Jun 04

Jeremy Hefner Pitching For Rotation Spot – Again

In which direction will the streak-prone Mets go? After winning four straight against the Yankees, they turned about face and were swept by the Miami Marlins.

They are in Washington for the start of a three-game series tonight, but these aren’t the same Nationals the national media gave a bye straight into the World Series.

Bryce Harper is on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg might soon join him, and the struggling Nationals trail Atlanta by seven games. They are vulnerable to be taken and it would have been great to imagine the edge to this series had the Mets swept Miami instead. However, even without the Nationals’ two top players, they remain a formidable opponent in the NL East.

Tonight, Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74) goes against Jordan Zimmerman (8-3, 2.37). Hefner has pitched better recently than his record would indicate, but overall, he’s 1-5 for a reason, and that is he’s vulnerable to the big inning. Hefner does not have the ability to shut down an inning quickly after trouble surfaces. One run quickly becomes two, then three and then it is call in the bullpen.

Hefner is pitching to keep his job in the rotation when Zack Wheeler is promoted in the next few weeks. Hefner is third in the pecking order behind Shaun Marcum (who’s making $4 million) and Dillon Gee (who has a greater window of consistency).

Hefner claims he’s beyond worrying about his spot in the rotation, saying, “I don’t worry about it anymore.’’

Even so, the scenario still exists, and if the Mets are bent on promoting Wheeler soon, somebody will be demoted, or their spot could be altered. For example, Hefner could work in long relief and Collin McHugh could be optioned.

Here’s the lineup the Mets hope will give Hefner a fighting chance:

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Ike Davis, 1B

Jordany Valdespin, RF

Rick Ankiel, CF

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

METS MATTERS: Wright trails San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval by over 120,000 votes at third base in the All-Star balloting. The only other Met listed is Buck, who is third behind Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. … Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will be in a protective walking boot for at least another week. … The prognosis of Dr. James Andrews is Scott Atchison does not need elbow surgery. … Congratulations to Kevin Burkhardt, who’ll call NFL games this year on FOX. … If you want to read an excellent piece on Wheeler, check out ESPN’s Adam Rubin’s story here.

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Jun 04

Who’s The Odd Man Out When Wheeler Joins The Rotation?

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As we usher in what we hope will be the long and prosperous era of Zack Wheeler, perhaps as soon as next week, there’s no question who the Mets will probably cut to make room for him. That distinction will fall to lefthanded reliever Robert Carson – he of the 9.00 ERA , 3.9 K9 and 1.52 WHIP. If you want to make some easy money, go to anyone of the top 5 sports betting sites and wager it all on Carson being demoted.  Pack some sunscreen, Robert…

The difficult decision comes down to who gets bumped from the starting rotation to make room for the Prince of New York. The choice will likely come down to a battle between Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee.

Given that Shaun Marcum was Sandy Alderson’s biggest haul of the offseason, you can also wager that the veteran will be excluded from the conversation by virtue of his $4 million price tag.

If you were to rank these three statistically, Hefner would be the big winner while Marcum and Gee would be holding up the rear. But for an organization who was supposed to use numbers and statistics to direct their decisions, that really hasn’t ever materialized and it certainly won’t begin here. My hunch is that the one who has performed the best in the rotation, will be the biggest loser.

Jeremy Hefner:  .255 BAA – 1.30 WHIP – 4.34 ERA – 57.0 IP

Dillon Gee: .309 BAA – 1.58 WHIP – 5.69 ERA – 57.0 IP

Shaun Marcum: .293 – 1.37 WHIP – 5.71 ERA – 41.0 IP

If you were to take Hefner’s BAA and ERA and compare them to the other number five starters in the the game, the Mets have themselves one of the top number five starters in the game. The other two? They are subterranean, but both rate higher than Hefner on the seniority scale which has always mattered most with Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson.

It will be a tough break for Hefner who has worked his tail off for the Mets so far this season and has not been as bad as his 1-5 record would indicate.

  • April 5 against Miami – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, L
  • April 25 against Los Angeles – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, ND
  • April 30 against Miami – 8.0 IP, 2 ER, L
  • May 24 against Atlanta – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, ND

How’s that for some rotten luck?

Sadly, when Zack Wheeler gets promoted, Hefner will be in for some more rotten luck.

Jun 03

Reflections Of A Lost Weekend For Mets In Miami

In the back of our collective minds, after winning four straight from the Yankees, who wasn’t surprised to see the Mets get beat up in Miami?

I thought they’d get a better showing from Matt Harvey, but other than that, nothing shocking really. Harvey was off his game, but had a chance to win if not for the bullpen, which reverted to pre-Yankees form. The offense continues to sputter.

 

DAVIS: Not excited by homer.

DAVIS: Not excited by homer.

Scott Rice was due for a stinker, which makes me wonder why Terry Collins would let him stay in to give up FOUR walks. Once a reliever gives up two walk, plus a hit, it is time to pull the plug. What was Collins waiting for?

Harvey’s no-decisions are starting to pile up which is a two-fold reflection on the bullpen and offense. I realize the Mets’ offense has been sucking wind lately, but friend Michael Baron put it in perspective: In 27 games in May, the Mets scored a mere 88 runs with a .222 batting average and .286 on-base percentage. That was second worse in the majors for the month.

It all can’t be pinned on Ike Davis, although he does get a large share of the blame. Speaking of Davis, he had two hits, including a home run Sunday. Please, under no circumstances, should the Mets consider hitting him higher than seventh. Let him stay there for a while until he shows real breakout signs. One game is not enough to assume anything about Davis. Certainly, he proved that after his RBI hit against the Yankees and two-homer game against the Dodgers.

Davis is not high on my Mets Concern Meter because frankly, he’s hit rock bottom. There’s no place to go but up, or Triple-A Vegas for him. I suppose I should forget about the minors because if the Mets haven’t done it by now they probably won’t ever.

On another sad offense note, Lucas Duda homered, giving him ten and 20 RBI on the season. In contrast, the Orioles’ Chris Davis hit his 20th homer Sunday. By the way, he has 52 RBI to go along with them. Duda’s HR-RBI is laughable. It shows pitchers are working around him with runners on base.

One of the biggest issues swirling around the Mets is who should go to make room for Zack Wheeler. The Mets are delaying Wheeler’s promotion for Super Two reasons, which is fine by me.

But, is he ready? Is he dominating on the Triple-A level to warrant the jump? I’m not sure, regardless of what Wally Backman might say. One thing I am sure of is Wheeler won’t make much of a difference as far as this year is concerned. Bringing up Wheeler won’t change all that is hurting this club. How will he help the bullpen? How will he help the outfield? How will he help the offense?

As far as who should go, the speculation is between Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee, with Shaun Marcum being excluded from the conversation because he’s a veteran making $4 million.

So?

The Mets must realize they aren’t going to be a contender this season, so what they should be doing is shopping Marcum to see what they can get. It won’t be a lot, but Marcum is gone after this year so why not? He’s had moments where he pitched well, Friday night for example before one bad inning.

The Mets are off today, which has an old joke resurfacing about what are their best days. They are in Washington tomorrow to start a series that lost a lot of edge with the Mets getting trounced. The Nationals aren’t playing well now and will be without Bryce Harper and possibly Stephen Strasburg.

 

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

May 30

Ruben Tejada Issue Solves Itself

It appears the Ruben Tejada problem has taken care of itself.

On the day after hearing a wake-up ultimatum or risk being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, Tejada strained his right quadriceps going after a ball he had no chance of catching in Wednesday night’s victory over the Yankees.

TEJADA: A head-scratching player.

TEJADA: A head-scratching player.

That left the Mets with the easy option of placing Tejada on the disabled list, where he could stay for two weeks. Once Tejada begins a rehab assignment, the Mets will have 20 days in which to activate him. That’s nearly five Tejada-free weeks.

Tejada ran a long way for the ball – one of the few bursts of hustle we’ve seen from him – but to risk injury in a blowout game was senseless. Even worse, was he nearly took out left fielder Mike Baxter in a sliding attempt at the ball.

It was the latest in a series of head-scratching plays from Tejada, who had a brain cramp in the sixth when he looked the runner back to third despite a big lead and didn’t get the runner at first.

It’s one thing to make a physical error, of which he’s had many, but shortstop is a thinking position and he gives the Mets nothing when his mind is elsewhere. In some ways, his wandering mind reminds me of Angel Pagan.

Tejada first tested Terry Collins’ patience when he didn’t report early to spring training in 2012. Collins reasoned with Tejada to replace Jose Reyes, the new shortstop would want to get a head start.

Collins was clearly annoyed that Tejada wasn’t in good shape, but had few options. Tejada made things easier for himself with a solid offensive season, but defense – supposedly his strong suit – was erratic.

Tejada opened the season with a handful of errors in the first two weeks and has been shaky since. At the plate, he couldn’t break the habit of hitting the ball in the air, which makes him an easy out.

Tejada has not been able to seize the leadoff spot, and when he does get on there are times he looks clueless on the bases, such as when he was picked off second Tuesday night.

The Mets won Tuesday giving Tejada another day, but even without the injury, his play Wednesday warranted a demotion.

The Mets are expected to promote Omar Quintanilla today. Quintanilla was a last-day cut in spring training when the Mets opted to keep Kirk Nieuwenhuis as an extra outfielder. To make room on the 40-man roster, they could move Frank Francisco to the 60-day disabled list.

The Mets won despite Tejada in large part because of Jeremy Hefner’s strong start. Hefner has pitched well, but in bad luck lately. He’s pitched well enough to stay in the rotation, but the Mets must make a move when Zack Wheeler is ready.

One demotion possibility is tonight’s starter, Dillon Gee (2-6, 6.34 ERA). If not him, then perhaps Collin McHugh would go. The underperforming Shaun Marcum isn’t leaving because he’s getting $4 million this year.

After the Pittsburgh series, I wrote how the following two weeks could define their season. It didn’t look good in St. Louis and when they were swept by Cincinnati.

However, they have sparked interest with this four-game winning streak, and with two series coming up against Miami, they could see relevance again.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee pitching for his job.

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May 29

Mets Wrap: Jeremy Hefner Finally Gets Victory

David Wright said it would be nice if the Mets played a game when they are in control from start to finish. Such was the case Wednesday night when the Mets gave Jeremy Hefner a five-run first inning and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The victory gave the Mets a season-high four-game winning streak.

HEFNER: Finally gets victory.

HEFNER: Finally gets victory.

ON THE MOUND: In winning for the first time, Hefner gave up three runs on nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts in six innings. … Scott Rice appeared in his 31st game and is on pace to pitch in 97. … LaTroy Hawkins closed the game.

AT THE PLATE:  Ruben Tejada singled to jumpstart a five-run first inning. The inning also included a two-run, opposite field single from Ike Davis. Reportedly, both Tejada and Davis were on notice of being optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Davis had another single in the sixth.. … For the second straight game, Davis hit eighth. … Marlon Byrd homered in the third. … Lucas Duda hit a two-run opposite field double to left in the fourth. … John Buck looked better with two hard hit line drives to right.

THEY SAID IT: “I feel a lot better with the new stance. I am getting comfortable with it,’’ – Davis on showing signs of breaking out of his funk.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-10. Mets’ records in games following a Matt Harvey start and when Hefner starts.

METS MATTERS: Tejada left the game with two outs in the ninth with a sore knee sustained when he slid in the outfield chasing a pop-up. Note: He almost took out Mike Baxter on the play.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee gets the start Thursday night against Vidal Nuno. Gee is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos