Sep 07

Thoughts On Amazing Day

If there is one word to describe the 2015 Mets, for me it would be resiliency. There have been numerous times this season when they could have fallen off the ledge, but found a way to get it done – which is the essence of any championship team.

From a multitude of injuries, including losing David Wright for nearly five months to a near two-month slump to a leaky bullpen to the circus around the trade deadline to the current mess pertaining to Matt Harvey‘s innings, it has been a wild ride. Today’s 8-5 come-from-behind victory in Washington capsulized the season in a wild three hours.

WRIGHT: Slides home in the seventh. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Slides home in the seventh. (Getty)

When Max Scherzer escaped a no-outs, runner-on-third threat in the first it looked like a bad omen for the Mets. However, momentum turned on solo homers by Michael Conforto – who, by the way, needs to play against all kinds of pitching, Kelly Johnson and Yoenis Cespedes, this would be a day to remember.

However, it would be an unforgettable day on the down side when the Nationals roughed up Jon Niese, including with Wilson Ramos‘ grand slam. Scherzer would settle down, but the Mets persevered. And, when Jeurys Familia blew away Ryan Zimmerman to end the game and make we wonder if Bryce Harper still doesn’t care about what’s going on with the Mets these days.

Here’s what I’ll take from today’s game, or as Collins said, Game 1 of the September playoffs:

TERRY COLLINS: He needs to sharpen his motivational skills. When you have a pitcher like Niese, whose confidence is shaken, you don’t tell him “this is the game of your life.” What manager does that? Niese’s confidence is peanut brittle tough as it is so you don’t apply additional pressure. Furthermore, your team has lost two games recently in walk-off fashion, but it still had a four-game lead heading into the series. So, Collins applied even more pressure. What’s the purpose? On a positive note, give Collins points for starting Johnson at second.

DAVID WRIGHT: He showed his captaincy mettle when he talked to Harvey for four innings Sunday in Miami. He underscored it in bold Sunday when he drove in the game-winning run and scored in the seventh. This guy is a winner. If anybody deserves this, it is him.

YOENIS CESPEDES: You don’t think he’ll get some MVP votes? If there was an MVP award for a late-season acquisition he would get it hands down. Cespedes will cost money, but he’s worth bringing back. With Curtis Granderson‘s contract up in two years and one more for Michael Cuddyer, there will be |money. Plus, I never bought the Mets’ cries of poverty.

BRYCE HARPER: Whether he cares what’s going on with the Mets or not is irrelevant. What matters is what he thinks of Nationals’ fans. For him to rip his fans for leaving early, it shows his head isn’t in the game and he’s looking for excuses. There aren’t many clearer signs the Nationals are showing signs of cracking. The teams have five games remaining, and the Nationals need to win them all.

MATT HARVEY/SANDY ALDERSON: If you’re scoring at home, the early rounds go to Harvey, who’ll make two or three more starts and not the four the Mets want. Alderson had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he spoke about Harvey prior to the game. What is clear is the Mets don’t have control over their diva pitcher as they have caved to his demands on nearly every turn.

Harvey wants to be limited during the September, but pitch in the playoffs. That could limit his effectiveness in October. Alderson wouldn’t say how much Harvey might pitch in the playoffs. Then, when faced with not having Harvey for two or more starts in September, Alderson doesn’t bring up Dillon Gee. Here’s a guy, Gee, who has done everything – and generally produced – the organization has asked, yet when they need another starter they ignored him. Rather shabby on Alderson’s part. Harvey pitches Tuesday and he damn well better produce. If he gets ripped and misses some starts and the Mets start falter, he’ll hear some boos next time he pitches at Citi Field.

THE BULLPEN: Today it threw 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Niese. The bad news is they’ll lose Carlos Torres indefinitely with a pulled calf muscle. With Harvey’s innings uncertain, they could use a long man. It was sterling today, simply sterling. And, I’ve noted this before. Familia is the team’s MVP. That is, if Cespedes hasn’t moved ahead. One thing for certain, it isn’t Harvey.

JON NIESE:  Evidently, Niese’s wife didn’t wear her lucky panties. Today marked the 175th start of Niese’s career, and as Collins and SNY emphasized, it was his most important and he spit the bit. In parts of eight seasons, Niese is 60-61 and never has won more than 13 in a single season. Frankly, I’m thinking this might be as good as it gets for Niese. The Mets were wise to try to trade him last winter. They’ll increase those efforts this offseason.

 

Sep 05

Comparing Schedules Of Mets And Nats

There have been several stories recently, not to mention comments made on SNY, how the Mets have the easiest schedule of the playoff contenders for the rest of the season, with their opponents having a .440 winning percentage.

So, what does this mean?

Other than fodder for gamblers, bookies and radio talk show hosts, absolutely nothing of substance.

The Mets went into the Labor Day Weekend holding a six-game lead over the Nationals, and with six games remaining between them. Should they go into Washington Monday with such a lead or less they would not be controlling their own destiny. Which is a phrase you’ll be hearing over the next few weeks.

Here’s how the schedules of the Mets and Nationals compare until the end of the season:

Today: Mets: at Miami; Nationals: Atlanta.

Tomorrow: Mets: at Miami; Nationals: Atlanta.

Monday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Tuesday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Wednesday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Thursday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: Off.

Friday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

Saturday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

Sunday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

September 14: Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 15:  Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 16:  Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 17:  Mets: Off; Nationals: Miami.

September 18: Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 19: Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 20:  Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 21: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 22: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 23: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 24: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Off.

September 25: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 26: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 27: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 28: Mets: Off; Nationals: Reds.

September 29: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

September 30: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

October 1: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

October 2: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

October 3: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

October 4: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

From here until the end of the season, the Mets have a slightly tougher schedule with their three games against the Yankees. Other than that series, their schedules are identical.

In addition, the Mets are confronted with several issues, including injuries to Michael Cuddyer, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy; Jacob deGrom in his worst stretch of the season; the emerging issue of Matt Harvey’s innings and it being a distraction; Jon Niese‘s struggles; the uncertainty of Steven Matz; how their young starters will respond to playoff pressure; and their porous bullpen.

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.