Apr 06

Today In Mets’ History: Colon Gets OD Nod Against Nats

On this day in 2015, when the speculation was whether Jacob deGrom or Matt Harvey would get the Opening Day start in Washington, manager Terry Collins went with 41-year-old Bartolo Colon, which was at the time, and what proved to be the right choice.

COLON: Has proved to be invaluable. (Getty)

COLON: Has proved to be invaluable. (Getty)

Colon became the oldest Met pitcher to start an Opening Day and he responded by giving up one run on three hits in the 3-1 victory over the Nationals, beating Max Scherzer in the process.

The Mets signed Colon to a two-year, $20-million contract during the winter of 2013 as a stopgap after Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery. Colon won 15 games and worked 202.1 innings in 2014. Last year he won 14 more with 194.2 innings, however, in the wake of Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz being promoted he was sent to the bullpen.

Colon, 218-154 lifetime, pitched well during the playoffs in relief and was rewarded with a $7.25 million extension. Colon will work as the fifth starter until Zack Wheeler is brought up sometime in July.

ON DECK: Don’t Write Off Wright

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Apr 05

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stifles Royals

GAME #2:  Mets 2, at Kansas City 0.  Record: 1-1.

SUMMARY: Noah Syndergaard dominated with nine strikeouts in six innings and was backed by Neil Walker‘s two-run homer in the fourth. … The bullpen was flawless as it retired nine straight Royals to end the game. Jeurys Familia, who blew three save opportunities in the World Series, registered the save.

KEY MOMENT: Alcides Escobar tripled to lead off the game, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three hitters. Syndergaard also stranded runners in scoring position to end the fifth and sixth innings.

THOR DROPS HAMMER: Syndergaard was on his game as he struck out nine and gave up three hits with one walk in six scoreless innings. What he did in the first inning illustrated why he has Cy Young potential.

WALKER STRIKES EARLY: Walker had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth. Walker also drove in a run Sunday night.

WRIGHT IS RIGHT: Reports of his demise could be premature. David Wright walked twice, singled to right and stole two bases. He was also flawless in the field.

THUMBS UP: The bullpen was solid again. In his Mets’ debut, Jim Henderson struck out two in the seventh. … Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto, who reached base four times Sunday night, was hitless in four at-bats. … Three strikeouts by Curtis Granderson. … The Mets stranded three runners in the seventh and two in the eighth.

QUOTEBOOK: “He took a deep breath and realized he had to take it pitch-by-pitch.” – Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Syndergaard’s mindset after Escobar’s leadoff triple in the first.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: strikeouts by Mets’ pitchers.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets are off Wednesday and will face the Phillies in their home opener Friday.

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Apr 03

Repeating Will Be Harder

Wilmer Flores wasn’t halfway back to the Mets’ dugout after striking out to end the bottom of the 12th inning and last year’s World Series when we already asking the question: Can the Mets return to the Series?

Getting to the World Series is one thing, but getting back there is different, and much harder. Much harder for the simple reason everybody is gunning for you.

SYNDERGAARD: Game two starter. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Game two starter. (Getty)

“The first thing I talked about in spring training is the difference between being the hunter and the hunted,” David Wright told reporters. “We have a bullseye on us now.”

That they do. The Washington Nationals want to wrestle the NL East back from them and the Chicago Cubs – everybody’s sexy pick to get to the World Series – want to avenge being swept in the NLCS.

Last year at this time, the Mets entered the season without having a winning record since 2008. The hope was their young pitching keyed by Matt Harvey‘s return following Tommy John surgery, and Jacob deGrom coming off a Cy Young season, could carry them. And, don’t forget, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz hadn’t even made their major league debuts.

The Mets entered 2015 with questions at catcher, shortstop, Wright’s health at third, left field and in the bullpen.

The Mets got off to a blistering start, but lost Wright in April with a strained hamstring that turned into spinal stenosis and almost four months on the disabled list. The pitching kept the Mets afloat when the hitting collapsed.

The Mets kicked away their early lead, then turned their season around when Michael Conforto was brought up and the team traded for Yoenis Cespedes with a couple of days after a trade for Carlos Gomez fell through which created the enduring image of the season, that being Flores crying at shortstop after hearing he had been traded to Milwaukee.

The season began with .500 as the goal, but the Mets pulled away from Washington, outlasted the Dodgers in five games – winning the deciding game on the road – and sweeping the Cubs to reach their first World Series since 2000 and the fifth in franchise history.

However, Jeurys Familia blew three save opportunities in the World Series and the bats fell quiet and the Royals won in five games.

“Falling short can be a motivator,” deGrom said.

Daniel Murphy left, but the Mets appear to have upgraded their up-the-middle defense with the acquisitions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cespedes was brought back and they’ll have Conforto for a full year. They’ll also expect to have Syndergaard and Matz for a full season.

The health of Wright and Travis d’Arnaud are significant issues as is the make-up of the bullpen.

But, we’re not talking about .500 as a primary goal, but winning a World Series.

“Mets fans are hungry,” Wright said. “We’re hungry.”

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Mar 29

Pitching Staff Takes Shape

With Matt Harvey now cleared to start Opening Day, manager Terry Collins‘ rotation for the first week appears intact, and here’s a surprise, it’s what we thought it might be all along. Harvey, followed by Noah Syndergaard for the second game in Kansas City, and Jacob deGrom to start the home opener a week from Friday.

With the rotation set, the rest of the pitching staff is taking form.

With three days off in the first week, Bartolo Colon is available to work in relief for both games and Steven Matz possible out of the pen for the second game. These five will comprise the rotation until Zack Wheeler gets off the disabled list at mid-season. Colon should then move into the bullpen full time.

The Mets are likely to carry six relievers, with Jeurys Familia locked in as the closer and Addison Reed in the set-up role. Last year, the Mets lacked lefty relievers, but they have Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins is back. They could also get Josh Edgin back by the end of May.

Hansel Robles will miss the first two games of the season while on suspension before taking on a middle relief role.

Both lefty Sean Gilmartin – a Rule 5 pick last year -and Logan Verrett made strong cases for the final spot on the staff as a long-reliever and spot starter. Gilmartin gave up a run in three innings Tuesday and Verrett pitched 3.2 scoreless innings.

The edge could go to Gilmartin who pitched effectively in that role last season. This would allow Verrett to stay in his routine as a starter at Triple-A, which would enable him to step in should an injury drop one of the starters. It should also be noted that neither Matz nor Colon have been effective this spring.

And, we should also remember Harvey’s recent medical issue stands out like a neon sign that anything can happen.

 

Mar 21

Mets Matters: How Rotation Should Be Handled In First Week

It shouldn’t be all that hard for the Mets to figure out what to do with their starting rotation in the first week of the season. Should it?

This much we already know: 1) Matt Harvey will get the opener, Sunday night, April 3, in Kansas City, 2) Jacob deGrom‘s wife is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s first child, April 5, which could be deGrom’s game, and 3) the Mets have, unbelievably, three days off in the first week.

Let’s first start with deGrom, who struck out five in four scoreless innings Monday against Miami. It’s very possible deGrom might not be in Kansas City and with his wife for the second game of the season. And, if his arm is there, his mind likely won’t be.

mets-matters logoSo, why not just tell deGrom right now to be with his wife and give the Game 2 start to Noah Syndergaard? It seems to me that would settle things down.

Manager Terry Collins said Monday Syndergaard would pitch in the season’s second game, but it could be in relief of deGrom. “Piggy-backing is the term, but it they are going to do it, make it with Steven Matz or Bartolo Colon. And, whomever is not used then pitch him in relief of deGrom for Opening Day at Citi Field, Friday.

The way things are looking now, it appears the starters won’t get much more than six innings in their first game.

DEGROM NOT BRINGING HEAT:  DeGrom has pitched statistically well this spring (0.90 ERA) but his fastball isn’t where he wants it, and that’s usually the first pitch he’ll command in spring training. DeGrom was clocked around 95 mph., last year, but was 91-93 Monday.

“I feel like it will come,” deGrom told reporters. “I’m getting everything back in line mechanics-wise, everything will be there. It’s spring training. I’m not worried about it all.”

DeGrom’s fall off in velocity raises the question that in the Mets’ effort in protecting their pitchers and cutting them back early this spring, that perhaps they didn’t give them enough work to build up their strength and stamina.

AROUND THE HORN:  David Wright was hitless in three at-bats and played five innings at third base. “This is just, for me, a normal spring-training build-up now,” Wright told reporters. “There’s nothing really out of the ordinary. I know it took a little while to get going, but we’re going now. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just like a normal spring.” … Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who hasn’t played since March 10 with a strained left knee, should be available as a DH this week. … Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud will make the cross-state trip to Tampa for Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Matz will start for the Mets.