May 04

Mets Wrap: Power Turned Back On; Matz Superb

Manager Terry Collins has frequently said the Mets are a team built on power and don’t manufacture runs. He was wrong then and would be wrong now.

With today’s 8-0 victory over the Braves, the Mets have won 13 of their last 16 games, mostly with power. They have hit 38 homers in their last 18 games, which is a blistering rate. However, long-time followers of the Mets know they won’t always get the four homers the got today.

Their inability to manufacture against Matt Wisler, Tuesday, and Madison Bumgarner, Sunday, hurt them. Not scratching runs is indicative of their 5-4 record in one-run games.

METS GAME WRAP

 Mets 8, Braves 0

Game: #26  Record: 17-9  Streak: W 1

SUMMARY: Two homers by Lucas Duda, and one apiece from Asdrubal Cabrera and Rene Rivera, backed the strong pitching of Steven Matz, who gave up two hits in 7.2 scoreless innings.

KEY MOMENT: Rivera’s two-run homer in the second. Matz coasted from then on.

THUMBS UP: Matz is now 8-1 lifetime in 11 career starts. … Analyst Ron Darling, who said, “Aw, c’mon,’’ in protest when Collins came out to pull Matz with two outs in the eighth after 106 pitches. … Duda is streaking again with seven homers in his last 15 games. … Addison Reed struck out the side in the ninth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto has cooled. With today’s 0-for-3, he is 1-for-15 since Sunday. … Not letting Matz at least finish the eighth.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets have won six straight series, something they haven’t done since 2006. … David Wright had the day off. … Rivera should get the start tomorrow after his homer. Collins was critical of Kevin Plawecki’s hitting after Tuesday’s game. Collins backed off criticism of Plawecki, saying he’s aware he’s only had 34 at-bats. Collins said Plawecki will play Thursday.

QUOTEBOOK: “Those are great signs for Lucas Duda,” – Collins on if Duda going to the opposite can enable him to go on a hot streak. “I hope he stays hot because he can carry you.”

BY THE NUMBERS: 40: Mets homers in 26 games.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets begin a three-city, 11-game road trip tomorrow at San Diego (four games), followed by Los Angeles (four) and Colorado (three). Thursday, RHP Jacob deGrom (3-0, 1.02) vs. RHP Colin Rea (2-1, 4.61); Friday, RHP Noah Syndergaard (2-1, 2.51) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (2-3, 2.48); Saturday, RHP Bartolo Colon (2-1, 2.56) vs. RHP James Shields (1-4, 3.23); RHP Matt Harvey (2-4, 4.76) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (2-2, 4.85).

May 01

May 1, Mets’ Lineup Against Giants

Noah Syndergaard against Madison Bumgarner in what promises to be an exciting pitching match that could be one of the best of the season. It’s not quite Sandy Koufax vs. Juan Marichal or Tom Seaver vs. Bob Gibson.

Even so, if the rain stays away it could be a something special. The Mets already won the series, but it will take some doing to get the sweep and their ninth straight victory against Bumgarner.

Two of the Mets’ best hitters, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda will sit against the lefty, but it is good to see Terry Collins sticking with MIchael Conforto in the No. 3 slot. Off the two, Granderson needs the rest more than Conforto, who is crazy hot.

Here’s today’s batting order:

Juan Lagares, RF

David Wright, 3B

Conforto, LF

Yoenis Cespedes, CF

Neil Walker, 2b

Wilmer Flores, SS

Kevin Plawecki, C

Eric Campbell, 1B

Syndergaard, RP

 

Apr 29

Mets Wrap: Historic Third Inning Carries Matz

We can debate the merits of hitting home runs – which manager Terry Collins labels is his team – or if is better to string together hits and walks.

CESPEDES: Connects for slam. (AP)

CESPEDES: Connects for slam. (AP)

The Mets kept the line moving in the third, scoring eight runs before Yoenis Cespedes capped their 12-run third inning, the largest in franchise history, with a grand slam in a 13-1 rout of the San Francisco Giants.

While both attacks have their upside, what has also been essential to the Mets’ April success has been the consistency of their batting order. In previous seasons rarely did the Mets go back-to-back in consecutive games with the same order.

It wouldn’t be unusual for them to have six different lineups in a week. Not this year. So far, in 21 games the Mets started the following:

No. 1: Curtis Granderson, 20 games.

No. 2: David Wright, 17 games.

No. 3: Michael Conforto: 13 games.

No. 4: Lucas Duda: 11 games.

No. 5: Neil Walker: 13 games.

No. 6: Conforto and Walker: 7 games each.

No. 7: Asdrubal Cabrera: 13 games.

No. 8: Travis d’Arnaud: 8 games.

No. 9: Pitcher: 21 games.

“A lot of good things are happening right now,” Collins told reporters. “I like our lineup.”

Cespedes has been the No. 3 hitter eight times, but that changed after Conforto was moved to the third spot. Cespedes has also been the cleanup seven times. As the season progresses, Cespedes will get the lion’s share of starts hitting cleanup, with Duda batting more in the fifth spot and Walker hitting sixth.

“He’s a great player,” Collins said of Cespedes. “He takes the pressure off everybody.”

When an offense juggles its lineup on a regular basis there’s little chance to develop consistency. However, so far this April you can see where Collins has benefitted with a steady batting order.

Such things are conducive to hitting tears and winning streaks, such as the Mets are on now.

METS GAME WRAP

 Game: #21 Record: 14-7 Streak: W 7

 SUMMARY: Steven Matz pitched out of early trouble, which seemed like a big deal at the time, but it was dwarfed by the Mets’ 12-run third inning, the largest in the 55-year history of the franchise.

KEY MOMENT: The Giants had chances in the first and third to do damage against Matz, who pitched out of it and coasted for six scoreless innings.

 THUMBS UP: Cespedes drove in six runs in the third with a two-run single and grand slam. … Two more hits by Conforto. … Also two hits by Cespedes, Walker and Cabrera. … More solid relief pitching. … They were 9-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

THUMBS DOWN: Why was David Wright still in the game with the Mets having a 13-1 lead in the seventh? Why did he play all nine innings on a cold and damp night? He should have been taken out after the third. Collins said he didn’t consider pulling Wright, saying he wanted to get him at-bats against Giants’ lefty relievers Steven Okert and Javier Lopez in preparation to facing Madison Bumgarner Sunday. … Even so, Wilmer Flores needed to play somewhere. … Mets pitchers walked six. … As long as the Mets count pitches, it will be an issue: Matz has to do better than throwing 110 pitches in six innings.

EXTRA INNINGS: Cespedes has at least one extra-base hit in nine straight games. … Matz is 7-1 lifetime in his short career. … Friday’s game was the first of 17 straight without an off day. … The Mets have hit 31 homers in April. The club record is 33 in 2006. … Conforto has reached base in 16 straight games. … The bullpen has given up three runs in the last seven games.

QUOTEBOOK: “We were not missing the mistake pitches and were having fun out there. When we’re having fun, it’s easy.’’ – Conforto on the Mets’ historic third inning.

BY THE NUMBERS: 45: Duration of the Mets’ 12-run third inning in minutes. Fifteen Mets went to the plate.

NEXT FOR METS: The second game of this series is Saturday afternoon, with the Giants’ Matt Cain (0-2, 6.43) going against Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.54). On Sunday, Bumgarner (2-2, 3.64) starts against Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 1.69).

 

Apr 28

Optimistic About Harvey

I am the first to admit I have had reservations about Matt Harvey and his future with the Mets.

I still believe they would be smart to explore the trade market because if healthy, he’ll bolt for the Bucks in the Bronx when he becomes a free-agent after the 2019 season. That is based on the innings fiasco and agent Scott Boras’ reputation. The driving force is money.

HARVEY: Still hopeful for him. (AP)

HARVEY: Still hopeful for him. (AP)

There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s the way of the baseball world.

I believe the Mets gambled wrongly with Harvey and their pitchers in spring training by limiting their innings. Their heart might have been in the right place, but the mistake they made was pitchers need work to get sharp.

Harvey was hammered in his first three starts; Jacob deGrom hurt his lat muscle in his first start; and Steven Matz was also hit hard in his first start. The exception was Noah Syndergaard, And, Bartolo Colon is, well, there are no words to describe him.

Harvey’s pitch counts have been high, but he was better in his last two starts – including last night’s game against the Reds – and his ability to work out of trouble was a positive sign. Since Harvey’s early troubles was a sign of rust more than injury, I don’t have any reason to think he still can’t have a big year.

Apr 26

Mets Place D’Arnaud On DL

Injuries are always a wild card, and for Travis d’Arnaud the issue has always been keeping him on the field. They won’t have him for at least two weeks when the Mets placed him on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff.

The Reds ran wild on d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard Monday night with five stolen bases. Afterwards, he refused to blame his inability to throw on his shoulder. His inability to throw was one of the Mets’ prevailing issues entering the season.

Now they’ll get a chance to see what Kevin Plawecki can give them with uninterrupted playing time.

Replacing d’Arnaud on the roster will be Las Vegas catcher Rene Rivera.

Rivera, 32, will be available for tonight’s game. He started 87 games last year with Tampa Bay and threw out 23 of 63 base runners.