Apr 30

Today’s Question: Why Does Alderson Let Inmates Run Asylum?

As of now, Noah Syndergaard remains on to start against the Nationals’ Joe Ross in the series finale today in Washington.

SYNDERGAARD: Not smart. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Not smart. (AP)

Syndergaard said he felt fine during his bullpen session Friday and eschewed an MRI scheduled for him. Because GM Sandy Alderson acquiesced to Syndergaard’s prima donna attitude this week – which included berating a club official in the clubhouse for not keeping reporters away – we have an answer to today’s question: Who exactly is running the asylum?

In 2015, Alderson bowed to Matt Harvey and never established a definitive innings limit. It wasn’t until Harvey’s agent mentioned it in the press that it became an issue.

Syndergaard was bothered for much of last season with a bone spur in his elbow and was scratched from a start Wednesday with biceps tendinitis. An MRI seemed a logical next step, but Syndergaard said no, which is his right.

“I’m pretty in tune with my body,” said Syndergaard. “That’s exactly why I refused to take the MRI. I knew there was nothing happening in there.”

Alderson meekly told reporters, “I can’t strap him down and throw him in the tube.”

All too often the Mets get heat for not properly handling injuries. Despite wanting the MRI, Alderson can’t skate this time, either. Yes, Syndergaard can refuse medical treatment if he’s that stupid, but Alderson is supposed to be the adult in the room.

“No, Noah, you don’t have to have the MRI if you don’t want,” should have been Alderson’s response. “But, if you don’t we’re putting you on the DL and you won’t pitch until you do.”

Syndergaard is big and strong and probably nothing will happen to him, but can he be that naïve – not to mention arrogant – as to put his own health, and possibly the Mets’ season on the line?

Apr 29

Mets Wrap: Bullpen Saves Mets; Injury Updates

With the exception of one pitch – Addison Reed’s room service fastball to Ryan Zimmerman – the Mets’ bullpen pitched large in today’s 5-3 victory over the Nationals. The headliner, of course, was Jeurys Familia, less than 24 hours after he was pulled from a save opportunity last night, put down the Nationals in order this afternoon.

FAMILIA CELEBRATES WITH RIVERA (AP)

FAMILIA CELEBRATES WITH RIVERA (AP)

Manager Terry Collins vowed Familia was still his closer, didn’t have anybody warming up in the ninth.

“It is very important for a lot of reasons,” Collins said of Familia’s first save of the season. “We’re excited to get him on the right track.”

The parade to Familia started with two outs in the fifth when Collins pulled starter Zack Wheeler, and for the second straight game brought in Josh Edgin to shut down one of the Nationals’ lefty sluggers.

Today he got Daniel Murphy on a fly to right with a runner on third. Edgin ended Friday’s game with the bases loaded by getting Bryce Harper on 1-2-3 double play.

Collins said Edgin’s slider has been biting.

“Confidence is big in this game and he believes he can get people out,” Collins said.

WHEELER LABORS: It wasn’t a strong start for Wheeler, and that could be one of the best things to happen for him.

Wheeler gave up two runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts. That’s a lot of activity over 96 pitches.

“His pitch count is one thing, but he was in trouble for the whole game,” Collins said. “He had to battle all game long and I think that’s good for hm. You have to show you can go out there and compete when you don’t have your best stuff.”

The Nationals were 2-for-11 with RISP and stranded eight runners, with six put on by Wheeler, who kept the game in the balance.

“I wasn’t my best today,” Wheeler said. “I fell behind and threw a lot of pitches, but I made some pitches when I had to.”

INJURY UPDATES: Falling under the “I’ll Believe It When I See It,” category, the Mets have positive reports on Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes.

GM Sandy Alderson seemed optimistic Duda (hyperextended elbow) can come off the disabled list when he’s eligible Monday. T.J. Rivera will continue to play first base until Duda is available.

Meanwhile, the Mets say Cespedes could be ready May 8, which is highly optimistic considering how he looked when he was re-injured.

Alderson said an ultrasound didn’t show significant damage and called the injury mild.

As I’ve always said, when it comes to Mets’ statements on injuries, bet the over.

Meanwhile, pitcher Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – both on the DL with elbow injuries – were scheduled to throw off the slope of the mound today. Their return dates are for late May.

In addition, Travis d’Arnaud left the game when his back stiffened up and will not play Sunday.

ANOTHER RIVERA: Rivera is making the most of his opportunity. He had three hits Friday and two more today, and will stay in the lineup.

The minor league batting champion is hitting and is worthy of more playing time, even if it takes playing time from Jose Reyes (.173) and Neil Walker (.205).

The Mets have won two straight, but their offense has been relatively anemic the last two weeks.

HOT REYES: In danger of losing his job a week ago, Reyes is slowly finding his offensive groove, but not to the point where the Mets should move him back to the leadoff spot – especially with Michael Conforto as hot as he is.

In his last five games, Reyes is hitting .444 with a .525 on-base percentage, two stolen bases and two homers, including one for an insurance run in the ninth today.

Even so, Reyes is still below .200.

For as cold as they were, the after winning two straight, Collins shouldn’t monkey with what is working.

“Jose is starting to play like we know he can do offensively,” Collins said. “Him getting on base is how we’re going to win games.”

Reyes will start at shortstop tomorrow to give Asdrubal Cabrera a day off.

TOMORROW’S GAME: The Mets go for the sweep Sunday behind Noah Syndergaard.

 

Apr 29

Today’s Question: Can Wheeler Encore DeGrom’s Effort?

Jacob deGrom pitched like an ace last night to ease the Mets’ hemorrhaging. Today’s question is obvious: Can Zack Wheeler duplicate that effort?

WHEELER: Pressure start for him. (AP)

WHEELER: Pressure start for him. (AP)

Wheeler is 1-2 after missing the last two years following Tommy John surgery. It’s not a great record, but he is coming off a strong seven-inning performance last weekend against Washington. Wheeler gave up four runs on four hits with six strikeouts while throwing 101 pitches.

After the Mets’ 7-5 victory Friday night, to keep the momentum going they need to win at least twice in this series and preferably sweep. If they lose the next two they’ll trail the Nationals by 8.5 games. There’s plenty of time to make that up, but two losses would mean giving away the momentum created by deGrom.

The Mets have long waited for their dream five-man rotation of Noah Syndergaard, deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Wheeler to dominate. However, the five have never gone one cycle in that rotation. That might not come until next year as when Matz is ready to come off the disabled list, Wheeler’s innings limit might sit him.

Apr 28

Mets Wrap: D’Arnaud, deGrom Combine To Defeat Nats

The Mets have long waited for Travis d’Arnaud to flex his muscles. He did so Friday night when he crushed two 420-foot-plus homers in a career-high five-RBI night to carry the Mets to a 7-5 badly-needed victory over the Nationals.

“We’ve seen him swing the bat, so we know what he can do,” manager Terry Collins said.

D'ARNAUD: Powers Mets with two homers. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Powers Mets with two homers. (AP)

D’Arnaud was facing Max Scherzer, who usually has his way against the Mets. Not what you’re looking for if you are to break out.

“I knew it was going to be tough against Scherzer,” d’Arnaud said. “I wanted to keep things as simple as I could.”

What’s more basic than a two-run homer in the second and a three-run blast in the fourth?

You might answer by saying have one of your stud pitchers gut out seven innings. That’s what Jacob deGrom did to earn his first victory of the season.

DeGrom, after Matt Harvey faltered in his last start and the uncertainty surrounding Noah Syndergaard, needed a big effort and was all grit in striking out 12 and giving up three runs in seven innings. It was the third straight game in which he struck out at least ten hitters.

If there was a moment of decision for deGrom, it came in the second. After being given a two-run lead on d’Arnaud’s homer in the top of the inning, deGrom coughed up the lead on a solo homer by Ryan Zimmerman and two-run drive by Matt Wieters.

After the inning deGrom stormed up the runway from the dugout to avoid what the cameras might capture.

“I need to put up a zero there,” deGrom said. “I can’t be doing that. After that, my goal was to continue to put up zeroes.”

DeGrom did that, including striking out Bryce Harper with a runner on base to end the fifth.

SYNDERGAARD TO START: Desperate for some positive news of any kind, the Mets hope they got some after Syndergaard said he felt great and expects to start Sunday at Washington.

Syndergaard missed his last start Wednesday against Atlanta with what the Mets called biceps tendinitis. There has been considerable speculation – including here – that Syndergaard would be placed on the disabled list and Sean Gilmartin would start Sunday.

“I should have started yesterday,” Syndergaard said prior to Friday’s game.

RIVERA SURFACES: Almost lost with Travis d’Arnaud’s muscles and deGrom’s grit, is T.J. Rivera, the former minor league batting champion, got a start at first base and contributed three hits and scored three runs.

The unconventional start of Rivera at first base sent Jay Bruce back to right field and Juan Lagares to the bench.

Rivera will undoubtedly start at first Saturday and could stay there until Lucas Duda returns from the disabled list.

 

Apr 28

Collins’ Gamble With Edgin Saves Mets

For one night, at least, the Mets answered manager Terry Collins’ desperate plea for energy, and for somebody – anybody – in their shell-shocked clubhouse to step up to stop the bleeding.

The sense of urgency suffocating the Mets, who entered with a six-game losing streak, was overcome for one night at least by Travis d’Arnaud and starter Jacob deGrom, reserve infielder T.J. Rivera and lefty reliever Josh Edgin, who all responded in a clutch way in a dramatic 7-5 victory over the Nationals.

EDGIN, D'ARNAUD CELEBRATE

EDGIN, D’ARNAUD CELEBRATE

“It was big win against a great ball club,” said d’Arnaud. “This was something we needed.”

However, what they need now is to build on tonight’s effort, as this is not enough. They have two more games in DC, and while sweeping is the ultimate goal they have to win at least one more to not give back this momentum.

Collins asks a lot of his players, but tonight he reached within himself to make the unconventional call that might springboard his team.

The Nationals loaded the bases against closer Jeurys Familia and had one out when Collins went to Edgin against Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon were to follow, and the Mets were staring at seven straight losses.

Collins wasn’t worried about bruising Familia’s tender ego and went with his gut.

“If we had won seven in a row, I would have left [Familia] out there,” admitted Collins. “But lefties have had success against Jeurys in the past. [Pitching to Harper] was a bad match-up for me. I didn’t like the way he looked tonight so I went with Edgin.”

The lefty specialist got Harper to ground back to the mound for a 1-2-3, game-ending double play. Nobody knows how the season will unfold, but as of now that was the play of the first month.

“I’m glad he did,” Edgin said when asked about Collins’ confidence in him. “But, whether it is the sixth inning or the ninth, the objective is the same.”

After a slight pause, Edgin added, “but there’s more pressure in the ninth.”

And for the Mets, there was more pressure than to just win a game. There was pressure to possibly save a season.