May 16

Mets Should Skip Matz Against Nats

Steven Matz’s sore left forearm will be examined today, if it hasn’t already, at The Hospital of Special Surgery. If he gets a good review, he’ll throw off the mound Tuesday and possibly pitch Wednesday or Thursday.

I’m guessing Wednesday, because unless there is something wrong with him, I don’t see manager Terry Collins bumping Matt Harvey. Harvey is a basket case now and there’s no telling what demons would pop into his head if he’s skipped against the Nationals. If anything, after Harvey’s last start, he must get back on the mound. The last thing the Mets need with Harvey is for him to think more than he’s already doing.

MATZ: No need to rush. (AP)

MATZ: No need to rush. (AP)

I don’t see the urgency for Collins to juggle his rotation for the Washington series, regardless of what happened in Denver. The Mets are 1.5 games out of first place, and even if Washington sweeps them that leaves them 4.5 games behind with 16 games remaining against the Nationals to be played over 121 games with over four months to go in the season.

There’s plenty of time.

Frankly, juggling the rotation for one Matz start against Washington smacks of panic. The Mets had a plan with their pitching that until the weekend had them in first place, so there’s no reason to deviate now. Although Colon and Harvey were hit hard in their last starts, the problem is the offense.

The Mets are coming off a 4-7 trip, including being swept in Colorado. They scored 32 runs during the 11 games (2.9 average per game), and scored less than three runs six times. They were shutout twice.

They are playing poorly and this isn’t the best time to face the Nationals regardless of whom the Mets start. This series won’t make or break the season, but that’s the impression the Mets are giving by pushing Matz. If this is that crucial a series they should have skipped Jacob deGrom Sunday, or bring him back on three days rest.

If you recall, Harvey’s problem first stemmed with a sore forearm he tried to pitch through. The best option would be to continue with Colon and Harvey, skip Matz and go through the rotation one more time before going with him. They should put Matz on the disabled list, backdated to May 11, the day after his last start, and re-insert him into the rotation on May 25, which coincidentally enough, is at Washington.

The Mets played short since Matz’s injury, and putting him on the disabled list would enable them to add a bench player, preferably, one who can hit.

Matz needs to rest and take his time with this. The Mets don’t need Matz this week, they need to score some runs.

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May 15

Mets Wrap: Don’t Blame Umps For Last Two Losses

LAGARES: Out of the baseline. Maybe. (AP)

LAGARES: Out of the baseline. Maybe. (AP)

Controversial calls factored in the Mets’ losses today and Saturday, but to be clear, they did not decide the outcome either game.

I’m not sure Juan Lagares ran out of the baseline today, but I am positive Tony Wolters did not foul tip that pitch Saturday. I’m also positive I don’t care for manager Terry Collins’ explanation both times.

“Look [second base umpire Rob Drake] made the call,’’ Collins meekly told reporters. “Doesn’t matter what it’s going to do, you don’t challenge it. So it’s over, let’s go, move on.’’

All fire Saturday, that answer portrayed Collins as defeated today. The Mets seemed defeated mentally after Collins left the field.

All right, the play is not reviewable, but Collins never said he asked the umpire – on either night – to ask for help. If he did, he should have made a big stink about the arrogance of umpires who refuse to ask for a second opinion.

There’s no crying in baseball, as so goes the cliché from the movie. That should include the SNY analysts. The Mets didn’t lose either game because of bad calls, they lost because they didn’t play well, either night.

Rockies pitchers threw 126 pitches Sunday, which means the Mets had 126 potential opportunities to make plays. They also were 2-for-6 with RISP with six runners left on base.

Those numbers were 145 pitches on Saturday, going 3-for-11 with RISP and eight stranded.

Collins likes to say the Mets are a “team built on power.’’ If that is the case, and it appears to be, then they are constructed poorly.

Everybody loves homers, but the Mets’ numbers hitting with RISP and leaving runners on base aren’t good. As a team, they are hitting .212 with RISP, and leave an average of seven runners on base and strike out nine times a game.

Your pitching has to be pretty good to overcome that, and frankly, it hasn’t been.

Jacob deGrom pitched well enough to win most games, but said he missed on several pitches, notably on Carlos Gonzalez’s homer in the sixth.

Reliever Jim Henderson, who has been spotless for much of the season, gave up a two-run homer in the seventh.

Those two pitches hurt the Mets more than the Lagares call, and even with those pitches, they had their chances.

The bottom line is winning teams take advantage of opportunities and the Mets aren’t playing well right now.

“It was a long trip, a terrible finish to it,’’ Collins said. “We’ll pick up the pieces. We’ve got a long, long, long way to go.’’

METS GAME WRAP

May 15, 2016

Game: #37           Score: Rockies 4, Mets 3

Record: 21-16     Streak: L 4

Standings: Third, NL East 1.5 GB Nationals; half-game behind Phillies  Playoffs Today: Second WC vs. Philadelphia

Runs: 146     Average: 3.9    Times 3 or less: 16

SUMMARY:  DeGrom wasn’t great, but pitched well enough to win most games, which he might have done had he gotten support from his offense and bullpen.

KEY MOMENT:  Ryan Raburn’s two-run, pinch-hit homer off Henderson in the seventh. Perhaps, Collins pulling deGrom after just 102 pitches moments before might be that moment. Your choice.

THUMBS UP:  DeGrom gave the Mets a chance to win. … Yoenis Cespedes homered in the second. … Washington and Philadelphia also lost.

THUMBS DOWN:  Alejandro De Aza and Asdrubal Cabrera went a combined 1-for-8 with no walks and four strikeouts at the top of the order. … Henderson’s pitch to Raburn.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Collins said Steven Matz will throw Monday and could still pitch during the Washington series. … David Wright appeared as a pinch-hitter and made the last out of the game.

QUOTEBOOK:  “I’m still not feeling very comfortable on the mound,’’ – DeGrom on his pitching.

BY THE NUMBERS:  32: Runs scored by the Mets during the 11-game trip.

NEXT FOR METS:  Noah Syndergaard (3-2, 2.53 ERA) starts against Washington on Tuesday night. He is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the Nationals.

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May 14

Mets Wrap: Struggles Continue; Drop Into Third

It would happen eventually with the Mets, that their vaunted offense would sputter and couldn’t be carried by their pitching.

COLLINS: Bad call costs Mets. (AP)

COLLINS: Bad call costs Mets. (AP)

Logan Verrett, starting in place of Steven Matz, was shelled, and for the third straight game the offense provided little. Together it added up to a 7-4 loss Saturday night to the Colorado Rockies.

The loss, coupled with Philadelphia beating Cincinnati, dropped the Mets into third behind the Phillies. That’s third behind the Phillies.

The Mets were eight games over .500 when they began their season-long 11-game road trip. They close it out Sunday having already lost six games.

Manager Terry Collins insists on saying he has a power-hitting team, but they’ve only scored 29 runs in the ten games so far on this trip and scored three runs or less six times. Add to that Matt Harvey falling deeper into his funk; Matz is ailing; and Bartolo Colon was shelled in his last start.

Jacob deGrom hopes to put the brakes on this slide before the Mets return home to face Washington.

METS GAME WRAP

May 14, 2016

Game: #36   Score: Rockies 7, Mets 4

Record: 21-15  Streak: L 3

Standings: Third, NL East 1.5 GB Nationals and half-game behind Philadelphia   Playoffs Today: Second WC vs. Philadelphia

Runs: 143 Average: 3.97  Times 3 runs or less: 15

SUMMARY: Verrett was hammered, but by the time the offense showed signs of life in the sixth the hole was too deep.

KEY MOMENT:  Catcher Tony Wolters’ two-run double in the third broke the game open. The double came after a controversial call by home plate umpire Carlos Torres that resulted in Collins being ejected. Torres said the ball was tipped, but replays didn’t show it that way.

THUMBS UP: Neil Walker broke out of his slump with three hits, including getting back his home run trot (No. 10). … The Mets had 13 hits, including bunching four together in the sixth. … Another good appearance by Sean Gilmartin. … Ditto for Jim Henderson. … Two hits by David Wright, including a hustle double leading off the seventh.

THUMBS DOWN: Verrett gave up seven runs on ten hits in 2.2 innings. … Mets went 3-for-11 with RISP and left eight. … Only one walk? Hard to believe.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Matz might not throw tomorrow. The Mets haven’t said if he’s in or out of the Washington series. … DeGrom is 2-0 lifetime against the Rockies. … Wright could sit Sunday. There’s talk the Mets should drop Wright in the order, but his on-base percentage is a team-high .376.

QUOTEBOOK: “It’s unfair. No reason for it. [The hitter] was heading back to the dugout. [The umpire] said he heard it. You can’t challenge it. … It cost us the game. End of story.” – Collins on the blown call by umpire Torres.

BY THE NUMBERS: 43: Number of at-bats between homers for Walker. 

NEXT FOR METS:  DeGrom starts Sunday.

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May 14

Latest Loss May Be Best Thing To Happen To Mets’ Harvey

Last night may be the best thing to happen to Matt Harvey and the Mets. In defeat, he showed us a humility we haven’t often seen from him, which can be the first step up from rock bottom.

Sometime between Rockies’ hits in the fifth inning I flashed to the summer of 2013 when Harvey first flirted with stardom. Do you remember the video piece Harvey did on the Jimmy Fallon show when he roamed the streets of New York asking people their thoughts of Matt Harvey?

HARVEY: All smiles in 2013. (USA Today)

HARVEY: All smiles in 2013. (USA Today)

To listen to the answers, and Harvey’s response – both verbally and his body language – was priceless. Harvey was talking to his fan base about himself and they didn’t recognize him. He was funny and showed real humility.

It made us like him for more than what he did on the mound because he seemed
approachable.

However, since then Harvey has been sidetracked by injury, off-the-field issues and media clashes. Both Harvey and those who followed him ventured into the dark night of judgment. Unlike that day in Central Park when he was anonymous, Harvey lived with a target on his back and hasn’t responded well.

Neither has anybody else.

His body language spoke loudly last night; louder than the cheers that greeted him at the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field when he seemingly held the world in his hand like the baseball he threw which such force and artistry.

Gone last night was the cockiness and arrogance which made people root against him. Also gone was the confidence that made him stare down a hitter then climb the ladder for another strikeout.

His head was down when he handed the ball to manager Terry Collins and slumped off the mound. The cameras caught him with his head bowed in the dugout talking to himself. He wasn’t getting any answers and it was a very human moment from a man Mets fans and media insist on labeling a superhero.

“A great statement I heard the other day is there’s two kinds of players in this league: Ones who have been humbled and ones who will be,” Collins told reporters. “When it’s your turn, it gets tough to take sometimes, because you have got to learn how to adjust from it and how to bounce back from it.”

However, before he can bounce back from a problem it must be identified.

Mechanics? Perhaps. Injuries or health? He says no. Is he feeling the pressure to perform after Game 5? Could be, but he’s repeatedly expressed no regrets in how he handled that night.

Most recently, is he trying to pitch up to the expectations of the contract he’ll seek when he becomes a free agent? Maybe, but it’s something I can’t see him admitting because after all, that’s something few players admit.

What then?

To his credit, and I really liked his answer, he refused to blame the altitude of Coors Field, a place he’s never pitched before.

His answer was a polite, yet forceful, “No, it’s me.”

Humility defined.

“I’m just not feeling comfortable throwing a baseball right now, so it’s frustrating,” Harvey told reporters. “Something I have obviously done my whole life is gone on a mound and thrown a baseball, and right now it’s not an easy task.

“Right now it’s just not feeling great out there — you start overthinking everything. That’s kind of the way it feels every pitch, and hopefully you get past that.”

Harvey cast no blame, although catcher Kevin Plawecki might have given him an out by saying his pitch recommendations might have been predictable. Not many pitchers win games with two runs, but he didn’t point fingers at the offense.

Instead, Harvey spoke of square one.

“It’s taking a lot longer than expected,” said Harvey, who must remember some pitchers hit the wall after Tommy John surgery in the second year back. “You can’t give up. You’ve just got to keep going. It’s start-to-start for me right now.

“I don’t look at it as ups and downs. It’s trying to continue figuring stuff out. … It’s not easy, but there’s another day tomorrow. And it’s a long season. There’s a lot of hope in that regard and drive toward figuring it out.”

I was glad to see Harvey get ripped because it might be the first step toward him getting to where he wants to be.

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May 13

Mets Wrap: Harvey Ripped Again

HARVEY: Struggles again. (Getty)

HARVEY: Struggles again. (Getty)

So much for an encore for Matt Harvey. Coming off his best start of the season and providing a reason for optimism, Harvey pitched out of early trouble but again caved in the middle innings in Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

Part of Harvey’s problem was a drop in velocity to 91 mph., to go along with his lack of command. Harvey (3-5, 4.93) didn’t walk a batter, but was consistently behind in the count.

Harvey gave five runs on 11 hits in 5.2 innings, throwing 101 grueling pitches. This year he has given up 26 runs on 57 hits in 45.2 innings.

Tom Glavine always said he felt more tired after games in Coors Field because of the altitude. Whether that was the problem or something else, Harvey repeatedly was seen flexing his arm on the mound and he looked positively gassed after leading the game.

Once again following a Harvey start we are wondering what is wrong.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #35   Record: 21-14   Streak: L 2

Standings: Second, NL East, 1 GB Washington

Runs: 139     Average per game: 3.97    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 15

SUMMARY:  Once again, Harvey labored in the middle innings, giving two runs in the fourth, and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, to take his fifth loss of the season.

KEY MOMENT:  Harvey gave a leadoff single in the fifth to the opposing pitcher, Jon Gray, who scored the go-ahead run.

THUMBS UP: Kevin Plawecki’s two-run double in the second. … Asdrubal Cabrera’s play saved the Mets a run in the fifth. … A good bounce-back outing by Hansel Robles with two perfect innings.

THUMBS DOWN:  Harvey’s velocity, command and line. … Mets’ hitters struck out 11 times. … Only six hits. … David Wright struck out three times.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets’ 11-game winning streak over the Rockies was snapped. … Wright’s string of walks in 11 straight games ended. …  Wright is now on a 0-for-14 slide. … Michael Conforto tripled and is now 6-for-42.

QUOTEBOOK: “There are two types of people in this game. Those that have been humbled and those who are going to be humbled.” – Mets manager Terry Collins on Harvey’s troubles.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-16: Harvey’s record when the Mets score two runs or less.

NEXT FOR METS:  Logan Verrett replaces Steven Matz Saturday. Jacob deGrom starts Sunday.

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