Aug 01

Today’s Question: Will Matz Snap Out Of It?

While all eyes will be on Amed Rosario tonight – and rightfully so – don’t forget to sneak a peak at Steven Matz. The Mets say they are a little concerned with Matz, who has a staggering 14.18 ERA over his last four starts and hasn’t worked longer than five innings in any of them. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span. Can he snap out of it tonight against the powerful Rockies in their launching pad of a stadium in Coors Field.

There are a half-dozen other teams Matz would rather face, and in just as many ballparks.

MATZ:  Something isn't right. (AP)

MATZ: Something isn’t right. (AP)

Matz pitched most of last season with a bone spur in his left elbow, and after four months went on the DL for the rest of the year with shoulder tightness, presumably from altering his mechanics as compensation. He spent the first two months of this year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

It’s highly plausible the Mets pushed him last season or this year and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball. Matz is throwing hard, but of the three velocity isn’t as important and location and movement. Instead of sinking or tailing away, Matz’s pitches stay over the middle of the plate, making it easier for them to be hit – or crushed.

“You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut,” Collins said. “We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz said if feels good, but didn’t we hear the same refrain from Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?

Should Matz get shelled tonight, it would be easy to blame Coors Field and the Rockies. It would also be foolish.

Jul 27

What’s Wrong With Matz?

When will Steven Matz’s current troubles develop into a reason for physical concern from the Mets? Over his last four starts, Matz has a staggering 14.18 ERA, but worse, hasn’t worked longer than five innings. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span.

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

Speaking of numbers, he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. This after pitching the first four months of last year with a bone spur in his elbow, and spending the last two months of the season on the disabled list with a shoulder tightness.

Perhaps the Mets pushed him last season or this year, that’s highly plausible and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball.

It is fast, but straight. A pitcher needs movement, location and velocity to be successful, with the last being the least important.

“The ball is down the middle,’’ Collins said. “You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut. We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz seemed to have a decent curveball, and previously said throwing the slider stings his elbow.

Matz said, “I feel good and healthy out there, so there is really no excuses for my pitching.’’ You can plug that same quote next to Matt Harvey’s name, or Noah Syndergaards, or Zack Wheeler’s.

Of course, both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson have also said similar things.

I suggested something could be wrong after Matz’s last start. Now, I am convinced. The point is four straight stinkers from a pitcher usually signifies something isn’t right with the arm. The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

ON DECK:  The latest Mets’ trade rumors.

Jul 25

Trading For De Grom Wouldn’t Really Benefit A Contender

Just like you, I would be curious to learn what the Mets could get for Jacob deGrom. He’s won eight straight after beating the Padres last night, posting a 1.61 ERA in that stretch.

Also important considering the Mets’ bullpen issues is he routinely works into the seventh inning or deeper [doing so in seven of his last eight starts].

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

With a 12-3 record his value to the Mets is clear, especially with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler on the disabled list.

The Houston Astros are salivating over deGrom, but other teams would love to add him for the stretch drive. Also making him attractive is his one-year, $4.05-million contract. He’s arbitration eligible and will be a free agent in 2021.

A smart team would trade for him and sign him to a long-term deal. Of all the pitchers in the Mets’ vaunted rotation, he’s the one worthy of getting a long-term contract.

With Clayton Kershaw sidelined for up to six weeks, if deGrom continues this roll he could merit Cy Young consideration. His performance in the 2015 postseason against the Dodgers says he can rise on the big stage.

Who wouldn’t want deGrom?

But, what would be the price? I’m thinking up to four major-league ready players, including at least one starting pitcher. That seems reasonable from the Mets’ perspective.

DeGrom should command a big package, and with the Mets saying they will compete for the playoffs next year, they want major-league ready talent in return. The problem from the other team’s perspective is they are already a contender and losing four key pieces could derail their plans.

Would Houston, or any team, benefit from adding deGrom at the expense of gutting a contender? If the Mets were really interested in trading him this is something better fitted for the off-season. In doing so, if Syndergaard, Harvey and Wheeler return this year, the Mets would have a better idea on next year’s staff.

Frankly, I would sign deGrom long-term and build around him. I know GM Sandy Alderson won’t say it, but he should say: “The price is four starters. Wow me. Otherwise, deGrom is off limits.’’

DeGrom is a keeper. He’s the only one of five I wouldn’t trade.

“[DeGrom] loves to be out there and loves to compete, and with his stuff and his command, he’s going to win a lot of games,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Hopefully, it will be with the Mets.

Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Wheeler Unravels In Loss; Gets No Help From Pen

Sometimes too much is made of baseball’s specialized statistics, but one of them speaks volumes of the Mets’ Zack Wheeler. It all fell apart for Wheeler in the Cardinals’ six-run sixth inning, which raised his ERA for that particular inning this year to a lofty 13.50.

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

Outside of injuries that sidelined him for the past two years, what has primarily prevented Wheeler from reaching stardom has been high pitch counts, often culminating into hitting a wall in the sixth inning.

Such was the case again tonight, as Wheeler cruised through four innings, but things began to unravel in the fifth, and he completely lost it in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Paul DeJong and a RBI double by pitcher Adam Wainwright.

As puzzling as Wheeler has been was manager Terry Collins’ decision to send him out for the sixth inning, considering he walked the bases loaded in the fifth.

“He certainly didn’t look tired or like he was laboring,’’ Collins said.

Wheeler said he lost the feel for his curveball and it wasn’t spinning out of his hand the way it should.

Asdrubal Cabrera robbed Jedd Gyorko of a two-run single to get out of the inning. Instead of being grateful, Collins pushed the envelope with Wheeler in the sixth.

Collins not only made a mistake in trusting Wheeler, but compounded it by keeping him in after DeJong’s homer, and doubled down on that mistake by bringing in Hansel Robles, who promptly gave up a three-run to Tommy Phan.

“It was my fault,’’ said Wheeler, who was stand-up and refused to throw his bullpen under the bus. “I should have made my pitches and gotten out of it.’’

Wheeler gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in 5.1 innings and has gone eight straight starts without a victory.

So, after routing Colorado in the first two games coming out of the All-Star break, Mets’ pitchers Steven Matz and Wheeler were routed themselves.

“You can’t go on a run if you don’t get consistent pitching,’’ said Collins, stating the obvious.

Meanwhile, prior to the game, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey played catch on flat ground. Both were pleased, but it was only catch.

Of course, what Collins couldn’t say is he stuck with Wheeler and went to Robles because GM Sandy Alderson gave him no other alternative.

Jul 14

DeGrom Overpowering In Winning Sixth Straight

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets are willing to trade viable players, but if they deal their two most valuable assets it could prevent them from fielding a competitive team for next year.

The Mets believe they can contend in 2018 if the pitching Alderson termed as “lousy’’ rebounds. That would entail the healthy returns of Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, both of whom are close to throwing.

“This is not a tear down situation,’’ Alderson said prior to tonight’s 14-2 rout of the Rockies. “This is what I believe is a pause button. We’re going to have a lot of players that are free agents at the end of the year. A lot of payroll will become available. We’re not looking to rebuild, we’re looking to make sure we have a nucleus of a competitive team going into next year.’’

De GROM: Overpowering tonight. (AP)

De GROM: Overpowering tonight. (AP)

But, just how competitive will they be if they deal Jay Bruce and/or Addison Reed? If they do, won’t they be searching for power – especially from the left side – if they trade Bruce? And, if they don’t, and aren’t able to re-sign him, how will they replace his power? Certainly not with Brandon Nimmo.

Pitching is always at a premium, and a reliever/closer the quality of Reed should fetch a decent return. However, trading Reed would officially raise the white flag on the season. The Mets should get Jeurys Familia back, but to what degree? Should they deal Reed and Familia not return to form, that puts the Mets in the market for a closer.

Alderson said he’s willing to listen to overtures on any player, even Jacob deGrom, who has been linked to Houston.

“I think that’s a possibility, only because you never quite know what’s going to be presented,’’ Alderson said. “But I’d say that that sort of trade is exceedingly unlikely.’’

DeGROM SPECTACULAR: DeGrom was magnificent tonight, giving up two runs on four hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in eight innings in winning his sixth straight game.

It was deGrom’s fifth straight start of at least seven innings, and his ninth start overall of that length. It was also his seventh game with double-digits in strikeouts.

DeGrom had an overpowering fastball and command of his secondary pitches.

OTHER THOUGHTS FROM TONIGHT: Michael Conforto started in center over Curtis Granderson, which is how things will likely to be barring an injury. Conforto drove in four runs on a single and a three-run homer. Of course, whatever trade value Granderson has left will be diminished if he sits for three weeks. … Yoenis Cespedes had four hits, and looked great running on his double and an infield single. … The Mets rapped out 19 hits, their second most this season. … Jose Reyes had three hits to raise his average to .221. Reyes’ time will be cut once Amed Rosario is brought up, or when Neil Walker is activated from the disabled list (in roughly two weeks) and if Asdrubal Cabrera moves back to short. The trade values of Reyes and Cabrera is limited and neither is expected to be brought back next season.