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.

 

Jul 09

Matz Out At Least Three Weeks; Could Impact Attempts To Deal Niese

It appears Matt Harvey will get his way and the Mets could go back to a five-man rotation – albeit temporary. Of course, the decision came about in the worst possible way, a partial lat teal to Steven Matz that reportedly will sideline him for at least three weeks.

Manager Terry Collins said Matz was bothered by stiffness in the area near his left armpit between his first and second start, which begs the question: Why did he make that start in the first place?

Isn’t Matz one of those good, young arms they are trying to protect?

Initially the Mets said the injury wasn’t serious, but then again, that’s what they said when David Wright went on the disabled list. After their initial statement, the Mets backtracked and said he would not be able to throw for up to three weeks.

All this could hamper the Mets’ attempts to trade Jon Niese as the deadline approaches.

Jul 06

Collins Lays Down Law With Harvey

The other day I suggested the Mets’ Matt Harvey “just shut up and pitch.” Evidently, manager Terry Collins has similar thoughts, but was less colorful than me. Anyway, the bottom line is Collins and GM Sandy Alderson want to do the right thing with Harvey and the other starters to protect their arms.

Of course, had Alderson developed a definitive plan coming out of spring training this wouldn’t be the issue it has become. And for the record, Princess Harvey made it the hot button topic. Quite frankly, it amazes me how many people don’t understand the six-man is designed to protect Harvey and the other young pitchers, all of whom are on innings counts.

If the Mets hope to play meaningful games in September, they’ll need those pitchers. Seriously, wouldn’t Harvey rather the Mets limit him now or in September? Logic would dictate that be the case, but why can’t Harvey understand that?

When Harvey blamed his rustiness on the six-man rotation – and undercut Collins in the process – the manager told the pitcher to “get over it.”

“I know he’s frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it,” Collins told reporters, in yet another effort to placate Harvey. “But you’ve got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He’s a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis.

“I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, ‘Matt, we’ll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.’ So we’ve got to make the adjustment.”

That’s what the Diva doesn’t understand. The Mets are in the six-man rotation to protect Harvey, All-Star selection Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, not to mention Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Then again, when you’re thinking only of yourself and not the big picture, that’s what happens.

I’m glad Collins had his say with Harvey, and more than that, brought his comments to the forefront. It’s about time.

Jun 29

Assessing Trade Value Of Jon Niese

With the emergence of Steven Matz, expect the Mets to ratchet up their intent to trade from their pitching depth to bolster their anemic offense. The Mets would dearly like to find a taker or two for Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the major league level; Dillon Gee in the minors; and Rafael Montero, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list.

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

Of course, interested teams inquire about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matz, but are turned down. They don’t even both to ask about Matt Harvey, anymore.

Of the the four the Mets most want to trade, Niese has the greatest upside to bring in a bat.

Colon, at 41, won’t attract anything more than a lower level mediocre prospect at best. Gee won’t bring much more. Montero, if included in a package, could bring in the most, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.

Niese, however, at 28, is left-handed, now seemingly healthy, signed to a reasonable contract and has had some degree of success. Niese’s career record is 55-58, but with a respectable 3.89 ERA and average 1.368 WHIP. The ERA is what is most attractive, with the mediocre record attributable to the Mets’ porous bullpen and poor hitting.

Last year, Niese logged 187.2 innings in 30 starts while going 9-11. That’s indicative of a pitcher not afraid to take the ball. That could have value to the Cubs and Dodgers, the teams reportedly interested in Niese.

Assuming Niese remains healthy, a buying team can figure on getting innings, and will undoubtedly have the belief he would benefit from a change of scenery.

Naturally, money will always factor into any deal.

Niese will make $7 million this year, which means roughly a $3.5 million investment for the remainder of this year. Niese will earn $9 million in 2016; $10 million for 2017; and $11 million in 2018. Those are palatable salaries, and making it more attractive is the final two years have team options.

However, what must be remembered in dealing Niese to a potential contender is that if a team is in contention it likely wouldn’t want to deal a major league ready hitter. And, the Mets don’t want prospects as they believe they are capable of winning now.

Consequently, a team wanting Niese likely wouldn’t offer much, which is usually the tact the Mets have when they want to make a trade.