The Mets, losers of four straight and seven of ten, will attempt to slam the breaks on their skid tonight at Washington behind Jon Niese.
Here’s the lineup:
Ruben Tejada, SS
Ronny Cedeno, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Scott Hairston, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
Andres Torres, CF
Mike Nickeas, C
Jon Niese, LF
LINEUP NOTES: Daniel Murphy has the night off against the left-hander. … Jason Bay returns from the DL. … Mike Nickeas giving Josh Thole a breather.
Sometimes it is better to hold a pat hand, which is what the Mets have done with Jonathan Niese over the past few years. More than a few times we heard Niese’s name mentioned in a possible trade.
NIESE: Untouchable (AP)
Whom the Mets would have received in return would not have lifted them from their 2007-2011 funk. At least, not as much as Niese is lifting them now. He’s 7-3 after last night’s 11-1 rout of the Phillies.
The players the Mets might have received could have given them a temporary spark, but they were in need of a deep rebuilding with their pitching and that begins with a stud left-hander, and Niese certainly fits that mold.
Niese was dominant last night with all his pitches, working quickly and staying ahead in the count. Give him a few runs and he’s golden. Last night he had more than he needed.
Niese is a major reason why the Mets, if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs. There’s nobody that could have predicted. Nobody.
At one time the Mets were eight games over .500 and poised to go on a roll. Instead, they faltered and threatened to go below .500. However, this has been a resilient team – perhaps its best attribute and they are seven over with two more games against the Phillies and three against the Cubs. Ten over by the break is very possible.
The Mets are doing what they should be doing against the reeling Phillies, and that is to beat up on them. When facing a down team go for the throat. While they are hurting, the Phillies still have that strong rotation and Ryan Howard due back. The season is not over for them. Other teams have made up more ground in less time, so putting as much space between them is essential for the Mets.
Yes, I know, Frank Francisco got the save last night and backed up his boast, but not before getting into trouble. Fact is, he’ll blow a key save opportunity soon enough.
The biggest thing that came out of last night was Ike Davis’ homer in the first against lefty Andy Pettitte. I wrote earlier how that match up would be key in this series.
Davis delivered last night and that was the difference and supported Jon Niese. You have to give credit to Terry Collins for sticking with him when Davis was struggling.
What, you expected three straight shutouts? Well, truth be told, as the game – and Dillon Gee – rolled on, so did I.
Gee was terrific, giving the Mets yet another strong start, and extended their scoreless streak to 29, until surrendering a homer in the eighth. The bullpen took over and didn’t exactly cruise over the finish line.
There was a bases loaded walk to force in a run, but even so, it was good to see Frank Francisco struggle and work himself out of trouble. Not all saves can be cruise jobs.
With the sweep, the Mets have now swept two and been swept twice in their last four series. Not the kind of consistency Terry Collins is looking for, I am sure.
The Yankees are up next, but I’m doubting a sweep this time. There’s a buzz at Citi Field and will be this weekend. Here’s the probables:
Jon Niese (4-3, 3.82 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.77) on Friday, followed by Chris Young (1-1, 3.06) against right-hander Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.32) on Saturday. Sunday is prime time with R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00) going againt CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.55).
Terry Collins has been sweating out these days following Johan Santana’s 134-pitch no-hitter. Collins pushed the envelop with Santana and he knew it at the time. Pulling a pitcher during a no-hitter is never an easy thing to do, and Collins had a multitude of variables to consider in a short period of time. It isn’t as if he had this all mapped out, because afterall, who anticipates a no-hitter?
Chris Young will be activated from the disabled list to start in place of Santana in Washington, buying the no-hit ace extra rest. A smart thing to do. Santana’s next start will be against the Yankees this weekend.
It is also smart not to rush back Bay from the DL. He’s still not 100 percent, so what is the point to rush? The Mets have played well without Bay, and if he’s not ready, his presence can only do more harm than good.
An emerging concern is Jon Niese’s irregular heart beat. He’ll have a procedure during the All-Star break, and I’m wondering why not now? I know the Mets aren’t fooling around with Niese, but anytime you hear about the heart you have to think.
But, I concede that might be too much thinking for now. The Mets just closed a memorable home stand. Now they are about to start an interesting road trip, including the Nationals and Yankees. Can’t wait to check it out.