May 05

Niese’s Struggles Continue; Mets Have Lost His Last Four Starts

There will be days like today, where the meltdown is complete in all phases, beginning with Jon Niese’s inability to get hitters out, an offense offering little resistance to Tim Hudson, and a porous defense.

NIESE: Didn't have it. (AP)

NIESE: Didn’t have it. (AP)

It’s not alarming the Mets couldn’t do anything to Hudson, but what should be a source of concern is Niese, who was hit hard in his fourth straight start – all lost by the Mets, today 9-4 at Turner Field.

Manager Terry Collins said Niese was too strong and overthrew his pitches, leading to his lack of control. Collins gave his pitcher an out, but Niese didn’t take it, saying he can’t afford to have games like this.

ON THE MOUND: Niese gave up seven runs on seven hits and six walks in four innings, and has been rocked for 14 runs in his last four starts, totaling 19 innings. One of those games was April 23, when he took a hard comebacker off his right ankle and lasted 2.1 innings. With Saturday’s rainout and tomorrow’s off day, the four innings worked by the bullpen shouldn’t be too taxing.

AT THE PLATE: David Wright had two hits, including another homer. That’s three in three days. … Mets had a chance in the eighth inning, but Marlon Byrd struck out swinging on a pitch that would have been ball four to end the inning.

IN THE FIELD: The official scorer was kind to the Mets, giving hits on balls misplayed by Lucas Duda and Wright. … John Buck failed to block two pitches in the dirt.

HARVEY PUSHED BACK: With Niese’s start rained out Saturday, Collins had the option of going with Niese, or starting Matt Harvey on normal rest. However, with Harvey throwing 121 pitches in his last start, Collins opted for extra rest, which was the right call. Harvey will start Tuesday against the White Sox. “You try to keep them as prepared as you can,’’ Collins said. “I don’t like it. That’s one of the issues we’ve talked about. We talked about it on the road trip in Colorado. This game is about routines and repetitions. When you get these guys out of these routines and their reps, it’s a problem.’’

BY THE NUMBERS: 6: Walks issued by Niese, tying a career high.

THEY SAID IT: “They were flat today.’’ – SNY analyst Ron Darling describing today’s loss that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

ON DECK: The Mets are off Monday, and then open a two-game series Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox.

May 03

Mets Wrap: Late Magic Beats Braves

As it usually is for the Mets in Atlanta, things weren’t easy as they rallied to beat the Braves in the kind of game they often would lose in Turner Field. The Mets tied the game in the ninth against closer Craig Kimbrel on David Wright’s fourth homer of the season and added RBI singles from Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy to win, 7-5 in ten innings. The Mets scored the game-winner when Jordany Valdespin drew a two-out walk as a pinch-hitter, stole second and scored on Tejada’s single.

ON THE MOUND: Shaun Marcum did not come up with the quality start he hoped, giving up three runs on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 4.1 innings. … The bullpen was taxed again, giving up two runs in 5.2 innings. … Jeurys Familia pitched the tenth to earn his first major league save. … Overall, the Mets used seven pitchers.

AT THE PLATE: The Mets got homers from John Buck (10th of the season with 29 RBI), Lucas Duda, Marlon Byrd and Wright. … The Mets were 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5: Runs scored by the Mets after two were out.

THEY SAID IT: “There’s a reason why No. 5 (David Wright) is a star.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on Wright’s game-tying homer.

ON DECK: Jonathan Niese (2-2, 3.31) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.08), 7:10 p.m. ET.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 03

Giving The Mets Horse Names

In honor of the Kentucky Derby, I decided to give the Mets – past and present – horse names. Some are humorous, some are descriptive, and some are critical. I know I missed some. If you have suggestions, let’s hear them.

The Man With Words

The Man With Words

PRESENT METS

Matt Harvey: “Nasty Stuff’’

Jon Niese: “Lefty Heat’’

Zack Wheeler: “Promises, Promises’’

Ike Davis: “Hole In Bat”

Daniel Murphy: “Taking To Second’’

David Wright: “In The Clutch’’

Lucas Duda: “Strong As Onions’’

Jordany Valdespin: “Has A Knack’’

Terry Collins: “Dealing With Few Pieces’’

Sandy Alderson: “GM Seeking Bullpen’’

Ruben Tejada: “Big Shoes To Fill’’

John Buck: “More Than A Throw-in’’

Bobby Parnell: “Getting His Chance’’

Scott Rice: “Perseverance Rewarded’’

Johan Santana: “Sad Ending’’

Frank Francisco: “Is He Still Around?’’

The Wilpons: “Write That Check’’

IN THE BOOTH

Gary Cohen: “Outta Here’’

Ralph Kiner: “A Treasure’’

Lindsey Nelson: “Where Did He Get That Coat?’’

Bob Murphy: “They Won The Damn Thing’’

Kevin Burkhardt: “Where’s Waldo? Where’s Kevin?’’

Howie Rose: “Close The Books’’

Josh Lewin: “The New Kid’’

Ed Coleman: “How Often Can You Ask About The Bullpen?’’

PAST METS

Tom Seaver: “Best Met Ever’’

Jerry Koosman: “Underrated Greatness’’

Jon Matlack: “Linked To Roberto”

Darryl Strawberry: “What Could Have Been’’

Keith Hernandez: “Retire His Number’’

Gary Carter: “A Missing Piece’’

Dwight Gooden: “Left Us Wanting’’

Lenny Dykstra: “Out of Control”

Wally Backman: “Future Boss”

Nolan Ryan: “Didn’t Do It Here”

Jim Fregosi: “Trivia Question Answer”

Gil Hodges: “Commanded Respect’’

Davey Johnson:  “Riverboat Gambler’’

Casey Stengel: “A Way With Words’’

Bobby Valentine: “Always On Stage’’

Willie Randolph: “Midnight Massacre’’

Frank Cashen: “The Architect”

Joan Payson: “Mom Met”

Jane Jarvis: “Shea Soundtrack”

Karl Ehrhardt: “A Fixture”

Omar Minaya: “Could Write A Check”

Ed Kranepool: “Early Era Good Guy’’

Jerry Grote: “Last Defense’’

Bud Harrelson: “Picked A Rose’’

Jose Reyes: “My Aching Hammy’’

Carlos Beltran: “Not Appreciated’’

Oliver Perez: “Omar’s Folly’’

Bobby Bonilla: “Bronx Tour Guide”

Mo Vaughn: “What Were They Thinking?”

Ron Darling: “Sharp Stuff, Sharp Analysis’’

John Franco: “Shut The Door’’

Tug McGraw: “Turned A Phrase’’

Ron Swoboda: “Headlong Dive’’

Tommie Agee: “Gap Runner’’

Cleon Jones: “Catches The Last Out’’

Rusty Staub: “The Gourmet’’

Mike Piazza: “Historic Blast’’

Donn Clendenon: “Had October Magic”

Rey Ordonez: “Magic Leather’’

Robin Ventura: “The Grand Single’’

Al Leiter: “Politician In The Making’’

Edgardo Alfonzo: “Second To None’’

Armando Benitez: “Please, Not Him’’

Jose Lima: “It Was Never Time”

Pedro Martinez: “The Diva”

Mike Pelfrey: “Licking Fingers”

Carlos Delgado: “Clubhouse Lawyer”

Tom Glavine: “Not Devastated”

R.A. Dickey: “One Good Year”

Willie Mays: “Ended It At Home”

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 03

Shaun Marcum Has Chance To Make Amends

The first impression was not a good one for Shaun Marcum, but now he has the opportunity to make amends in a big way.

MARCUM: Gets the ball tonight. (AP)

MARCUM: Gets the ball tonight. (AP)

Marcum, signed to a free-agent contract last winter, did not report to spring training in good shape and tried to convince Terry Collins he only needed four exhibition starts instead of the normal six to get ready for the season. Marcum started the season on the disabled list, and his absence became a focal point as the back end of the Mets rotation became an issue.

Marcum wasn’t sparkling in his return, but with the Mets heading into a tailspin and in a marathon game Monday night in Miami, he volunteered to pitch in relief. He lost, but If nothing else, it caught the attention of his teammates. When reporters asked David Wright about pinch-hitting despite a stiff neck, he deflected the attention to Marcum.

“I would say Shaun Marcum was a much bigger situation, because you don’t see every day starting pitchers go down to the bullpen and kind of voluntarily want to do that to try to help us out,’’ Wright said. “That’s huge. All of us know how important wins are.’’

The Mets will give the ball to Marcum tonight in a place where wins have been scarce – Turner Field in Atlanta. Should he win, that would be two important outings in a week and could smooth over the poor first impression.

Marcum (0-2) said working in relief was akin to a between-starts bullpen workout, claiming the 28 pitches he threw Monday night were close to what he would have done in the bullpen.

“The bullpen was kind of running out there toward the end,’’ Marcum told reporters this week. “I told them if they needed me I was available and I’d be more than happy to go down there and give these guys whatever I had.’’

Marcum said the neck and shoulder pain that shelved him at the start of the season has dissipated, and he’s ready for tonight.

In looking at how he lost to the Marlins, Marcum said he made the pitches he wanted, but credited the hitters. That was another positive – no excuses.

“I made some pretty good pitches, especially when I went back and looked at the video,’’ Marcum said. “I guess you just tip your hat and move on.’’

The early pitching identity of the Mets has been good outings from Matt Harvey, decent starts from Jon Niese, and not much from the back end of the rotation. Jeremy Hefner’s last two starts have been good, and Dillon Gee has been erratic. It has added up to a lot of innings from the bullpen.

The Mets snapped a six-game losing streak Wednesday, but aren’t close to righting things. With Niese and Harvey working the last two games of this series, should Marcum give them a good game tonight, it could stabilize the pitching staff.

ON DECK: I’ll have a series preview against the Braves and the continuation of the Summer of 1973 Series.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

May 03

Mets April Review: Matt Harvey The Bright Spot; Ike Davis Not

As it often has been with the Mets over the years, what was once good quickly and dramatically turned sour as 5-2 fell to 10-15.

The Mets rode Matt Harvey’s blistering start – they won five of his six starts – but have to be alarmed he was responsible for half their victories. Once again, the Mets fell victim to the same old vices that have crippled them for years.

The bullpen collapsed, the team went cold hitting with runners in scoring position, and they couldn’t overcome the gaping hole in the back end of their rotation and ended the month with a six-game losing streak and finished at 10-14.

DAVIS: Biggest disappointment of the month. (AP_

DAVIS: Biggest disappointment of the month. (AP)

PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Harvey was everything as advertised and yesterday was named the National League’s Pitcher of the Month, going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. In 40.1 innings, Harvey struck out 46 while walking just 12.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH: The Mets’ biggest bat belonged to John Buck, who hit nine homers with 25 RBI. The Mets insist he wasn’t a throw-in in the R.A. Dickey trade, but with Travis d’Arnaud out for two months with a fractured foot, Buck will not be dangled soon. The pitchers swear by him.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE MONTH: It can’t be anybody else but Ike Davis, who is on pace to strike out 196 times. Last year the Mets did not option Davis and let him work his way back to where he hit 32 homers. If this year’s start continues much longer, will they make the same decision?

SERIES OF THE MONTH: Playing in unbearable conditions, the Mets outscored the Twins in Minnesota by a combined 20-7 in winning two of three games. Harvey flirted with a no-hitter in the second game and the third was snowed out.

WORST SERIES OF THE MONTH: It would be easy to say their three losses in snowy and freezing Colorado, but that would be too easy. And, they deserve a break because of the weather. So, let’s make it the three games they were swept in Citi Field by the Phillies, April 26-28. The losses to Philadelphia comprised half their six-game losing streak. From there, the Mets lost consecutive one-run games in Miami, coughing up the lead in the ninth inning both times.

GAME OF THE MONTH: April 24, at Citi Field. The Mets couldn’t win a Harvey start, but sent the game into extra innings on David Wright’s two-out single in the ninth and Jordany Valdespin’s grand slam homer in the tenth.

WORST GAME OF THE MONTH: There were several to choose from, but let’s take Monday’s heartbreaker in Miami. Not only did they waste a Harvey start, but went 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position and blew two save opportunities in losing 4-3 in 15 innings.

METS’ APRIL BY THE NUMBERS: Buck’s nine homers and 25 RBI. … Davis’ .159 average with 29 strikeouts, which outnumbered his walks and hits combined. … Lucas Duda is second in the NL with 20 walks. … Daniel Murphy hit .350 (7-for-20) with RISP. … Wright hit .462 (12-for-26) with RISP. … The bullpen blew three save opportunities and has a 5.09 ERA. The Mets are 3-13 when the pen gives up a run. … Seven times the pen worked at least five innings, a direct reflection on the back end of the rotation. … Longest winning streak was three games and the longest losing streak was six games. … The Mets were 1-6 in one-run games. … Longest hitting streak: Eight games by Murphy. … The Mets used 22 different batting orders in 25 games for the month. … The Mets have used six different leadoff hitters. … Seven different pitchers started games, including Aaron Laffey, who started two and is no longer with the team. … The Mets hit three grand slams for the month.

QUESTIONS COMING OUT OF THE MONTH

Q: Is Matt Harvey for real?

A: Who really knows, but all indications are he is. Harvey’s numbers are impressive, but not as much as is composure and tenacity on the mound.

Q: How long will the Mets stay with Ike Davis?

A: Working in Davis’ favor is the Mets’ reluctance to move Lucas Duda to first base. Davis’ struggling also indicates how thin the Mets are in the minor leagues.

Q: Will they quit fooling around with Jordany Valdespin?

A: The Mets have used six different leadoff hitters. Also, Valdespin won two games with homers, but still languishes in a non-starting role.

Q: Is bullpen and outfield help on the way?

A: There has been some juggling and movement on the Vegas shuttle, but nothing of any substance.

Q: Zack Wheeler, how soon?

A: Wheeler is coming off his best start, but that’s not enough for the Mets to promote him. Should he have two or three like the last one, perhaps the end of the month?

THE MONTH AHEAD: The Mets snapped their losing streak May 1 with Valdespin’s homer Wednesday. The Mets are in Atlanta this weekend, a place where they have not fared well. There are few easy putts this month, as their schedule includes four games in St. Louis, three against Cincinnati and three more with the Braves at Citi Field, and four interleague games with the Yankees.

ON DECK: Later today I’ll continue my series on the 1973 World Series team, take a look at tonight’s starter and preview the Braves series.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos