May 23

Big Pitching Night Awaits Mets

Should the Mets put the brakes on their current slide, tonight might be circled as a potential turning point with regards to their battered starting rotation. Both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo will make minor league rehab starts, but the headliner will be Matt Harvey’s first home start since he was suspended for blowing off a workout the day before a start.

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

The hope is Matz and Lugo will replace Tommy Milone and Robert Gsellman in the rotation, and the vision the Mets always held for Harvey will finally emerge with no more health questions, or for that matter, no more diva issues.

Harvey alluded as much to that: “It’ll be good to go out and concentrate on the game plan that we go over before the game instead of thinking I have to stay with a certain mechanic. … We’ve figured out what I need to do and now it’s just about going out and executing pitches.’’

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until the end of May or early June when his velocity would return for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Harvey is throwing hard again, but his command has been off and there hasn’t been an edge to his game.

The Mets were to be defined by their pitching, and they have – it has been the single biggest disappointment to this season to date.

Warthen said the current issue for Harvey (2-3, 5.56 ERA) is mechanics, ranging from arm slots to his timing. In his last start at Arizona, Harvey gave up three runs with five strikeouts, but four walks.

The returns of Matz and Lugo could carry significant weight, even more if one of them eventually replaces Harvey.

May 19

DeGrom Pitches Like Ace He Is

There are a lot of ways to define an ace, and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom nails it on all fronts. There are eye-popping fastballs leading to brow-raising statistics, but the ultimate measure is when things are going to pot, as they were in the seventh when a blister grew raw on his right ring finger and the Angels loaded the bases with no outs.

DE GROM: Glimmered tonight. (AP)

DE GROM: Glimmered tonight. (AP)

With the Mets up by two runs, the game was clearly in the balance, but deGrom regrouped to strike out Danny Espinosa, get Ben Revere on a juggling catch by Jose Reyes, and then get Cameron Maybin on a fly to right.

“We needed a win tonight,” said manager Terry Collins. “We needed to win bad. … It us unbelievable what he did in the seventh inning. He wasn’t tired, but did have the blister. He reached back when he needed to.”

DeGrom (W, 3-1) was done after seventh, giving up four hits and three walks with nine strikeouts, to enable the Mets to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Both Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard have been termed “an ace,’’ but for my money if you had to pick one, it would be deGrom, and it really isn’t close.

 

May 17

Today’s Question: What Version Will Mets Get From Harvey Today?

Today’s Question: Will the real Matt Harvey, or the version he claims to be step up?

Arizona was where it all began for Harvey, who struck out 11 Diamondbacks in his major league debut late in the lost season that was 2012. He had poise that day, an explosive fastball, and above all, devastating command.

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

The Mets crowed about what they had, and they had the right. Harvey finished the year at 3-5, but with a 2.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

A few short months later, Harvey masked the pain in his right forearm, and when the injury was finally revealed, he, along with coaxing of ownership, let their future start in the All-Star Game.

He was brilliant that night in Citi Field, but a few weeks later the burning in his elbow needed to be cooled by Tommy John surgery. We can gloss over the pettiness in his sparring with management about whether to have surgery, went to have it, and where he should rehab.

He fought the Mets at every turn, and when he came back in 2015 he fought with them over his innings limit.

Then there was Game 5 of the World Series.

Now, Harvey goes to the mound with a 31-31 career record and more questions than answers. Harvey goes in with a three-game losing streak and suspension on his most recent resume.

“You get to the point where you don’t sit here and say, ‘I hope I get this’ and ‘I hope I get that,’ ” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “You just send him out there and you hope he’s getting back to what Matt Harvey is. That’s what I’m looking for: improvement. That’s it.”

What is the real Matt Harvey? Well, on-the-field he’s been underachieving with average numbers. Off-the-field he’s still caught up with an arrogant sense of entitlement whose act is wearing thin.

He received no public support from his teammates, which is rare in a baseball clubhouse. That’s partly because he’s done nothing lately to prove to his teammates he’s worth the trouble.

That’s the heart of the matter.

 

May 08

Mets To Protect Harvey With Friday Return

The Mets are thinking about Friday as a return to the mound for Matt Harvey. He will return to the ballpark tomorrow to make his apologies and pitch again Friday when the Mets are in Milwaukee – away from the prying microphones and cameras that would besiege him at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

It seemed logical the Mets should start him Wednesday afternoon over Rafael Montero, who can’t find the plate with a GPS, or recently-acquired Tommy Milone.

Instead, this is just another example of the Mets massaging Harvey’s fragile ego; do it in Milwaukee to spare him the boos he’d undoubtedly hear in New York.

C’mon, admit it, if you were going to be at Citi Field Wednesday, part of you would want to stand up and vent your anger at Harvey, the same anger GM Sandy Alderson finally did.

After acquiescing to Harvey’s pettiness and demands since 2013 – from hiding pain in his forearm that eventually lead to Tommy John surgery, to complaining where he would do his rehab, to his innings fiasco in 2015, to missing a World Series workout because he got caught in traffic and it was later discovered he was out partying the night before, to pitching a fit in the dugout to stay in Game 5 of the World Series he eventually kicked away – Alderson finally had enough.

“We have a policy here,” Collins said of Harvey’s for an unexcused absence Saturday. “I thought it was the right thing to do. I know it’s dramatic, but I think any team in baseball would have probably reacted very similarly. And it wasn’t just Matt Harvey. Anybody in that room that misses a day and nobody knows about it, we’ve got to do the same thing.”

Harvey said he developed a migraine headache after golfing and there was a miscommunication of explaining his absence that the Mets weren’t buying.

I’m not either, because how could he not have Alderson’s cell number? Or, Collins? Or trainer Ray Ramirez?

If we’re venturing guesses, I think him being in Ottawa watching the Rangers is as good as any.

Anyway, before Harvey throws his first pitch, he’ll have some groveling to do with his teammates tomorrow afternoon.

“I know one thing about our society: You make a mistake, you stand up, be accountable and move on,” Collins said. “He needs to address the guys. We’ve got to get this behind us. However he wants to go about doing that, I’ll sign on for it.

“We have a good clubhouse. Understand, you’re never going to have 25 that all like each other. But they respect each other and that’s all I want.”

Harvey may have lost that respect and has a long way to go to earn it back.

May 08

Today’s Question: What Will Harvey Say?

The Mets suspended Matt Harvey for three days Sunday and sent him home before he could address the media. When Harvey shows up at Citi Field this afternoon making today’s question an obvious one: What will he say? What is his version of what happened?

HARVEY: Is he walking away from Mets? (AP)

HARVEY: Is he walking away from Mets? (AP)

Of course, there will be the obvious follow-up questions. What does he hope to gain by filing a grievance with the Players Association? Does he believe his relationship with the Mets has been irreparably damaged? Why does controversy always swirl around him? Whom did he try to reach with the Mets? Does he even want to be a Met? What was his golf score Saturday, and was he in a group with Yoenis Cespedes?

I have no idea of what he will say, but considering his track record of controversy since 2013, it is hard to give him benefit of the doubt. Do you think he deserves it?

I wrote as early as 2013 he was becoming a headache, and as soon as the next summer he was wearing out his welcome and the Mets should explore trading him because I didn’t think he would re-sign when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season and nothing has happened to make me change my mind.

Harvey has always been a me-first diva and has a lot of explaining to do to make me think otherwise. For those who don’t agree with me, well, that’s fine. But, consider this. That the fans, media, manager and general manager, have pretty much let Harvey call his own shots without consequence has lead him to think he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.