Oct 03

Scherzer’s Brilliance Overshadows Syndergaard And Harvey

Outstanding pitching was the story in the Mets’ doubleheader loss Saturday to the Nationals. Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey were brilliant, but paled in comparison to Max Scherzer, who struck out 17 in no-hitting the Mets, 2-0, in the second game.

In doing so, he became the fifth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in one season, and first since Nolan Ryan in 1973.

SCHERZER: Simply outstanding. (Getty)

SCHERZER: Simply outstanding. (Getty)

“I felt great tonight,” Scherzer said. “I had command of all of my pitches. These things are special. To do it twice in one season, my gosh, it doesn’t seem possible.”

Scherzer lost his perfect game bid in the sixth on Yunel Escobar‘s throwing error. He struck out nine of the last 10 Mets, with the game ending on a pop-up by Curtis Granderson. He also lost a perfect game chance when he hit a batter in the eighth inning of his June 20 no-hitter over Pittsburgh.

“He made every pitch he had to make,” said Mets manager Terry Collins, whose team has lost five straight and scored only nine runs in that time. So weak has been the Mets’ offense that it has scored one run in the last 35 innings.

In being swept, and with the Dodgers beating San Diego, the Mets kicked away home field, and Game 1 will begin Friday in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw. Sunday’s starter, Jacob deGrom, will pitch Game 1 for the Mets.

With several key injuries and a struggling offense, the Mets have their issues entering the playoffs. Syndergaard¬†is not among them. Overpowering isn’t an adequate enough description of what Syndergaard was to the Nationals. In the final start of his rookie season, Syndergaard gave up two hits in seven innings with 10 strikeouts in getting a no-decision in the Mets’ 3-1 loss in the first game.

Earlier this year, there was concern about Syndergaard’s ability to win on the road, but seeing how he stuffed Cincinnati last weekend, that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.

Another positive was Harvey, who gave up one run in six innings with 11 strikeouts in an impressive tune-up for the pivotal Game 3. Harvey finished the season with 189.1 innings, 9.1 more than the proposed hard cap.

The flip side is Steven Matz, the projected Game 4 starter, who took an injection for his sore back. Matz’s start this week in Philadelphia was scratched and it was hoped he would throw several innings this weekend.

Now the thinking is the Mets will send him to the Instructional League this week. The better thinking would be to hold him off the NLDS roster, knowing they could bring him back in the proceeding rounds. Why take the risk of a re-injury, especially with a five-game first round the Mets have depth in Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese? They would lose that advantage in a seven-game NLCS and World Series.

Actually, the best decision could be to shut him down for the year.

Matz isn’t the Mets’ only injury concern.

Utility infielder Juan Uribe has a slight cartilage tear in his chest and might not be ready for the first round. Uribe has been a spark on the field and calming influence in the clubhouse. His absence was felt in the second game when Kelly Johnson – who hasn’t played third for the Mets – committed an error in place of David Wright to set up the Nationals’ first run.

Yoenis Cespedes, who has two bruised fingers on his left hand after being hit by a pitch, returned and went 1-for-3 in the first game. Cespedes appeared in the ninth inning in the second game as a pinch hitter and was Scherzer’s 16th strikeout victim.

Infielder Wilmer Flores has been bothered by back spasms. He didn’t play in either game and has missed seven of the last nine games.

Collins is not happy with how the Mets are closing.

“We’ve got to get the edge back,” Collins said. “We got to get the focus back, the concentration back. Those are the things that when you clinch early, you can lose. And those are the things we’ve got to regain.”

How long their season lasts depends on it.

Sep 27

Niese Volunteers For Bullpen; Could Be Future With Team

Figuring he wouldn’t be in the Mets’ postseason rotation, left-hander Jon Niese volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen, which is manager Terry Collins‘ primary concern for the NLDS against the Dodgers. Collins said Niese approached him ten days ago with the suggestion.

Collins said NIese’s willingness to pitch in relief typifies the attitude of his team.

NIESE: Goes to bullpen. (Getty)

NIESE: Goes to bullpen. (Getty)

“The entire clubhouse was caught up in winning,” Collins said. “They weren’??t caught up in their own stuff. They worried about doing what they thought they needed to do to help the club.”

The bullpen is the Mets’ Achilles Heel heading into the playoffs, in particular, the lack of situational left-hander. Citing an injury history and inability to get loose after his starts, Collins said he didn’t like the idea of using Steven Matz in that role. Today marked the first time the Mets addressed the idea of Matz in relief.

“It’??s one of those things where I wanted to do anything to help the team,” Niese said. “As the season progressed there at the end, there was a need down there.”

It could end up being Niese’s future with the team if he’s not traded.

A Met since 2008, Niese’s time in New York has been one of unfulfilled potential and injuries. At 28, he’s 61-61 lifetime and has two more years left on his contract. However, projecting ahead to next year, the Mets’ rotation figures to be Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matz and Zack Wheeler expected to come off the disabled list in July.

The Mets tried to trade Niese last winter, and might try again this offseason if they can can obtain a bat. In the back of GM Sandy Alderson’s mind is if Niese pans out in the bullpen, perhaps he can secure a spot there.

The plan is to use Niese in relief this week, with Logan Verrett getting his start Thursday in Philadelphia. What is undecided is where Bartolo Colon will work in the playoffs. Speculation is Colon will go to the bullpen, especially considering what Collins said Matz working in relief.

As a starter, Niese is adept at working to righties and lefty hitters. He has thrown only one relief inning during his career.

 

Sep 17

Cespedes’ Comments About Staying A Smokescreen

What can we make of Yoenis Cespedes‘ statement about wanting to stay with the Mets? Not much, because what a player says in September rarely has any bearing about what happens in December.

CESPEDES: Comments about staying posturing. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Comments about staying posturing. (Getty)

If his comments carried any weight, he would tell his agent, “call Sandy Alderson because I want to sign right away.” Of course, that would never happen, especially with Cespedes having dumped agent Adam Katz in favor of rapper-turned-agent Jay Z of Roc Nation Sports.

Roc Nation Sports represents Robinson Cano, and the method is familiar. Roc Nation persuaded Cano to dump agent Scott Boras, and he did the same with Cespedes and his agent, Katz.

Well, what if Cespedes really wants to stay with the Mets?

Just like Cano wanted to sign with the Mets? Right. Jay Z met with the Wilpons about Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240-million deal with Seattle. There’s no way he was worth that and Cespedes isn’t worth the projected $175-million to stay in Flushing.

Based on the Cano case, Jay Z used the Mets to drive up the price with Seattle, which could also be the scenario with Cespedes.

I’ll believe Cespedes wants to stay with the Mets when he signs on the bottom line. Until then, everything is up in the air.

Everything.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey¬†- didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.