Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Wheeler Unravels In Loss; Gets No Help From Pen

Sometimes too much is made of baseball’s specialized statistics, but one of them speaks volumes of the Mets’ Zack Wheeler. It all fell apart for Wheeler in the Cardinals’ six-run sixth inning, which raised his ERA for that particular inning this year to a lofty 13.50.

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

Outside of injuries that sidelined him for the past two years, what has primarily prevented Wheeler from reaching stardom has been high pitch counts, often culminating into hitting a wall in the sixth inning.

Such was the case again tonight, as Wheeler cruised through four innings, but things began to unravel in the fifth, and he completely lost it in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Paul DeJong and a RBI double by pitcher Adam Wainwright.

As puzzling as Wheeler has been was manager Terry Collins’ decision to send him out for the sixth inning, considering he walked the bases loaded in the fifth.

“He certainly didn’t look tired or like he was laboring,’’ Collins said.

Wheeler said he lost the feel for his curveball and it wasn’t spinning out of his hand the way it should.

Asdrubal Cabrera robbed Jedd Gyorko of a two-run single to get out of the inning. Instead of being grateful, Collins pushed the envelope with Wheeler in the sixth.

Collins not only made a mistake in trusting Wheeler, but compounded it by keeping him in after DeJong’s homer, and doubled down on that mistake by bringing in Hansel Robles, who promptly gave up a three-run to Tommy Phan.

“It was my fault,’’ said Wheeler, who was stand-up and refused to throw his bullpen under the bus. “I should have made my pitches and gotten out of it.’’

Wheeler gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in 5.1 innings and has gone eight straight starts without a victory.

So, after routing Colorado in the first two games coming out of the All-Star break, Mets’ pitchers Steven Matz and Wheeler were routed themselves.

“You can’t go on a run if you don’t get consistent pitching,’’ said Collins, stating the obvious.

Meanwhile, prior to the game, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey played catch on flat ground. Both were pleased, but it was only catch.

Of course, what Collins couldn’t say is he stuck with Wheeler and went to Robles because GM Sandy Alderson gave him no other alternative.

Jul 05

Even DeGrom Can’t Save Mets

Do you want the truth from me about the Mets, or should I tell you what I think of them through blue-and-orange glasses? I’m guessing you want the truth because that’s all I’ve given you on this site.

I hope I am wrong and the Mets do something heroic, but even if Jacob deGrom beats the Nationals tonight, I think this over.

DE GROM: Can't help Mets now. (AP)

DE GROM: Can’t help Mets now. (AP)

Just when they take a step forward, like trim a 12.5-game deficit down to 8.5, they stub their toe. They not only failed to sweep the Phillies but got clobbered in the final game. Curtis Granderson hit a game-tying homer with two strikes and two down in the ninth, which is the stuff great pennant runs are made of.

But, they lost that game and were routed yesterday to fall back to 11.5 games behind.

They can’t beat the Nationals, Dodgers or Diamondbacks, and I don’t like their chances against St. Louis and Colorado.

There is too much going on with the Mets that doesn’t encourage a miraculous comeback. Their pitchers walk too many hitters and the bullpen is among the game’s worst. Their offense is all-or-nothing with the home runs. Hitting in the clutch? Uh, no.

And, let’s not forget the numerous injuries: Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey; David Wright and Neil Walker; Jeurys Familia and Michael Conforto.

Quite simply, the Mets need to pick up at least six games by the end of the month to have any chance of making it a race giving them two options: 1) maintain the illusion and keep the status quo, or 2) back up the truck and have a fire sale.

Whatever they do, I’ll keep watching and imagine you will, also, because that’s what we do.

Jun 29

Mets Getting What They Want From Tebow

I just got a call from a radio station wanting to talk about Tim Tebow. The question was: Was this just a promotion or does he have a real chance of playing in the major leagues?

Today is June 29 and a California radio station wants to talk about Tebow. To me, that’s what the Mets wanted and why they are paying Tebow minor league dollars, which isn’t much.

I don’t know if Tebow has the ability to play in the majors, but I do know, from what everybody says, that he’s sincere in what he’s doing.

For the Mets it is a feel good story. It’s better than asking what is wrong with the Mets? When will Noah Syndergaard be back? What about Matt Harvey? Will David Wright ever play again? Will Terry Collins be fired?

Every time you want to write off Tebow, he does something. Divine intervention? Who knows?

But, we’re talking about the Mets and it is positive for once. That’s what they wanted.

Jun 20

Today’s Question: What’s Wrong With Zack Wheeler?

The ancient Greeks may have had their idea of tragedy, but they never had to stay up until 2 to watch the Mets. How does a team hit four home runs and score six runs against the sport’s best pitcher, but lose the game?

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

Actually, it’s very simple when your starting pitcher gives up seven runs and lasts only two innings. That’s Zack Wheeler, who lasted 1.2 innings and gave up eight runs in his previous start. That’s 15 runs in 3.2 innings.

Concerned is an understatement.

“When you’ve got that kind of stuff and you’re getting hit like [Wheeler] is getting hit, there is something wrong and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s too good. He’s got too good of stuff.’’

But “stuff’’ is too broad a term. Stuff is more than throwing hard. It includes movement, location and command of his secondary pitches.

“Honestly, I haven’t had off-speed pitches all year, and now it’s starting to catch up to me,’’ Wheeler said. “Those guys get scouting reports and now it’s starting to catch up to me. It’s easy [for hitters] when you can’t throw off-speed for strikes and you’re just throwing fastballs.’’

And, fastballs with little movement that hang out over the plate get crushed. But, it might not be just one issue.  Wheeler’s problems can be attributed to a myriad of circumstances:

HEALTH: Wheeler said he’s fine, but Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey each said they were all right and both are on the disabled list.

Mets’ pitchers are notorious for withholding physical ailments and trying to pitch through discomfort, so it wouldn’t surprise me if something crops up with Wheeler.

HITTING A WALL: Wheeler missed the last two seasons following Tommy John surgery and a complicated healing process. It’s quite possible he’s hit a wall.

The solution for that could be to shut him down for his next start and give him time to rest.

TIPPING PITCHES: Collins said they’ll look at video in an attempt to spot any mechanical issues. While they are at it, examine the tape carefully to spot any giveaways to what’s coming.

The Dodgers’ first five hitters swung the bat like they knew the pitch.

Something isn’t right with Wheeler and the Mets’ would be wise for him to skip a start as they search for answers.

 

Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.