Sep 10

Mets Matters: DeGrom Improves

I didn’t really expect the Mets to skip Jacob deGroms start today, but it wouldn’t have killed them if they had done so. DeGrom rebounded from going 3.2 innings in his last start to post his tenth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. DeGrom came away with a no-decision in the Mets’ 10-5 loss to Cincinnati.

DeGrom will likely make four more starts before calling it a winter. He has accumulated 188.1 innings, so barring something unforeseen he should reach his goal of 200.

DE GROM: Better. (AP)

DE GROM: Better. (AP)

“Jake’s our guy and we ride him. We kind of push him, let him go a little deeper than others,” manager Terry Collins said. “We think when we send him out there we’re going to be in the game.”

Today was just deGrom’s sixth no-decision of the season, a testimony to his ability to work long into games. Since pitch counts dominate most pitching conversations these days, it’s rather remarkable deGrom’s low this year was 69 in a June 6 loss at Texas.

My point in skipping deGrom is that with him coming off surgery, I don’t think it’s worth taking a risk with his arm. So much has gone wrong this season, that why take the chance?

DISTURBING TREND: There have been numerous statistics that have defined this season for the Mets, and today revealed another that showed a lack of a killer instinct. The Mets not only had their 18th blown save of the season, but it went deeper than that. The Mets had a chance today to complete a weekend series sweep, but for the sixth time failed to put away the opposition on a Sunday.

SMITH HAS WORK TO DO: Despite hitting his fifth homer, rookie Dominic Smith has struggled to the point where nothing is assured for him for next season.

A .210 batting average with a .257 on-base percentage illustrate holes in his offensive profile that must be improved. Currently, I would be reluctant to simply gift the first base job to Smith right now.

NOAH SCRATCHED: Noah Syndergaard’s rehab today was delayed because of “general soreness.’’ It’s possible he could throw Tuesday in Chicago.

“We aren’t going to push him, first of all. We’ll go at his pace and how he feels,’’ Collins said. “[Saturday] night he said he was feeling a little sore from the outing the other day and wanted to throw a bullpen and we just said, ‘No, until you feel better we’re not going to do that.’ So, we’ll wait.’’

Syndergaard threw 36 pitches in Brooklyn Thursday, throwing 36 pitches.

Sep 05

Mets Should Skip DeGrom’s Next Start

With the Mets’ season long since over and Jacob deGrom almost a certainty to get his 200 innings, it might not be such a bad idea to have him skip a start. After getting shelled tonight, 9-1, by the Phillies, deGrom is 2-6 in his last eight starts.

DE GROM: Skip him. (AP)

DE GROM: Skip him. (AP)

DeGrom gave up a career-high nine runs on ten hits in 3.2 innings. He’s given up at least five runs in three of his last five games. Something isn’t right with the Mets’ ace, and don’t forget he’s coming off surgery, so what’s the problem?

Of course, deGrom will want to pitch, that’s the kind of pitcher he is, but if he’s fatigued, that’s how he could re-injure himself, so, is it worth it to push him?

I’m thinking not.

“That’s always the possibility this late in the year,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked about fatigue. “He couldn’t get the ball down. It was not a typical Jacob deGrom start.’’

DeGrom, as is always the case, was stand-up.

“I wish I knew,’’ was deGrom’s response to if he knew what went wrong. “Everything was flat and up in the zone. No excuses, I was terrible tonight. Everything feels good. I just wasn’t making pitches. It’s unacceptable.’’

Collins said nothing about skipping deGrom. He has enough on his mind trying to figure out who will pitch tomorrow, as after the game he announced Matt Harvey would be skipped.

Aug 26

Conforto And Cespedes Season Ends Are Fitting

First of all, please forgive my absence from talking about the Mets this week. As you might know I had an accident a few years ago and had several subsequent back surgeries. I had some complications this week.

Personally, when you can’t get out of bed nothing else seems to matter. Honestly, with Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, and my body feels right in with the 2017 Mets.

CESPEDES: This is fitting.  (AP)

CESPEDES: This is fitting. (AP)

Actually, the first two games in Washington perfectly describe what’s going with this team and what it will take to return the Mets to contending status.

It begins with pitching and that’s Jacob deGrom, the ace of this future formidable staff. Next up is Noah Syndergaard, who, like Cespedes, took his conditioning in his own hands and failed miserably.

Both said they need to revisit their offseason workout routines, and that’s probably the most important development of this season.

Strength is good, but flexibility is more important. For Syndergaard, bulking up does nothing for his fastball or his ability to last longer in his starts. Frankly, tearing his lat muscle might be his career-defining moment, a watershed event if you will.

If he takes being limber to heart, then he has a chance to become what is expected.

For Cespedes, if his flexibility is increased then so is his ability to stay on the field. Being flexible and limber won’t sacrifice any of his strength.

I didn’t like the Cespedes signing and still don’t. But, he’s here and will be for three more years. The most important number isn’t the Mets’ $110-million investment in him, but the 81 games he played this year. That’s half a season, and the Mets knew his injury history before GM Sandy Alderson signed him. So, this is on him, just like it was on him by letting Syndergaard pitch without taking that MRI.

So, the Mets are stuck with Syndergaard and Cespedes, so let them come together on productive conditioning routines and then possibly things will develop for the best.

As far as Conforto is concerned, it’s better this happened in a lost season, one with a month remaining. He’ll have surgery, and I know as well as anybody nothing is guaranteed once they start cutting into your body.

All you can do is trust your doctors and hope for the best.

That’s kind of a hopeless situation, but that fits in with following the Mets.

Again, sorry for the absence and I’ll speak with you tomorrow.

 

Aug 21

No Surprise, Matz To Have Season-Ending Elbow Surgery

As much as Steven Matz and the Mets tried to convince us to the contrary, the team finally admitted something was wrong with the left-hander’s arm and placed him on the disabled list with surgery expected to follow.

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

It only took eight lousy starts to convince GM Sandy Alderson to finally seek the exam that revealed a ulnar nerve condition that if it doesn’t respond to a cortisone injection and more than two weeks of rest, will have season-ending surgery.

Matz’s condition is similar to Jacob deGrom’s last year, but we all know people respond differently from surgery, so it is only a guess he’ll be ready for spring training.

“I think it’s something [Matz] has had to deal with and we felt this was the best time to address it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I am sure some of the issues have kept him from being the pitcher we know he can be.’’

Translated, Collins’ quote tells us: 1) this has been bothering Matz for a long time, and 2) don’t believe it when Mets’ management, or their pitchers, say there’s nothing wrong.

Since July 9, Matz is 0-6 with a 10.19 ERA, numbers to be expected considering opponents are hitting .385 against him with seven homers. Matz, 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA overall, joins Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo on the disabled list.

“There’s no guarantees, especially with young, power pitching, that you are going to say these guys are all going to be healthy throughout the season,’’ Collins said. “We came into this season saying we were prepared for it, because we had seven guys. Five of them went down. I just think you need to keep as much pitching around as you possibly can because you never know when you are going to need it.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Robert Gsellman was superb in his second start since coming off the disabled list, giving up one run on five hits in 6.1 innings. … Matt Harvey gave up two runs in three innings for Double-A Binghamton in his second rehab start. … Jeurys Familia is scheduled to make consecutive appearances Tuesday and Wednesday, and barring complications could be activated this weekend when the Mets are in Washington. … Yoenis Cespedes has ten RBI in his last 11 games.

 

Aug 20

DeGrom And Cespedes Demonstrate Leadership In Different Ways

As today’s game unraveled for the Mets in the seventh the topic of leadership was brought out by broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez.

Cohen was right to call out Yoenis Cespedes’ lackadaisical approach on Christian Yelichs fly down the line in left. Hernandez was also right in saying Cespedes should have used two hands.

DE GROM: Words spoke louder than pitching. (AP)

       DE GROM: Words spoke louder than pitching. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins, of course, apologized for Cespedes, calling him “as a good a left fielder as there is in the game and he has a Gold Glove to show for it,’’ but the bottom line is if Cespedes hustled he wouldn’t have been put in the position where he had to reach for the ball.

Lack of hustle earlier played a role in the third when Dee Gordon’s shallow pop fly fell in front of Cespedes. Cohen called out Cespedes, saying he doesn’t dive or slide for balls, stemming from when he hurt his right hip in a mid-July game against Colorado.

What Cohen didn’t say is had Cespedes hustled against the Rockies he wouldn’t have had to make an awkward slide that injured his hip.

Cespedes recovered to get Adam Conley on a force play at second. Gordon, however, quickly stole second and scored on Yelich’s single off Wilmer Flores’ glove. Safe to say Conley, the pitcher, wouldn’t have done the same.

The topic turned to the lack of veteran leadership after Cespedes’ error in the seventh. While some players – like David Wright – develop into vocal leaders, I maintain ALL players have leadership potential regardless of their personalities.

Leadership comes from the basic concept of doing your job so your teammates know they can rely on you. That means knowing your responsibility on every play, whether at the plate or in the field. That means hustling on every play, not when the mood strikes. It means running out every grounder.

It means knowing your opponent. It wasn’t an error, but Amed Rosario can’t take his time throwing to first when Gordon is the runner. Leadership also comes from taking accountability, which is what Rosario did.

“I got a little overconfident on that play,’’ Rosario said, referring to his habit of double-pumping before throwing. “I take 100 percent (responsibility). I’m learning from every play. This will teach me not do that in the future.’’

Had Rosario made the play, the Mets could have intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton. Instead, Jacob deGrom was forced to pitch to Stanton, who hit the first pitch for a three-run homer.

A lot was made about Rosario’s play, but deGrom wouldn’t pile on, despite being visibly frustrated and putting him arms up. One could understand if deGrom lost his concentration on the pitch to Stanton.

“I don’t think so,’’ deGrom said, then demonstrated what being a leader is all about when he pointed the finger at himself.

“I can’t show my emotions like that. He plays hard so I don’t think it will happen again. That’s on me, I made a bad pitch. I have to do a better job.’’

DeGrom did what leaders do, which is assume responsibility. He knows that as a pitcher, that regardless of what happens behind him, he’s still responsible for throwing the next pitch. He also recognized nothing can be gained by throwing a rookie under the bus.

DeGrom’s day was done after that pitch, but not the Mets’ poor play. The next batter, Yelich, lifted a lazy fly to left, and after Cespedes’ error, ended up on second where he scored on Marcell Ozunas single.

Cespedes drove in two runs with a homer and double, but gave them back with his poor hustle and defense.

There are 40 games remaining in this lost season and much is made about exposing the young players to how the game is played on the major league level. Today they learned a lesson about leadership from both deGrom and Cespedes.

From deGrom’s words after the game and Cespedes’ actions during it.