Jul 13

Six Plusses For Mets In First Half

It wasn’t all bad for the Mets in the first half, their record notwithstanding.Six players stood out for their performance:

Michael Conforto: The Mets’ lone All-Star, despite a lackluster June. Once pegged as the No. 3 hitter of the future, Conforto flourished in the leadoff spot. He singled in his first All-Star at-bat, but struck out later in the game with the winning run on third. Came off the disabled list the Saturday before the All-Star break. He enters the second half without a position, which is totally absurd. Unless there’s a trade, manager Terry Collins needs to develop a rotation system that gives Conforto four starts per week.

BRUCE: First-half MVP> (AP)

BRUCE: First-half MVP> (AP)

Jay Bruce: With 23 homers, he should have been the Mets’ All-Star representative. GM Sandy Alderson openly tried to deal Bruce after re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, but failing to do so only drove down his trade leverage. If the Mets decide to be sellers Bruce could draw a nice package in return. He’s a free agent after this season, but the Mets have made no overtures of bringing him back.

Jacob deGrom: Easily the Mets’ ace, even before injuries sabotaged the rotation. Had a rough start by giving up 15 runs in consecutive starts. He rebounded with five straight starts of at least seven innings pitched. He has eight such games overall. One red flag are the 18 homers he gave up in only 111 innings pitched.

Steven Matz: He started the season on the DL, but has looked good with a 3.05 ERA in six starts. He worked into the seventh in four of them. A red flag is seven homers given up in 38.1 innings.

Addison Reed: Had a rough stretch in May, but overall has done a great job filling in for Jeurys Familia. He has converted 15 of 17 save opportunities with a solid 1.08 WHIP. He’s a free agent after this season. He could bring a lot in a trade, but if the Mets think they are still in it they’ll need to keep him.

Jerry Blevins: Is tied for first with 44 appearances, but Collins has backed off in recent weeks. Lefty hitters are batting only .167 against him, which would make him an attractive trade chip at the deadline.

 

 

Jun 30

Mets Beware Of Trap Series

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression of a “trap series,’’ and the Mets are cruising into one this weekend at home against the Phillies, owners of the worst record in the sport.

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling.  (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling. (AP)

Sandwiched between the end of a road trip they closed by winning five of six games and a three-game series in Washington, the Mets could be in a precarious situation should they take the Phillies lightly.

After being swept in a four-game series in Los Angeles, the Mets were staring into the abyss. Instead, they swept the Giants – it still counts in the standings – and won two of three in Miami, a place where they traditionally have trouble.

Seth Lugo pitched brilliantly for six innings last night and the Mets have Jacob deGrom going tonight.

“We’re hoping our pitching is starting to fall in place right now,’’ Collins said Thursday in Miami. “And if it does, we’ve got an exciting second half ahead of us.’’

If the Mets sweep the Phillies, they then travel to Washington, whom they trail by 10.5 games. They made up wild-card ground this last week and trail Colorado by 9.5 games for the second wild card. They open the second half with three games against the Rockies at Citi Field.

However, to catch the Rockies they must first leapfrog the Cardinals, whom they play seven times over the next two weeks.

That’s a lot of looking ahead, and sometimes when you look too far ahead you miss what’s right in front of your face. And, we’ve seen this before from the Mets. Just when they start feeling good about themselves they walk into the door.

Jay Bruce said last night the Mets haven’t been consistent, and “we need to play great baseball’’ if they are to have a chance.

The Mets said all the right things. Yes, the Mets talk a good game. Now they have to play a good game. Beginning tonight.

Jun 28

Mets’ Pitching Could Determine Role At Trade Deadline

Watching Steven Matz toy with the Marlins tonight I couldn’t help but wonder what might have been or what could be. The Mets were supposed to go deep into the playoffs this season with five starters and two reliable reserves just in case something happened.

Well, something did happen and six of those pitchers have spent some time on the disabled list.

MATZ: He's back. (AP)

MATZ: He’s back. (AP)

Matz is back and going strong, working into the seventh inning in three of his last four starts, including seven scoreless in beating the Marlins, 8-0.

Teamed with Jacob deGrom, manager Terry Collins, said the Mets have the beginnings of a strong core.

“It’s going to take pitching if we’re going to get back into this thing,’’ Collins said.

Matz was superb despite only four strikeouts as he pitched to contact.

“I let them put the ball in play,’’ Matz said. “I got a lot of groundball outs [12] and that helps me go deep into games.’’

Matz’s control was on tonight as he not only painted the corners but brushed Giancarlo Stanton off the plate, something Mets’ pitchers don’t always do.

Robert Gsellman went on the disabled list today which gives Rafael Montero another chance to stay in the rotation. Montero has made three straight strong appearances and is coming off a good start.

While the Mets are optimistic about him, they are also hoping for innings from Seth Lugo, Thursday, in Miami, plus a positive medical report on Zack Wheeler.

Even should all those things materialize, the Mets are in such a hole that catching the Nationals isn’t likely to happen, but .500 is within reach.

Perhaps more importantly – and you can decide for yourself whether it is good or bad – the Mets open the second half with ten straight at home, which could make them competitive enough to where it could decide their direction at the trade deadline.

 

Jun 21

Yup, Wheeler Is Fine … Except Goes On DL

What did I tell you about believing the injury denials from the Mets and their pitchers? Right, don’t believe a word they say. Less than 48 hours after saying there was nothing wrong with him, Mets starter Zack Wheeler was placed on the 10-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis.

WHEELER: Goes on DL. (AP)

WHEELER: Goes on DL. (AP)

“I’ve been feeling for a little while now and it has gotten a little worse,’’ Wheeler told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers. “I could miss a start or two.’’

That’s not exactly the same thing as “I feel fine.’’

An MRI showed no structural damage and GM Sandy Alderson expects Wheeler to miss one start, but that’s being optimistic. Alderson speculates Wheeler might have hit a wall after missing the last two years following Tommy John surgery.

Wheeler’s next start will go to tonight’s starter, Tyler Pill, or Rafael Montero.

Wheeler, 27, is 3-5 with a 5.29 ERA after two straight horrendous starts in which he’s given up 15 runs while working 3.2 innings. He’s worked 66.1 innings, a little more than half of what his projected innings ceiling would be.

The Mets went to a six-man rotation, in part, to protect Wheeler. An innings limit shouldn’t be an issue any longer, but the six-man rotation could be gone without Wheeler and Matt Harvey.

“Neither the starting pitching nor the relief pitching is doing very well, and that’s been true over the last week or so with the exception of Jacob deGrom,’’ Alderson said. “We’re working hard to correct it. We haven’t seen any results at this point.’’

Just the last week or so?

Jun 16

Scherzer Toys With Fading Mets

“It’s only June … it’s still early,” some people say when talk turns to the Mets already falling out of the pennant race and becoming sellers at the trade deadline.

However, what the calendar reads and what the NL East standings say are pretty much in sync after tonight’s 7-2 loss to the Nationals.

SCHERZER: Couldn't touch him. (AP)

SCHERZER: Couldn’t touch him. (AP)

After being blown away by Max Scherzer – and Steven Matz giving up three homers – the Mets find themselves 10.5 games behind the Nationals and 11 out of the wildcard, and their season slipping away.

Rapidly slipping away.

Realistically, the Mets needed to win three out of four, if not sweep this series, to have a chance to catch Washington. The best they can hope for now is a split, and they’ll face Stephen Strasburg tomorrow.

Mets’ hitters managed one run on four hits against Scherzer in eight innings and struck out ten times. If there was a turning point in the game it came in the second when the Mets had two on and nobody out, but Scherzer got Travis d’Arnaud to ground into a double play.

“You saw he got really locked in around the third inning,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You can’t him to get the lead on you.”

Scherzer is now 7-4 lifetime against the Mets, including a 17-strikeout, no-hitter two years ago.

TRANSACTIONS: The Mets placed Juan Lagares and Matt Harvey on the 10-day disabled list and recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas infielder Matt Reynolds and outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

UP NEXT: Seth Lugo (1-0, 1.29) goes against Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27) Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, Jacob deGrom (5-3, 4.33) starts against Joe Ross (3-2, 6.39).