Apr 28

Mets Wrap: D’Arnaud, deGrom Combine To Defeat Nats

The Mets have long waited for Travis d’Arnaud to flex his muscles. He did so Friday night when he crushed two 420-foot-plus homers in a career-high five-RBI night to carry the Mets to a 7-5 badly-needed victory over the Nationals.

“We’ve seen him swing the bat, so we know what he can do,” manager Terry Collins said.

D'ARNAUD: Powers Mets with two homers. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Powers Mets with two homers. (AP)

D’Arnaud was facing Max Scherzer, who usually has his way against the Mets. Not what you’re looking for if you are to break out.

“I knew it was going to be tough against Scherzer,” d’Arnaud said. “I wanted to keep things as simple as I could.”

What’s more basic than a two-run homer in the second and a three-run blast in the fourth?

You might answer by saying have one of your stud pitchers gut out seven innings. That’s what Jacob deGrom did to earn his first victory of the season.

DeGrom, after Matt Harvey faltered in his last start and the uncertainty surrounding Noah Syndergaard, needed a big effort and was all grit in striking out 12 and giving up three runs in seven innings. It was the third straight game in which he struck out at least ten hitters.

If there was a moment of decision for deGrom, it came in the second. After being given a two-run lead on d’Arnaud’s homer in the top of the inning, deGrom coughed up the lead on a solo homer by Ryan Zimmerman and two-run drive by Matt Wieters.

After the inning deGrom stormed up the runway from the dugout to avoid what the cameras might capture.

“I need to put up a zero there,” deGrom said. “I can’t be doing that. After that, my goal was to continue to put up zeroes.”

DeGrom did that, including striking out Bryce Harper with a runner on base to end the fifth.

SYNDERGAARD TO START: Desperate for some positive news of any kind, the Mets hope they got some after Syndergaard said he felt great and expects to start Sunday at Washington.

Syndergaard missed his last start Wednesday against Atlanta with what the Mets called biceps tendinitis. There has been considerable speculation – including here – that Syndergaard would be placed on the disabled list and Sean Gilmartin would start Sunday.

“I should have started yesterday,” Syndergaard said prior to Friday’s game.

RIVERA SURFACES: Almost lost with Travis d’Arnaud’s muscles and deGrom’s grit, is T.J. Rivera, the former minor league batting champion, got a start at first base and contributed three hits and scored three runs.

The unconventional start of Rivera at first base sent Jay Bruce back to right field and Juan Lagares to the bench.

Rivera will undoubtedly start at first Saturday and could stay there until Lucas Duda returns from the disabled list.

 

Apr 20

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Takes Responsibility For Botched Play

It is one thing to lose, but how the Mets are doing so is extremely head scratching. Their bullpen has been spotty at times, but lately it has been their lack of offense coupled with shoddy defense.

i-5Of course, if they don’t hit several home runs, they will end up wasting a strong pitching effort by one of their starters, as was the case in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Phillies at Citi Field.

The Mets committed three more errors tonight and seven for the series, and if not for Jay Bruce’s two homers Wednesday, they would have been swept at home by Philadelphia.

Instead, they lost two of three and five of their last seven, which is not the way they want to be playing with Washington coming in for three this weekend.

It is said the ball will find the inexperienced glove, but don’t blame Bruce for the mix-up at first base in the second inning that lead to three runs.

Bruce gloved Freddy Galvis’ dribbler, but his throw fell between pitcher Noah Syndergaard and second baseman Neil Walker.

Although Bruce was charged with an error, manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t to blame.

“Noah has to get over there,” Collins said. “Jay made a nice play on it.”

Syndergaard called it a freakish play, and it was, but ultimately pointed the finger at himself.

“It was a mess up from the get go,’’ Syndergaard said. “But, it is my responsibility to get over there and cover the bag.”

Another error, this time by Asdrubal Cabrera on room service double-play grounder, lead to two runs in the third.

“I can’t remember Asdrubal Cabrera missing a play like that,” lamented Collins. “The fact that we didn’t make two plays turned the tide of the game.”

Syndergaard gave them the chance to win, but Collins summed it up perfectly.

“We have to start scoring some runs,” Collins said. “We have to start playing better.”

SYNDERGAARD COMES UP EMPTY: Syndergaard was splendid in his season-high 114-pitch effort over seven innings in which he gave up five runs – two unearned – with no walks and ten strikeouts.

In four starts overall, Syndergaard has 30 strikeouts with no walks in his four starts.

“For the most part, I felt pretty good,” Syndergaard said. “I felt this was the best my mechanics have been for a long time.”

FAMILIA UNIMPRESSIVE: Jeurys Familia wasn’t effective in his first relief appearance of the season, issuing two walks in the ninth inning.

“Rusty, to say the least,”” was how Collins evaluated Familia’s outing.

Collins said Familia needs the work, which is why he left him in to throw 30 pitches. Collins said Familia should be ready for Friday.

CESPEDES INJURED: The Mets’ injury woes continued when Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the fifth inning with a left hamstring cramp while running the bases. He was replaced by Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto moved to left.

“Anytime you talk about hamstrings it is a concern,” Collins said. “When you have a hamstring with his body (tightly muscled), it is a concern.”

Cespedes will have a MRI Friday.

Don’t forget, Cespedes took over a month to recover from a strained quad last season, so I wouldn’t bet on seeing him Friday night against the Nationals.

INJURY UPDATES: Lucas Duda, who sustained a hyperextended left elbow the night before did not play. … Travis d’Arnaud, who sustained a contusion to his throwing hand, appeared as a pinch-hitter. … Wilmer Flores was unavailable with an infection in his knee.

“Our training room is starting to fill up and we don’t need that,” Collins said.

NATS UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom starts Friday night against Washington.

Apr 14

Game Wrap: Torn Fingernail Shelves Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard gave the Mets what they needed. He just didn’t give them enough. With their bullpen forced to work over 11innings Thursday, and three relievers unavailable, the Mets needed length from their ace.

Unfortunately for the Syndergaard, another finger issue held him to six innings and 87 pitches, well short of what manager Terry Collins hoped. Collins targeted Syndergaard for however long 110 pitches would give the Mets, likely seven and hopefully eight.

SYNDERGAARD: Leaves early with torn fingernail. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Leaves early with torn fingernail. (AP)

“I was aware of it,” Syndergaard said of the need of preserving the bullpen. “I wanted to go out there and give those guys a break.”

Syndergaard’s Opening Day start was cut short by a blister on his finger. Tonight it was a torn fingernail and he could only helplessly watch as J.T. Realmuto doubled in the game-winner in the ninth off Josh Edgin gave the Marlins a 3-2 victory.

Syndergaard said he had fingernail issues in the minors and doesn’t know why they resurfaced now.

“If I keep my fingernail too short, I get a blister,” Syndergaard said. “If it gets too long, it splits. It is all about finding a happy medium.”

Syndergaard tried humor to deal with his frustration.

“This gives me a chance to go get a mani-pedi,” he said. “I have to maintain this. … I wanted to stay out there and finish the job. I feel I will be able to bounce back.”

The Mets used eight pitchers in Thursday’s 16-inning marathon and Collins said he wouldn’t use Addison Reed, Hansel Robles or Josh Smoker. To pick up the slack they brought up lefty Sean Gilmartin, whose role tonight would have been to pitch had the game gone to extra innings.

Syndergaard gave up two runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts, good enough to win most games, but not in those in which the Mets went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 runners on base.

“He pitched fine,” Collins said of Syndergaard. “He held them to two runs. We had opportunities to score.”

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: For the second straight game a reversed replay challenge factored prominently.

On Thursday, the Mets had a run taken off the board, when the original safe ruling on Yoenis Cespedes was overturned. Cespedes would likely have been safe had he slid.

Had it happened that way, the Mets would have won in regulation and not spent their bullpen, and consequently, tonight things might have played out differently.

Tonight, Miguel Rojas was thrown out at the plate by Michael Conforto to end the seventh. The call was upheld after Collins challenged, although the TV replay showed catcher Rene Rivera missed the tag.

FLU SHELVES CESPEDES: Cespedes, probably the National League’s Player of the Week with five homers, hit two Thursday despite playing with the flu.

“He was, at the end of the game, absolutely beat,” Collins said. “I went to him yesterday before the game started and asked if he needed it, and he said, `I’ll be OK.’ So he played. But by the end of the game, you could tell. If you saw him walk off the field, he was shot.”

Cespedes struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

METS STILL FLEXING: The Mets lead the Major Leagues with 21 homers, including Lucas Duda’s fourth tying him with Jay Bruce for the team lead.

Duda homered to center to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Duda reached base four times with two hits and two walks.

You have to love Duda’s approach at the plate. He’s been patient and drawn walks and going to the opposite field.

 

Mar 17

Things To Like About Mets So Far

With a little over two weeks remaining in spring training, there’s a lot to like about how the Mets are playing, with several bright spots surfacing in today’s rout of the Cardinals.

CESPEDES: Has MVP aspirations. (AP)

CESPEDES: Has MVP aspirations. (AP)

STARTING PITCHING: If numbers were to determine the Opening Day starter, you would have to go with Jacob deGrom, who has a 0.90 ERA and 0.60 WHIP in three starts, with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings.

Noah Syndergaard, however, has a 3.52 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. And, four walks in 7.2 won’t get it done most games. Syndergaard bulked up in the offseason with the intent of getting stronger as to work deeper into games. It’s not that he’s not strong enough, but his command is off. What haunted him last year is resurfacing this spring with higher pitch counts.

Steven Matz threw 3.2 innings today, and if you add an inning in his likely two remaining starts, that won’t get him out of the fifth in his first regular season start. He’s throwing well, by so far isn’t stretched out like the Mets want him to be.

Sure, these are exhibition numbers, but also an early measure of performance. So far, none of their starters are stretched out for them to go longer than six. That becomes an issue if the bullpen is shaky, which so far is far from fine-tuned.

In the competition for the fifth starter, Zack Wheeler – who will likely stay back – his throwing hard and pain-free. The projection is roughly 110 innings, which makes him better suited to coming up in late May or June. I don’t like the idea of using him in relief now.

As for Seth Lugo, he’s pitching in the World Baseball Classic and has done well. It will be either him or Robert Gsellman who goes north in the rotation. However, with numerous off days in April, the fifth starter won’t often be used, so one could go in the bullpen.

HOT BATS: Yoenis Cespedes said he wants to be MVP and if that happens a lot of good things will happen this summer. He’s hitting .419 with five homers, but the key numbers are only two strikeouts in 31 at-bats. That kind of ratio would go a long way towards making an MVP possible.

Also hitting well are Michael Conforto (.359), Neil Walker (.313), Curtis Granderson (.323), but most importantly Travis d’Arnaud (.333) and Lucas Duda (.292 with five doubles). The pressure is on d’Arnaud to have a make-or-break season and Duda, who missed much of last year with a stress fracture in his lower back and recently received a couple on injections.

Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores finally pushed their averages over .200, and the latter drove in six runs Friday with a grand slam and double. Flores is not going away and the Mets need to find a way of getting him regular playing time to stay ready.

Feb 28

Wright Shut Down; Future In Doubt

The return of David Wright was always more about hope than reality, and unfortunately the truth nobody wants to concede reared its ugly head today with the news the often-injured third baseman has been shut down indefinitely because of his inability to throw the ball across the infield.

WRIGHT: Staring into dark future. (AP)

WRIGHT: Staring into dark future. (AP)

The specter of Wright not playing this year, or perhaps ever again, can’t be ignored. Manager Terry Collins said Wright’s absence doesn’t greatly impact the Mets’ playoff aspirations. Considering Wright has played less than a combined 100 games the past two season, that’s a logical conclusion.

GM Sandy Alderson, in announcing Wright’s shutdown, said the question of his retirement or the Mets buying him out, hasn’t yet been reached: “I don’t think we’re at the point where that concern is at a more heightened level. This is all part of the process of rehabilitating, and it’s taking longer than I am sure David would have hoped, and we would hope, but that is part of the process.”

For Wright, the process includes him staying in Florida working to strengthen his shoulder. He’ll also work at first base, perhaps not so much for this year, but 2018 when presumably Lucas Duda won’t be brought back. However, the truth remains we don’t know if Wright will be able to play in any role.

Financially, the Mets owe Wright $67 million on the balance of his contract, but insurance will cover $50.25 million. But, insurance can’t hit or field, or offer an element of stability and leadership in the clubhouse.

Although it has been years since Wright produced like an All-Star, but make no mistake he brought in significant stability when he came off the disabled list to join the 2015 pennant race.

Initially, Wright will be replaced by Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores in the short term, but if they are struggling and the Mets are in contention at the trade deadline, could they make a run at Todd Frazier. Would they make a play for Frazier even if Reyes is playing well?