Oct 30

In Noah, The Mets Do Trust

It’s funny how things worked out for the Mets. They were reluctant to bring up Noah Syndergaard in May, but now in October they are counting on him to extend their dream season. Down two games to Kansas City, Syndergaard will take his 100 mph., fastball to the mound tonight at Citi Field.

“We’ve got great confidence in him,” said manager Terry Collins. “I think as much as you’d like to go to that crusty, veteran guy who’s been here, who’s done it, to help bail you out of the hole you’re in, we’re not asking that. We’re asking this kid to go out and pitch his game, and his stuff should play.”

SYNDERGAARD: The future is now. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: The future is now. (Getty)

The Mets entered the World Series with a decided edge in starting pitching, but Matt Harvey (6) and Jacob deGrom (5) gave them a combined 11 innings in the first two games. Syndergaard must give them at least seven innings to keep the Royals away from the Mets’ bullpen.

Along with the Mets’ starters, another story line was the Royals’ hitters ability to make contact, especially against fastballs over 95 mph. Syndergaard is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA and spoke as if he has this playoff thing down pat.

The question has always been posed to pitchers for years: Does he pitch to his strength, even if it is the hitter’s strength as well?

Syndergaard knows a pitcher never wants to get beat with his secondary pitches; if he goes down it will be with his best.

“My main focus is to pitch to my strengths and being able to execute all my pitches, and just focus on winning one pitch at a time,” said Syndergaard, speaking like the veteran he isn’t.

It’s funny how things work. The Mets didn’t want to bring up Syndergaard in May to delay his arbitration and free-agent years to have him conveniently locked up for the future. The Mets singled out their young pitching as the foundation for their future, but the future is now for the Mets.

It is tonight.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 30

Five Reasons Why The Mets Can Still Win

The Mets are down two games in the World Series, but I am here to give you five reasons why they can come back and win this thing. Never mind the odds, the beautiful thing about sports is anything can happen, including a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Here’s how it can happen:

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

TERRY COLLINS: Let’s start with the basics. You need to win four games to win a World Series and the Royals have only won two. The Royals haven’t won anything yet and they know it.

Manager Terry Collins will make that his first point when he talks to his players today. He must stress the Mets need to win just one game. They win Friday and go to work Saturday. One game at a time is a cliché, but a cliché becomes a cliché because it is true.

As long as the Mets have the mindset all they need to do is concentrate on that day’s game they will be fine. Sure, they are in a hole. If they think it’s a big hole they are in trouble. If they look at it as a matter of one game they can win. (See: 1986 Mets; 2004 Red Sox).

For the most part, Collins pushed the right buttons this year. He knows his team, knows its temperament and knows how to pull them out of funks. He lost a couple of gambles in the first two games, but made them for the right reasons.

Collins made a good decision Thursday when he made the workout optional. Collins knew his team was fatigued and the questions they would be asked. He knew his team needed a breather.

That’s a manager having the pulse of his team.

THIS CAN’T LAST: The Mets played maybe their worst game in a month in Game 2. We have seen them bounce back from bad games numerous times this year to play well.

These Mets have put bad moments behind them and responded with wins. That’s a quality you don’t forget and I expect them to do the same starting Friday.

Teams go into slumps, and the Mets are no different. They got here because they played well and I believe they will snap out of it.

I’m counting on it.

THEY STILL HAVE THAT PITCHING: The main storyline going in was the Mets’ rotation. Just because they didn’t win with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in Games 1 and 2 doesn’t mean they went away for good. That advantage still exists.

Remember, both pitched with a lead, but were victimized by a bad inning. They could each get another start, with Harvey getting Game 5 at home and deGrom Game 6 on the road.

It’s hard to remember them pitching poorly in back-to-back starts. In case you’re wondering about fatigue, neither pitched deep into their games and that will work in their favor.

Noah Syndergaard goes Friday and has done well at home.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe Jeurys Familia will be scarred by Game 1. You don’t save that many games by letting things bother you.

SPEAKING OF HOME: The 2-3-2 format works in the Mets’ favor. Three straight games at Citi Field with that rocking crowd can turn the tone of the Series.

The Mets won 60 percent of their Citi Field games this season and definitely have a home field advantage. I would bet on the Mets returning to Kansas City.

A player who thrives at Citi Field is Lucas Duda, who hit 19 of his 27 home runs in the direction of the Pepsi Porch.

A HOT BAT WILL SURFACE: Whether it be David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Duda, or Curtis Granderson, I expect one or more to snap out of it.

The Royals seemed to have solved Daniel Murphy, but he’s getting hits. If Murphy is to be a player of the ages we thought a week ago, he’ll need another spurt.

The Mets have struck out a lot, but this is something that can be addressed with patience. They’ve snapped out of it before and have the ability to do it again. A little hit-and-run, a little stealing has a way of jumpstarting an offense.

Remember, they didn’t win 90 games by accident. Strat-O-Matic believes that. The game we played as kids – before such things as Fantasy Leagues – projected the Royals to win the first two games.

And, for the Mets winning the next four.



Oct 29

It’s Baby Steps Now For Mets

My headline last night was, “Mets Routed; In Huge Hole.” There’s no denying it, but a huge hole doesn’t mean they can’t climb out of it, despite the odds of 80 percent against them. That’s just a number. The Mets sent out on Twitter today that despite the 0-2 hole they are not giving up.

I wouldn’t expect it any other way from a team whose foundation this year was resiliency. Would you?

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to be great Friday. (Getty)

Through injuries, losing streaks, bullpen lapses and hitting slumps the Mets found their way to Game 3 of the World Series. Of course, all of you would have signed up for being in a 0-2 hole in the Series at the start of the season.

Don’t lie, of course you would.

However, the mistake is thinking of this as a 0-2 hole. The Series is tied is the message manager Terry Collins must give his team. Before the Mets can win the World Series, they must first win a game.

I don’t want to hear how Noah Syndergaard’s future is great. I don’t care how great he’ll be in 2017. I only care about him being great Friday night.

And, let’s not worry about sending an inexperienced Steven Matz out for Game 4, or whether they might move Matt Harvey up on short rest. Game 4 doesn’t exist. The only thing that matters is Game 3.

I covered arguably the greatest collapse in baseball history, the Yankees blowing a 3-and-0 lead to the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Players from that Boston team said they never looked at the hole, but only that day’s game. That was the only thing that mattered. As long as they won that day, they were fine.

That’s the attitude the Mets had in 1986, when they lost the first two games to the Red Sox – at home – yet came back to win. Of course, several things had to happen – “the ball gets by Buckner’’ – but before the miracles happened, they had to claw back into the Series. Baby steps.

The percentages say different, but remember, in 2004, NO team ever came back from down three games to win. That’s why they play the games. The beauty of sports is you never no what can happen.

The Series is not over until one team wins four games, which hasn’t happened. Can the Mets win four of five games? Damn straight they can, but before they do, they must win Friday.

That’s the only game that matters.




Oct 28

Vulnerable Side Of Mets Exposed

OK, the Mets lost last night and Game 2 is now the most important start of Jacob deGrom’s blossoming career. How he persevered over the Dodgers on the road in Game 5 of the NLDS showed us he has the grit and guile needed to win.

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

LAGARES: In lineup tonight. (AP)

That much we know. What we don’t know is how much gas is left in his tank. Manager Terry Collins and deGrom differ as to the pitcher’s fatigue level, but whatever the cause, his command isn’t right.

There are other things not right, either. I know, as Mets fans, you want to hear nothing but positive, but that can’t always be the case. On the plus side, middle relievers Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard – considered a question going in – pitched well.

The flip side is if Matt Harvey is the stud the Mets – and he proclaims to be – he has to give them more than 80 pitches over six innings. Aces who demand the ball need to give more than what Harvey showed.

Secondly, and perhaps this is as a slap in the face to the Mets, is Jeurys Familia being taken deep to tie the game in the ninth. His perception of invincibility is gone.

Defense hasn’t always been a Mets’ mainstay this season, and Yoenis Cespedes’ misplay in left center last night in left center lead to him starting in left tonight with Juan Lagares playing center. That puts Michael Conforto as the DH, which is the way it should have been from the start.

I don’t know what it is, but Cespedes has been in a funk lately. He’s not the same player who captivated us in August.

There was also David Wright’s wild throw to start the 14th inning. It happens, but when runs are at a premium, they can’t afford to give away outs.

The offense was terrible last night, and starting pitching isn’t the Royals’ forte.

The Mets can lose tonight and still win the World Series, but the odds are long. A lot of things had to break right for the Mets to win, and now even more.

It begins with deGrom.

ON DECK: Tonight’s lineup.

Oct 28

Mets’ DeGrom In Must-Win Game Tonight

Nobody can say for certain what big games Jacob deGrom might have later in his career that could carve legacy, but there’s no doubt the Mets’ run during these playoffs is contingent on him showing up large in Game 2 tonight against Johnny Cueto.

No deGrom; no World Series title.

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

The Mets’ best pitcher this season must fight through fatigue for his team to take this Series back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece. The must regain the command he lost in his last two starts against the Dodgers and Cubs.

Those teams couldn’t come up with the big hit to put deGrom and the Mets away. The Mets aren’t even here without his second start against the Dodgers in which he stranded five runners in scoring position.

Such grit rarely works against the Royals, who came from behind twice last night to beat the Mets.

“One of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out. We’ve got to put them away,” manager Terry Collins said after Kansas City survived 14 innings last night, and to do so needed to overcome Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.

That begins with scoring early and often against Cueto, and deGrom becoming overpowering again.

“They’re going to battle you,’’ deGrom said. “They’re not going to strike out a lot and they’re going to put the ball in play. I think my job is to keep the ball down.

“I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.’’

Against the fastball-hitting Cubs, deGrom said he had to temper his approach with more off-speed pitches and relied on his change-up. Much has been made of Kansas City’s ability to put fastballs in play, so that might be his formula tonight.

“There’s going to be adjustments to be made like there is in every game,’’ deGrom said. “I think it’s just seeing what’s going on out there.’’

And, recognizing it quickly because if he doesn’t the game can get away very fast.