12

Composure Most Important Thing For Syndergaard

Just as they were with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, don’t look for the Mets to bring up Noah Syndergaard for a spot start. Once he’s here, unless he really spits the bit, he’s not going anywhere. Like everybody else, I’m excited to see him pitch, just as I was when Harvey and Wheeler first came up.

What it means is Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen or be traded, with the Mets having to take less than they want to move him – and save money. That much is inevitable when Gee comes off the disabled list. The Mets were so hot to trade him because they knew this day was coming. The only snap for the Mets was Gee getting hurt, otherwise they could have kept Syndergaard down for Super Two status.

noah-syndergaardWe can talk all we want about Syndergaard’s stuff and his fall-off-the-table curveball. We know from spring training, Triple-A Las Vegas and his Tweeting he has no shortage of confidence. However, his stuff and confidence will only carry him so far tonight in Wrigley Field.

The most important thing Syndergaard must take to the mound is poise. Actually, I’d like to see him get in trouble to see how he responds to adversity and pressure. That quality is what defines a great pitcher. We’ve seen it in Harvey and until recently, in Jacob deGrom. Now, I want to see it in Syndergaard.

The standard cliche for a rookie pitcher is it’s still the same game he’s been playing in the minor leagues. Not true. In the minor leagues he’s facing minor leaguers. This is the major leagues and mistakes get hit a long way.

Syndergaard must keep the ball down and get ahead in the count. That much is obvious, But, he also needs to minimize damage when he gets in trouble. He needs to find something when that curveball is missing its spot.

The distance between the rubber and the plate is the same, but everything else will be different, including the opposition, the pressure and all those eyes watching him.

Syndergaard did a lot to get here. He must do a lot more to stay.