Jun 25

Montero Pitches Big For Mets

Rafael Montero made us wonder before, but could this time be different? Not only was Montero terrific in beating the Giants, but Sunday was his third straight solid outing.

With three starters on the disabled list, and the Mets trying to salvage something from their season, this is about as good a piece of news they can currently expect.

MONTERO:  Solid again.  (AP)

MONTERO: Solid again. (AP)

“This is what we were hoping to see from him,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He didn’t shy away. I hope this is what we’re going to see from here on from him. Hopefully, this is a huge wake-up call that he can pitch in this league.’’

After giving one run in 3.2 innings against the Dodgers, and three scoreless against the Nationals, Montero gave up one run in 5.2 innings today to earn his second career victory, beating the Giants, 8-2.

Command has always been a problem for Montero. He only walked two Giants, but only 61 of his 104 pitches were strikes, which leaves plenty of room for improvement.

If there was a signature moment, it came in the sixth. The Giants had runners on first and second with nobody out and he busted a fastball in off the fists of Buster Posey, popped out into a double play. It was a pitch thrown with confidence because if Montero missed and the pitch tailed over the plate Posey could have crushed it and change the complexion of the game.

Zack Wheeler will be eligible to come off the disabled list in a week, but if he’s not ready Montero could slot in again.

And, this time Collins won’t have to cross his fingers.

 

 

 

Jun 16

Scherzer Toys With Fading Mets

“It’s only June … it’s still early,” some people say when talk turns to the Mets already falling out of the pennant race and becoming sellers at the trade deadline.

However, what the calendar reads and what the NL East standings say are pretty much in sync after tonight’s 7-2 loss to the Nationals.

SCHERZER: Couldn't touch him. (AP)

SCHERZER: Couldn’t touch him. (AP)

After being blown away by Max Scherzer – and Steven Matz giving up three homers – the Mets find themselves 10.5 games behind the Nationals and 11 out of the wildcard, and their season slipping away.

Rapidly slipping away.

Realistically, the Mets needed to win three out of four, if not sweep this series, to have a chance to catch Washington. The best they can hope for now is a split, and they’ll face Stephen Strasburg tomorrow.

Mets’ hitters managed one run on four hits against Scherzer in eight innings and struck out ten times. If there was a turning point in the game it came in the second when the Mets had two on and nobody out, but Scherzer got Travis d’Arnaud to ground into a double play.

“You saw he got really locked in around the third inning,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You can’t him to get the lead on you.”

Scherzer is now 7-4 lifetime against the Mets, including a 17-strikeout, no-hitter two years ago.

TRANSACTIONS: The Mets placed Juan Lagares and Matt Harvey on the 10-day disabled list and recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas infielder Matt Reynolds and outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

UP NEXT: Seth Lugo (1-0, 1.29) goes against Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27) Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, Jacob deGrom (5-3, 4.33) starts against Joe Ross (3-2, 6.39).

Jun 15

Mets Routed; Injuries Mount

The Mets aren’t fooling anybody with their new philosophy about not projecting how much time injured players could miss.

In placing Matt Harvey (stress injury to the scapula bone in his shoulder) and Neil Walker (partially torn left hamstring) on the 10-day disabled list, the Mets said they would each miss several weeks.

Figure at least a month before beginning baseball activities, and then add rehab time, so I’m guessing five to six weeks. Both players received platelet-rich plasma injections.

The Mets said they won’t begin rehab until pain-free, which is not what they did with Yoenis Cespedes. As if things weren’t bad enough, outfielder Juan Lagares – one of the few Mets who is hitting – fractured his left thumb attempting a diving catch.

Walker’s injury again raised the question of bringing up Amed Rosario, but GM Sandy Alderson again reiterated the intent is when he is brought up it will be for the long term and not a short fix.

In addition, Alderson said Noah Syndergaard won’t throw for at least four more weeks.

THE GAME: Once again the Mets gave up a first-inning homer – this time to Bryce Harper – but were actually in the game until the Nationals broke it open with a five-run fifth off Robert Gsellman and coasted to an 8-3 rout.

As usual, they couldn’t touch Gio Gonzalez, who increased his record to 10-1 lifetime at Citi Field.

Jun 12

Cubs-Mets Is Opening Day II

Call Cubs-Mets Opening Day II.  The World Champion Cubs – something I never thought I’d write – are in tonight for a three-game series. After them, the Mets play the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants over a two-week stretch that will define their season.

The Mets are feeling good about themselves these days after winning three-of-four in Atlanta, and the returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – who each worked seven strong in their starts – and Yoenis Cespedes, who ripped a pinch-hit grand slam.

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

“This is fun, you’re playing the world champs, you are playing arguably the best team in our division,” Collins said. “We’re a little healthier and having Ces back is big, but we’ve got to go pitch. It’s going to be a fun week. I just hope we go out and play well.”

In their last five games, Mets’ starters have given up three runs over 32.2 innings. However, none of those games include Jacob deGrom, tonight’s starter. DeGrom has given up 15 runs in his last two starts. We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month of starts, and if he doesn’t get back to that form the Mets can forget about sniffing the playoffs this year.

The big series, of course, is the four-game set against the Nationals. If they sweep that, then the Mets trail by only six games. That’s entirely doable.

However, for that series to mean anything they have to take care of business against Chicago as they can’t afford to fall any further behind. The Mets are fortunate in that they are playing a listless Cubs’ team that is only .500 at 31-31.

“We went through that last year,” Collins said of the Cubs. “Going to the World Series really beats up your pitching and as a team, it takes a while to get that energy back.”

The Mets seemed energized against the Braves, and they can’t afford any letdowns the rest of the way. These next two weeks will determine what they do at the trade deadline and whether there will be a summer worth watching.

ON DECK: What’s Wrong With DeGrom?

 

Jun 01

Mets Wrap: Flores Needs To Play

I’m tired of Terry Collins saying Wilmer Flores has worked hard to stay ready, and whenever he gets an opportunity he produces for the Mets.

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

If so, then why isn’t he playing every day?

Several times I laid out a format where he could play at least four games a week – playing one game at each infield position – which Collins has no interest in trying. If not this, then at least start him over Jose Reyes, whose time with the Mets should be nearing an end after their 2-1 loss today to the Brewers.

Flores homered leading off the eighth today, after a blistering May in which he hit .379, third best in the Major Leagues. He started 14 games for the month and had nine multi-hit games.

“I’m seeing the pitches and getting good swings,” Flores said.

Conversely, Reyes has only eight multi-hit games all season. He’s currently on a 0-for-15 slide, and is hitting .193 with a .266 on-base percentage.

It’s clear Reyes isn’t giving the Mets anything, while Flores has provided some punch whenever he gets a chance.

With the Mets six games under .500 and fading, what do they have to lose?

WHEELER START WASTED: Zack Wheeler gave up 10 hits with two walks in 6.1 innings, throwing 102 pitches. However, three double-plays (4-5-6) gave him the opportunity to pitch into the seventh.

“He really did pitch good,” Collins said. “He got out of some jams. He’s back. He’s fine as we continue on.”

I love how Wheeler works out of trouble, but I’m not wild about his high pitch counts, especially since he’s on an innings count.

“All I can ask is for me being healthy,” Wheeler told reporters of his expectations.

His innings limit has been reported at 110, and he’s currently at 55.2.

EXTRA INNINGS: The loss dropped the Mets ten games behind the Nationals. … Fernando Salas did a solid job in relief of Jerry Blevins with five strikeouts in two innings. … Collins was ejected for arguing an interference call of when a ball boy got in the way of Flores’ attempt to catch a foul ball. Initially, the call was ruled an out, but was overturned (correctly so).

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Friday for the start of a three-game series. Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Tyler Pill will start for the Mets.

Harvey is coming off a 7-2 victory in Pittsburgh, May 28, in which he gave up one run in six innings with only two walks in a 102-pitch effort.

In 46 career starts at Citi Field, Harvey is 16-13 with a 2.73 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates.