Here’s tonight’s lineup for the Mets against Philadelphia:
Curtis Granderson – RF
Juan Lagares – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Michael Cuddyer – LF
Wilmer Flores – SS
Eric Campbell – 3B
Kevin Plawecki – C
Jacob deGrom – RHP
Matt Harvey topped out at 96 mph., Saturday when the Mets were routed in Pittsburgh. That velocity belied manager Terry Collins‘ guess of a tired arm, which often it the first choice of those who really don’t know.
So far, everything adds up to just a bad start.
Harvey, who is coming off a career-worst seven-run hammering at the hands of the Pirates, had his normal between-starts throw-day today, and left without saying anything. This normally could be interpreted as troubling news, but pitching coach Dan Warthen said things went well.
Why would Warthen say that if it weren’t true?
To date, Harvey has not been seen by an orthopedic specialist, nor has he had X-Rays or an MRI – at least the Mets aren’t reporting such – so all that has to be looked at in a positive light.
Harvey will be working with an extra day of rest Friday because the Mets are off Thursday, but if Collins is sure something was wrong with his pitcher’s arm, it would be a no-brainer to totally skip him.
So, unless the Mets are concealing something, it all adds up to Harvey stinking up the joint last Saturday. It happens.
Just because we’re in a world where immediate answers are demanded, it doesn’t mean Mets manager Terry Collins is obligated to improvise with one on Matt Harvey. After Harvey’s worst major league outing Saturday in Pittsburgh, without having benefit of a medical exam, Collins suggested to reporters the pitcher might have a “dead arm.’’
While this may or not be true, I’m tired of Collins and GM Sandy Alderson throwing out guesses on possible medical issues.
Collins told reporters: “I have not talked to Matt yet, but it looks like he might be going through some of that dead arm stuff that sometimes happens. This might help him to have an extra day to get him back on track. He’s going to pitch Friday with five days’ rest, be ready to go.”
OK, let’s get this straight.
* Collins had not talked to Harvey.
* Harvey, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, isn’t scheduled to be examined by a doctor.
* Collins said Harvey will be “ready to go,’’ on Friday.
Harvey said after the game there’s nothing wrong with him physically, and although he hasn’t been forthright about injuries before, we have to give him benefit of doubt on this because he is coming off consecutive no-decision starts in which he held 1-0 leads late before the bullpen crashed. Harvey was brilliant, if not overpowering, in those games.
“I wasn’t locating, obviously,’’ Harvey said Saturday’s start. “My arm feels fine, my body feels fine. It was one of those days where if I tried to spin it, it was over the middle. If I tried to throw a fastball in, it was away and vice versa. It’s just a pretty terrible outing.”
So, before Collins gives us a diagnosis, let’s see what happens with Harvey after Friday’s start.
It could have been just a bad game for Harvey on Saturday. He’s entitled.
Meanwhile, the news remains dark for David Wright, who was sent to California for a consultation with Dr. Robert Watkins on his back pain and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column).
Alderson said he hopes with a “week of rest that he will be able to resume his progression.’’
However, there’s no guarantee a week will help, especially when that suggestion comes before Watkins’ diagnosis. It seems neither Collins nor Alderson have learned when it comes to Mets’ physical ailments.
I wrote the other day I wouldn’t be surprised if Wright is gone for a considerable length of time, perhaps even the rest of the season. After all, I have been around the Mets for a long time and used to bad news.
After his Mets were swept out of Pittsburgh, manager Terry Collins insisted his team was not at a “critical juncture,’’ in the season – which I said they were several days ago – and wasn’t “dead in the water.’’
It’s still May and they are 2.5 games behind Washington – after being ahead by eight – so dead might be stretching things. However, “critical juncture,’’ still applies after scoring four runs while hitting .211 with 36 strikeouts in the Pirates’ series.
Truth is, the Mets are closer to third place than first. They are also closer to being the team they are now than the one that won 11 straight games. Not too long ago, the Mets’ run-differential was plus-25. Today it is minus-one. Instead of being ten games over .500, they are only three.
Collins can talk all he wants about not panicking, not quitting and, of course, that his team plays hard. “Effort isn’t a problem,’’ Collins said this afternoon.
Talent, however, or lack of it, is the problem.
They were outscored by a composite 21-4 score by the Pirates, with their two best pitchers losing. Matt Harvey had the worst outing of his career Saturday, just a few hours after the team said David Wright would remain on the disabled list.
This team isn’t hitting; the pitching has struggled; the defense has been poor; and there’s no consistency in the batting order. Compounding matters, they don’t have imminent help coming from the minor leagues and aren’t close to making a trade.
Collins has been in this business for a long time. He knows when a team is playing well and when it isn’t. He’s not about to admit it publicly this is a critical time for the Mets.
But, he’s a smart guy. He knows it is.
He also knows the team the Mets have now is the one that will have to turn things around.
At the beginning of spring training I wrote the position player the Mets could least afford to lose was third baseman David Wright. We can now assume that to be the case with reports out Pittsburgh are Wright’s lower-back pain has resurfaced and he’s been shut down again.
The 32-year-old Wright went on the disabled list April 15 with a pulled right hamstring, and the initial projection was he’d be out two weeks. Of course, we know how such projections have been in the past. Wright now has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and they are first prescribing rest followed by strengthening his core. As far as we know, surgery has not yet been discussed, but that can be a future option.
The back pain began as Wright’s hamstring healed. The Mets are now saying he will be out for at least another week, but how do they really know that will be what it takes?
Wright’s importance to the Mets comes in his, 1) production at the plate, 2) steadying influence in the field and in the clubhouse, and 3) what he represents to the stability of the franchise and the sense things will be all right.
And, naturally, with Wright gone comes the whispers the Mets made a poor decision when they signed him through the 2020 season, including $20 million through 2018. Undeniably, Wright’s contract will preclude the Mets from diving deep into the free-agent market, and their dollars will be spent on retaining their young pitching.
You might recall Wright was out for two months in 2011 with a stress fracture in his lower back, an injury the Mets’ medical staff said he has not had a reoccurrence. However, what is reoccurring is Wright’s inability to stay in the lineup as he has averaged 126 games a year from 2011 through 2014, and will be lucky to reach that this season.
Extenuating circumstances involved prompted the Mets to offer Wright such a large contract. We can argue whether they were right or wrong all day, but this much is certain: The Mets’ offense is in trouble and they have to be preparing for the idea we might not see Wright again this year.