Jun 02

Nimmo Needs Play, Even After Cespedes Returns

The Mets appear to have found something during what is fast becoming a lost season. Ignored for bigger names, Brandon Nimmo has gotten the opportunity young players covet – and is making the most of it.

With Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares injured – the latter is lost for the season – Nimmo is getting the regular at-bats that lefty-righty devotees denied him.

NIMMO: Needs to play. (SNY)

NIMMO: Needs to play. (SNY)

That must continue.

Nimmo entered Saturday’s game having homered in two straight games and getting at least two hits in four consecutive games.

“He’s been great,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s doing the job on both sides of the baseball. I feel like he’s playing good defense. He’s obviously swinging the bat well, and taking his walks, things like that. He’s a young player that’s blossoming in front of us, and I think that he’s making a case for himself.”

The numbers support Callaway.

Nimmo had nine hits through May 3, but with Cespedes out, he has 11 extra-base hits, and nine RBI in his past 11 games (hitting leadoff), for a .390 average and .927 slugging percentage. Five of those extra-base hits have been homers. On May 22, Nimmo was batting a pedestrian .244. Today he’s up to .294. It’s all because he’s getting a chance.

“The more playing time that I’ve gotten has helped me get in a good rhythm, and make good adjustments,” Nimmo said. “It might be the biggest thing. I haven’t done anything drastically different. That’s the biggest thing right there.”

More than his production is Nimmo’s passion and enthusiasm. It’s infectious. Nimmo plays every game as if it is his first … or last. How many times in these few weeks have you wondered, “what if everybody played like Nimmo?” Cespedes certainly doesn’t have Nimmo’s passion.

However, even with the emergence of Nimmo, the Mets are still pining for Cespedes. Both GM Sandy Alderson and Callaway spoke of the need for him to get back, and also the amount of money they are paying him. Cespedes will make $29 million this year and next, and $29.5 million in 2020.

“It’s been big,’’ Callaway said. “We count on his offense. We’ve paid him a lot of money to come out there and produce, and we don’t have him right, so it’s been tough.’’

What the Mets should have learned last month is even when Cespedes returns, Nimmo, who makes $555,968 this year, needs to play. The bench and minor leagues should be something said in past tense about him.

 

May 30

They Are The Mets, So Things Can Always Get Worse

They are the Mets, so when it comes to injuries, of course, things can get worse. Expect it. The team that began the season boasting about its pitching depth is now scrounging for healthy arms. Forget productive arms for now, the Mets just need somebody to get the ball across the plate.

Strikes would be nice, but manager Mickey Callaway will take what he can get for now.

MATZ: Will he go on the DL? (AP)

MATZ: Will he go on the DL? (AP)

On Tuesday, Noah Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger. Later that day, Steven Matz left at the start of the fourth inning with a bone bruise to his left middle finger.

This came after he doubled in the top of the inning.

X-Rays were negative, but an MRI today could determine if he joins Syndergaard on the DL.

“When I was standing on second base [the finger] was starting to throb a little bit out there,’’ Matz said after the Mets lost 7-6 loss in Atlanta. “I threw a couple of [warmup] pitches and felt it.”

Matz said the pain in the knuckle.

Jason Vargas will start in place of Syndergaard tonight, and Seth Lugo will get the start Thursday against the Cubs at Citi Field.

Currently, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Vargas are the only projected starters still in the rotation. Vargas, who will start on three-days rest, is pitching as if he were injured with a 1-3 record and 10.62 ERA in five starts.

“He won’t be that limited,” Callaway said. “We will really just have to see how he does and gets through the game fatigue-wise.”

Injuries helped derail the Mets last season, and are threatening to do so again this year. The Mets were fortunate to have deGrom miss only one start because of a hyperextended elbow. Not so lucky are Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores, Anthony Swarzak, Juan Lagares, AJ Ramos, Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud.

Asdrubal Cabrera is also playing with a sore knee.

May 22

Adding Bautista Could Mean End For Reyes

If there’s an indictment of the Mets’ cupboard farm system, it is this: They’ve agreed to terms with former six-time All-Star Jose Bautista, who was cast off by the Braves two days ago.

With Juan Lagares (toe injury and out for the season) and Yoenis Cespedes (strained right hip flexor), and an outfield full of lefty hitters, the Mets will be taking a flier of Bautista, who was hitting .143 with two homers and 12 games for the Braves.

BAUTISTA: Another bat added. (AP)

BAUTISTA: Another bat added. (AP)

Over his 15-year career, Bautista is a career .249 hitter, but with 333 homers and 923 RBI. He’s best known, however, for flipping his bat in the playoffs and his brawl with Rangers infielder Rougned Odur (he was cold-cocked in the brawl).

Although signed to as an outfielder, Bautista was playing third base for Atlanta. The signing could mean the end of Jose Reyes second tenure with the Mets. Reyes was in the Mets’ lineup for tonight’s game against Miami, but his playing time has been limited lately.

Reyes, who enters tonight’s game in a 2-for-22 slump, hears the whispers he could be DFA’s soon.

“The only thing I can control is to continue to work,’’ Reyes said. “Last year, I went through a similar situation, but it was a little bit different because last year I had the opportunity to play a little bit more. I can just do my work and routine and try to put my swing together. … It’s not a surprise to because I haven’t been playing too much. That’s nothing new. Whatever happens, happens.’’

Recently-promoted Infield prospect Luis Guillorme started at third base Monday. With the Mets opting to carry 13 pitchers and four role players, Guillorme could be sent down the Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Bautista.

However, if the Mets continue to carry 13 pitchers it stands to reason they could swap out Bautista for Reyes.

 

Apr 17

Time To Play Nimmo More

As long as Brandon Nimmo is up here, isn’t it about time Mickey Callaway find a way to get him regular playing time. He’s been a terrific pinch-hitter, and always seems to produce when he’s in the lineup like he did last night subbing for Jay Bruce.

As long as Bruce is still bothered by plantar fasciitis, Nimmo should play and he should rest. Nimmo should also play in place of Yoenis Cespedes, who is in a dreadful slump. He needs a few games to clear his head.

It shouldn’t be that hard to develop a rotation with Nimmo, Cespedes, Bruce, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares.

I understand the need of getting Nimmo regular at-bats at Las Vegas, but he’s here now and the Mets should take advantage of that and get him consistent at-bats while in New York.

 

Apr 01

Matz Fails First Test

It didn’t take long for Mets manager Mickey Callaway to learn today wasn’t going to belong to Steven Matz. When a pitcher throws 26 pitches in the first inning, even if he doesn’t give up any runs, you know he won’t be long for that game.

Callaway knew it was the same old problem for Matz – fastball command.

“He struggled with his release point and couldn’t establish the fastball needed to set-up his other pitches,’’ said Callaway. “He battled himself all game. He didn’t execute his pitches. He was struggling from the get-go and couldn’t locate his fastball.’’

Callaway said Matz didn’t have confidence, but that’s now how he started the day that ended in a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals.

“I was trying to do a little too much out there. I was really smooth and easy before the game and was feeling really confident,’’ Matz said. “Then when a hitter stepped in, I was trying to make my pitches better and that’s when I get in trouble.

“I was leaving the ball up a lot and they were able to get their barrels on it. When I don’t have my fastball command that’s where it all starts for me.’’

Matz threw 73 pitches after three innings and finished with 89 pitches in four innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks, including solo homers to Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong.

I’ve been saying all along that it is way too early to make any definitive judgments on anything pertaining to the Mets and that includes on Matz. However, today does raise a red flag.

With Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard the Mets have a strong front end of the rotation. But, it’s what they get from Matz and Matt Harvey that determines what will happen with the Mets this season.

EXTRA INNINGS: Juan Lagares started in center because Brandon Nimmo had flu-like symptoms and responded with three hits. Nimmo was sent home and not available. … Michael Conforto will return to New York and is scheduled to face Jason Vargas in a simulated game Monday. There is a chance Conforto could be activated from the DL as early as Thursday. … Anthony Swarzak will have his sore left oblique muscle re-examined Monday.