Sep 01

Mets Should Skip Niese Before Syndergaard

It’s now three stinkers in a row for Jon Niese, and if Mets manager Terry Collins is considering skidding Noah Syndergaard this weekend, perhaps the smarter play would be to bypass the veteran left-hander instead.

NIESE: Next start should be skipped. (AP)

NIESE: Next start should be skipped. (AP)

Niese was rocked in his second straight start by the Phillies Tuesday night, giving up six runs on seven hits in five innings. Niese fell behind 6-0 before Yoenis Cespedes‘ two-run homer briefly made a game of it, but the night unraveled with an eight-run sixth against the Mets’ very suspect bullpen.

Collins is planning to skip Syndergaard in favor of Steven Matz this weekend in Miami in an effort to conserve his innings. However, Niese’s next start is scheduled for Monday in Washington against Max Scherzer.

Which game figures to have greater for the Mets, Saturday in Miami or Monday in Washington? While all games are important, playing the Nationals can be vital, especially if they have cut into the Mets’ lead. The Mets entered Tuesday night’s game with a 5.5-game lead on Washington with six games left between the two teams.

The math is self-explanatory.

Skipping Niese in a game in which he would face Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth is something worth considering. It might be enough to enable him to clear his head. As for Syndergaard, the Mets could conserve his innings in his next start.

However, for this weekend and Monday, it’s more important for the Mets to conserve their lead in the division than it is Syndergaard’s innings.

Aug 31

Bumping Colon From Playoff Roster Not Good Idea

One of the foregone conclusions of the Mets’ playoff push is that once they get there, they won’t have a role for Bartolo Colon.

Conventional wisdom has Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Jon Niese in the rotation. Although there has been some silliness reported about putting Syndergaard in the bullpen and Steven Matz in the rotation.

COLON: Don't skip him from playoffs. (AP)

COLON: Don’t skip him from playoffs. (AP)

Uh, that’s not a good idea.

Bumping Colon from the playoff roster isn’t a good idea either for a franchise that hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2006.

There have been times when Colon has been dreadful, but more often than not he’s been terrific, like he was Monday night, his start last week in Philadelphia and out of the bullpen Saturday.

Of Colon’s 27 starts, he’s given up more than four runs six times, walked only 21 batters and worked less than five innings only five times.

And, oh yes, Colon got his seventh hit Monday night along with throwing eight scoreless and tying his season-high with nine strikeouts. He’s now thrown 16 straight scoreless innings.

Where Colon also demonstrated his value is with that relief appearance over the weekend. It was for one inning, but should have planted the seed for long-man use.

In his two years with the Mets he has won 27 games. He has won 12 games this season, tied with deGrom for the team lead, one more than Harvey, and three more than Niese and Syndergaard.

Even so, the Mets seem determined to bump Colon in favor of Matz, who seemingly has a bright future but only two major league victories.

The number that works against Colon is that he’s 42. However, somewhere along the line he’ll do something or pass along a tidbit of information that could be invaluable.

The Mets shouldn’t throw that away.

Aug 19

No Winning For Mets With Six Man Rotation

The problem with the Mets skipping Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard for a start or two in September, is that by the end of the month they might need those games. That’s why having a definitive plan entering the season was the way to go, but GM Sandy Alderson was too smart for that and Harvey was too stubborn.

Getting their starts will be Steven Matz and Logan Verrett. And, hopefully Bartolo Colon will have as strong a finish as he did a start and Jon Niese continues his good pitching.

With 154 innings already, it is projected he has 36 innings left, which is six starts of six innings. And, considering the strain on the bullpen that’s not encouraging. The projection is the same for Syndergaard.

“We want to have innings left and all the big boys ready to pitch the postseason,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters.

Warthen is also adjusting Syndergaard’s pregame routine by starting his warmups later. Presumably, this will get him in a rhythm sooner. Hopefully, this will enable him to use fewer pitches. However, the innings goal will remain the same.

The other alternative is to junk the limits and take their chances. But, there will be hell to pay if it doesn’t work and they get hurt. Then again, if there will be hell if they restrict them and they don’t get in.

But, I’m giving them hell for not having a plan in place from the beginning.



Aug 18

How Will Mets’ Rotation Shake Out In September?

Sorry for the no-show yesterday folks. Had another setback and back in Ohio for more rehab. There are good and bad stretches, and I’m currently on one of the bad ones. It happens, but like your Mets, I have to keep plugging away. It’s the only way to get from here to there, and in the case of our heroes, that would be the playoffs.

We’re two weeks away from the Mets playing meaningful games in September, and for the Mets what will again entail the return of the six-man rotation. That is, of course, if management follows through on its intent to keep the starters on their innings limitations.

It all begins when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1 with Steven Matz. The Mets will also throw a spot start or two to Logan Verrett, who was added to the roster today in Baltimore. Verrett will work both as a starter and reliever, with an emphasis on the latter now that Bobby Parnell is back on the disabled list.

The driving force behind the innings limits was to protect Matt Harvey, who already has thrown 154 and is on pace for 211, which is roughly 15 more than the Mets wanted. This is an issue I’ve been pounding on all season and I can think of several games in which Harvey should have been cut off but wasn’t. There was the Yankees game in which he was hell bent to try for a complete game during a blowout. There was also the sore throat game in which he should have been skipped. That accounts for almost six innings right there. Can you see now why that was important?

Noah Syndergaard has thrown 135.1 innings this year after 138 last season. The Mets are thinking a 35-inning jump maximum.

Jacob deGrom threw 178.2 innings last season and already has 146.2 this year.

There are no limits for Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon.

On of the residual issues here is the bullpen, which is now getting dangerously thin. Without a reliable bullpen to carry some of the workload, it will add pressure to the starters. This is where the Mets can get into trouble.



Jul 19

Did Mets Save Their Season Sunday?

Let’s assume the Mets find their way into October. If so, they might look at Sunday as a watershed moment to their season.

The Mets outlasted St. Louis 3-1 in 18 innings, but played poorly enough offensively to lose three games. Their hitters struck out 15 times, went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position and stranded 25 runners.

iThere was a time this afternoon when I thought Cardinals manager Mike Matheny would better off just intentionally walking the first two hitters of the inning and going from there.

If nothing else it might have cut the time of the game to a brisk four hours.

But, how the Mets responded after losing the first two games of the series – including being pasted Saturday night – to avoid totally limping into Washington tomorrow was essential to their season.

And, it all began with the pitcher the Mets were almost desperate to unload, Jon Niese, who has given up nine runs over his last six starts. He’s also gone at least six innings in each of his last eight starts.

Part of the reason why the Mets toyed with a six-man rotation was to showcase Niese, and he’s pitched like a beast the past two months. He’s as much a reason as anyone as to why the Mets are just two games behind the Nationals.

Sometimes when a team makes a run at a season they need to steal a game like today and have an all-but-dismissed player like a Niese provide a lift.

The Mets seem to have more issues than a dozen years of Sports Illustrated, but they’ll wake up Monday morning in Washington exhausted – but in a pennant race.

And, isn’t that what we all want? And, if it stays that way, today could be the reason.