Oct 14

Mets Face Daunting, Not Insurmountable Task

They wouldn’t be the Mets if it were easy, now would they? Seriously, how many of you thought the Mets would put away the Dodgers to avoid a Game 5 Jacob deGrom against Zack Greinke showdown?

When the Dodgers gave Clayton Kershaw three runs in the third inning Tuesday night, I pretty much thought it was over. I mean, that game was over, not the NLDS. Not by a long shot.

DeGROM: Wouldn't want any other Mets starter tomorrow. (GETTY)

DeGROM: Wouldn’t want any other Mets starter tomorrow. (GETTY)

As I wrote at the start of this series, I believe the Mets can win this, the next round, and the World Series. I still do, very much so. I’m not ready to let go of the summer and get off this ride, and neither should you.

This is not the time to stew over lost opportunities. Whether or not the Dodgers would have won Game 2 without Chase Utley’s slide isn’t the issue. Frankly, I don’t think Ruben Tejada would have gotten the runner at first anyway, but that’s a moot point.

It’s only fitting this series go down to a final game, and with it, probably a final at-bat. Maybe even extra innings.

The Mets can win because they have deGrom on full rest. This All-Star should win a Cy Young Award before he’s through. The only question is whether he’ll win one before Noah Syndergaard or Matt Harvey. On that note, the Mets should also have Syndergaard available coming out of the bullpen. He’ll be on normal rest.

Although manager Terry Collins said he will not use Harvey, don’t bet against it. Thursday would normally be his between-starts throw day and if Collins needs an out he shouldn’t hesitate. The objective is to win tomorrow and worry about the NLCS later.

Honestly, I have more faith in him, and Bartolo Colon for that matter coming out of the bullpen than I do Tyler Clippard or Hansel Robles or Erik Goeddel.

The only unavailable pitcher should be Steven Matz.

There are no doubts in my mind deGrom can tune out the Game 5 pressures and pitch big. My concerns are the bullpen and dormant bats, both of which have been erratic all summer.

The offense is producing nothing now. Yoenis Cespedes has gone deep, but he’s not attacking Dodger pitching the way he did National League arms in August. Also, David Wright and Lucas Duda are a combined 3-for-27 with 14 strikeouts. That represents a lot of empty at-bats and stranded runners. A few more hits and they could be preparing for the Cubs today.

Certainly a Game 5 against Greinke in Los Angeles is a monster task. But, we can’t think of lost opportunities or not getting the home advantage. That’s over and fruitless. Worrying about that is as pointless as fretting about the high school girlfriend who broke up with you or what happened against the Marlins in May.

If promised the above scenario on Opening Day you would have taken it gladly, no questions asked, and not wanting to string up Utley.

Now, don’t worry, just enjoy history. It has been a terrific series and promises to be so again tomorrow.

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Sep 16

Despite Loss, Colon Deserves Spot In Playoff Rotation

Despite losing Wednesday night, Bartolo Colon deserves a spot in the Mets’ playoff rotation, ahead of Jon Niese and Steven Matz. Colon gave up three runs in 5.2 innings (one out shy of a quality start), this after four stellar starts.

Even so, he’s been far superior recently over Niese, and Matz has only made four career starts. Regardless of Colon’s record outside the NL East, I trust him him more in a crucial start over the other two.

COLON: Deserves spot in playoff  rotation. (AP)

COLON: Deserves spot in playoff rotation. (AP)

Of the three, Colon has been the best, which means screwing around with him is a bad idea.

In the interim, the Mets’ bullpen remains a question, with the lack of a left-handed reliever again an issue. It’s the seventh inning and Adrian Gonzalez is up in a critical situation and the Mets need a strikeout. Who would be the best choice to come out of the bullpen to get it?

Of the three, Matz is the one who throws consistently in the mid-90s and has the best chance of blowing away a hitter. I don’t know if Colon or Nlese has the ability to get ready quickly to enter a game.

Does Matz? I’m not sure of that either, but he’s the youngest and probably has the best chance of doing so.

To me, it’s ridiculous the Mets haven’t tried Matz out of the bullpen. The only viable reason for not doing so is because they aren’t sure they’ll have Matt Harvey for the playoffs and are thinking of Matz as his replacement.

This dilemma points us once again to the Mets not having a plan for Harvey as an issue.

At the trade deadline manager Terry Collins decreed, “if you don’t hit, you sit.” The same should apply to pitching. Colon has pitched well; he deserves to pitch in the playoff rotation.

Someday, Matz might be a playoff starter for the Mets, but this shouldn’t be the year. Colon has 14 victories, tied for the club lead. This should be his time to start.

Sep 15

No Surprise Cespedes Was Plunked

Some things shouldn’t come as a surprise, such at the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes getting plunked in the first inning.

For as hot as he’s been, it’s puzzling nobody went after Cespedes before tonight. You’d think somebody would have buzzed him.

CESPEDES : Heads to first after being hit. (AP)

CESPEDES : Heads to first after being hit. (AP)

Moving Cespedes off the plate should be a given. What’s also a given – and a cause for throwing inside – is Cespedes’ rampant styling after hitting a homer. Eventually, all that posturing, and his underhand flips into the infield, will rub other teams the wrong way.

The Mets had a chance to rock the Marlins early, but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. All the starch seemed to go out of the Mets with that pitch and you can bet other teams took notice.

This is something that bears watching. Cespedes has always been a good player, but he’s on a historic roll and hasn’t carried a team like this before. It will be interesting to see how he responds when he gets a few in the ribs.

So, the only questions about Cespedes getting hit is what took so long? And, when will it happen again?

Sep 09

The Dream Continues

Not only did the Mets sweep the Nationals for a second straight series, all three games this time were done in come-from-behind fashion. Not only that, the Mets’ pitchers in the first two games – Jon Niese and Matt Harvey – were torched, and Jacob deGrom was off Wednesday night.

None of that mattered as the Mets found away to win because they willed the outcome. As good as Stephen Strasburg was, you never had the feeling the Mets were out of it, but instead, it was only a matter of time.

“ I love where we’re at. We’re rolling,” said Kelly Johnson, who tied the game with a pinch-hit homer off Strasburg in the eighth. And. of course, Yoenis Cespedes, continued his push for MVP consideration, with a game-winning homer in the eighth.

That roll included Michael Conforto driving in an insurance run and making a run-saving catch. It seems like a long time ago that the Mets were reluctant to bring up Conforto as not to damage his confidence. It doesn’t seem like anything can phase Conforto these days.

And, for the third straight night, the bullpen pitched well, despite Bryce Harper‘s cosmetic homer in the eighth.

The Mets left Florida Sunday night having lost two walk-off games to the Marlins and their lead down to four. The Nationals were hot, having won five straight.

For those who remember the titanic collapse of 2007, when they blew a seven-game lead with 17 to play, there’s the thought that these are the Mets so anything can happen. However, it’s a different year with different players, and above all, a different chemistry.

For the past several years, the Nationals simply bullied the Mets. But, this year, the little guys have the muscle.


Jun 10

Giants Light Up Dark Knight

Another game, another bunch of homers hit – no, make that crushed – off the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

The Giants looked comfortable in slugging three homers off Harvey and ripping him for seven runs. It was the second time in four starts he was blistered for seven runs.

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

Harvey (now 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA) has given up 12 homers and 24 extra-base hits overall in 12 starts. After Harvey was rocked for 11 runs in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Miami, manager Terry Collins suggested the problem was a dead arm.

Harvey quickly dismissed that stock theory for when a pitcher gets torched a couple of times, which made sense because he was clocked in the mid-90s and including the Marlins game, threw over 100 pitches in back-to-back starts.

So, what’s the problem? Why has Harvey given up eight homers in his last four starts, after giving up eight homers in his previous 26?

First, consider Wednesday was Harvey’s 48th career start, which puts him in the equivalent of his second full season, which is when the real learning takes place. And, don’t forget, the hitters are learning, too.

We also must remember he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and perhaps his arm isn’t what he would want. His breaking pitches, in particular his slider, don’t have the same bite they had in 2013 when he was an All-Star and achieved cult status.

We must also look at his walks. He’s only walked 14, which is a great stat, but it also means his pitches are usually in the strike zone. Although he still throws hard, Harvey must recognize he can’t get by simply throwing heat. It also suggests his pitches, although thrown hard, don’t have the darting movement needed.

Knowing Harvey’s control is exceptional; hitters don’t hang around to fall behind in the count. Harvey has given up three homers on the first pitch (overall hitters are batting .450 off him on the first pitch). He’s also given up five homers after being behind 1-0 in the count.

So, it isn’t just one thing, but several contributing factors to why hitters are lighting up the “Dark Knight.’’