Apr 17

Looking At The Mets’ Fast Start

No, I can’t do it when it comes to the New York Mets. I can’t look at 7-3 and just say, “hey, that’s great.” I certainly can’t say they’ll keep this pace, because playing .700 ball would be incredible. Nobody plays .700 ball. Now that the Mets are playing at that clip, I am thinking a lot better than .500.

Isn’t everybody?

But, I’m like the man grilling over coals. I can’t resist poking at them. It’s part of my nature, and also why I became a journalist. I am wonder why. That’s what I do.

So here are my thoughts on this terrific start, and yes, I do hope they’ll prove me wrong and keep it up. I want to see them play in October. I’ve covered a lot of playoff and World Series games, but the Mets in 2006 were positively electric. I’d love to see that again.

Here’s to the fast start and some of the reasons why:

* Matt Harvey: He’s had two starts, one great and the other not so much. He’s still throwing too many pitches for six innings, but it is easy to see the Mets have something special when he goes to the mound and the team has an aura when he pitches. That might be the best thing he brings to the table.

* Bartolo Colon: He’s had two outings and proven he still has something to give. When it comes to counting pitches, I hope they’d do with Colon the way they do Harvey. If they can keep him strong for the season it could bear fruit in September.

* Jacob deGrom: One of my favorites. He has great stuff and has also shown an ability to pitch out of trouble. Rookie of the Year last season. What’s his ceiling this year?

* Jon Niese and Dillon Gee: Neither has been stellar, but they did work into the fifth which minimizes the use of the bullpen. That can’t be underestimated.

* The bullpen: Forget Jenrry Mejia and I think the Mets will when his suspension is lifted. But, Jeurys Familia has been terrific as has the lefty relievers we all thought would be a problem. I’ve been critical of GM Sandy Alderson, but kudos for fixing the left bullpen hole at the end of spring training. They won’t get back Josh Edgin, but things could be better when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return.

* Travis d’Arnaud: Is doing it at both sides of the plate. And, he’s showing some pop. Defensively, the pitchers like him, he’s blocking the plate better and shows a strong arm.

* David Wright: His fast start before hurting his hamstring had a calming influence. They haven’t lost since he’s been out, but that’s coincidence. Another positive is Eric Campbell has played well since replacing Wright.

* Lucas Duda: No, this wasn’t written by order of importance. For some reason I always lead with pitching. However, Duda is having a terrific start and is shows the ability to hit lefties. His stroke is short and compact, and he’s showing plate presence and patience. If he continues like this there’s no telling what he can do.

Wilmer Flores: Yes, Flores. He didn’t have a good start, but he’s not letting it bother him. They don’t win last night without his homer. And, kudos to Terry Collins here. It could have been easy to panic and pull Flores, but he stayed the course. Good job by Collins.

Juan Lagares: He’s not hitting leadoff, and perhaps the early confusion lead to his slow start at the plate. But, it hasn’t affected his defense and he’s starting to improve at the plate. A less tougher player might have let the lineup change bother him. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lagares.

Curtis Granderson: He’s not hitting, but has a high on-base percentage with all his walks. If Granderson weren’t getting on base there would be a problem.

Michael Cuddyer: Has been a steady and consistent presence in the middle of the order. So far, a good signing. And, a lot of people other than Wright like him.

Other good signs: They are winning close games and won two of three in Washington. Winning in the division is a great indicator and they’ll continue to get those opportunities the rest of the month. … Atlanta has cooled and Washington has sputtered and has significant bullpen problems. April is a great opportunity to make a strong, early statement and that’s what they are doing.

Of course, I could ask for more. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. But, I couldn’t ask for a better start.

 

 

 

Apr 16

Mets-Marlins Rotation

The following are the starting pitchers for the Mets-Miami series, starting tonight at Cit Field:

Tonight: RHP Dillon Gee (0-1, 9.00) vs. RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 1.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-0, 2.77) vs. RHP David Phelps (0-0, 36.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-1, 1.46) vs. RHP Mat Latos (0-2, 17.36), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-0, 2.25) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 3.18), 1:10 p.m. ET

 

 

Apr 14

Mets Game Thread: Harvey Off His Game

Matt Harvey looking rather ordinary after starting this game with back-to-back strikeouts. His command has been off despite the seven strikeouts, throwing it into that “sweet spot’’ zone to the lefty hitters.

Chase Utley’s drive was a hard slap in the face, but he’s done that to a lot of Mets’ pitchers.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Even so, Harvey has not been sharp, and not very smart, either. OK, you want to stand up for your hitters, but you with a runner in scoring position you don’t throw behind Utley.

It was so blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner moved up, and Utley got to hit with a runner on third?

No way Dan Warthen told him to hit Utley. Harvey did that on his own, and it allowed Philadelphia an opportunity to take the lead.

Plus, why take the chance jump starting the Phillies? First and foremost you want to win the game. Harvey will deny it after the game, but he was wrong there.

Offensively, you have to be thrilled with Lucas Duda, who jumped on that first pitch with that quick stroke on a breaking ball. Maybe last year he would have taken that pitch.

Michael Cuddyer is out of the game after being hit by a pitch. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in. It’s a close game and you have to wonder if having a thin bench will come back and bite them on butt.

Mets 5, Phillies 3 (5th)

 

Apr 14

April 14, Mets Lineup Vs. Phillies

Here’s tonight’s batting order for the Mets against Philadelphia:

Curtis Granderson, rf: I don’t want him here, but he’s among the leaders in walks which gives him a healthy on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3b: Still think he should hit third, but he’s hitting and that’s what counts. He’ll stay here for awhile.

Lucas Duda, 1b: His stroke seems a lot shorter and quicker. He’s poised for another big year.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: I like him behind Duda.

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I understand the idea of wanting to give him more RBI opportunities, but it’s not happening right now.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Probably the hottest hitting Met right now.

Juan Lagares, cf: I want to see him batting leadoff, but average and on-base percentage says he doesn’t deserve hitting first.

Wilmer Flores, ss: He’s probably under the most pressure to get going. His approach seems better the past few days.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Don’t you get the impression from him that he should not only pitch, but hit clean-up like the typical high school star?

 

 

Apr 11

Mets Week In Review: An Encouraging Start

If the Mets play out this season as they did their first week, I’ll take it. In a heartbeat I would take it.

mets-logoball-2They are 2-2 after four games, which is .500, the bullseye placed on their back. They played four tight, taut games, that if the breaks went a different way could have put them at 0-4.

The upside is they could also just as easily be at 4-0, which is the beauty of it all.

A clutch hit here or there by the Nationals against Bartolo Colon or Matt Harvey puts a different spin on the week. Just as easily, however, a tighter defense last night and a better pitch from Jacob deGrom spins the week another way.

What we can take out of the first week is the Mets figure to be a team that should tay in every game, and I’ll take that any time because it should mean being there in the end, which is another way of saying they will play meaningful baseball in September.

And, you must do that before you can play meaningful games in October, and isn’t that what we all want – regardless of who makes out the lineup card?

Here’s what I took from the first week:

* Bartolo Colon has something left in his tank. He overcame a rough first inning to beat Washington to show us all there’s nothing wrong with a little age.

* Something the Mets haven’t consistently done in recent seasons was to capitalize on opportunities, which is what they did in both their victories over the Nationals. So, when in doubt, hitting the ball to Ian Desmond is a good strategy.

* Matt Harvey is pitching with a chip on his shoulder aimed at those who tend to judge him on more than what he does on the mound. If that’s his motivation, so be it. Just keep pitching this way and all will be well. Do that and let the Mets worry about keeping him from the Yankees in the future.

* The bullpen is better than advertised. Rafael Montero took the loss Friday night in Atlanta, but the loss lies on Wilmer Flores’ errant throws, a bad decision by David Wright and not hitting in the clutch. Having fundamental breakdowns is how the Mets will likely lose most of their games this season. It will be maddening, but, then again, that’s the Mets.

* A week in and we haven’t seen a lot of power, and that’s probably the way it will go all season. This team needs Lucas Duda’s home run bat.

* Injuries helped shape the Opening Day roster and as always will play a significant role. The Mets lost Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler before the season started, then lost Jenrry Mejia on Opening Day.

* An underlying theme this week has been the lineup. Whether it is all Terry Collins and not from above – which I doubt – it hasn’t produced an offensive explosion, and it has left Juan Lagares, the projected leadoff hitter, in a funk. He’s not the only one, as Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Flores are also running in mud. Wright, Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are having strong starts, but then again, it has been only four games.

* The closeness of the games is a good sign, but it should also be a nagging reminder of the red flag of their thin bench. Eventually, they’ll have a game when they’ll be caught short.

No, it hasn’t been a great start – although the starting pitching has been a positive – but we’ve seen far worse from the Mets. It has been an encouraging start, and if they are standing at .500 six months from now I’ll have a hunger for much more from them.

And, isn’t that what we want?