COMMENTS: The place should be rocking tonight like never before. … I like Cespedes hitting third. … Good to see they haven’t forgotten Lagares. Cespedes is the new toy, but the Mets might not have him next season. Best to keep Lagares happy and interested. … No question, Wright gets the biggest cheer. … It will be interesting to see how Harvey responds on 11 days rest.
Maybe there are omens, if you believe in such things, but there is so much to like about what’s happening for the Mets, and it could be personified by Logan Verrett. Not only did the Mets get five innings from Verrett in his start for Matt Harvey, but got eight strong – with eight strikes in today’s series clinching win over the Rockies.
Things don’t often fall into place the way did for the Mets today. After a rocky first inning Verrett settled down to where you thought you were actually seeing Harvey. Funny line from Verrett, telling Harvey, “I don’t know why everybody is freaking out because everybody knows I’m a better pitcher than you.”
Not only did the Mets rest Harvey, but got a victory and their first sweep of the Rockies in Coors Field. For one day at least, Verrett made us believe this innings-saving program with Harvey might just work after all.
Conventional wisdom had the Mets sending down Verrett to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game, but he was so impressive the Mets optioned out left reliever Dario Alvarez instead. Verrett also gives manager Terry Collins a reliable choice should he need to rest Harvey again or Noah Syndergaard. As a manager, you don’t want to do a lot of searching in September.
The Mets’ bullpen – evidenced by the first two games of the Colorado series – has been shaky lately, but Verrett can offer stability.
There were other season-falling-into-place signs for the Mets this week.
All right, I thought they dragged their feet placing Lucas Duda on the disabled list, but they appear to be surviving his absence. Daniel Murphy, who supposedly can’t play defense, started a key double play. Speaking of defense, Wilmer Flores – with tears out of his eyes – is showing he can play shortstop when he has to. He saved a run, today.
And, the more I see him, the more I like Yoenis Cespedes. He made two scintillating plays in center field that undoubtedly saved a few runs. Since the Mets got him their offense has transformed into something to be feared.
Once struggling for runs, the Mets are scoring at a rate where the pressure was lessened on Michael Conforto, and will be for David Wright when he’s activated from the disabled list Monday in Philadelphia. The Mets need Wright to be Wright, but with the way the Mets are hitting – thanks in large part to Cespedes – they can ease him back. The last thing the Mets want is for Wright to force things, and if the offense keeps producing it makes things easier for Wright.
And, with Uribe, they have a reliable option at third. Uribe, with the Latin pitchers, can be a calming influence. He was today with Hansel Robles.
The Mets are a season-high 11 games over .500 as they go to Philadelphia. However, these Phillies are a different bunch than the team the Mets have beaten up on this year.
The Mets have pitched well all season, recently started to hit and their defense is better. If Verrett can stabilize the bullpen when he’s not pitching eight strong, then the Mets could be doing more than playing meaningful games in September.
They could be playing meaningful games in October, and wouldn’t that be sweet.
The problem with the Mets skipping Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard for a start or two in September, is that by the end of the month they might need those games. That’s why having a definitive plan entering the season was the way to go, but GM Sandy Alderson was too smart for that and Harvey was too stubborn.
With 154 innings already, it is projected he has 36 innings left, which is six starts of six innings. And, considering the strain on the bullpen that’s not encouraging. The projection is the same for Syndergaard.
“We want to have innings left and all the big boys ready to pitch the postseason,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters.
Warthen is also adjusting Syndergaard’s pregame routine by starting his warmups later. Presumably, this will get him in a rhythm sooner. Hopefully, this will enable him to use fewer pitches. However, the innings goal will remain the same.
The other alternative is to junk the limits and take their chances. But, there will be hell to pay if it doesn’t work and they get hurt. Then again, if there will be hell if they restrict them and they don’t get in.
But, I’m giving them hell for not having a plan in place from the beginning.
For years we heard complaints as long as the Wilpons put out a mediocre product on the field there was no reason for fans to come out to Citi Field. In fact, there were pockets of protesters calling for boycotts of the Mets because the Wilpons weren’t putting out a representative team on the field.
Well, the Mets are winning – with Jacob deGrom‘s shutout of the Rockies tonight they are now ten games over .500 – but they aren’t coming. I’m not here to sell tickets for the Mets, but c’mon people, deGrom shuts out the Rockies tonight and Matt Harvey shut them out last night, but where’s the love?
Only 27,000 tonight and 25,000 last night isn’t much. Actually, for a first-place team it is barely anything. While attendance usually spikes the year after a team wins, there are plenty of tickets available. Your team is playing winning, exciting baseball; it is in first place; it’s summer in New York; and the selection of your seats figure to be better now then next year at this time.
The complaints for not supporting the Mets previously were fair, but fair is fair. Although they took their time doing so, the Mets did make several moves to improve themselves. Yes, there have been a limited amount of home games, and the Rockies aren’t the greatest draw, and hopefully the last two nights have been an aberration, but your ball club is in a pennant race and it is the best time to be a fan of the Mets.
You demanded, and rightfully so, of the Wilpons to put up or shut up. Well, now it’s time to support your team at the ball park. It’s a fun team to watch and they deserve it.
The Mets answered one of the most important questions if they are to contend, which is whether they would add to their roster. The additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson energized this team. They created further sparks when Travis d’Arnaud was activated from the disabled list and now the pending return of David Wright.
However, there are more questions to be answered, with these being the most pertinent:
QUESTION: How will they handle the pressure?
ANSWER: There’s a minimum of postseason experience on this roster, and Wright still hasn’t returned. Uribe and Johnson have been there before, but not Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores or Juan Lagares. Eventually they will be faced with a critical situation, one they have yet to encounter.
QUESTION: How will the young arms hold up?
ANSWER: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have been stellar, but as the season progresses they will surpass career highs in innings pitched. None of them have pitched meaningful games in September.
QUESTION: How good will Wright be when he returns?
ANSWER: Nobody can say, but if he’s his former self considerable pressure will be alleviated down the lineup. The Mets will need another RBI bat in the middle of their order down the stretch.
QUESTION: Will the bullpen hold up?
QUESTION: Will they stay healthy?
ANSWER: We’re waiting on Wright, but Duda missed Tuesday’s game. Lagares has had a sore are all year and runners are taking liberties off him on the bases. Fortunately, Harvey has so far responded coming off Tommy John surgery.