Sep 28

Mets Need To Go For Home Field

The cynic in me thinks Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon set off Bryce Harper by saying, “you can find your ring in New York.” Maybe he’ll find it this weekend in Citi Field where the Nationals finish playing out the string against the Mets.

COLLINS: A lot to sort out. (AP)

COLLINS: A lot to sort out. (AP)

With the NL East in their back pocket, the Mets insist they still have something to play off, namely, home field advantage against the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Manager Terry Collins said the Mets won’?t coast the final week.

“I think you’ve got to get the edge back that we had,” Collins said. “We’re going to play to win as many games as we can, to try to get home-field advantage in the first round.

“I think it’?s very, very important to have that. It’?s something we should shoot for. And I think when you’?re still playing for something, it prepares you better.”?

Winning on the road had been difficult for the Mets in recent seasons, including earlier this year. However, the Mets have gone 20-3 since splitting a two-game series in Baltimore, Aug. 18-19. That stretch includes a three-game sweep in Washington, and four-game sweep over the weekend in Cincinnati. Where the Mets have had problems was at home where they are 6-12, since Aug. 14, when the lost the first game of a three-game sweep to potential playoff opponent, Pittsburgh.

Even so, it’s always better to play at home. It’?s Game 5 against Clayton Kershaw. Where do you want that game played?

Home field is only one of several issues Collins wants to settle this week:

ROTATION: As of now, the order appears to be Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey in the pivotal Game 3, and Steven Matz. This decision also involves how many innings Harvey would pitch. Presumably, after Saturday, that’s no longer an issue.

BULLPEN: Jon Niese volunteered to be a left-handed specialist, but that doesn’?t resolve all the bullpen issues, including whether he can do the job. The list includes Tyler Clippards back; Bartolo Colon‘s role; the effectiveness of Sean Gilmartin; and the bridge to Jeurys Familia.

MIDDLE INFIELD: Presumably, Collins won’t tinker with taking Daniel Murphy out of the lineup. That leaves who will play shortstop: Wilmer Flores or Ruben Tejada?

THE OFFENSE: After fluttering for much of the first half, the Mets received an offensive jolt with the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and the promotion of Michael Conforto. While much of the firepower was against sub-.500 teams, the Dodgers have two of the game’s best pitchers in Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

It won’t be as easy.

Sep 19

Mets Have More To Worry About Than Beating The Yankees

Does anybody still look at the Yankees’ series as a battle for New York? If you do, then you’ve missed the point of the previous 148 games. To me, whether April or September, the “Subway Series” means nothing because the real prize is the NL East.

The next two weeks, not this weekend, will determine the success of this season. And, in that regard, the Mets are waving a few red flags. As with everything, it begins with starting pitching, and everybody has questions.

SYNDERGAARD: Home run issues. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Home run issues. (Getty)

Manager Terry Collins said he’s not worried about the home runs given up by Noah Syndergaard, who gets in big trouble in the sixth with an ERA approaching nine. Syndergaard has given up 17 homers this year, with seven in the sixth inning.

That’s a problem. If you can’t make it out of the sixth, that will tax the bullpen, which is also the scenario for Matt Harvey, who will be going on half-starts.

Reportedly, the Mets, Harvey, agent Scott Boras and Dr. James Andrews reached a settlement. But, even if Harvey makes two more starts of 70 pitches, what have they really determined if Andrews’ evaluation is for him not to pitch, or to make an abbreviated start in the playoffs?

Ideally, the intent is to have Harvey ready to pitch deep in these games, but that’s not the case.

The Mets also want to have Jacob deGrom skip a start.

So, how confident are you with three starters working on limits? And, Bartolo Colon – who has been the most consistent the past three weeks – reportedly not in the rotation? And, another, Jon Niese, who has been horrible the last two months? And another, Steven Matz, with only a handful of major league starts?

What you’re talking about is the starters pitching limited innings and the bullpen being overworked. And, that bullpen is not without issues now as Tyler Clippard has a barking back. If you’re expecting the Mets’ bullpen to work up to four innings a game, then you need Carlos Torres healthy, Hansel Robles to develop consistency, and for Addison Reed to keep pitching well.

They also need Jeurys Familia to remain oblivious to the mounting pressure.

And, there will be pressure.

Aug 20

Hopes And Expectations Not The Same For Wright

There are hopes and there are expectations, and they aren’t one of the same when it pertains to the Mets and David Wright. When Wright returns – perhaps within the week – we hope for him to stay healthy and perform like the All-Star he was. But, we can’t really expect it, can we?

Manager Terry Collins is already putting limits on Wright by telling reporters, “[he] won’t be that everyday guy until we know his back is 100 percent and that might not be until next spring.” That might be the most realistic thing Collins ever said about Wright.

WRIGHT: We want to see his smile. (AP)

WRIGHT: We want to see his smile. (AP)

From when Wright comes back and until the end of the season, the Mets might learn third base might be pushing it for him. We might learn because of the bending at the position, that third base might not be the place for him. Then what?

Wright might share time with Daniel Murphy and Juan Uribe, as the Mets’ infield will resemble a jig-saw puzzle with pieces strewn all over the table. Murphy, Kelly Johnson and Wilmer Flores could share second; Ruben Tejada and Flores would share shortstop. Johnson can spell anybody at any position.

“That is what happens when you get a lot of players that are pretty good,” Collins told reporters in Baltimore. “You’ve got to figure out how to get them all in the game at different times. Yeah, it will be a little bit of a challenge.”

However, if Wright is stable and hitting, he’ll get most of the time at third base. Everybody, even Collins, knows that to be true.

That’s the best case scenario for the Mets, regardless of Collins’ words or caution. That is what we’re hoping for, but can’t realistically expect.

Jul 09

Matz Out At Least Three Weeks; Could Impact Attempts To Deal Niese

It appears Matt Harvey will get his way and the Mets could go back to a five-man rotation – albeit temporary. Of course, the decision came about in the worst possible way, a partial lat teal to Steven Matz that reportedly will sideline him for at least three weeks.

Manager Terry Collins said Matz was bothered by stiffness in the area near his left armpit between his first and second start, which begs the question: Why did he make that start in the first place?

Isn’t Matz one of those good, young arms they are trying to protect?

Initially the Mets said the injury wasn’t serious, but then again, that’s what they said when David Wright went on the disabled list. After their initial statement, the Mets backtracked and said he would not be able to throw for up to three weeks.

All this could hamper the Mets’ attempts to trade Jon Niese as the deadline approaches.

Jun 14

Collins Invited Six-Man Rotation Drama

No matter how the Mets phrase it, they are back to a six-man rotation, which kicks into play Sunday when Dillon Gee comes off bereavement leave to start against the Braves. Gee isn’t happy about this; actually none of the pitchers are.

HARVEY: Force behind six-man rotation. (Getty)

HARVEY: Force behind six-man rotation. (Getty)

Manager Terry Collins is getting testy talking about this, but this predicament is his own doing. His and GM Sandy Alderson. Collins said it’s not really a six-man rotation, but occasionally he’ll slot in a pitcher, as it is with Gee.

“It’s drama,” Collins told reporters. “We’re living in New York City, that’s where drama’s made. Here’s something that could create some drama, that could be blown out of proportion when it was very minor.”

Playing in New York City has nothing to do with the drama. All this drama could have been alleviated had Collins mapped out Matt Harvey‘s starts in spring training. He had the schedule in front of him. He knew when the off days were. The only thing he didn’t know were injuries and rainouts. But, neither Collins nor Alderson wanted to deal with Harvey and his mood swings.

When Collins broached the six-man rotation several weeks ago, it was met cooly by the staff, notably Harvey, who made his displeasure known.

“I didn’t like the looks of [the six-man rotation], I didn’t like the feeling in the clubhouse that was going on,” Collins said. “I didn’t like the feeling in here – I just didn’t like it. … So it’s not a six-man rotation, it’s a five-man rotation where we’re gonna slip somebody in because we think maybe a day here as an extra day will help out.”

So, it is a five-man rotation until it becomes a six-man rotation.

Collins said the objective was to scale down his pitcher’s innings so they wouldn’t have to shut them down in September.

Of course, this could have been done had the Mets opted to structure their rotation instead of playing it by ear and flying by the seat of their pants.

Collins doesn’t like the drama, but he and Alderson invited it because they walk on egg shells around Harvey.