Aug 25

Decision Time For Mets On How To Limit Matt Harvey

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HOW WILL METS LIMIT MATT HARVEY? (Getty)

How the New York Mets handle Matt Harvey the rest of the season we should know this week. Harvey admitted the effects of his workload this season are wearing him down, and with the concession Terry Collins knows there’s no more procrastinating with this issue.

Previously, Harvey said he wasn’t happy being limited, but following the loss, admitted being tired. He also said dealing with fatigue is part of the learning process. Eventually, the Mets will play meaningful games in September and October, and they will need Harvey.

“It’s a long season and you’ve got to push through it,’’ Harvey said. “Right now I’m not doing a good job of doing that, and we’ve got to figure something out.’’

Currently, Collins has three options, including: 1) pushing next Thursday’s start against Philadelphia back one day, 2) skipping his turn in the rotation completely and start him in the next turn, Sept. 3, and/or 3) stopping him at six innings period.

The problem with a strict innings cap of six is it doesn’t take into account the strain of the pitches thrown. Harvey threw 6.2 innings Saturday, but they were all grueling because of the tenacity of the pitches.

To his credit, Harvey is not using his lack of run support as an excuse. Clearly, with no runs, Harvey must bear down as he can’t risk a mistake. Saying such a thing, as true as it might be, takes a swipe at his offense, and Harvey won’t travel that road.

An extra 24 hours of rest helps minimally, but if he pitches the next day those innings still count. The best solution is to skin a turn, which takes away the opportunity at six or seven more innings.

From there, just cap his innings at five or six, and perhaps skip one more start. That should get him through the season at the prescribed innings count.

Then do the same with Zack Wheeler.

The problem with this preventative measure is it hinders developing his endurance, and it prevents nothing. Regardless of what steps take, a pitcher’s arm is a fragile thing not meant to throw a baseball with such torque and violence.

Something can always happen to a pitcher, with no guarantees of them not.

Face it, Nolan Ryan was a freak, and gone are the days when Juan Marichal threw 30 complete games in 1968. He threw 325.2 innings that season. He came back with 27 complete games the following year.

Clearly, it was a different era. Then rotations were four deep and complete games were the expected norm and not the exception. That was a mentality developed in the minor leagues and earlier.

From when Harvey first started pitching, complete games were a novelty. It’s too late to start him thinking otherwise.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 24

Fantasizing About Runs For Matt Harvey; Where Will Lucas Duda Play?

If the New York Mets are to win this weekend, today is their best chance, with Matt Harvey starting. The sad thing, is that feeling comes with the statistical backdrop of a 13-12 record in his starts this season, including the Mets going 6-10 in his last 16 starts.

HARVEY: What's he really think about his support?

HARVEY: What’s he really think about his support?

Harvey has a 2.67 ERA with a 119-to-17 strikeouts-to-walks ration in those 16 starts.

The Mets are counting Harvey’s innings, but in a match-up against Detroit’s Max Scherzer in a rematch of All-Star starters, you have to figure unless his pitch count is obscene, Terry Collins will keep sending him out there.

The Mets have given Harvey 95 runs of support in his 25 starts. By contrast, the Tigers have given Scherzer 151 runs in his 25 starts. Considering the Tigers are giving Scherzer 2.24 more runs in his starts, and the Mets have lost nine Harvey starts in which the margin of difference was two or fewer runs, we could be talking about 18 victories for their phenom.

It doesn’t work that way, but occasionally it is interesting to speculate about, especially if you’re Harvey’s agent.

NO SPOT FOR DUDA: Who knows, perhaps today’s game will be decided by Lucas Duca, who has been promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas at the expense of Mike Baxter.

Duda is hitting .308 at Triple over his last 12 starts, in which he exclusively played first base.

Of Collins’ three options – first base platoon with Ike Davis; left field platoon with Eric Young; or off the bench – first base appears the most likely place for Duda.

Davis has played better since coming up from Vegas, but not well enough to say all his issues are resolved. One of the Mets’ off-season decisions is whether to tender Davis. If they do not, he becomes a free-agent and opens a hole at first base.

Presumably, that could be filled by Duda.

Aug 19

Mets Making Mistake Not Hitting Juan Lagares Second

If not for Major League Baseball’s inane scheduling policies, the New York Mets should be enjoying a day off following a lengthy road trip, not playing the Minnesota Twins with a starting line-up featuring just three players – Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and starter Dillon Gee – who were on the Opening Day roster.

LAGARES: Let's see what he can do batting second.

LAGARES: Let’s see what he can do batting second.

Considering the influx in personnel, it is impressive they are in third place and only nine games under .500.

Quite simply, scheduling the Mets in Minneapolis in April was just plain dumb, but that’s another rant later.

Such a turnaround in personnel is astonishing as evidenced by today’s line-up, the 94th different penned by Terry Collins. If that’s not a record, it should be.

It is puzzling why a run-starved team like the Mets aren’t capitalizing on Juan Lagares’ speed and bunching him with Eric Young at the top of the order. There’s stolen base and run potential there. Even with the designated hitter, batting Lagares eighth does little good.

Here’s today’s head-scratching line-up:

Eric Young, LF: One of the Mets’ primary problems has been resolved.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Should be hitting third, a better RBI slot. His patience helps Young, but he might have greater value hitting in a RBI position.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Murphy should be dropped down to third and Byrd should be clean-up. Byrd is also hot now, so I can see Collins’ reasoning.

Ike Davis, 1B: With his soaring on-base percentage, he should be hitting leadoff. Joking. Seriously, with the rate he’s getting on base he should be hitting ahead of Byrd to maximize the latter’s RBI potential.

Andrew Brown, DH: Good he’s getting a chance to play, but I would drop him behind Wilmer Flores.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: I’d bat Flores behind Davis to maximize his RBI potential. Prior to his injury, he was averaging also a RBI per game.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: We don’t know how he’ll hit on this level, so seventh is as good a slot as any.

Juan Lagares, CF: This one is puzzling. They need to bunch the speed of Young and Lagares to generate excitement and run-scoring potential at the top of the line-up. The concern might be Lagares’ ability to work an at-bat to protect Young, but that should come with the experience of hitting second.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: This is about right. No pitcher hitting today, but in the regular line-up eighth is his place.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Could tie Matt Harvey with nine wins today.

I don’t understand Collins’ approach in determining his line-up, which means the Mets will score nine runs today. Would anybody be surprised if they did?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 19

Great Players Make Little Plays; Mets’ Matt Harvey Did Not In Loss At San Diego

Yes, the New York Mets threw away another Matt Harvey start, but in fairness, the Wonder Pitcher also threw away Sunday’s game in San Diego.

HARVEY: ``Missed it by that much.'' (Getty)

HARVEY: “Missed it by that much.” (Getty)

Harvey has 12 no-decisions and overall the Mets are 13-12 when he starts. Those are telling stats of both parties. For the Mets, again ten games below .500, they are equal opportunity when it comes to disappointing their starters.

Harvey, meanwhile, and he’s the first to admit it, must do more of the little things, and not just pitch longer than the six he did Sunday. Harvey, who has made 35 career starts, desires himself to be a great pitcher, and others have the same projection.

That means not hit a batter with an average barely over the Mendoza Line and field a chopper off the mound.

Harvey gave Sunday’s no-decision and Mets’ defeat a typical “that’s baseball,’’ shrug, but you know he’s steamed because he understands that loss was on him as much as it was on the offense and Pedro Feliciano.

The Mets scored four runs and Harvey has a 2.25 ERA and gave up only two runs. Do the math. The bare numbers point to Feliciano, who gave up a game-winning homer to Will Venable. However, a walk-off game is much more than the play that ended it.

Truly great pitchers don’t hit the .208-hitting Logan Forsythe to open the fifth, and later that inning not come up with Venable’s chopper that drove him home. The chopper would have been the second out and not made Alexi Amarista’s sacrifice fly possible.

Had Harvey made those plays, he would have gotten out of the inning scoreless and picked up his tenth win. That’s probably all he thought about on the flight to Minnesota.

The headline is Venable’s homer, but walk-off games contain numerous plays earlier that mean the difference. The two plays Harvey did not make are similar to those not made by his teammates in his four losses, but more importantly, in the 12 team losses in which he started.

How many plays in those games did Harvey not make, by either giving up a walk, not closing out a hitter or inning, or failing to put down a sacrifice? It’s tight as the Mets lost 11 of those games by a combined 18 runs. There is plenty of responsibility to go around, by Harvey and his teammates. One less bad pitch; one more hit.

Great teams, and great players, make the plays, and “great’’ can’t be applied to, either Harvey or the Mets. Not now, anyway.

This has been a scintillating, yet frustrating season for Harvey, as he sees the greatness that is just beyond his grasp, much like Venable’s chop.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond to them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 18

Mets Playing Fast And Loose With Mejia’s Elbow

Another day, another injury for the New York Mets, and not surprisingly, one involving a pitcher.  Jenrry Mejia didn’t make it out of the fourth Saturday night in San Diego because of pain caused by a bone spur in is right elbow. His season is in jeopardy as he likely will be placed on the disabled list today.

This is not new for Mejia – he left a game in Miami, July 31 – and he is supposed to have off-season surgery.

MEJIA: Is season over? (AP)

MEJIA: Is season over? (AP)

What has been reported is pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “Mejia did not warm up well,’’ which should make anybody wonder why he started in the first place.

If somebody is known to be hurt, is scheduled for surgery, and has difficulty warming up, one would think caution would be exercised. One would think.

Yes, I am more cautious when it comes to injuries than the Mets. I also know that after covering baseball for two-and-a-half decades, one should bet the over. It rarely breaks the other way.

A roster move will be made today, so figure Mejia going on the disabled list. Of course, that doesn’t take away what further injury might have been sustained Saturday.

General manager Sandy Alderson spoke like the lawyer in defending starting Mejia.

“We all know that he’s had some issues with his elbow,” Alderson said. “He was pitching to [pain] tolerance. That tolerance was exceeded tonight apparently and he had to come out. The doctor here took a look at him, but at this point it’s about his symptoms. They were obviously severe tonight, and we’ll see where this takes us.’’

Sometimes, you just want to scream listening to Alderson.

If the Mets knew he had issues, he shouldn’t have started following a bad warm-up. He should have been given an MRI. And, what in the hell is pitching to pain tolerance? Is it pitching just before serious damage is done?

The Mets, predictably, said there was no chance of further injury. Care to guarantee that assessment? The spur has to be rubbing against something to cause pain.

If surgery is to happen, it is to remove a pain-producing problem. Yes, bone spurs can cause damage, and yes, they can cause a pitcher to overcompensate in his delivery and produce a residual injury.

Alderson has been around long enough to know both possibilities.

Mejia was pitching well since returning to the Mets, but after the Miami incident, considering the team already determined he’d have surgery, it should have been done immediately.

The Mets are going out of their way to protect Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler with innings limits, but they saw no reason to protect Mejia, who already had Tommy John surgery.

The Mets mishandled Mejia in juggling his roles several times under Jerry Manuel, and it appears they are doing it again.

Why are they playing fast and loose with Mejia?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos