ON DECK: Jacob deGrom update
GAME #4: Phillies 1, at Mets 0. Record: 2-2.
SUMMARY: With the weather cold, who would have expected a pitching duel between Bartolo Colon and Vince Velasquez? However, that’s what we got with Velasquez striking out nine Mets. Three hits by the Mets won’t get it down.
KEY MOMENT: Ryan Howard’s homer in the fifth was the night’s offense.
THUMBS UP: Colon was terrific, making one bad pitch to Howard. Colon also made an over-the-shoulder catch of a bunt. … Travis d’Arnaud threw out another base stealer. … Jeurys Familia pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth. Then again, he got himself into trouble. … Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits.
THUMBS DOWN: Did I mention just three hits? … The crowd has already started getting on Yoenis Cespedes (2-for-16 this year), who struck out three times. … Mets hitters struck out 12 times. … Lucas Duda also struck out three times. … The Mets’ two hottest hitters, Neil Walker and Michael Conforto went a combined 0-for-8.
EXTRA INNINGS: David Wright did not play, but was warming up to pinch-hit in the ninth. Manager Terry Collins said Wright started to get loose in the seventh. … Jacob deGrom’s between-starts throw day is Sunday. … In just the third game of their existence, the Mets’ minor league affiliate Columbia Fireflies combined on a three-man no-hitter.
QUOTEBOOK: “We’re not going to make any excuses about how cold it is. We have to swing the bats better.’’ – Collins on the Mets’ offense.
BY THE NUMBERS: 45: Career homers by Howard against the Mets.
We have long been aware of the Mets’ hit-and-miss nature in their handling of injuries. They could be on the verge of making another mistake as manager Terry Collins said Jacob deGrom‘s next start is up in the air. He told reporters today no MRI is planned for deGrom’s tight right lat muscle.
DeGrom wasn’t in a talkative mood this afternoon with reporters, but the word it is still very sore.
Collins said if deGrom doesn’t show substantial improvement and throw his between-starts bullpen Sunday, he would likely be scratched from Wednesday’s start against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.
Who hasn’t heard this refrain from the Mets about one of their injured players? They did it with Matt Harvey in 2013 and last season with Steven Matz. Neither one of those gambles turned out well. They’ve also mishandled injuries with David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church and many others.
It’s cold today and will probably be likewise Wednesday. DeGrom complained of back tightness in spring training. None of the Mets’ starters worked significant innings this spring. Plus, they have other options available.
DeGrom is a vital key to whatever success the Mets have this year. What could be their possible reasoning in not wanting deGrom get an MRI? You would think they would want to know as much about deGrom’s injury as possible.
If tonight’s game gets bagged, Collins could push his starters back a day. But, why don’t they do the smart thing and just say now they will skip deGrom until the injury risk is greatly reduced? Injuries can always happen, but what’s the point of pushing the envelope on this?
They should just say they are resting deGrom and do the right thing now.
Why is that such a hard thing for them to figure out?
ON DECK: Mets Game Wrap: Game #4 vs. Phillies.
The Jacob deGrom family is still awaiting the birth of the couple’s first child, which puts the starter of Friday’s home opener in flux.
If deGrom doesn’t start, Steven Matz is expected to get the start, although manager Terry Collins did not rule out Bartolo Colon. If deGrom does pitch Friday, Colon would start Saturday, Matt Harvey on Sunday and Matz Monday against Miami.
WALKER WINS BELT: The Mets have a tradition of awarding the star of every victory a wrestling-style championship belt. The season’s first winner is second baseman Neil Walker because of his game-winning two-run homer Tuesday in Kansas City.
“I’ve heard a lot about it – the mystique of it that comes along,” Walker told reporters. “That was a really cool moment to get it [Tuesday]. But I don’t know if I completely deserve it. You saw what Noah [Syndergaard] did today. I think we’ll split it.”
If you heard Terry Collins‘ lame defense of Yoenis Cespedes‘ boneheaded error Sunday night – “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.” – then you’ll see why this will be the toughest of his managerial career.
Collins is an apologist for Cespedes’ lack of effort and for Matt Harvey questioning his authority. But there’s so much more. There’s how he’ll limit David Wright‘s playing time, or more to the point, not knowing when he’ll have the third baseman available.
Cespedes is also a Mets’ wildcard in nobody knows how he’ll respond to the pressure of his $27.5-million contract. If Cespedes folds then Collins is again searching for offensive help, especially if Wright doesn’t hit.
Everybody raves about the Mets’ young pitching, but none of those arms – save Bartolo Colon – have won as many as 15 games. And, please, let’s not forget about the uncertainty of the bullpen.
That’s a lot of variables placed pressure squarely on Collins’ shoulders. How he handles that pressure will go a long way towards where the Mets finish. However, perhaps most importantly is Collins has never had a team this talented. He’s never had a team that went to the World Series the previous season and with as many expectations like his 2016 Mets.
In his first years with the Mets, Collins had the security of having a bad team without a willingness to spend money. Those teams had no expectations and GM Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to sacrifice Collins as he tinkered with payroll and building this rotation. Managers of rebuilding teams having low expectations don’t get fired.
However, it’s different now. That security is gone. The expectations are high as is the pressure to win. And, pressure makes managers vulnerable. That’s why this will be his toughest year.