May 30

Niese Future Looking Bleak

Jon Niese went into the season as one of the Mets’ most important questions, and it isn’t being answered in the positive. Niese’s record is 3-5 and over the past three weeks his ERA has more than doubled to 4.42.

He wasn’t tagged with the loss today, but deserved to as he gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings. Yes, that’s pretty bad when you come down to it.

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

About the only certainty when it comes to Niese, is that at this rate there’s no way the Mets will trade lefty Steven Matz. At this rate it is becoming clear Niese’s future with the Mets is dwindling.

What else can you conclude with Niese giving up 22 runs is his past four starts?

Manager Terry Collins said Niese is healthy – he has been on the DL in each of the past two seasons – but his problem has been hitters driving the ball in the air (he gave two homers gave up today) when he’s a natural groundball pitcher.

It wasn’t long ago that Niese was a hot commodity as a hard throwing, healthy left-hander signed to a long-term contract.

That list is getting shorter and shorter, perhaps like his time with the Mets.

May 22

Six-Man Rotation Could Be Good For Mets, Pending Harvey’s Approval

The New York Mets are again making noise about going with a six-man rotation when Dillon Gee is activated from the disabled list. Doing so would allow them to not choose between Gee and Noah Syndergaard, Friday’s starter in Pittsburgh.

The Mets considered this before Gee was injured, but rejected it, in large part because it would have meant Matt Harvey pitching with more rest than in a normal five-man rotation.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

However, as often is the case with the Mets, they don’t have a definitive plan. They didn’t when it came to naming a format to regulate Harvey’s innings; settling on a batting order; and determining a leadoff hitter.

I don’t have a problem with a six-man rotation, if it is implemented properly, meaning – stick with it.

The negative is less starts for Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but the flip side is they could be stronger when they do pitch.

Another positive is less starts – and more rest – for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. Another positive is that if Gee pitches well, which he has this year at times and in his rehab, it enables the Mets to showcase him for a possible trade by the July 31 deadline. If they do this, they can go back to the more conventional five-man rotation.

But, what if it works? What if the extra rest and extra pitcher improves the team? Remember, at one time a four-man rotation was the norm. The Mets really have nothing to lose by this, especially since it could give them an idea of what might happen next summer when they have Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz.

However, for it to work, two things must happen, 1) the Mets must give it time to develop, and 2) the starters must be on board with the change.

If one starter, and of course I’m talking about Harvey because he’s been known to make noise when he doesn’t like things.

It will be interesting to see if the Mets sacrifice the chance to better the team to appease one player.

 

 

 

 

May 20

Mets Facing Critical Juncture To Season

Every season has its critical juncture and for the Mets it is now after Bartolo Colon‘s 41-year-old arm was mauled tonight by major league’s best team in St. Louis. The Mets’ 11-game winning streak and eight-game lead over Washington has faded from euphoria to the cusp of panic after Colon was ripped.

We’ve seen hot streaks from the Mets morph into inescapable slides before. The Mets’ 9-0 loss coupled with the Nationals beating the Yankees, 3-2, tonight, leaves Washington in sole possession of first place in the National League East and begs the question: Can manager Terry Collins‘ team recover?

COLON: Ripped again. (AP)

COLON: Ripped again. (AP)

After a 13-3 start, the Mets are 10-15, including 3-7 over their last ten games. They aren’t hitting. Their starting pitching has faltered recently with Colon, Jon Niese and Thursday’s starter, Jacob deGrom. They haven’t won behind Matt Harvey in three starts and blew 1-0 leads in his last two. Their defense has been poor.

In two respects, the Mets’ hopes to regroup are tied to two gambles by GM Sandy Alderson: 1) the signing of Colon, whom they hoped would stem the tide tonight, and 2) the decision to see how David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud come back from the disabled list before attempting to trade for a hitter to aid their faltering offense.

The estimate on their returns is at least two weeks, and nobody knows where the Mets will be in the standings by then. Don’t forget, they lost eight games in the standings to the Nationals in a little over three weeks. Bryce Harper is hot; Stephen Strasburg is back.

It is possible the Mets could respond from tonight’s mugging and win another 11 in a row. Then again, they could continue their funk. They have another game with the Cardinals Thursday, then three in Pittsburgh before playing the Phillies, who are now playing well.

In many ways Colon personifies Alderson’s patchwork approach in building this team. Colon was signed as a stopgap after Harvey was injured. They eschewed going after a big name free-agent in favor of Colon, who was signed to eat innings and win about a dozen games. Colon won 15 games last season and sought his seventh tonight. Colon gave up five homers in splitting his previous four starts, and was hammered tonight, giving up nine runs on 11 hits – including two homers – and a pair of walks in 4.1 innings.

Meanwhile, for all the talk about the Mets’ ailing offense, it wouldn’t have mattered tonight against Colon and Tuesday against Niese, who is also proving not to be an answer.

Lately, there have been more questions than answers for the Mets, including this big one: Can they pull it together?

 

May 19

Mets Matters: No Offensive Help In Sight

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he’s not pursuing immediate trade options to improve the offense, and instead will wait to see what spark David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud might provide when they come off the disabled list.

No surprise in that stance.mets-matters logo

Alderson said neither player would be activated soon.

“I don’t think you can expect [Wright] back sooner than a week, maybe 10 days, maybe even two weeks,’’ Alderson said. “I’d say the same with d’Arnaud. I think a week is way too aggressive. It’s going to be a little bit longer than that.’’

I’ve said this a dozen times, but when it comes to injuries and the Mets, always bet the over.

Of course, not much would have helped tonight.

NIESE SLAUGHTERED

After Jon Niese’s last start, manager Terry Collins said the left-hander had to work harder to overcome in-game adversity.

It didn’t happen in tonight’s 10-2 loss to St. Louis.

Niese gave up single runs in each of the first four innings, and overall gave up eight runs on 11 hits in five innings.

It was just a horrible performance. If there was one stat that spoke volumes about how bad Niese was, it was that of the 25 batters he faced he got a first-pitch strike only 12 times. After the game Collins said Niese would remain in the rotation.

There were a lot of low-lights tonight, including Jack Leathersich walking reliever Randy Choate.

The loss, coupled with Washington’s victory over the Yankees, put the Mets in a first-place tie with the Nationals.

MURPHY LOST

There have been numerous times this season that you’ll see Daniel Murphy do something, either in the field or on the bases, and wonder what is going on in his mind.

Murphy’s brain cramp du jour came in the sixth when instead of covering first base on Michael Wacha’s bunt, he went for the ball that was by the mound.

That loaded the bases and was part of the Cardinals’ six-run inning that broke the game open.