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 21

Picking From Rubble Of Mets’ Loss

There are more than a few things you can take from the Mets’ 12-5 thrashing by the Angels this afternoon at sun-kissed Citi Field.

GSELLMAN: Back in the rotation? (AP)

GSELLMAN: Back in the rotation? (AP)

What to do with Milone: It is going to be awhile before we see Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard – it might not be until spring training that we glimpse at the latter – so Tommy Milone was going to be a temporary plug-in. He gave up eight runs in 1.1 innings today, so maybe the Mets will consider pushing back his next start.

In the interim, manager Terry Collins said he would consider moving Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom (for his blister) and using Robert Gsellman on Wednesday.

The worst words possible: I’m convinced the words, “Hansel Robles is warming up in the Mets’ bullpen” are the worst possible words any Mets’ fan can hear. That’s topped only by the fear of watching him pitch. The count is 12 runs in 2.2 innings over his last three appearances. Collins said he doesn’t have many other options, but they all have to be better than Robles.

“It comes down to making pitches,” Collins said of Robles. “You can’t walk guys.”

On the wild side: Mets’ pitchers continue to struggle to find the plate with nine walks issued today and have given up 154 on the season. They have the fourth worst walks/per nine innings ratio of 3.83 in the majors.

Trade assets perform: Jay Bruce snapped out of his funk with a three-run homer that temporarily brought the Mets back into the game, and Curtis Granderson homered and doubled. This is important to note on two fronts: 1) with Yoenis Cespedes due to return this week, and you know the Mets won’t ease him back, and 2) if they continue to fall behind the Nationals (currently 7.5 games), the trade deadline is looming fast.

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 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.

 

May 16

Today’s Question: Will Mets DL Cabrera And Bring Up Rosario?

Sometime today the Mets will make the inevitable decision to DL Asdrubal Cabrera – something they should have done a week ago – and decide if they should replace him with Amed Rosario, That’s today’s question.

The obvious obstacle is whether the Mets are willing to start the clock on Rosario’s Super Two status? Indications are they aren’t willing to take the chance. Instead, they will continue to hope Jose Reyes can rediscover 2006.

When will the Mets learn “hoping” is not a strategy?