Jun 28

Matt Harvey Starts Important Series For Mets

The New York Mets return home from a 7-4 road trip to face the Washington Nationals in a three-game series, with Matt Harvey going against left-hander Ross Detwiler.

The Mets are 5.5 games behind the Nationals in the standings, and four behind in the loss column. Yes, it sounds odd, perhaps premature to think, but a sweep could change the complexion of the NL East standings and maybe the Mets’ season.

HARVEY: Animated, as usual.

HARVEY: Animated, as usual.

A strong close to the first half could get them inside ten games below .500, which could bring some fun to Citi Field after the All-Star break. Too early to say playing meaningful baseball in September, but better than we thought a month ago.

Harvey, at 7-1, is an integral part of what the Mets are trying to do, and from his personal objective, a win tonight could go toward his being named a starter in the July 16 All-Star Game.

Harvey leads the NL with 112 strikeouts and MLB with opponent’s batting average (.188) and WHIP (0.88). If not for a lack of run support that has him with eight no-decisions, he might already have double-digit victories and his position as All-Star starter would be secure.

With Harvey going Friday and Zack Wheeler on Sunday, it could be and early version of the “Futures Game,’’ this weekend.

Incidentally, Wheeler is working with pitching coach Dan Warthen on not tipping his pitches. Just wondering why the Mets in his debut or at Triple-A Las Vegas didn’t pick this up earlier.

METS MATTERS: Doc Gooden will be at Citi Field tonight for a book signing. … Ruben Tejada begins a rehab assignment this weekend. Terry Collins said Tejada isn’t assured his job when he returns, claiming he has to beat out Omar Quintanilla, who has done nothing to warrant losing the starting position.

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ batting order:

Eric Young, LF: Hitting .556 (5-for-9) with RISP since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Hitting .276 (16-for-58) with RISP.

David Wright, 3B: Hit .326 (14-for-43) on the trip.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has six homers in June, a career-high for him in any month.

Josh Satin, 1B: Hitting .273 while playing good defense. Is he a keeper?

John Buck, C: Is on a 2-for-24 slide.

Juan Lagares, CF: Looks as if center field job is his to lose. With his speed, I wouldn’t mind seeing him getting a chance at hitting second and dropping Murphy into a RBI position.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Takes a 0-for-13 slide into game.

Matt Harvey, RHP: Has reached the sixth inning or longer in 14 of 16 starts.

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Jun 17

Lucas Duda At First For Mets; Jordany Valdespin Goes To Bench

So much for the Jordany Valdespin experiment at second base until Ike Davis returns, but the premise of what I wrote earlier remains the same: the New York Mets don’t have an idea of what to do with the mercurial role player.

Terry Collins said he would give Valdespin a week at second base leading off. Valdespin responded by hitting .130 (3-for-23) in that span, and one week later is back to the bench. The outfield is out for now, with Collins saying he needed to see more from Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Juan Lagares, and Marlon Byrd, one of the few Mets who is hitting.

Saying, `you’re allowed to change,’ ’’ Collins returned Valdespin to the bench for Monday’s series opener in Atlanta. Along with that move, Daniel Murphy will go back to second and Lucas Duda will move in from left to play first.

This juggling improves the Mets’ defense, which is a positive. The Mets claim second base is Valdespin’s natural position, but he had problems, especially turning the double play. Murphy is an upgrade, as is Duda an upgrade over Murphy at first base.

Duda deferred to Davis, calling it “Ike’s position,’’ and adding, “I played there most of my amateur career. Hopefully I can just get the job done, and catch the ball and throw it.’’

Collins insisted the job was still Davis’ when he returns, but could not elaborate when that might be. Davis is still struggling at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Collins attempted to soothe Valdespin’s now-bruised ego, saying he still has value coming off the bench. It will be interesting to see how Valdespin responds when Collins asks him to pinch-hit.

There’s rain in the forecast tonight in Atlanta, but should the Mets start their 65th game of the season, it will be with their 53rd different lineup.

TONIGHT’S BATTING ORDER

Juan Lagares, CF: Is hitting .308 over his last ten games.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Thrilled to be back at second. Hitting .336 on the road (38-113) this season.

David Wright, 3B: Has hit in eight of last nine games, going 16-for-38 (.421).

Lucas Duda, 1B: Back at first base, where he has played well. Hitting .146 (7-48) with RISP.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has eight RBI in last 11 games.

John Buck, C: Since May 5, is hitting .190, going 22-for-116 in that span, including 34 strikeouts.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, LF: His game-winning three-run homer Sunday will buy him some more time.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Takes a 0-for-17 slide into the game.

Dillon Gee, RHP: In four career starts at Turner Field, he is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA.

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Jun 02

David Wright Acknowledges Futility Of Mets’ Offense; Everybody Looks Like Jason Bay

Matt Harvey is pitching this afternoon against the Miami Marlins, so for one day at least the Mets will resemble a major league team – at least on the mound.

The offense? Well, that’s another story. Actually, it’s a familiar one. It seems like most of the Mets’ hitters are looking like Jason Bay.

BAY: Almost everybody resembles Jason Bay these days.

BAY: Almost everybody resembles Jason Bay these days.

Just five hits and only three runners reached scoring position. Nine more strikeouts and five of their starters with batting averages less than .240. A sixth, Omar Quintanilla, has been here three days. The Mets’ offense has all the bite of a spring training travel squad.

Personally, I’m beyond talking about Ike Davis’ feeble numbers. It’s obvious the Mets don’t care enough about their attack to get him right in the minor leagues.

As he usually does, David Wright said it best, neatly and compactly, the way his swing used to be several weeks ago.

“This is what we have to work with, so we are going to have to figure it out,’’ Wright said after Saturday’s blowout loss. “There is no magic potion, there’s no offensive savior that is going to come and get us out of this thing. It’s up to us to work our way out of it.’’

Translation: The Mets aren’t getting any help, and whatever glimpse of optimism was gained in beating the Yankees four straight is no enough to prompt management from adding on. The illusion of the Mets adding at the trade deadline is merely that, and it probably doesn’t bode well for next winter, either.

Wright’s analysis included a discouraging self-scouting report. In previous slumps, Wright would get outside himself and attempt to do too much. That would be not being patient and abandoning the principle of using the whole field. In other words, he would revert into the same bad habits that have paralyzed Davis this season.

“It’s up to me,’’ Wright said, revealing another bad habit of trying to do it himself. “I got to go up there and start being better and maybe taking some walks. I am swinging at some pitches I normally wouldn’t swing at and getting myself out a little bit.

“I keep preaching that the offense is kind of run on getting on base and taking your walks and I am not doing that right now.’’

That’s the offense Dave Hudgens hoped to teach this spring, but that approach was criticized because he didn’t have the hitters capable of recognizing and turning on their pitch.

So, once again it wil be up to Harvey to limit the opposition to nothing so his hitters can squeeze out a run or two.

Jun 01

Mets Made Right Call In Not Starting Zack Wheeler

It might sound as if I don’t want to see Zack Wheeler, but that’s not even close. I agree with the premise of bringing him up when he’s ready, with that coinciding with his Super Two status.

Bringing him up to start today in Miami in place of Jon Niese for a spot start would have been a mistake. Wheeler should be brought up the same way Matt Harvey last year, and that was to stay in the rotation.

A one-day start would not have impacted Super Two, but would have if he stayed.

Instead, Collin McHugh gets the ball and might again if Niese can’t go again. McHugh will try to get the Mets back on track after Friday night’s loss to the Marlins. The knee-jerk reaction is the Mets had a let down after winning four straight over the Yankees.

Let’s dispel that right away.

Despite Shaun Marcum’s meltdown after six strong innings, the Mets lost because they didn’t hit. They beat the Yankees in spite of their anemic offense, and they won’t take another step toward relevance until they start scoring some runs.

“I don’t think there’s any question. That’s still an issue,’’ Collins said. “We’ve had some great games. We’ve pitched some good games. We’ve gotten some big hits, which allowed us to win some games lately.’’

In that regard, there are some things about today’s Mets’ line-up that make me wonder, beginning with Omar Quintanilla as the leadoff hitter, their eighth of the season.

I keep hearing how Jordany Valdespin makes things happen. If that’s the case, why have him eighth in front of the pitcher? As long as Ike Davis is still around, he should stay eighth.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Rick Ankiel, CF

Ike Davis, 1B

Jordany Valdespin, RF

Collin McHugh, RHP

May 30

Mets Wrap, May 30: Dillon Gee Makes Rotation Statement

Pitching with his spot in the rotation on the line, Dillon Gee was magnificent as he struck out 12 and retired the last 15 hitters to carry the Mets to a 3-1 victory Thursday night over the Yankees. With the win, the Mets won consecutive two-game series and five straight games overall. After being 12 games under .500, the Mets are now 22-29.

GEE: Makes rotation statement.

GEE: Makes rotation statement.

ON THE MOUND: Gee gave up one run on four hits, no walks and 12 strikeouts. Gee limited the Yankees to a Robinson Cano homer in the third. Gee struck out the final five hitters he faced. … Scott Rice recorded two outs in the eighth and Bobby Parnell shut down the Yankees in the ninth for his ninth save.

AT THE PLATE: The Mets managed just four hits, the most important being Marlon Byrd’s two-run homer in the second. John Buck drove in the Mets’ third run with an infield single in the eighth. … The Mets were 1-for-9 with RISP.

THEY SAID IT: “I’m not stupid,’’ – Gee when asked if he recognized the situation in the Mets’ rotation.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20: Consecutive Yankees retired to end the game.

METS MATTERS: Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will have his broken left foot re-examined Friday. The projection for d’Arnaud is now as a September call-up, which would preclude trading Buck to a contender. … Terry Collins said Omar Quintanilla, if he’s playing well, could remain the shortstop when Ruben Tejada comes off the disabled list. … Jon Niese was scratched from Saturday’s start with tendinitis in his left shoulder. He will be replaced by Collin McHugh. … Reliever Scott Atchison, on the disabled list with numbness in his right fingers, could have elbow surgery to remove a bone spur.

ON DECK: The Mets start a three-game series beginning Friday in Miami. Shaun Marcum starts Friday.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos