Apr 07

Mets Wrap: Marlon Byrd And Bullpen Keys To Comeback Win

There are a lot of indicators for a successful team and the Mets did several of them today in beating the Miami Marlins, 4-3, Sunday. Among them are winning close games, being able to come from behind, clutch hitting and solid relief work. The bullpen kept the Mets in the game until aggressive base running by Ruben Tejada and Kirk Nieuwenhuis set up Marlon Byrd’s game-winning, two-run single off Marlins’ closer Steve Cishek.

BYRD: Delivers in clutch. (AP)

BYRD: Delivers in clutch. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: In his Mets’ debut Aaron Laffey gave up three runs on 10 hits, but did get into the fifth inning. … Greg Burke, Josh Edgin, Scott Atchison, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Rice combined for 4.2 scoreless innings. … Atchison came into the game with one out and runners on second and third in the seventh and was able to get out of the inning.

AT THE PLATE:  Daniel Murphy homered again. … Tejada was hit by a pitch and Nieuwenhuis singled and took second on the throw to set up Byrd for the game-winner. … The Mets overcame 13 strikeouts and going 1-for-8 with RISP.

IN THE FIELD: Lucas misplayed a ball near the wall, but was bailed out by Atchison. … Murphy is getting better at second, starting two double plays.

ON DECK:  A tale of two pitchers heading in opposite directions in their careers when Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00 ERA) goes against Roy Halladay (0-1, 13.50).

Apr 07

Zack Wheeler Very Close To Big League Debut

zack wheeler

According to Mark Hale of the New York Post, Triple-A manager Wally Backman believes Zack Wheeler is not far away from being promoted to the Mets despite his rough outing on Thursday, and drew comparisons to Matt Harvey.

“He is the same spot Matt Harvey was at last year, I would say,” Backman said of Wheeler in a phone interview with The Post Friday. “It’s a matter of command. I think it’s going to be a matter of consistency.”

“He struggled with command a little bit Thursday night. It was the first game. He was rushing a little bit. He showed signs of just dominating, and then he’d get a little bit erratic.”

Wheeler had big command issues walking three of the first six batters he faced. He was unable to complete the fourth inning after tossing 86 pitches in 3.1 innings.

Last season, Wheeler went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA in six Triple-A starts, striking out 31 and walking 16 in 33 innings.

Apr 06

Mets Looking For Breakout Game From Offense

Nobody expected the Mets to be an offensive juggernaut, and scoring 19 runs in the first two games should have done nothing to change that impression. Certainly the last two games proved it.

They scored five runs last night, but by that time the game had already been decided.

Manager Terry Collins is hoping for a breakout game today against the Marlins.

“We’ve got a couple guys, hopefully they’re gonna start breaking out of it here pretty soon,’’ Collins said.

The Mets’ hottest hitter has been John Buck (7-for-17). David Wright and Daniel Murphy are each 3-for-14 and Ike Davis is a frigid 1-for-16.

The Mets have homered in each of the first four games, with Buck leading with two. The long-time problem of hitting with runners in scoring position has raised its ugly head as they are 2-16 in the last two games after going 10-19 in the first two. They left 12 runners on last night after leaving 16 in the first three games.

Apr 06

When Can We Expect To See Rafael Montero Make Mets Debut?

MiLB: JUL 12 - St. Lucie Mets at Tampa Yankees DBL Header (Game 2)

Tommy K. asks…

When do you think we’ll see Rafael Montero in Citi Field?

Joe D. replies…

Good question. The organization is very high on Montero and not too many 22-year old pitching prospects from A-Ball get invited to spring training and stick around as long as he did.

Montero needs a little work mechanically and was already working on a few things at the minor league side of camp before he was assigned to Binghamton and debuted with a dominating performance. His fastball sat at the 92-93 mph range last season, but he picked up some velocity and is now predominantly at 93-94 and can hit 95. Most likely because he’s bulked up a bit over the winter.

I would expect Montero to get bumped to Vegas once the Mets decide to promote Zack Wheeler to the majors. However, Wheeler had a rough first start on Thursday. He continues to struggle with command and his pitch count (86 pitches, 51 strikes, 3 1/3 innings) was alarming to say the least. He clearly isn’t ready just yet and needs to improve in a few areas before the Mets even consider the thought of bringing him up.

That said, Montero can still make his way to Triple-A with more performances like this past one (5.2 innings, 2 H, 0 BB, 8 K) regardless of Wheeler’s fate. I don’t think it’s out of the question to see Montero promoted to Vegas by mid-May, and he’ll certainly get a call-up in September this season if not sooner.

The domino effect to Montero getting bumped would mean a promotion to Double-A for Jake deGrom or possibly even Noah Syndergaard if he’s outperforming deGrom. One of them will be in Bingo by Memorial Day at the latest.

Check us out at MetsMerizedOnline.com.

Apr 06

Niese Must Grasp Role As No. 1 Starter

By definition, Jon Niese is correct, he is not a No. 1 pitcher, an ace if you will. However, in relation to his status on the Mets, he is the man.

There is no denying Niese’s importance, but his designation of being the leader of the staff should be emphasized more today against Miami than in the status of an Opening Day starter. After two victories to open the season, the Mets have dropped two in a row, and have not looked good in the process.

NIESE: Announcing his presence with authority.

NIESE: Announcing his presence with authority.

Today, the Mets need Niese to stop the losing. That’s the primary goal of a stopper. That’s what staff leaders do.

“As far as leading the staff, I really don’t want to fulfill that role,’’ Niese said. “Everybody, all the guys in the rotation, have something different to offer.

“So I’m willing to learn from them, and I’m sure they’re willing to learn from me. We all have a job to do. Each one of us has a different way of going about it.’’

I can’t buy for a second Niese doesn’t want that role or responsibility. He’s a competitor; you see that every time he pitches. Saying that gives the perception of him willing to be complacent with what he’s achieved, and his 13 career-high victories in not where he wants to peak.

Let’s give Niese the benefit of doubt and say it’s modesty or a reflection of his demeanor. He’s quiet, he’s modest, there doesn’t appear to be a brash bone in his body. But, he’s not a pushover on the mound who easily caves in to the hitter.

Niese wants that role, and manager Terry Collins indicated as much when he told him he would be the Opening Day starter almost a month ago.

“[Niese] said, `All right!’ That means he wanted it bad,’’ Collins recalled. “He got himself ready for it, for sure. He pitched a great game.’’

Niese held San Diego to two runs on four hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He also had two hits himself.

“I’m not going to lie,’’ Niese said. “The adrenaline was pumping.’’

Catcher John Buck said Niese was easy to catch as everything fell into place for him.

“He had a good two-seamer going. His cutter in was working well for him,’’ Buck said. “So he was spreading the plate really well. And then that curveball, obviously, is a weapon to have with two strikes.’’

No. 1 starters don’t want to leave games. They want to start what they finish. Niese has gone the distance, but knows there have been too many times when he exits with the game still in the balance. That has to stop this year, says Niese, in acknowledging how he must continue to grow.

“I think last year was kind of a year where I kind of hit that sixth inning and had 95 pitches and they kind of shut me down,’’ said Niese, who pleaded for an extra inning and finished with 101. “I think this year I want to be that guy who goes back out and finishes my starts.’’

That won’t happen if Niese hits 100 in the seventh. He needs to be more efficient with his pitches. Too often he’ll work deep into the count, throwing four or five pitches to a hitter.

One less pitch to a hitter could mean two more innings. And, in their minds, staff leaders can’t throw enough innings.