Jul 11

Harvey Pitches, And Hits, Above Expectations

If Matt Harvey keeps having more days like today he could buy his own jet … even afford to take a helicopter from his Manhattan apartment to Mets’ games.

HARVEY: Plays like a star. (AP)

HARVEY: Plays like a star. (AP)

Harvey had one of those games like in high school, where he struck out nine Arizona Diamondbacks and hit a two-run homer in the Mets’ 4-2 victory.

It was a strong effort in a frustratingly erratic first-half for Harvey.

“For me, flushing the first half and going back out the second half with a fresh start is something I’m looking forward to,’’ Harvey told reporters. “There were ups and downs obviously – after the hot start, more ups and downs than I expected or wanted.’’

Harvey finished the first half with an 8-6 record, but the most important number were his 111.1 innings. He’s on pace for 205 innings, which is more than what GM Sandy Alderson wanted. But, that doesn’t include the playoffs, which is the ultimate goal.

Can you imagine the outcry should the Mets actually make it, but have to shut down Harvey. You think he complains now? That’s why the innings Harvey needlessly pitched in April when the Mets blew chances to rest him can’t be overlooked.

Of course this puts the six-man rotation issue back into the forefront. With Steven Matz down for at least five weeks – don’t forget he’ll have to go on a minor league rehab assignment when he’s cleared – the Mets must decide whether they’ll use Logan Verrett or Dillon Gee for the sixth spot or scrap their innings limitations.

It wasn’t a good start for Harvey, who walked four, but settled into a groove to with his eighth game. It was an effort the Mets have been waiting a long time to see.

Harvey has thrown hard this year coming off Tommy John surgery, but what usually happens in the first season back from the procedure is a lack of command.

That manifests itself not only in walks – nine in his last two starts – but also in home runs allowed.

He gave up a two-run homer to David Peralta in the first inning, but regrouped.

“I really wanted to do everything I could to keep the team within striking distance,’’ Harvey said. “When you look up at the scoreboard and it’s 2-0 and you only faced two batters, the last thing you want to do is keep that rolling. I really just had to buckle down and try to pound the zone as much as possible.’’

Which he did, marvelously so.

 

Jul 08

Mets Mishandle Mejia Return

After having a night to sleep on it, there’s a lot not to like about Jenrry Mejia’s return to the Mets from an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

MEJIA: Not a good move. (AP)

MEJIA: Not a good move. (AP)

Unfortunately, Mejia, GM Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, when pulling their collective heads from the sand, spoke as if testifying before Congress.

Mejia channeling his best Mark McGwire, told reporters in San Francisco: “I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system. … That was in the past. It is what it is. I did what I did. Now I come here to move forward and do the best I can on the field.’’

At least he didn’t pull a Sammy Sosa and claim he didn’t speak English.

Memo to Mejia: Before you face the future, you must first confront your past.

Alderson, as he usually does, responded as if he believed everybody – including the Mets’ fan base – were idiots.

“He made a mistake,’’ Alderson said. “He admitted that. He’s paid a penalty. Whether I think he needs to express some public contrition or not? I know that privately, he’s done so. I’ve talked to him, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s over.’’

“Over? Did somebody say it was over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?’’

It’s never over for a drug user. There are always lingering questions.

“It doesn’t matter,’’ Collins said when asked if Mejia was contrite. “It happened. The guy’s back. I’m not going to live three months ago.’’

As for as contrition goes, Mejia at least owes it to his teammates to acknowledge his actions. In that regard, he talked to a few of his buddies, but that was it.

Good job, Terry. Good job, Sandy. Good message you’re sending there.

Look, I know Mejia is no McGwire, no Barry Bonds, no Roger Clemens. Not even a Rafael “I have never used steroids’’ Palmeiro. He’s none of those players in stature, but I don’t believe him when he said he has no idea how the drugs got into his system.

Oh well, he’s back. Ready to lead the Mets to the playoffs. Except, in the off chance they get there, he’s not eligible.

“He’s here to give us another option at the end of the bullpen and hopefully get some big outs,’’ Collins said.

The guy who was getting those big outs was Logan Verrett, but gets shipped out to make room for Mejia. He’s the one sent to Vegas.

What a good message that is to the players. “Do your job, but when the guy is done with his suspension for cheating, you’re going to the minor leagues.’’

That just stinks.

The Mets claim they are about winning now, so the guy who pays the price for Mejia is Verrett, who was pitching lights out.

For the record, Verrett had given up only one run in his last six appearances spanning 12.1 innings going back through June. That included a three-inning save Sunday in Los Angeles.

Verrett goes because he has options remaining, which is the path of least resistance. Meanwhile, Alex Torres’ ERA has an 8.10 ERA in his three July appearances. Torres was brought here to get left-handed hitters out, but they are stroking him for a .271 batting average, .417 on-base percentage and .833 OPS.

Does anybody else see the disconnect here?

Yes, Verrett, because of options remaining was the easy choice. But, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

Jun 30

Projecting Mets’ Bullpen When Mejia Returns

Although Bobby Parnell has pitched well for the Mets since coming off the disabled list, I’m figuring Jenrry Mejia will assume to the set-up role to Jeurys Familia when he’s activated from his suspension next week.

I thought the Mets would sever ties with Mejia after he was nailed for PEDs, but the erratic performance of their bullpen made that implausible. However, should the Mets qualify for the playoffs, Mejia would not be eligible.

Familia should remain in the closer role, followed by Mejia and Parnell. Should the Mets stay with seven relievers, I’m thinking right-handers Carlos Torres and Logan Verrett would stay in the bullpen along with left-handers Alex Torres and Sean Gilmartin with Hansel Robles going down.

Including Dillon Gee, the Mets have used 12 relievers this season.

Mar 18

Demotion Just The Beginning For Syndergaard

So much for the speculation Jon Niese’s elbow issues would prompt the New York Mets to promote Noah Syndergaard and/or Rafael Montero to the major league roster for Opening Day.

We are aware of the financial reasoning by the Mets, who, despite a more aggressive off-season still are bound by economic handcuffs.

SYNDERGAARD: Just a start. (MLB.com)

SYNDERGAARD: Just a start. (MLB.com)

No worries, because either or both will be at Citi Field soon enough. This is technically a demotion, but in reality a watershed moment in his career.

That’s the hope of Syndergaard, who said all the right things to reporters this morning. All the right things, much like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler did in previous springs.

“I kind of knew it was coming,’’ Syndergaard said. “I think no matter how well I threw during spring training, if I struck out everybody, if I didn’t allow any runs whatsoever, I think I still was going to go over to the minor-league side regardless. There’s a business standpoint to it. And I know there’s other things I have to work on.’’

Syndergaard must refine his arsenal of pitches, including a change-up and consistency with his nasty curveball.

Also sent down were pitchers Montero, Cory Mazzoni, Ryan Reid, Joel Carreno, catcher Juan Centeno, and first basemen Brandon Allen and Matt Clark.

It was thought, as a long shot Syndergaard or Montero would be promoted in light of Niese’s elbow problems. Niese could get at least two more starts to prove his worthiness to make the Opening Day roster.

Syndergaard showed he can overpower hitters with his fastball and baffle them with the curveball manager Terry Collins calls a “hook from hell.’’ However, despite his composure, there’s the matter of learning how to set up hitters and slow the game down when he gets into trouble.

What Syndergaard most took from spring training is the knowledge he and his stuff are ready. It will only be a few months; a blip in what the Mets hope will be a long career.

“Just that my stuff can play out on the field. I mean, I can get big-league hitters out,’’ Syndergaard said of what he’ll pack in his duffle bag. “Just playing against guys I watched growing up, just being able to get them out as well.
“There’s a sense of relief just knowing that my repertoire of pitches, my demeanor on the mound, opens eyes up in the big leagues, opens eyes of the big-league hitters. It’s just a lot of confidence going into minor-league camp knowing that I had some pretty great success in big-league camp.’’

Syndergaard and Montero – who was considered for a relief role – will anchor a Triple-A Las Vegas rotation that includes Jacob deGrom, Logan Verrett, and possibly Jenrry Mejia.

The Mets don’t figure to promote Syndergaard until late June or July, delaying his arbitration eligibility by a year.

It’s a money move, plain and simple, but if Syndergaard is all that is advertised, he’ll be making plenty of money.