Sep 18

From Matz To Duda, A Lot To Like About Mets

There are several things to take out of Friday’s Mets-Yankees game, none of which pertains to so-called bragging rights. Tell me, does anybody really believe in that?

The first is Steven Matz. All along, I’ve advocated leaving Matz out of the playoff rotation, simply because I didn’t believe he has the experience to pitch in that high-pressure atmosphere. Now, the playoffs are more intense than the Yankees, but Matz showed a lot tonight.

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

After a rocky first inning, which included a leadoff walk, Matz turned in a masterful performance. He went after hitters and pitched ahead in the count. He never pitched afraid.

I like Matz and still think the Mets might have something there as a lefty specialist in the playoffs, but know they won’t go there. Where they might go, and this would be delicious, would be to pass over Matt Harvey because of his “innings limits,’’ and go with Matz.

That would be terrifically ironic.

Also important was the revival of Lucas Duda with a mammoth homer and double. He would have also had a single if not for the shift. The Mets have crushed the ball since the Yoenis Cespedes trade, but widely absent in that power display has been Duda. When the playoffs arrive, they’ll need power from the left side.

Speaking of which, Daniel Murphy hit another clutch homer tonight for the go-ahead run. He also hit a game-tying homer on the last road trip in Atlanta, and prior to that, a key homer in Miami.

Murphy, by the way, is a scream with a great sense of humor. After his triple did you notice how he pushed away third baseman Chase Headley’s glove? Just a funny moment in a tense evening. How can you not love that stuff?

I can’t help but think that with the development of Wilmer Flores as a second baseman, and with David Wright seemingly healthy, the Mets won’t bring back Murphy. That becomes even more probable if they earmark money for Cespedes and their young pictures.

Finally, there was Addison Reed, who has been overpowering in his bid for becoming the seventh-inning answer.

As a devout interleague play hater, I took nothing out of beating the Yankees. However, I saw a lot to like in preparation for October.

Sep 14

If Harvey Remains An Issue, Let Him Go Home

This won’t go over well with many, but so be it: I don’t care if Matt Harvey pitches in the playoffs for the Mets. I don’t care if he pitches for them again this season or not.

This “will he or won’t he?’’ crap is boring with much of it Harvey’s fault. If Harvey wants to pitch that badly in the playoffs, then pitch. The easy thing is to blame agent Scott Boras, which SNY wrongly did last week. Once and for all, eliminate this innings issue. Supposedly this was done when he pitched in Washington.

HARVEY: Won' be throwing tonight. (AP)

HARVEY: Won’ be throwing tonight. (AP)

Harvey didn’t clear things up yesterday in Atlanta, and it will surface Monday when Logan Verrett starts over him against Miami. Harvey is supposed to pitch this weekend against the Yankees, but after that, nobody knows. There’s talk of keeping Harvey in a regular rotation, but have him pitch a half-game, with Sean Gilmartin or Erik Goeddel pitching multiple innings.

How sharp he’ll be in this format, and if he can extend himself again in the playoffs are in question.

The Mets are fortunate to have broken open the NL East. They are also fortunate the Nationals collapsed and might not even finish .500. Imagine what a mess this would be if there was still a race.

When Harvey spoke recently about selecting Boras for a reason, we knew it was to cash in for the bucks during his 2019 free-agent season. That’s fine. That’s his right. That’s his prerogative.

But, if you’re going to take that stance, don’t insult us with how badly you want to pitch this season and in the playoffs. If 180 innings is your ceiling then you, and the Mets, should have handled things differently this season. (He’s at 171.2 innings now.)

The Mets are going out of their way saying Harvey’s innings aren’t a distraction. Maybe they aren’t once the game starts, but we can’t escape hearing about it. This remains an issue as the Mets bear down on their first playoff appearance since 2006 because nothing has been defined.

“We’re all on the same page,’’ Collins said. “We need to get him out there a little more consistently. … If we get in the postseason, we’ve got to have Matt Harvey ready to pitch, and I don’t need him to have 15 days off. So we’ve got to come up with a plan that’s going to get him out there a little bit more.’’

Today is Sept. 14, and now you say you have to come up with a plan? If the Mets had a plan entering the season, they wouldn’t have to be scrambling for one with the playoffs less than four weeks away.

There are many unanswered questions:

Who will be in the playoff rotation? Will it include Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon? If Harvey is there, but limited, will they need to carry an extra reliever at the expense of a position player?

If Harvey goes into the playoffs with too much rust, how will it affect him? It’s the playoffs and one bad start can mean the difference between winter and the next round?

If the Mets advance, what will happen with Harvey in the next round?

With their pitching, the Mets could run the table. But, Harvey is part of that pitching. If they get to the World Series, what is Harvey’s availability?

This is something that shouldn’t be on the Mets’ plate at this point.  If the Mets can’t go into the playoffs without Harvey being an issue, perhaps the best option is to leave him off the playoff roster. This would give him plenty of rest for his start next March in Port St. Lucie.

Sep 12

Mets Should Ride And Not Rest Cespedes

It came as no surprise Yoenis Cespedes was in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Atlanta. And, to listen to manager Terry Collins, Cespedes will be in the lineup tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that …

Cespedes will play until he wants a day off, and why not? He’s 29 and firecracker hot with no signs of letting up. It should also come as no surprise Cespedes hit another home run, giving him 16 with the Mets. And, when he came to bat in the ninth with the bases loaded, another RBI that iced the Mets’ sixth straight victory was a formality.

CESPEDES: Does it again. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Does it again. (Getty)

With their lead over the Nationals having ballooned to 9.5, another soon to be a formality will be their first playoff appearance since 2006. Tonight they assured themselves of finishing .500 for the first time since 2008.

You wouldn’t be a Mets’ fan if you somehow were not worried Cespedes will eventually cool. Hopefully, that won’t happen until the season is over.

I wrote the other day I didn’t think the Mets would bring back Cespedes, but that’s strictly because of their track record with high-priced free agents. It’s not because I don’t want the Mets to sign him, but simply a gut feeling.

With every passing day, and each extra-base hit, his price keeps going up. Who knows how high it will go? Actually, on the radio today I heard he might pass the $240 million over ten years Robinson Cano got from Seattle. I wouldn’t give Cespedes either, as they’ll grow to regret it the last four or five years.

If Cespedes doesn’t want to rest, just ride him until the Mets clinch and then give him a day or two. That’s what Collins should be doing with everybody … keep the pressure on and go for the throat.

 

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.

 

Sep 09

Things Couldn’t Have Worked Out Better For Matt Harvey

It was Matt Harvey‘s worst outing of the season for the Mets, yet he came out smelling like roses. He’s the guy who doesn’t find loose change under his seat cushions, but $20 bills. At least so far, it has been that way.

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

We don’t know yet how much Harvey will pitch in September and his availability for the playoffs, but things are looking good for now. After four days in which he took a public relations hit for the innings flap issue after agent Scott Boras dared remind GM Sandy Alderson of the 180 innings magic number.

The print media took its shot at Harvey, but SNY continued to treat him with kid gloves as it failed to acknowledge Boras doesn’t say anything without Harvey’s knowledge. Guys, Boras is Harvey’s mouthpiece.

Harvey wants to tread lightly in September and pitch in October, but that might not be possible to his liking. However, Tuesday’s game and the completed sweep tonight gives the Mets a seven-game lead with 23 games remaining, to create a gap seemingly wide enough where missing Harvey a couple of times might be possible without creating any angst. Whether it is Logan Verrett or Steven Matz, it doesn’t matter.

The key here is Harvey got what he wanted with a limited amount of friction from the front office. Even a loss or two might not be the end of the world now. Had Harvey been beaten, he would have gotten all sorts of questions if the controversy was a distraction.

However, if Harvey only starts two more games – against the Yankees and Washington as reported – the question of how sharp he’ll be could become an issue. But for now, that’s just conjecture. For now, the Harvey issue doesn’t seem so intense.