Jul 03

Mets Suffer Crushing Defeat; Waste Matz Start

The Mets are like my last girlfriend, the ultimate tease. I mean, if you’re going to tie the game on a pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth, you might as well hang around and win the damn thing. Instead, the Mets’ bullpen gave it up, and tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals dropped them to 10.5 behind, and in the process waste a sterling Steven Matz start.

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

Yes, you have to win the first game before you can sweep, but make no mistake, the Mets needed to sweep this three-game series at Washington. Even if they win the next two games, the most they closest they’ll get is 8.5 games. Still time, but very disappointing.

Curtis Granderson tied it 2-2 in the ninth on a pinch-hit, two-run homer, but the bullpen – using three relievers in the bottom half of the inning – gave the game away. Why not use your best reliever, Addison Reed, for two innings? Reed didn’t pitch Sunday, so he had some rest.

The bullpen has been an issue this season, and Fernando Salas, who gave up the game-winning hit, really has no business being in the game if the ninth inning of a tie game. Another issue is all the Mets’ pitchers’ walks. Two of the Nationals’ three runs were the result of walks. Overall, they’ve walked 305, good for third in the National League.

You thought, maybe the Mets would pull it out once Granderson homered, but when they didn’t take a big lead that inning, you understood disappointment could still loom, as it did tonight.

 

Jun 02

Today’s Question: What Harvey Will We Get Tonight?

The Matt Harvey we saw last weekend in Pittsburgh was not the vintage pitcher we hoped would terrorize National League lineups for a decade. Two surgeries made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

HARVEY: Which one? (AP)

HARVEY: Which one? (AP)

However, he was good enough to throw a season-high six innings to come away with the victory. That leads to the obvious question: Was his last start a fluke or something to build on?

Harvey beat the Pirates that evening throwing in the mid-90s, but with sharp command (two walks). If Harvey is to become a consistent winner, he’ll need to do it with command and location, more than overpowering velocity.

“Obviously, it’s just taken a little bit of time,” Harvey said after the Pittsburgh game. “It’s been frustrating for me. But a lot of the work has been paying off, and really, it’s a huge, huge positive for me being able to execute those pitches.”

So, what will we get tonight? Was his last start the real thing or just a tease?

May 29

Harvey Not Vintage, But Good Enough

We’ve seen Matt Harvey better, but we’ll take the version we saw last night in Pittsburgh. Last night Harvey pitched with more poise than we’ve seen in a long time; he pitched out of trouble and survived through a season-high six innings in carrying the Mets over the Pirates.

Harvey threw in the mid-90s last night, not the 98 he carried as a punch-them-out weapon in 2013 when he terrorized National League batting orders. His command last night was better as he issued only two walks, and most importantly gave up a season-low one run.

HARVEY: Good enough. (AP)

HARVEY: Good enough. (AP)

The Mets will win most games if he gives up one run, and if that’s the Harvey we’ve been waiting for, it will be worth the wait.

“We’ve been talking about it: He doesn’t have to throw 97 [mph] to get people out,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “Tonight he showed that.”

Harvey has endured two season-ending surgeries since he became a cartoon superhero in 2013. Once defiant, Harvey was acceptant of what has happened.

“Obviously, it’s just taken a little bit of time,” said Harvey. “It’s been frustrating for me. But a lot of the work has been paying off, and really, it’s a huge, huge positive for me being able to execute those pitches tonight.”

At the end of the 2015 season, when Harvey’s innings became an issue when he spoke of his agent Scott Boras, he said he hired him to secure his future, which we all know is his 2018 walk year for a crosstown trip to the Bronx.

The Mets would take that right now because it would mean a Harvey that could be good enough to pitch them into an October or two.

Nov 22

Melancon My First Choice For Mets

With Edwin Encarnacion reportedly already rejecting an $80 million offer from Toronto and seeking five years, my first FA choice for the Mets is off the boards. And, with reports Yoenis Cespedes wants nearly $120 million over five years, he’ll be too expensive.

MELANCON: Go get him. (AP)

MELANCON: Go get him. (AP)

We know they aren’t going to get Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, so my next choice for the Mets to go after is closer Mark Melancon. At 31 and coming off a 47-save season (after saving 51 in 2015), he offers consistency, durability (at least 70 appearances in five of the last six seasons), and figures to be young enough to keep on going for several more years.

Plus, he’s done most of his heavy lifting in the National League, so you know he understands the lay of the land. Speaking of which, you’d be taking him away from the Nationals.

Melancon made $9.6 million last year with Washington and Pittsburgh and is due for a big pay bump, but if what I’ve been hearing is true, he won’t come close to what Chapman and Jansen are seeking. Both are also hallucinating at five years (only an idiot would give a closer that long a deal) and might be had for three plus an option.

The production is there, the age is right, he’s been healthy and the finances seem to be in order.

What about Jeurys Familia, you ask. Figuring a suspension of at least 30 games, we don’t know what he’ll be like when he returns. And, when he does, he can either go back to the end of the line (middle innings) or possibly be traded.

Of all their questions, pitching is paramount for the Mets. We don’t know how their four surgically-repaired starters will be and can assume they’ll be on a short leash. That means more innings for the bullpen, which increases Melancon’s value.

Hitting is always easier to obtain than quality pitching. They can let Cespedes go and use the money elsewhere and hope for a good year from Jay Bruce.

That’s why Melancon is now my first choice.

Please follow me on Twitter

Oct 31

Here’s Hoping Terry Collins Is Watching Series

One thing we know about sports is everybody is a copycat, and here’s hoping Mets manager Terry Collins is taking notes. Something Indians manager Terry Francona has known for a long time – and putting to use this postseason – and what Collins seems to ignore is a game’s critical moment doesn’t always occur in the ninth inning.

MILLER: Somebody Mets should emulate. (CBS)

MILLER: Somebody Mets should emulate. (CBS)

Sometimes, it is in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning. Often during these critical situations, Collins will turn to Hansel Robles, or Jerry Blevins, or any number of other forgettable names. For Francona, this postseason – and down the stretch for the Indians – he gave the ball to Andrew Miller.

Yes, it is the postseason, so don’t remind me of the obvious. And, yes, the postseason has built-in off days, but the point is clear, he has a stud and isn’t afraid to use him. Collins does not have Miller but does have Addison Reed, who led the National League with 40 holds.

Reed has been stretched out, so he can handle up to six outs. If anybody can do what Miller does it is Reed. Here’s another thing to consider, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman proved they have the mettle and can be used for more than three outs if they aren’t in the rotation.

I’d rather concentrate on using these three guys for multiple innings, than load up on mediocrity in the middle innings. In doing so, perhaps they can carry one less reliever and add a bench player. More than a few times last summer the Mets got caught with a short bench.

It has been a compelling World Series, and what Francona, and to a degree, Joe Maddon showed last night with his use of Aroldis Chapman, is there is another way to manage a bullpen. For the most part, the back end of the Mets’ bullpen has been good, but it can be better.

Francona is counting on his starters for five or six innings before turning the game over to Miller and the rest of the Indians’ bullpen. With the uncertainty of the ability of the Mets’ starters to go past the sixth, Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen has some thinking to do this winter.

Let’s hope they are taking notes during the World Series.