Apr 30

April 30, Mets-Nationals Lineups

Here are the starting lineups for the Mets and Nationals for tonight’s game at Citi Field:

Mets

Curtis Granderson, RF

Juan Lagares, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Eric Campbell, 3B

Wilmer Flores, SS

Kevin Plawecki, C

Jacob deGrom, RHP

Nationals

Denard Span, CF

Yunel Escobar, 3B

Jayson Werth, LF

Bryce Harper, RF

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B

Wilson Ramos, C

Ian Desmond, SS

Danny Espinosa, 2B

Stephen Strasburg, RHP

 

Apr 29

Mets In Good Spot With Colon Today

It’s all about winning series at this point and for the Mets today they have another opportunity. You have to be happy Bartolo Colon is going for them today against the Marlins.

The Mets have the chance to go home to face the Nationals in a four-game series with at least a seven-game lead if they put away Miami today. It is why I called Miami a trap series. However, with how the Mets played the past two games it is clear they are focused. Dillon Gee was superb Monday and last night they came from behind to tie.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

That doesn’t happen with teams looking ahead. However, I remain respectful and wary of the Nationals, who were down 9-1 Tuesday, but rallied to beat the Braves. Dying teams don’t do that, so obviously they are focused, also.

Should Colon win he will become the first Mets’ starter to go 5-0 since Pedro Martinez in 2006, not coincidentally, the last time they reached the playoffs. The franchise record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

Colon is one of the Mets’ top story lines in April and his start in light of Zack Wheeler’s injury has more than stabilized the rotation. The Mets need another strong start from him on the eve of the Washington series.

Last night’s starter, Rafael Montero, was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, which was to be expected considering he threw 85 pitches working into the sixth and wouldn’t be available soon.

Replacing him on the roster will be left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich. Subsequently, the Mets will go back to a short bench until David Wright returns from the disabled, which could be as soon as this weekend. Leathersich is a strikeout pitcher, averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

It will be interesting to see what the Mets do when Wright returns and when they want to bring back Montero.

The Mets like having Montero around, but they also like deeper bench. Unfortunately, they can’t have both.

 

Apr 14

Harvey Excited About Tonight; Knows He Must Be Better

For all his self-confidence, and yes, arrogance as well, the best thing Matt Harvey brings to the Mets is the sense that when he pitches, they can win. They last had that feeling in 2006 when Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine took the ball.

Harvey gave that aura in 2013, and it is back.

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

Harvey is coming off a nine-strikeout performance in his first regular-season start since having Tommy John surgery. The best part was that despite being amped up, there was no pain or discomfort. He will again be pumped up for his return to Citi Field tonight against the Phillies.

“I know he’s excited,” manager Terry Collins said yesterday. “I know the team is excited. And I know the fans are excited.”

Harvey said: “`I don’t want to make a story about it, but it’s obviously exciting to be home.”

But it is a story, and his presence is a big deal to the Mets, who are giving away Matt Harvey T-shirts Friday. Hell, the organization even held back his start until today so it can sell a few more tickets. The gate for tonight is over 30,000.

The organization sees dollar signs when Harvey pitches, but there’s more than that to Harvey, who looks at his starts as artwork. Despite the zeroes and strikeouts last week against the Nationals, Harvey colored too much outside the lines. He knows the need to improve his command.

Harvey reached his pitch count of 90, but in six innings. That must get better for a number of reasons: 1) it shows his command wasn’t always there, and eventually it will catch up to him, and 2) it means more work for the bullpen.

Harvey knows what is expected of him, and more importantly, what he expects of himself.

“I definitely can be a little bit more fine,” Harvey said. “For me, I think 90 pitches through six innings is not good enough. If I’m throwing 90 pitches, I’d like to at least get into the seventh.”

There’s definitely a buzz with these Mets, although it is early. You sense it when you’re in their clubhouse, but talk is cheap.

“We’ve talked a lot about how good we can be,” David Wright said. “But true confidence is in winning.”

And, Harvey gives them the belief winning is attainable.

 

Apr 11

Mets Week In Review: An Encouraging Start

If the Mets play out this season as they did their first week, I’ll take it. In a heartbeat I would take it.

mets-logoball-2They are 2-2 after four games, which is .500, the bullseye placed on their back. They played four tight, taut games, that if the breaks went a different way could have put them at 0-4.

The upside is they could also just as easily be at 4-0, which is the beauty of it all.

A clutch hit here or there by the Nationals against Bartolo Colon or Matt Harvey puts a different spin on the week. Just as easily, however, a tighter defense last night and a better pitch from Jacob deGrom spins the week another way.

What we can take out of the first week is the Mets figure to be a team that should tay in every game, and I’ll take that any time because it should mean being there in the end, which is another way of saying they will play meaningful baseball in September.

And, you must do that before you can play meaningful games in October, and isn’t that what we all want – regardless of who makes out the lineup card?

Here’s what I took from the first week:

* Bartolo Colon has something left in his tank. He overcame a rough first inning to beat Washington to show us all there’s nothing wrong with a little age.

* Something the Mets haven’t consistently done in recent seasons was to capitalize on opportunities, which is what they did in both their victories over the Nationals. So, when in doubt, hitting the ball to Ian Desmond is a good strategy.

* Matt Harvey is pitching with a chip on his shoulder aimed at those who tend to judge him on more than what he does on the mound. If that’s his motivation, so be it. Just keep pitching this way and all will be well. Do that and let the Mets worry about keeping him from the Yankees in the future.

* The bullpen is better than advertised. Rafael Montero took the loss Friday night in Atlanta, but the loss lies on Wilmer Flores’ errant throws, a bad decision by David Wright and not hitting in the clutch. Having fundamental breakdowns is how the Mets will likely lose most of their games this season. It will be maddening, but, then again, that’s the Mets.

* A week in and we haven’t seen a lot of power, and that’s probably the way it will go all season. This team needs Lucas Duda’s home run bat.

* Injuries helped shape the Opening Day roster and as always will play a significant role. The Mets lost Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler before the season started, then lost Jenrry Mejia on Opening Day.

* An underlying theme this week has been the lineup. Whether it is all Terry Collins and not from above – which I doubt – it hasn’t produced an offensive explosion, and it has left Juan Lagares, the projected leadoff hitter, in a funk. He’s not the only one, as Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Flores are also running in mud. Wright, Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are having strong starts, but then again, it has been only four games.

* The closeness of the games is a good sign, but it should also be a nagging reminder of the red flag of their thin bench. Eventually, they’ll have a game when they’ll be caught short.

No, it hasn’t been a great start – although the starting pitching has been a positive – but we’ve seen far worse from the Mets. It has been an encouraging start, and if they are standing at .500 six months from now I’ll have a hunger for much more from them.

And, isn’t that what we want?

Apr 07

Sleeping On The Mets: A Lot Of Good, Some Bad In DC

After sleeping on it, there was a lot to like about the Mets’ win yesterday in Washington. Of course, it’s only one game so don’t read too much into anything. After all, does anybody really expect Lucas Duda to drive in 324 runs? Personally, I’d take a third of that.

Even so, here’s what I took from the Mets beating the Nationals, 3-1:

MEJIA: Could be a big loss. (AP)

MEJIA: Could be a big loss. (AP)

THE GOOD

* They won a close game, on the road, against a division opponent that dominated them last season. Yesterday was the type of game the Mets would often lose to the Nationals.

* Bartolo Colon gave up one run in six innings to quell the chatter he shouldn’t have started. I understand giving the young kids a chance, but Colon can still bring it and his age shouldn’t be used against him. The game could have gotten away from the Mets in the first when the Nationals put two on with no outs, but Colon slammed the door. He also pitched out of trouble in the sixth.

* I flat out loved what the bullpen did with three scoreless innings. They overcame losing Jenrry Mejia to get out of the ninth. It won’t be like this every night, but it was fun to watch. Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres didn’t have great springs, but were sharp. I also liked Jerry Blevins putting down Bryce Harper.

* All too often in recent seasons the Mets failed to capitalize on opportunities, but yesterday took advantage of two Ian Desmond errors to score their three runs. That’s what winning teams do.

* Duda, who missed most of spring training with a strained intercostal muscle, drove in two runs. Duda is benefitting from Kevin Long. His plate patience is good and his stroke on the two-run single was short and compact.

* Travis d’Arnaud‘s triple. There’s a lot of pressure on him to show something at the plate.

* Daniel Murphy committed a throwing error, but moved around all right and didn’t seem bothered by his pulled right hamstring.

THE BAD

* Mejia couldn’t come out for the ninth because of soreness in his throwing elbow and was placed on the disabled list today. He’s already had one Tommy John surgery. Since Bobby Parnell isn’t ready to come off the disabled list, the immediate fallout should have Familia assuming the closer role.

LINGERING ISSUES

* Yes, they won, but I still don’t care for the line-up. Juan Lagares spent most of spring training at the top of the order and it must be confusing for him to be dropped down. I don’t like Collins’ response of protecting him from the top of Washington’s rotation as it gives a message of negativity. But, they won and Curtis Granderson drew two walks leading off so I don’t expect them to change tomorrow. I also don’t like David Wright batting second, something he hadn’t done since 2010.

ON DECK: Mejia goes on disabled list.