May 04

May 4.10: Chat Room, Game #27 at Reds: Looking for a bat.

The Mets have gone from streaking to sputtering in a matter of days, losing three straight after winning eight in a row. When the Mets speak of consistency, this isn’t what they had in mind.

They’ll try to right themselves tonight in Cincinnati against Bronson Arroyo, who has beaten them in his last four starts. John Maine, coming off a good start against the Dodgers, will go for the Mets. Maine (1-1, 7.15) is 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. As far as trends go, this is not a good one.

The Mets’ immediate problem is offense. They have none. They were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position last night, and left runners at least on second in the sixth, seventh and 11th innings. Nobody is consistently hitting with power.

Here’s the line-up for the Mets (14-12) behind Maine:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RHP

NOTE: I’ve got my class tonight and won’t be back until 9. See you then.

Apr 28

April 28.10: Chat Room, Game #22 vs. Dodgers: Another Maine event.

The first-place Mets ride a six-game winning streak into this afternoon’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. John Maine will attempt to give the Mets their third straight series win and second straight sweep.

The Mets’ starting pitching has been strong, with the exception of Maine and Oliver Perez last night. Still, the Mets are staying with Maine, who threw over 100 hard-to-watch pitches in his last start, which only lasted five innings.

If the Mets are going to do anything this season they will need Maine to snap out of it.

Snapping out of it is what David Wright did in the second game of last night’s doubleheader sweep of the Dodgers. Wright collected his 1,000th career hit and cleared the bases with a bases-loaded triple.

Apr 23

April 23.10: A lot to look forward to tonight.

It’s early in the season, but tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves could be telling on several fronts, with the most important being John Maine.

Maine, he of the 10.38 ERA, will be making his fourth start of the year. After being hammered in his first two, Maine demonstrated improvement in his last start at St. Louis.

Maine is moving away from his dependency on off-speed pitches and more toward a reliance on his fastball as he did in 2007 and 2008. There’s also been the mechanical adjustments of a higher leg kick, different positioning of his right foot, and throwing more over the top.

In short, it’s back to Pitching 101.

“I have to get back to where I was,” Maine said. “After seven weeks of doing something I haven’t been doing, I just have to break that habit.’’

Hopefully, the adjustments will result in a spike of his velocity.

In five innings at St. Louis Maine threw 115 pitches to continue a disturbing tendency that has to stop. What kind of progress has Maine made in the past five days? If there’s little or none, how long will the Mets stay with him or will they try to get him well in the bullpen or minor leagues.

A five-inning Maine offers no help to the bullpen which was tested the past two series and didn’t always pass.

This was a concern going into the season, and after a fast start it is a concern again, especially with Ryota Iragashi going on the disabled list and Hisanori Takahashi unable to find the plate with a GPS.

We’ll may also see tonight what Jerry Manuel does with his line-up that until last night has been a vacuum in the 3-4-5 spots. David Wright and Jeff Francoeur showed snap-out-of-it signs with RBI hits, but Jason Bay is still a horror show at the plate.

Even so, the Mets have won three of their last four games, and four of six. So, does Manuel want to tinker with what has worked the last week? If the Mets were .500 instead of two games under this wouldn’t be an issue.

On one hand Manuel talks of consistency, but on the other he’s the man who can’t resist playing with the charcoal at a barbeque. A day doesn’t go by when Manuel doesn’t talk of making some move, and he still has the itch to move Jose Reyes to third.

The alternative would be the more palatable move of Bay to No. 2, something that worked in the past for Wright.

Another option would be tinkering with Ike Davis, which would be a mistake. Four games into his career he has six hits. Let’s keep him where he’s been successful instead of adding pressure. Davis said he’s on board with any move, but it’s only human nature for a player to try to do too much when he’s put into the clean-up spot.

The prudent thing would be the slight adjustment of flipping Bay and Francoeur in the 4-5 slots, and if they do mess with Davis not to go any higher than fifth.

Apr 19

April 19.10: About Last Night: Maine will get another start.

GM Omar Minaya said he’d take one out of three in St. Louis. He got it, but is anybody really happy? They could have won all three with a little bit of hitting. Then again, they could have been swept, too.

John Maine was better last night, but the qualifier is he was better in comparison to his previous two rotten starts. Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game last night with 107 pitches. Maine was lucky to get through five with the 115 he threw.

Maine worked out of trouble in each of the first four innings, which showed some improvement, but gave up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the fifth. How often does a manager pull a pitcher winning 3-0 after four scoreless innings?

If he had to do it all over again, that might have been the way for Jerry Manuel to go last night.

While Maine on a whole was a disappointment again, he showed enough to where he’ll get the ball again. He threw his fastball more, and the more he throws it the harder it will become. He’s still throwing it in the low 90s with little movement. It should get better.

The one thing the Mets have to take out of their 2-4 road trip to Colorado and St. Louis was a definite improvement in the rotation collectively. What they got received from their five they’ll take every time.

Of course, they’ll still come away 2-4 at best because they offense is non-existent, especially with runners in scoring position, hitting .155 on the trip.

Moving Jose Reyes to the three hole isn’t the answer, because he’s not getting on base anyway. Nobody is hitting, including now Jeff Francoeur, whose 10-game hitting streak has fallen into an 0-for-9 slide.

Jason Bay? Well, he’s still on the team, but you’d never know it by his production.

“I’m living what they are watching,” Bay said in St. Louis last night. “It’s just one of those things you go through… I’m just going through a slump.”

Although Bay struck out four times Saturday, he did scorch a line drive that was robbed of a hit late in the game. Given he finally made contact, I thought he would have played last night.

A lot of pressure will be put on Ike Davis when he arrives, presumably tomorrow, as he was in the starting line-up today in Buffalo.

I’m encouraged by the pitching on the trip, but also tempered because it is one time through the rotation. We’ll see what we get from Jon Niese tonight against the Cubs.

Apr 18

April 18.10: Chat Room, Game #12 at Cardinals: Pressure on Maine.

The pressure never ends.

As much as last night’s epic 20-inning victory – anything 20 innings plus is epic – has been written and mentioned as being a catalyst to turn around this sluggish season, it means nothing unless the Mets can sustain.

That means John Maine must step up, perhaps unlike at any other time during his career with the Mets, and pitch big tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets exhausted their bullpen last night for 13 innings, and despite pitching one inning, Francisco Rodriguez was spent after throwing 100 pitches in an up-and-down evening warming in the pen.

If a starter won’t throw the next day after throwing 100 pitches, the same could be for Rodriguez tonight.

Maine, who seems to hyperventilate around the third or fourth inning, needs at least six, better seven innings tonight. He needs it for a lot of reasons, including to silence the Dillon Gee whispers.

You see, Maine isn’t pitching tonight to save the bullpen as much as he is his spot in the rotation. While it is likely Maine, barring a disaster, will get another start after this, manager Jerry Manuel has done nothing to dispel the speculation.

Aware of ramifications of a third hammering, Maine went to the videotape to look at his mechanics and pitch selection from 2007, when he won 15 games. Fundamentally, Maine concluded if he’s going down it would be with his fastball, which has atrophied after falling in love with his off-speed and breaking balls.

“I’m fine, my shoulder is fine,’’ Maine said after the Colorado debacle. “ I know the No. 1 priority is to get back and throw my fastball. That’s what I’m going to do in my bullpen. That’s what I’m going to do in my next start I’m going to get back to where I was.’’

Maine looked at everything from wind-up to delivery to release point and said he’s going back to his 2007 delivery and with it, hopefully that year’s fastball. Where Maine once touched the radar gun at 94 mph, he topped out at 91 in his last start, Tuesday night’s meltdown in Colorado.

“I’m just going to go back to that delivery, going back to throwing the fastball,’’ Maine said. “Hopefully it turns out fine. I may get hit, but, you know, at least I know I’m going out there, getting beat with my best pitch and not my second and third pitch.’’

Maine, 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA, has given up 12 runs in eight innings in his two starts, including eight runs in three innings at Colorado Tuesday.

“It’s hard. I’m doing my stuff in between starts,” Maine said. “I’m doing the right things. I just can’t put it together. … This is awful right now.”

****

Tonight’s line-up for the Mets (4-7):

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Frank Catalanotto, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, LF
John Maine, RP

NOTES: Mike Jacobs was designated for assignment to make room for reliever Tobi Stoner, who was brought up to bolster their depleted bullpen. It’s obvious the Mets won’t go with a Fernando Tatis-Catalanotto platoon, so expect Ike Davis to be promoted. By designating Jacobs for assignment, the Mets open a spot on their 40-man roster.