Aug 11

Rosario, Smith Give Mets Glimpse Of Future

The Mets got a glimpse of their future tonight and had to like what they saw.

On a night when Dominic Smith made his major league debut, wearing the crown was Amed Rosario, who ripped three hits, including his first career homer, a game winner.

ROSARIO: Hits game-winner. (AP)

ROSARIO: Hits game-winner. (AP)

Oh, by the way, Michael Conforto hit another home run.

Rosario, who has been a major leaguer for all of 11 days, sounded like a veteran when talking about his breakout game.

“Even though I’ve had a couple of bad days lately,’’ Rosario said through an interpreter, “this helped my confidence.’’

Rosario has been a bundle of energy since his long-awaited promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas. His defense, hustle and speed have been a spark.

You don’t hear this often from a rookie with less than two weeks into his career, but Rosario said he was concerned about his slow start at the plate, in particular, his high strikeout rate. So, he has been working with hitting coach Kevin Long on trying to shorten his swing to cut down on his swing and using all parts of the field.

It worked tonight.

“He’s still very aggressive,’’ manager Terry Collins said, indicating a slow start didn’t intimidate him. “He’s played great. He listens. He’s going to be good.’’

And, he believes the same thing for Smith, who struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat, then singled to center in his second. That’s learning.

“He was nervous. It was quite easy to see,’’ Collins said. “But, he’ll be like Rosario and will calm down.’’

The Mets will still be defined by their young pitching. Jacob deGrom was superb on Thursday, but took a line drive off his pitching arm in the seventh inning and had to leave the game. He’s still expected to pitch Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Matt Harvey is on the disabled list, but is about to start his rehab assignment. Noah Syndergaard is also on the disabled list, as is Zack Wheeler. The Mets hope they will all return in the season’s final six weeks so they know where they stand heading into the offseason.

Then, there is Saturday’s starter, Steven Matz who has been in a downfall funk over the past month. The Mets hope to find some answers about him, also.

All of them, save deGrom, have significant questions, as do Smith and Rosario, but all have very high ceilings if they are healthy.

Then, there is All-Star Conforto, who hit his 25th homer, while batting clean-up, while playing center. Where he plays and hits in the order could change, but he has star written all over him.

So do the others.

Aug 08

Harvey Makes Progress In Rehab; Mets Beat Rangers

The Mets finally received some positive pitching news today with Matt Harveys pain-free, 20-pitch live batting practice session. Harvey’s last start was June 14, a four-inning stint against the Cubs.

HARVEY: Makes progress.  (AP)

HARVEY: Makes progress. (AP)

Live batting practice usually comes prior to a rehab assignment, so if he doesn’t feel anything tomorrow, he could make a minor-league start this weekend. Assuming all goes well, Harvey could make three or four starts before the end of the year.

“My goal is to get out there as soon as I can and get as many starts as I can,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I felt great. It was nice to get on the mound again. A little rusty at first, but at the end, I was able to get the ball down.

“My arm is moving the proper way. It was finally fun to throw a baseball again.’’

It has been a long time since Harvey had any fun pitching, perhaps the eighth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. It’s not his 4-3 record, but his 5.25 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 35 walks in 70.1 innings that has frustrated Harvey.

That, and whether he’ll ever approach the potential expected of him when he became an All-Star and cult hero in 2013. If nothing else, both Harvey and the Mets want to ascertain where he physically fits heading into the offseason.

THE GAME:  Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d’Arnaud homered to give Chris Flexen his first major league victory, 5-4, over Texas tonight at Citi Field.

Flexen (1-1), in his third career start, pitched 5.2 innings and gave up three on four hits, three walks and one hit batter while striking out four. For good measure, he also registered his career hit with a fifth-inning double.

For Conforto, it was his career-high 23rd homer and sixth leading off a game.

A NEW GIG FOR IKE: Former Mets first baseman Ike Davis is trying to make it back to the majors as a situational lefty reliever in the Dodgers farm system.

Davis, 30, struck out the side his one inning of work in the Arizona League.

Davis pitched for Arizona State in college and made two scoreless relief appearances for Oakland in 2015. His fastball has been clocked at 92 mph.

EXTRA INNINGS: With their win, the Mets snapped a four-game and improved to 26-31 at home. … Conforto’s leadoff homer was the Mets’ tenth to lead the majors. …

Since the All-Star break, Conforto is batting .313 (30-96) with nine home runs and 17 RBI. … D’Arnaud’s homer was his tenth. … Neil Walker started his first career game at first. … AJ Ramos converted his first save opportunity since joining the Mets.

 

Aug 06

Mets Matters: Bruce Hopes To Return Tuesday

Jay Bruce didn’t play tonight, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway with how the Mets have performed lately. Bruce was absent for the second straight game because of a stiff neck, but said he hopes to play Tuesday against Texas at Citi Field.

mets-matters logo“There’s been improvement, working with the medical staff, doing what I can,’’ Bruce told reporters. “Like I said, there has been improvement. I think with the treatment, and tomorrow off, I should be ready to go. … I want to be careful with it. Because I don’t want this to turn into a long-term situation.’’

Bruce believes he came down with the stiff neck on the flight back from Denver Thursday.

In 101 games, Bruce leads the Mets with 29 home runs and 75 RBI.

HARVEY MAKING PROGRESS: Matt Harvey threw his first bullpen session since going on the DL June 16 with a stress injury in his right shoulder. Harvey was scheduled to throw in the bullpen Tuesday, but will throw live batting practice.

MATZ STILL NOT THERE: It doesn’t matter an instant replay reversal in the first extended the inning so the Dodgers would score three runs in the first off Steven Matz, it is still up to him to get out of trouble.

He didn’t and the left-hander lost his fourth straight decision to remain winless since June 28.

Matz gave up five runs on six hits in 5.1 innings to see his ERA jump to 8.44.

The inning unraveled in large part with long standing flaw from Mets’ starters, which is their failure to hold runners on base. The Dodgers pulled off a double steal and both runners scored on Logan Forsythe’s single to center.

GLAD THAT’S OVER: With their 8-0 rout of the Mets, the Dodgers swept the season series, outscoring them 57-15 and shutting them out for the third time. … Los Angeles clubbed two more homers – Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger – and have outhomered the Mets 25-6. The rookie Bellinger has five homers against Mets’ pitching.

The 2015 NLDS seems like ages ago.

Aug 01

Today’s Question: Will Matz Snap Out Of It?

While all eyes will be on Amed Rosario tonight – and rightfully so – don’t forget to sneak a peak at Steven Matz. The Mets say they are a little concerned with Matz, who has a staggering 14.18 ERA over his last four starts and hasn’t worked longer than five innings in any of them. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span. Can he snap out of it tonight against the powerful Rockies in their launching pad of a stadium in Coors Field.

There are a half-dozen other teams Matz would rather face, and in just as many ballparks.

MATZ:  Something isn't right. (AP)

MATZ: Something isn’t right. (AP)

Matz pitched most of last season with a bone spur in his left elbow, and after four months went on the DL for the rest of the year with shoulder tightness, presumably from altering his mechanics as compensation. He spent the first two months of this year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

It’s highly plausible the Mets pushed him last season or this year and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball. Matz is throwing hard, but of the three velocity isn’t as important and location and movement. Instead of sinking or tailing away, Matz’s pitches stay over the middle of the plate, making it easier for them to be hit – or crushed.

“You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut,” Collins said. “We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz said if feels good, but didn’t we hear the same refrain from Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?

Should Matz get shelled tonight, it would be easy to blame Coors Field and the Rockies. It would also be foolish.

Aug 01

It’s Rosario’s Time

Well folks, you got your wish as Amed Rosario will be in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Denver. The player GM Sandy Alderson refused to bring up until the white flag was officially raised on this season is supposed to represent the rebuilding of the team many thought could be heading to the World Series.

How good is Rosario?

ROSARIO: It's time. (AP)

ROSARIO: It’s time. (AP)

His .328 batting average tells us he can hit Triple-A pitching. Limited glimpses of him during spring training says he has the potential to become an elite defender. Minor league instructor Tim Teufel told The Post a lot when he said, “he’s not a finished product, yet,’’ yet admitted he might have become a little bored in the minors.

Getting bored and his Tweet literally screaming at the Mets to bring him up aren’t positive signs, but at 21 he gets a pass. Not every young player becomes a David Wright or Derek Jeter in that they always say the right things.

I called for the Mets to bring up Rosario nearly a month ago, but I appreciate part of Alderson’s reluctance. His inability to deal Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes creates a logjam in the infield, but that’s manager Terry Collins’ problem. However, limited playing opportunities for Cabrera might make it more difficult to trade him, unless the Mets are willing to nearly give him away.

Alderson’s problem in making trades is he continually holds out; his priority is to “win’’ the trade, which turns off other general managers. At least, that’s his reputation. It is the primary reason he couldn’t – thankfully – move Jay Bruce last winter.

The timing of the promotion is good with the Mets are on the road, which should give Rosario three games to get rid of the butterflies. Opening up at home, against the high-flying Dodgers, would have put undue pressure on him. It’s also a good time because it is August, and the competition will be sharper than in September when opposing rosters are littered with call-ups. That’s also why first baseman Dominic Smith’s promotion soon is important.

“We want to see what we have, so going into next season or going into the offseason we will have a better sense of what we need,’’ Alderson said yesterday on a conference call. “I think it’s important for guys like Rosario and Smith to get more than just playing time in September. To make it meaningful, it has to be a little bit longer than that, and against more regular-season competition as opposed to expanded rosters.’’

I suppose it is possible if Rosario is a bust for the next two months it might change the Mets’ thinking on Cabrera and Reyes. But, Rosario won’t play every day, said Alderson, because “he’s never played that many games in a year.’’

Huh? He’s 21. He’s not a pitcher. Sure, he should get a day off this weekend, just to clear his head from the call-up, but I want to see this guy play. I want to see what the Mets have.  I would play Rosario more in August when the competition is better and let him rest more in September.

What I also want to see is patience with him if he struggles at first. Give him a chance to experience and learn how to get out of slumps. Above all, the Mets – and the fans and media – should give him a little breathing room and acknowledge he’s one piece to the puzzle, he’s not a savior.

Look back within the past ten years at some of the prospects the Mets used, and burned out, with too high expectations: Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Gomez, Jenrry Mejia, Kaz Matsui and Ike Davis. You can even make cases to a lesser extent for Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and even Matt Harvey.

The expectations on all of these guys created a burden that was too heavy for them to carry. Let’s enjoy Rosario’s skills, but realize he alone won’t lift the Mets to the next level.

ON DECK:  Can Steven Matz snap out of his funk?