May 01

Mets Game Thread: How Long Will Harvey Stay In Game?

Matt Harvey has worked six scoreless innings tonight and thrown 86 pitches. Assuming Harvey will get the same 105-pitch leash he had in his last start, the seventh could be his last inning unless he breezes through. However, getting that double play – started by Wilmer Flores – might buy him another inning.

Mets 1, Nationals 0 (6th)

May 01

Why I Like Matt Harvey

There seems to be the feeling in cyberspace I have it in for Matt Harvey, that I don’t care for the Mets’ most exciting pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have nothing against Harvey and he’s done nothing to me to warrant any anger.

He’s been gracious whenever I ask a question and is reasonably accessible despite the many demands on his time.

HARVEY: I love this passion. (Getty)

HARVEY: I love this passion. (Getty)

What I don’t like – and this is noted in every article in which many deemed anti-Harvey – has been the Mets’ inability, or refusal, to be consistent with him. What I don’t like about Harvey personally have been some of his decisions and actions, which are well-documented. There’s no need to go into them now.

Frankly, many of those negative perceptions go in part to explain what I admire and makes him potentially a great pitcher. He’s not yet Gooden or Tom Seaver – can he pitch one complete season first? – but he makes you wonder about a future that could be bright.

Most of all, I like his talent coupled with the rare ability to keep composed under pressure. Perhaps the most meaningful game of his career was last Saturday against the Yankees. That is, of course, until tonight against the Nationals. Strange as it sounds on May 1, this is a game the Mets need to win. If you want to say “must win,” go ahead, I won’t stop you.

Franchise pitchers stop losing streaks. Harvey did it last week and the Mets need for him do it again. Best of all, he’s not shy in wanting that responsibility. Shrinking violets don’t win 20 games, don’t win Cy Young Award and don’t go to the Hall of Fame. Sure, Harvey has a big ego, but most great athletes do.

Another thing I like is when he points fingers, it is usually at himself. You don’t hear him throwing coaches and teammates under the bus. If he makes a bad pitch, he admits it. Believe me, players get tired of having their pitchers blame them. Wilmer Flores took responsibility for his error last night, but Jacob deGrom said he needed to pick up his shortstop, whose confidence is shaky. Believe me, Flores appreciated that gesture, and it is one Harvey has also made.

As readers of this blog know, I stress pitching and Harvey is the real deal so far. He’s vital to their success this year and will be in subsequent seasons. That is why when I moan about his innings, it is because I don’t want him to get hurt. I’ve covered a lot of pitchers whose careers were cut short by injuries and I don’t want him to be one of them. We’ve already experienced losing him for a full season and don’t want it to happen again.

Who doesn’t love that he wants the ball, and will pitch even when not 100 percent? Sandy Koufax pitched in constant pain at the end of his career. So have many others. However, pitching in pain and discomfort and not offering full disclosure, while making good copy, contributed to his elbow injury.

I don’t want him to get hurt again. After all, haven’t Mets’ fans endured enough bad things without seeing that again?

About that bright future many project for him, well, I would like to see it.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

 

May 01

Mets Make Right Move By Sticking With Flores

It wasn’t that long ago when Mets manager Terry Collins said his team would eventually run into problems – “blips,” he called them – but vowed “there would be no panic.”

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

In the wake of Wilmer Flores’ costly error Thursday night that lead to a three-run inning for the Nationals, if there were a time the Mets would have panicked in the past, this would have been it.

The defense of their middle infield of Flores (six errors) and Daniel Murphy (four) was a question entering the season and remains so; the Mets have lost seven of their last nine games, and they are no longer in coast mode.

Flores made no excuses and said he botched the play. Normally, that’s enough, but the last 24 hours have seen a lot of Flores bashing, which, although deserved in part, is also shortsighted. Much of that bashing was from former-Met-turned analyst Nelson Figueroa.

“I wish I had the answer to it,” manager Terry Collins said. “When we decided he was going to be the shortstop, you realize there might be a couple rough spots.

“But, you realize the minute you jerk him out of the lineup and throw him on the bench because he’s not good enough to play shortstop, you might as well put him someplace else because those days are over playing shortstop. … You have to be a little patient.”

Collins is 100 percent on the mark about this, as patience is the Mets’ only option. What, do you want to play Ruben Tejada full time? And, before anybody brings it up, Troy Tulowitzki has an injury history and $129 million remaining on a contract that runs through 2020 (with an option for 2021). And, we’ve danced through this before; the Mets don’t want to part with any of their young pitching in a trade.

Until next year’s free-agent market develops, it is pretty much Flores or bust.

The Mets’ only option is to fiddle from within, which is what they did when they promoted second baseman Dilson Herrera after Thursday’s game and said Murphy will move to third base while David Wright remains on the disabled list for at least another week.

Consequently, the Mets will move Eric Campbell to the bench and demote lefty reliever Jack Leathersich to Triple-A Las Vegas.

This might not be a palatable option, but it is the only one. And, more to the point, it means Collins is staying true to his word and not panicking.

After all, we are only one month into the season and the Mets are perched atop the NL East which nobody expected. It is way too soon to shut the window on Flores.

ON DECK:  Why I like Matt Harvey

Apr 30

Mets Wrap: DeGrom Beaten; Wright Not Ready; Montero To DL

Well, today sure did stink for Mets, whose day began with the news Rafael Montero will go on the disabled list and David Wright is at least a week from coming off it. The day ended with Washington ripping Jacob deGrom and sending the Mets an 8-2 message they are far from ready to concede the NL East.

The loss was the Mets’ 15th in their last 16 games against Washington at Citi Field. It is now time to refer to their fast start in the past tense as they’ve lose five of their last seven games.

De GROM: Takes blame. (AP)

De GROM: Takes blame. (AP)

“We got off to a good start, but the last seven games have been disappointing,” manager Terry Collins said. “We have to go back and do what we were doing, which is catching the ball and not walking guys. … We knew there were going to be blips, and this is a blip.”

Just as they had against the Yankees, the Mets had deGrom and Matt Harvey set up for the first two games. DeGrom was torched by the Yankees last Friday and the Nationals did the same tonight.

The Mets gave him a 2-0 lead, but Wilmer Flores‘ sixth error of the season set up a three-run fourth for the Nationals. Yes, the error and uncompleted double play hurt, but part of a pitcher’s job description is to minimize damage. Sometimes a pitcher has to pick up his defense.

“It might have disrupted his thought process,” Collins said. “Obviously it didn’t help.”

DeGrom, a stand-up guy, pointed the finger at himself and made no excuses.

“I have to do a better job of picking Flo up right there,” deGrom said. “Normally, I do a pretty good job of it, but I started overthrowing.”

Naturally, SNY’s post game was all over this, but analyst Nelson Figueroa showed he’s in over his head as he jumped on Flores relentlessly and let deGrom off the hook. It’s always easy to lay off the bigger name and go after a non-name such as Flores.

Washington chased deGrom in the sixth and broke the game open with a three-run ninth.

At the start of the week, the Mets held an eight-game lead over the Nationals. It is now down to five and the Mets must rely on Harvey to stop the flood Friday night.

Meanwhile, Wright returned to baseball activities today in Port St. Lucie. GM Sandy Anderson said Wright is at least a week away.

Remember, when it comes to the Mets and injuries, always bet the over. Especially when Alderson is laying the odds.

The Mets also received bad news when Montero was placed on the disable list with swelling in his rotator cuff.

“It shouldn’t be serious,” Alderson said.

Of course not. It’s never serious when it isn’t your shoulder.

 

Apr 30

Mets Game Thread: DeGrom Unravels

For his second straight start, Jacob deGrom didn’t make it through the sixth. He gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in 5.1 innings.

Unquestionably, he was hurt by Wilmer Flores’ sixth error of the year. However, sometimes a pitcher has to bail out his defense and deGrom let the inning get away from him.

Winning pitchers – and don’t forget deGrom is still young – must learn to minimize the damage and close out innings. DeGrom didn’t do that tonight.

On the flip side, Mets’ hitters weren’t able to do anything after the first.

Nationals 5, Mets 3 (8th)