Sep 25

Duda Powers Mets Closer To Title

As scintillating as Noah Syndergaard was, the most important thing for the Mets Friday night was Lucas Duda‘s continued breakout signs. Duda, on the disabled list from Aug. 22 to Sept. 7 with soreness in his lower back, is on a three-game tear, highlighted by a pair of three-run homers Friday.

DUDA: Getting power stroke back. (Getty)

DUDA: Getting power stroke back. (Getty)

The concern about Syndergaard was to get through the sixth, an inning in which he had an ERA over eight, but he was positively brilliant in giving up two runs with 11 strikeouts in 7.2 innings. However, Duda carried the Mets with his bat.

Syndergaard is damn good, but he will pitch in the playoffs. But, believe it or not, there had been talk about Duda not being on the playoff roster. Hard to believe, but true.

In his last three games, Duda is 5-for-9 with three doubles, two homers, seven RBI, three walks and no strikeouts. In fact, Duda hasn’t struck out since Sept. 20.

Prior to those last three games, Duda had driven in just two runs in his previous 14 games.

Duda’s offensive revival will be essential in the playoffs as he and Curtis Granderson represent the bulk of the Mets’ left-handed power.

With their 12-5 rout of the Reds, coupled with Philadelphia’s torching of the Nationals, the Mets’ magic number for winning the NL East for the first time since 2006 was reduced to one. Once the Mets’ clinch, manager Terry Collins will undoubtedly rest some of the regulars, but after the game Duda said there’s more work for him to do.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of this,” Duda said. “But, [after clinching] it’s important to use this time.”

As for Syndergaard, he not only pitched well and through the sixth inning, but also won on the road.

If the Dodgers get home field in the NLDS, Syndergaard could get Game 3 at Citi Field. However, if the NLDS opens in New York he could get Game 2.

Meanwhile, Collins is remaining mum on all things playoffs, as well as Matt Harvey‘s innings for Saturday. Reports have it anywhere from three to five innings.


Sep 11

Don’t Figure Cespedes Returning

Count me among the group wanting the Mets to bring back Yoenis Cespedes, although I’m not confident in their ability to do so. They have the money, but I don’t see them going $150-million over seven, which would be the starting point.

The Mets won’t bring back Daniel Murphy or Bartolo Colon – which could come back to bite them – and Michael Cuddyer will be gone after next season and Curtis Granderson will be out after two more years.

CESPEDES: Want him back. (AP)

CESPEDES: Want him back. (AP)

I see the Mets making an offer, but not going all out. As good as Cespedes has been, I see the Mets falling short. Somehow, I see this going the way of Jose Reyes.

Another thing I don’t see is Cespedes winning the NL Most Valuable Player Award. As somebody who has voted for these awards, the thought process of most voters is to look at the entire body of work, and for Cespedes, that will be only two months in the National League.

Cespedes’ season has been terrific, but the award is for what he did in that league – hence, NL MVP. Bryce Harper, despite his team falling, still had the best season of anybody in the National League. Even Cespedes’ yearlong composite numbers for both leagues aren’t as good as Harper’s in the National League.

The Mets could have two postseason awards, and it’s not something anybody could have envisioned. GM Sandy Alderson for Executive of the Year and Terry Collins for Manager of the Year.

At one time I briefly thought Noah Syndergaard had a chance for Rookie of the Year, but that faded, and Michael Conforto, in case you’re wondering, hasn’t been around enough.

Of course, isn’t the important thing the World Series trophy? That’s the prize and it is within sight.

Sep 02

Mets Stay With Niese; Maybe A Good Thing Afterall

On second thought, maybe sticking with Jon Niese could be a good move. After Niese was shelled Tuesday night by the Phillies, I suggested the Mets’ best strategy would be to skip Niese Monday in Washington in favor of Steven Matz and stay with Noah Syndergaard Saturday in Miami.

My reasoning is the Washington game is more important to the Mets’ immediate pennant pursuit than conserving Syndergaard’s innings.

However, manager Terry Collins‘ comments to reporters prior to Wednesday’s game gave me pause.

“This was set down a long time ago,” Collins said. “I’m all done juggling all the pieces. I just told Jon last night when I took him out, ‘OK, you’ve had a couple of bad outings. The next game is the biggest game you’ve ever pitched in your life. So get ready for it.’ ”

Collins stayed with Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and on Tuesday with Bobby Parnell in large part to show he wasn’t abandoning them. This seems the same decision for Niese.

While beating the Nationals Monday is important, having a confident Niese is also vital down the stretch and into the playoffs. They Mets will need Niese to be at his mental and emotional best when he pitches in September and hopefully October.

The Mets will throw Niese, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom against the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman and Steven Strasburg. Collins will start deGrom, Bartolo Colon and Matz in Miami.


Sep 01

Mets Should Skip Niese Before Syndergaard

It’s now three stinkers in a row for Jon Niese, and if Mets manager Terry Collins is considering skidding Noah Syndergaard this weekend, perhaps the smarter play would be to bypass the veteran left-hander instead.

NIESE: Next start should be skipped. (AP)

NIESE: Next start should be skipped. (AP)

Niese was rocked in his second straight start by the Phillies Tuesday night, giving up six runs on seven hits in five innings. Niese fell behind 6-0 before Yoenis Cespedes‘ two-run homer briefly made a game of it, but the night unraveled with an eight-run sixth against the Mets’ very suspect bullpen.

Collins is planning to skip Syndergaard in favor of Steven Matz this weekend in Miami in an effort to conserve his innings. However, Niese’s next start is scheduled for Monday in Washington against Max Scherzer.

Which game figures to have greater for the Mets, Saturday in Miami or Monday in Washington? While all games are important, playing the Nationals can be vital, especially if they have cut into the Mets’ lead. The Mets entered Tuesday night’s game with a 5.5-game lead on Washington with six games left between the two teams.

The math is self-explanatory.

Skipping Niese in a game in which he would face Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth is something worth considering. It might be enough to enable him to clear his head. As for Syndergaard, the Mets could conserve his innings in his next start.

However, for this weekend and Monday, it’s more important for the Mets to conserve their lead in the division than it is Syndergaard’s innings.

Aug 31

Bumping Colon From Playoff Roster Not Good Idea

One of the foregone conclusions of the Mets’ playoff push is that once they get there, they won’t have a role for Bartolo Colon.

Conventional wisdom has Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Jon Niese in the rotation. Although there has been some silliness reported about putting Syndergaard in the bullpen and Steven Matz in the rotation.

COLON: Don't skip him from playoffs. (AP)

COLON: Don’t skip him from playoffs. (AP)

Uh, that’s not a good idea.

Bumping Colon from the playoff roster isn’t a good idea either for a franchise that hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2006.

There have been times when Colon has been dreadful, but more often than not he’s been terrific, like he was Monday night, his start last week in Philadelphia and out of the bullpen Saturday.

Of Colon’s 27 starts, he’s given up more than four runs six times, walked only 21 batters and worked less than five innings only five times.

And, oh yes, Colon got his seventh hit Monday night along with throwing eight scoreless and tying his season-high with nine strikeouts. He’s now thrown 16 straight scoreless innings.

Where Colon also demonstrated his value is with that relief appearance over the weekend. It was for one inning, but should have planted the seed for long-man use.

In his two years with the Mets he has won 27 games. He has won 12 games this season, tied with deGrom for the team lead, one more than Harvey, and three more than Niese and Syndergaard.

Even so, the Mets seem determined to bump Colon in favor of Matz, who seemingly has a bright future but only two major league victories.

The number that works against Colon is that he’s 42. However, somewhere along the line he’ll do something or pass along a tidbit of information that could be invaluable.

The Mets shouldn’t throw that away.