Jun 20

Today’s Question: What’s Wrong With Zack Wheeler?

The ancient Greeks may have had their idea of tragedy, but they never had to stay up until 2 to watch the Mets. How does a team hit four home runs and score six runs against the sport’s best pitcher, but lose the game?

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

Actually, it’s very simple when your starting pitcher gives up seven runs and lasts only two innings. That’s Zack Wheeler, who lasted 1.2 innings and gave up eight runs in his previous start. That’s 15 runs in 3.2 innings.

Concerned is an understatement.

“When you’ve got that kind of stuff and you’re getting hit like [Wheeler] is getting hit, there is something wrong and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s too good. He’s got too good of stuff.’’

But “stuff’’ is too broad a term. Stuff is more than throwing hard. It includes movement, location and command of his secondary pitches.

“Honestly, I haven’t had off-speed pitches all year, and now it’s starting to catch up to me,’’ Wheeler said. “Those guys get scouting reports and now it’s starting to catch up to me. It’s easy [for hitters] when you can’t throw off-speed for strikes and you’re just throwing fastballs.’’

And, fastballs with little movement that hang out over the plate get crushed. But, it might not be just one issue.  Wheeler’s problems can be attributed to a myriad of circumstances:

HEALTH: Wheeler said he’s fine, but Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey each said they were all right and both are on the disabled list.

Mets’ pitchers are notorious for withholding physical ailments and trying to pitch through discomfort, so it wouldn’t surprise me if something crops up with Wheeler.

HITTING A WALL: Wheeler missed the last two seasons following Tommy John surgery and a complicated healing process. It’s quite possible he’s hit a wall.

The solution for that could be to shut him down for his next start and give him time to rest.

TIPPING PITCHES: Collins said they’ll look at video in an attempt to spot any mechanical issues. While they are at it, examine the tape carefully to spot any giveaways to what’s coming.

The Dodgers’ first five hitters swung the bat like they knew the pitch.

Something isn’t right with Wheeler and the Mets’ would be wise for him to skip a start as they search for answers.

 

Jun 12

Mets Need The Real DeGrom

Even when the Mets had a healthy Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey on staff, Jacob deGrom was still the best they had to offer. Nothing seemed to rattle him; he had no prima donna instincts; he had the best combination of velocity and command.

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DeGrom said he’s healthy which is what makes his sluggish start so puzzling.

The 4-3 record isn’t such a big deal because it can be written off as a lack of run support or a leaky bullpen. However, the 15 runs he’s allowed in his last two starts and 4.75 ERA are particularly head scratching.

We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month – maybe five starts – not eight innings in his last two. That’s not deGrom.

“It’s frustrating, but I’ve been able to go out and pitch that way, and you have to make an adjustment,” deGrom said after his last start against the Rangers. “You have what you have that day and I’ve done a poor job of that my last two starts, not being able to get outs without having my best stuff, which in the past I was able to do.”

DeGrom said he’s been able to pinpoint the problem but can’t get a handle on the solution. It’s akin to having an itch in the middle of your back and not being able to scratch.

In detailing his problems against the Rangers in his last start, deGrom said: “If you look at my misses, they were either to a righty down and away or up-and-in,” deGrom told reporters last week in Texas. “I’m either yanking the ball or it’s sailing on me, so that tells me it’s rotational.

“This game is not easy. These are big league hitters and when you make mistakes over the middle of the plate, that kind of thing happens, which obviously I have done over my last two starts.”

DeGrom said he’s flying open too soon with his front shoulder while striding to the plate. This is about timing, about muscle memory, and about the placement of his lead arm and shoulder as he begins his stride toward the plate.

Is this related to his elbow surgery? DeGrom says no; he says he’s not ailing.

DeGrom has always been honest and not condescending, unlike Harvey and Syndergaard have been in the past.

 

Jun 12

Today’s Question: Which DeGrom Will We Get?

Jacob deGrom is the Mets’ unquestioned ace despite his sluggish start and even before Noah Syndergaard was injured. Where Syndergaard was determined to overpower hitters, deGrom could throw heat, yet set up the batter.

At least he could do it with greater consistency than Syndergaard.

DeGROM: Who will we get? (AP)

DeGROM: Who will we get? (AP)

In their last five starts – which does not include deGrom – Mets’ starters have given up three runs in 32.2 innings. In comparison, deGrom is coming off the worst start of the season, giving up eight runs in four innings. That wasn’t an aberration as he’s given up 15 runs in his last two starts.

“We have to fix Jake,” said manager Terry Collins. “We have to get him going.”

So, the question: What deGrom will we get? Will we get the guy who is 17-12 with a 2.17 ERA in 43 career starts at Citi Field or the pitcher who is 4-3 with a 4.75 ERA this season and 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in four regular-season starts lifetime against the Cubs.

DeGrom has been susceptible to the long ball and already five times this year has given up multiple home runs. DeGrom is also walking more hitters than ever before, 30 in 70.2 innings. He’s had games of six walks and two where he issued five.

DeGrom said his problems have been mechanical, claiming his shoulder is flying open too soon and he’s throwing across his body.

 

Jun 07

Talk Of Six Man Rotation Bogus

With the Mets about to enter a string of 18 games in 17 days, manager Terry Collins said he’s exploiting going to a six-man rotation. The only problem is, by definition, they wouldn’t be going into. six-man rotation if they will go through the cycle two or three times.

Collins said adding Seth Lugo and Steven Matz coming off the disabled list, to be added to Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, would take the Mets through this stretch. That should take the Mets through the month.

However, for it to be a true six-man rotation, then it should be full time, shouldn’t it?

I have no problem training these guys during spring training and then open the season in a six-man rotation. Personally, considering four starters were coming off arm surgery this spring, it would have been a good idea to start the season in a six-man.

Of course, DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Harvey would have balked, but that would have been expected.

What Collins suggested isn’t a true six-man rotation but simply plugging in an extra starter because of a double-header, which the Mets have this weekend in Atlanta. This isn’t the first time Collins has done this, but I’d actually like to see a six-man rotation.

But this isn’t a six-man rotation if it isn’t full time.

 

 

 

Jun 06

What Is Special About Mets?

Somebody asked me the other day if I thought the Mets were done for the year. As a follower of pennant races, I don’t like giving up on a season this early. I mean, it is only June. We’ve seen teams come from farther behind and later in the season to reach the World Series, so it could happen.

CESPEDES: He won't be enough. (AP)

CESPEDES: He won’t be enough. (AP)

However, before we can give up on the 2017 Mets, we must ask ourselves is there anything special about this team that makes one wonder if it has the capability becoming a historical icon.

Even when Yoenis Cespedes returns, he’s not enough to turn around the Mets, not with their multitude of pitching problems. Pitching was supposed to carry the Mets, but none of their vaunted young power arms have more than five victories. How can that be?

Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are due off the disabled list this weekend, with the side benefit of transferring Robert Gsellman to the bullpen. There is nothing guaranteed about either development. There’s also the unknown about Matt Harvey recovery from thoracic surgery and now Jacob deGrom is having issues.

And, no, we can’t expect Noah Syndergaard and/or Jeurys Familia to return this year.

Among the hitters, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud and Jose Reyes are all having off years with no signs of turning things around.

There are too many Mets battling injuries and struggling through off years to believe they can all come together to salvage this summer.