Oct 30

Five Reasons Why The Mets Can Still Win

The Mets are down two games in the World Series, but I am here to give you five reasons why they can come back and win this thing. Never mind the odds, the beautiful thing about sports is anything can happen, including a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Here’s how it can happen:

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

TERRY COLLINS: Let’s start with the basics. You need to win four games to win a World Series and the Royals have only won two. The Royals haven’t won anything yet and they know it.

Manager Terry Collins will make that his first point when he talks to his players today. He must stress the Mets need to win just one game. They win Friday and go to work Saturday. One game at a time is a cliché, but a cliché becomes a cliché because it is true.

As long as the Mets have the mindset all they need to do is concentrate on that day’s game they will be fine. Sure, they are in a hole. If they think it’s a big hole they are in trouble. If they look at it as a matter of one game they can win. (See: 1986 Mets; 2004 Red Sox).

For the most part, Collins pushed the right buttons this year. He knows his team, knows its temperament and knows how to pull them out of funks. He lost a couple of gambles in the first two games, but made them for the right reasons.

Collins made a good decision Thursday when he made the workout optional. Collins knew his team was fatigued and the questions they would be asked. He knew his team needed a breather.

That’s a manager having the pulse of his team.

THIS CAN’T LAST: The Mets played maybe their worst game in a month in Game 2. We have seen them bounce back from bad games numerous times this year to play well.

These Mets have put bad moments behind them and responded with wins. That’s a quality you don’t forget and I expect them to do the same starting Friday.

Teams go into slumps, and the Mets are no different. They got here because they played well and I believe they will snap out of it.

I’m counting on it.

THEY STILL HAVE THAT PITCHING: The main storyline going in was the Mets’ rotation. Just because they didn’t win with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in Games 1 and 2 doesn’t mean they went away for good. That advantage still exists.

Remember, both pitched with a lead, but were victimized by a bad inning. They could each get another start, with Harvey getting Game 5 at home and deGrom Game 6 on the road.

It’s hard to remember them pitching poorly in back-to-back starts. In case you’re wondering about fatigue, neither pitched deep into their games and that will work in their favor.

Noah Syndergaard goes Friday and has done well at home.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe Jeurys Familia will be scarred by Game 1. You don’t save that many games by letting things bother you.

SPEAKING OF HOME: The 2-3-2 format works in the Mets’ favor. Three straight games at Citi Field with that rocking crowd can turn the tone of the Series.

The Mets won 60 percent of their Citi Field games this season and definitely have a home field advantage. I would bet on the Mets returning to Kansas City.

A player who thrives at Citi Field is Lucas Duda, who hit 19 of his 27 home runs in the direction of the Pepsi Porch.

A HOT BAT WILL SURFACE: Whether it be David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Duda, or Curtis Granderson, I expect one or more to snap out of it.

The Royals seemed to have solved Daniel Murphy, but he’s getting hits. If Murphy is to be a player of the ages we thought a week ago, he’ll need another spurt.

The Mets have struck out a lot, but this is something that can be addressed with patience. They’ve snapped out of it before and have the ability to do it again. A little hit-and-run, a little stealing has a way of jumpstarting an offense.

Remember, they didn’t win 90 games by accident. Strat-O-Matic believes that. The game we played as kids – before such things as Fantasy Leagues – projected the Royals to win the first two games.

And, for the Mets winning the next four.



Oct 28

Vulnerable Side Of Mets Exposed

OK, the Mets lost last night and Game 2 is now the most important start of Jacob deGrom’s blossoming career. How he persevered over the Dodgers on the road in Game 5 of the NLDS showed us he has the grit and guile needed to win.

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

That much we know. What we don’t know is how much gas is left in his tank. Manager Terry Collins and deGrom differ as to the pitcher’s fatigue level, but whatever the cause, his command isn’t right.

There are other things not right, either. I know, as Mets fans, you want to hear nothing but positive, but that can’t always be the case. On the plus side, middle relievers Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard – considered a question going in – pitched well.

The flip side is if Matt Harvey is the stud the Mets – and he proclaims to be – he has to give them more than 80 pitches over six innings. Aces who demand the ball need to give more than what Harvey showed.

Secondly, and perhaps this is as a slap in the face to the Mets, is Jeurys Familia being taken deep to tie the game in the ninth. His perception of invincibility is gone.

Defense hasn’t always been a Mets’ mainstay this season, and Yoenis Cespedes’ misplay in left center last night in left center lead to him starting in left tonight with Juan Lagares playing center. That puts Michael Conforto as the DH, which is the way it should have been from the start.

I don’t know what it is, but Cespedes has been in a funk lately. He’s not the same player who captivated us in August.

There was also David Wright’s wild throw to start the 14th inning. It happens, but when runs are at a premium, they can’t afford to give away outs.

The offense was terrible last night, and starting pitching isn’t the Royals’ forte.

The Mets can lose tonight and still win the World Series, but the odds are long. A lot of things had to break right for the Mets to win, and now even more.

It begins with deGrom.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 15

Mets Play DeGrom Chip In Game 5

One of the best things about baseball is there is always tomorrow; theres always another game to help erase a bad one. However, eventually the security of a tomorrow fades into the stark reality of one last game. For the Mets, they hope  “another game” won’t be replaced by winter.

For either the Mets or Dodgers, finality could be tonight when Jacob deGrom and Zack Greinke clash with the singular hope of keeping alive their team’s summer.

DE GROM: The one the Mets wanted. (Getty)

DE GROM: The one the Mets wanted. (Getty)

DeGrom said he’s mentally ready, saying he’s had the Subway Series, All-Star Game and Game 1 of this series to expose him to the pressures of big game pitching. You want to believe deGrom, but the truth is he’s never faced the pressure of a Game 5 or a Game 7.

This is a whole new animal.

“We want to make it to the World Series and this is one step toward that,’’ said deGrom, who struck out 13 in a Game 1 victory. “I just think we never give up and we battle until the end.’’

Manager Terry Collins often refers to Matt Harvey as his ace, but deGrom is the one he wanted most to start Game 1, because it meant he’d have him for Game 5. You wouldn’t be incorrect if you thought that was because of Harvey’s innings limitations, but deGrom has been the better pitcher this year.

“If anybody was going to pitch two games in the series for us it would be Jacob deGrom,’’ Collins said. “So it worked out that way. Fortunately we didn’t have to bring him back on short rest. He hasn’t done it, and he’s uncomfortable doing it. So we’re lucky he’s got an extra day.’’

After deGrom, should the Mets need it, they have Noah Syndergaard and Harvey to bridge the gap to closer Jeurys Familia. That’s because the regular-season bridge of Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed and Hansel Robles has been largely unreliable in recent weeks.

Say what you want about the Chase Utley play, but the Mets lost Game 2 because they couldn’t safely get to Familia.

The Mets lost Game 4 mostly because of Clayton Kershaw, but the common thread in the two defeats was another regular-season flaw, that being inconsistent hitting. In the case with Kershaw, it was no hitting.

“When you’re facing Kershaw and Greinke in four of five games you know that runs are going to be at a premium and they have definitely been that with those two guys on the mound,’’ said David Wright, whose bat disappeared this series.

Tonight’s winner gets the Cubs in the NLCS. Although the Mets lost all seven games against Chicago this year and lament the chance to put away the Dodgers Tuesday, Collins likes his team’s attitude.

“Our guys are upbeat,” Collins said. “Nobody wants to fly all the way across the country for one game. But I think we’re as excited as we were [for Game 1].’’

They are in Los Angeles because they kicked away the home field advantage in the final week of the season, but the important thing is they have one more game.

Let’s hope they use it wisely.

ON DECK:  Mets’ Bats Need To Come Alive

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Oct 12

Harvey Gives Mets What They Needed Most

In what was the most important start of his young career for the Mets, it was clear Matt Harvey did not have his best stuff and only gave them five innings.

Except, Harvey did what the Mets needed him to do most, and that was to persevere and carry his team to the win.

What Harvey also did was not get caught up in all the noise surrounding Chase Utley and retaliation, but instead took care of business.

After Harvey put the Dodgers down in order in the first, Los Angeles came back with three in the second. It looked as if it could be a long night for Harvey, except that was it for the Dodgers.

Harvey labored and his pitch count climbed, but the Dodgers never had a clear shot at him the rest of the game.

Instead, Harvey benefitted from an offense that too many times this season failed to support him.

The Mets came back in the bottom of the second with four. Then Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run homer and Yoenis Cespedes hit one that should have brought double the winnings on FanDuel.

Manager Terry Collins made the right call when he pulled Harvey when he did because he’ll need him again this fall.

Collins wanted Harvey to start the pivotal Game 3 because that usually is the determining game of a five-game series.

Except in this series, the Mets still must face Clayton Kershaw one more time – they struck out 11 times in that game – and possibly Zack Greinke. There’s still a lot of this series left to be played.


Oct 04

Mets’ Salute To Fans Enduring Image To Season

One by one the Mets drifted from their dugout after wrapping up their 90th victory of the season on a cool and crisp afternoon at Citi Field. Manager Terry Collins, who finally tasted a winning season with the Mets, was followed by David Wright, who missed nearly five months with a back injury and wondered if he’d ever play again, let alone see another playoffs.

There was Travis d’Arnaud, Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, who represent the future on this franchise. There was Yoenis Cespedes, who came here at the trade deadline and for over a month carried the Mets by the scruff of their neck. Daniel Murphy, whose future with the team could be in question.

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Thank you. (Getty)

There was Wilmer Flores, whose tears of anguish with the thought of being traded tugged at our hearts because he showed how much cared about being here and playing for us. That snapshot of Flores’ tears, along with Wright’s fist pump after scoring the winning run against the Nationals in early September, became the images of the season.

You can now add the Mets – in a unified group as they have been all season – slowly walking around the outer reaches of Citi Field. Out to right field they sauntered, saluting those in the bleachers in right and then left center, and finally down the left field line.

Collins shook hands with fans along the third base line. Then Flores. No tears this time; just the broadest, brightest smile you would ever see.

The cheering didn’t stop. Then Wright took a microphone and faced the crowd behind the Mets’ dugout.

“You guys are the best in the game, no doubt. Thanks for coming out,’’ Wright told the crowd that refused to let go of the moment. “Now, let’s go beat L.A.’’

Beating the Dodgers will be harder than just saying it, as the Mets, who scored just two runs in their last 44 innings, will face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Los Angeles twilight in Games 1 and 2 next weekend. However, for now the Mets will savor winning 90 games and reaching the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Studying scouting reports, figuring out the playoff roster and rotation will wait.

The Mets wanted to savor and sip this moment as if a fine wine.

“I sat here last October told our fan base that their patience will be rewarded,’’ Collins said. “I wanted to go around and thank everybody. Let them know we appreciated their support. Ninety wins is a huge step for us. We accomplished something. I just talked with Yoenis and he said, `the fun has just started,’ and he’s right. Yeah, we had a tough week, but we are ready.’’

So are we.