May 04

Today’s Question: Will Collins Leave Well Enough Alone?

Mets manager Terry Collins has often been like the weekend grill master who can’t resist poking at the coals.

So, the day after they rapped out 16 runs on 20 hits, today’s question is: Will Collins leave well enough alone?

That means not being seduced by Jose Reyes’ five RBI and resist moving him back to the leadoff spot. It also means leave Michael Conforto at the top of the order.

There could be some juggling because Collins said Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker could use a day off.

But, nothing drastic should be done. Let’s hope Collins slept on last night’s 16-5 rout in Atlanta was something he savored and left well enough alone.

 

May 01

Mets Needed This One

As much as players and managers want to give each game equal weight, it doesn’t always work that way and it didn’t for the Mets tonight in Atlanta. It really was a “must win’’ game for the Mets.

CONFORTO: Homer and three RBI. (AP)

CONFORTO: Homer and three RBI. (AP)

After losing 23-5 and their best pitcher Noah Syndergaard indefinitely Sunday, it would have been easy to see them go into a tailspin. After all, we’ve seen them do it before. We’ve seen them get hit and flop around like LeBron James.

Tonight, the Mets got five pick-me-up innings from Robert Gsellman and got to Mets Killer Julio Teheran with a five-run fourth that didn’t include homers from Michael Conforto and Jose Reyes, in a 7-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves in their new ballpark. Mets finally got to Julio Teheran and gave Robert Gsellman cushion enough to beat the Braves, 7-5.

“It was huge,” said Conforto, who homered to lead off the game and added a two-run single. “It was definitely disappointing yesterday, but it says a lot about this group that we could come back out with this performance.

Manager Terry Collins was understandably testy after Sunday, but said he told his team, “to give it 24 hours and move on.”

Easier said than done because they will be without their best pitcher in Syndergaard and best power hitter in Yoenis Cespedes for an indefinite period, but this was a start, and for Collins, it was the best kind of response.

 

Apr 30

Mets Wrap: Duda Not Ready

Whatever the Mets say regarding injuries, always take the over. Always. So, when the Mets suggested Monday as a possible return date for Lucas Duda (hyperextended left elbow), you knew that wasn’t going to happen.

DUDA: Nothing to cheer about. (AP)

DUDA: Nothing to cheer about. (AP)

After complaining of discomfort in trying to make a full extension, the Mets pushed back his return date to undecided.

In the interim, T.J. Rivera will continue to play first base. Should Duda be out for a significant period, it might force the Mets’ to reconsider bringing up prospect Dominic Smith from Triple-A Vegas.

Meanwhile, Duda’s normal back-up, Wilmer Flores, began his rehab assignment at Port St. Lucie. Since it is apparent the Mets have no inkling to have Flores as anything other than a reserve, they might as well bring up Smith.

PLAWECKI PITCHES: Manager Terry Collins raised the white flag in today’s 23-5 mauling to the Nationals when he brought in reserve catcher Kevin Plawecki after Matt Wieters’ three-run homer in the seventh off Josh Smoker.

Plawecki set the Nationals down in order on three flyouts to the wall.

However, Bryce Harper homered to lead off the eighth inning. Adam Lind added a two-run homer and Anthony Rendon also homered. For Rendon, it was his third homer of the game to give him ten RBI.

MOVING REYES: Jose Reyes was moved up to second in the order and played shortstop while Asdrubal Cabrera had the day off.

Reyes looks more comfortable playing shortstop, and with Cabrera bothered by hamstring issues, perhaps flipping them might be the way to go. Then, again Reyes committed a run-producing error in the seventh, so, who knows?

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets’ bullpen gave up 18 runs in 7.2 innings, but four of those were charged to Plawecki, followed by Sean Gilmartin (five), Fernando Salas (three) and Smoker (six). … Curtis Granderson finished April hitting .128 with six RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets visit Atlanta’s new stadium for the start of a three-game series Monday with Robert Gsellman going against Julio Teheran.

Apr 29

Mets Wrap: Bullpen Saves Mets; Injury Updates

With the exception of one pitch – Addison Reed’s room service fastball to Ryan Zimmerman – the Mets’ bullpen pitched large in today’s 5-3 victory over the Nationals. The headliner, of course, was Jeurys Familia, less than 24 hours after he was pulled from a save opportunity last night, put down the Nationals in order this afternoon.

FAMILIA CELEBRATES WITH RIVERA (AP)

FAMILIA CELEBRATES WITH RIVERA (AP)

Manager Terry Collins vowed Familia was still his closer, didn’t have anybody warming up in the ninth.

“It is very important for a lot of reasons,” Collins said of Familia’s first save of the season. “We’re excited to get him on the right track.”

The parade to Familia started with two outs in the fifth when Collins pulled starter Zack Wheeler, and for the second straight game brought in Josh Edgin to shut down one of the Nationals’ lefty sluggers.

Today he got Daniel Murphy on a fly to right with a runner on third. Edgin ended Friday’s game with the bases loaded by getting Bryce Harper on 1-2-3 double play.

Collins said Edgin’s slider has been biting.

“Confidence is big in this game and he believes he can get people out,” Collins said.

WHEELER LABORS: It wasn’t a strong start for Wheeler, and that could be one of the best things to happen for him.

Wheeler gave up two runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts. That’s a lot of activity over 96 pitches.

“His pitch count is one thing, but he was in trouble for the whole game,” Collins said. “He had to battle all game long and I think that’s good for hm. You have to show you can go out there and compete when you don’t have your best stuff.”

The Nationals were 2-for-11 with RISP and stranded eight runners, with six put on by Wheeler, who kept the game in the balance.

“I wasn’t my best today,” Wheeler said. “I fell behind and threw a lot of pitches, but I made some pitches when I had to.”

INJURY UPDATES: Falling under the “I’ll Believe It When I See It,” category, the Mets have positive reports on Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes.

GM Sandy Alderson seemed optimistic Duda (hyperextended elbow) can come off the disabled list when he’s eligible Monday. T.J. Rivera will continue to play first base until Duda is available.

Meanwhile, the Mets say Cespedes could be ready May 8, which is highly optimistic considering how he looked when he was re-injured.

Alderson said an ultrasound didn’t show significant damage and called the injury mild.

As I’ve always said, when it comes to Mets’ statements on injuries, bet the over.

Meanwhile, pitcher Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – both on the DL with elbow injuries – were scheduled to throw off the slope of the mound today. Their return dates are for late May.

In addition, Travis d’Arnaud left the game when his back stiffened up and will not play Sunday.

ANOTHER RIVERA: Rivera is making the most of his opportunity. He had three hits Friday and two more today, and will stay in the lineup.

The minor league batting champion is hitting and is worthy of more playing time, even if it takes playing time from Jose Reyes (.173) and Neil Walker (.205).

The Mets have won two straight, but their offense has been relatively anemic the last two weeks.

HOT REYES: In danger of losing his job a week ago, Reyes is slowly finding his offensive groove, but not to the point where the Mets should move him back to the leadoff spot – especially with Michael Conforto as hot as he is.

In his last five games, Reyes is hitting .444 with a .525 on-base percentage, two stolen bases and two homers, including one for an insurance run in the ninth today.

Even so, Reyes is still below .200.

For as cold as they were, the after winning two straight, Collins shouldn’t monkey with what is working.

“Jose is starting to play like we know he can do offensively,” Collins said. “Him getting on base is how we’re going to win games.”

Reyes will start at shortstop tomorrow to give Asdrubal Cabrera a day off.

TOMORROW’S GAME: The Mets go for the sweep Sunday behind Noah Syndergaard.

 

Apr 29

Will Alderson Ever Say, `Conforto Needs To Play?’

After Michael Conforto‘s second homer today, the cynic in me couldn’t help but wonder, how will GM Sandy Alderson now try to limit his playing time? That is, of course, if Yoenis Cespedes is able to come back sooner than originally anticipated.

CONFORTO: Celebrating long ball. (AP)

CONFORTO: Celebrating long ball. (AP)

When Cespedes injured his hamstring Thursday and placed on the disabled list the following day, original reports indicated a serious injury, but today Alderson called it “mild.” Yeah, I’m buying into that diagnosis big time.

After opening the season on the bench following a hot spring, Conforto responded to his limited playing time until when the Mets’ anemic hitting forced manager Terry Collins to start him. The player last year Collins said would be the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future.

That is until he went 0-for-5 a year ago Monday against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner that sent him into a downward spiral. From there, Conforto rode the Flushing-Vegas shuttle for much of last season, and when spring training started after Alderson re-signed Cespedes and was unable to trade Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson, conventional thinking had him opening in the minors.

However, Conforto kept hitting, first as a pinch-hitter and role player, until he broke into the starting lineup as a starter on April 20. Most recently he replaced Jose Reyes at the top of the order roughly a week ago. Since starting full time, Conforto has gone 11-for-30 with four homers and six RBI, and overall is batting .298 with a .386 on-base percentage, six homers and 12 RBI.

“Michael had a huge day for us and we needed it,” Collins said, “I have to salute him. When you’re not in the lineup every day you have to make the most of it. … He’s done a tremendous job in the leadoff spot. Just tremendous.”

Conforto hit a two-run homer in the fifth and solo homer in the eighth, the latter coming off lefty reliever Enny Romero. Conforto isn’t cocky, but he’s definitely not short of confidence. Despite what Alderson and Collins might worry about, Conforto has no double about his ability to hit left-handers, which is what it is going to take to stay in the lineup when Cespedes returns.

“Huge,” Conforto said when asked what kind of lift his homer off Romero gave him. “I’ve always felt I could hit lefties. No matter who is out there, I feel I can hit them. … As long as I put the work in, everything will take care of itself. I worry about what I can control and not worry about the other stuff.”

Conforto and Collins said all the right things today. What’s next would be for Alderson to finally say, “the kid has to play.”