Apr 25

Mets Morning Coffee

The vibe for the Mets will be considerably different tonight against Cincinnati than it was when they left after manager Terry Collins said they faced a must-win situation.

The Mets went 7-2 on this trip, but remember five of those victories came against Philadelphia and Atlanta, teams they are expected to beat, and teams they must prevail against if they are to win the NL East.

Today on the blog I’ll have:

Today In Mets History: Rookie Doc Gooden stuffs Montreal.

A brief on Noah Syndergaard.

Lineups, notes, and of course a wrap of tonight’s game. I’m also working on a piece on strikeouts and hope to have that online either today or tomorrow.

Have a great day.

ON DECK: Today In Mets History: The Doc Is In The House

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Apr 20

Mets Must Leave Conforto Hitting Third

It won’t be long before the Mets  face a dominating left-hander such as Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw or Gio Gonzalez. When they do, I hope Terry Collins resists the temptation to move Michael Conforto out of the No. 3 hole. I also hope he resists moving him if Conforto has a couple of 0-for-4 nights.

CONFORTO: Needs to stay hitting third. (AP)

CONFORTO: Needs to stay hitting third. (AP)

The Mets are sizzling since moving Conforto to the third spot and scoring close to six runs a game during that span. It’s not all Conforto, but he certainly deserves some credit. What the Mets have had during this span is something they haven’t for a long time, and definitely not last year, and that’s a consistent batting order.

“I think that is where he’s going to end up hitting one of these days full time,” Collins told reporters. “We thought he was swinging the bat good, so we thought it was time to put him there and see if he can springboard the offense.”

That he’s done. This is easily the Mets’ best lineup since 2006, when they had Jose Reyes leading off and David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado lumped in the middle. However, this lineup is potentially better because it is strong 1-through-9. The additions of Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker have made this lineup incredibly long.

Conforto in the three hole gives the Mets’ order a sense of stability. Curtis Granderson is a fixture leading off because the Mets don’t have a traditional No. 1 hitter the way Reyes once was. The Mets don’t have to count on Wright for power, so he’s fine batting second. Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda offer a right-left combination at Nos. 4 and 5, with both having 30-homer potential. Walker, Cabrera and Travis d’Arnaud are Nos. 6-7-8, with all having the potential of 15 homers.

Few lineups can match this potential.

Things might cool off at the bottom of the order. For example, I don’t expect Walker to continue this pace and hit 40 or more homers. But, what I do expect is Conforto to develop into a star. Another Carl Yastrzemski? Another Ted Williams? That’s dreaming. But, he can become a star and for that to happen he needs to stay in the lineup against left-handers.

The Mets are committed with Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, but Collins seems to have hedged his bets with Conforto by saying he’ll sit, or move lower in the order, against lefties. Please NO. The only way Conforto will become the player the Mets hope is for him to hit lefties, and for this to happen he must bat against them.

Conforto said he’s comfortable hitting third because he’s always hit there.

“I never had any nervousness about it,” Conforto told reporters. “It just kind of felt natural, where I have been in college and through the minor leagues, so I felt pretty good there.”

Collins attributed part of Conforto’s success hitting third to batting ahead of Cespedes, who offers protection. Pitchers don’t want to walk Conforto because they don’t want to face Cespedes with men on base. Consequently, he’s getting better pitches and isn’t being worked around.

And, when pitchers make a mistake Conforto doesn’t miss.

Let’s hope Collins doesn’t become the man at the grill who can’t resist poking at the embers. Things are good now. Don’t fool with it.

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Apr 18

Mets Wrap: Wright’s Power Now A Bonus

The Mets were once a team built around the power of third baseman David Wright. Injuries sapped his power in recent seasons, and with Michael Conforto seemingly set as the No. 3 hitter, Wright is entrenched hitting second, a position in the order that doesn’t demand a lot of power. And, with Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda batting fourth and fifth, not to mention Curtis Granderson at leadoff, the Mets have sources of power from other than Wright.

So, when he has games such as he did Monday, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say his power is now a bonus. However, how he went deep was what we’ve come to expect from Wright when he’s on his game. When Wright hit a pair of opposite-field homers in Monday night’s 5-2 victory at Philadelphia, it shouldn’t come as a surprise of his power to right field. When Wright is going well, he usually drives the ball to right or up the middle.

“It’s something that when I’m feeling decent up there, I can take a pitch out over the plate in that direction,” Wright said.

In doing so, Wright continued to make Citizen Bank Park his personal playground, hitting .293 with 22 homers and 69 RBI in the Phillies’ home stadium.

“Star players should never surprise you with what they can do,” manager Terry Collins told reporters after the game. “He’s dangerous here. In this ballpark, if he puts a good swing on the ball he can be dangerous.”

And, with the other boppers in the Mets’ lineup, their whole order is dangerous.

Mets Game Wrap

Game:  #12  Record: 6-6  Streak: W 2

SUMMARY: Noah Syndergaard struck out eight Phillies – giving him 29 over his first three starts – and backed by the two homers from Wright, and solo drives from Lucas Duda and Neil Walker, the Mets evened their record and have now won three of their last four games on the road.

KEY MOMENT: Back-to-back homers from Duda and Walker broke open the game in the eighth.

THUMBS UP: Asdrubal Cabrera doubled and started a double play in the field. He keeps doing the job. So far, he’s been a big plus. … A scintillating barehand pick-up and throw by Wright to end the third. … Cespedes legged out a triple with two out in the sixth, a sure sign his legs are feeling better. … Duda followed the double with an opposite-field double. … Four homers by Walker already.

THUMBS DOWN: A dozen more strikeouts from Mets’ hitters, including two more from Cespedes, who now has 18 in 12 games with only four walks. The Mets have 98 strikeouts in 12 games (8.16 per game average). … Jeurys Familia was hit hard, but survived the ninth.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Great news. Jacob deGrom took his son, Jaxson, home from the hospital. DeGrom will throw a bullpen Tuesday and could pitch in Atlanta this weekend. … Kevin Plawecki started behind the plate. Collins said d’Arnaud could be available Tuesday. …

QUOTEBOOK:  “He’s gotten so good, so fast, that it is remarkable,” – Collins on Syndergaard.

BY THE NUMBERS: 11: Mets’ homers in their last four games.

NEXT FOR METS: Logan Verrett starts Tuesday night against the Phillies’ Vince Velasquez.

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Apr 17

Mets Wrap: Matz Dominates Indians

Steven Matz came through with a performance both he and the Mets needed. After not making it out of the second inning in his season debut last week against the Marlins, Matz stifled the Indians with seven scoreless innings and nine strikeouts.

Matz showed us exactly what the fuss about him has been all about. He rebounded from what could have been a demoralizing start to up come with the Mets’ most important start of this young season.

MATZ: A stud today. (AP)

MATZ: A stud today. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said it was a game both Matz and the Mets needed.

“It was a great start,” Collins told reporters. “We needed a big start. It was something both of us needed. He showed us what he can do. I thought he pitched a great game.”

Matz’s  94-pitch effort was good for his psyche, but in the wake of Matt Harvey’s poor start and the uncertainty of Jacob deGrom’s immediate availability, not to mention how much the bullpen has been used lately, his response might represent the Mets’ most important start.

Matz was in command from start to finish and never seriously threatened. In just his eighth career regular-season start, Matz showed us why the Mets so highly regard the left-handers’ future.

What I liked best was when Collins could have pulled him after the sixth, he sent him back out for one more inning. He could have gone eight.

“I was attacking the hitters not pitching scared,” Matz said. “I was trusting my stuff and not trying to nit pick.”

In short, he was a stud today.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #11 Record: 5-6  Streak: W 1

SUMMARY:  By establishing his fastball early, Matz dominated for seven innings, and the Mets put away the game with three runs in both the first and second innings. The game was never in doubt.

KEY MOMENT: After the Mets staked him to a 3-0 lead in the first, Matz set the Indians in the bottom of the inning. The Mets, aided by Indians center fielder Rajai Davis’ two misplays in the sun, scored three more in the second.

THUMBS UP: The Mets went 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position and scored four of their six runs with two outs. … Mets pitchers struck out 15. … Addison Reed and Hansel Robles were strong in relief. … Kevin Plawecki had two hits. … Curtis Granderson’s selectivity continues to improve. … Asdrubal Cabrera bunted home a run in the second and makes all the plays at shortstop. … Lucas Duda’s two-run single. … Michael Conforto keeps raking with two more doubles. Collins said Conforto would stay in the No. 3 hole for a while, except against lefties.

THUMBS DOWN: Ten more strikeouts by Mets’ hitters, including two more from Yoenis Cespedes.

EXTRA INNINGS: Very positive news about Jacob deGrom’s baby. Collins said the couple hopes to take the baby home Monday. … David Wright had the day off as did Travis d’Arnaud. The latter, who has a bruised left forearm, is expected to sit again Monday in Philadelphia.

QUOTEBOOK: “He’ll wind up hitting there one of these days full time.” – Collins on Conforto hitting in the No. 3 hole.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7.27: Matz’s ERA. It was 37.80 at the start of the game.

NEXT FOR METS: Noah Syndergaard starts Monday night in Philadelphia.

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Apr 12

April 12, Mets’ Lineup Against Miami

The Mets’ Noah Syndergaard enjoys the big stage. He’s not as open about it as Matt Harvey, but there’s no denying Syndergaard isn’t shy about the spotlight. Tonight he goes against Miami ace Jose Fernandez in an attempt to snap the Mets’ three-game losing streak.

METS

Curtis Granderson – RF

David Wright – 3B

Yoenis Cespedes – CF

Lucas Duda – 1B

Neil Walker – 2B

Michael Conforto – LF

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Syndergaard – RHP

COMMENTS: It’s too early to be juggling the batting order. Manager Terry Collins should give it another week before big changes are made.

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