Oct 02

Things Still On The Line For Mets Against Nationals


For much of this season, the Mets pointed to this weekend’s series against the Nationals as critical to getting into the playoffs. Nobody thought it might be essential to get their heads screwed on straight. After mauling Cincinnati in four games to clinch the NL East, the Mets are scrambling to regain their sharpness after being swept in three games by the Phillies.

COLLINS:  Needs to make motivate his team. (AP)

COLLINS: Needs to make motivate his team. (AP)

After sweeping the Reds, manager Terry Collins projected a lull in his team’s adrenalin flow. He said yesterday he needs to channel his inner Knute Rockne.

“If you’ve been down this path, you knew that there was going to be an energy drain,’’ Collins said. “We always have a little scout meeting before the series and I will try to give my `A’ speech.’’

It’s not as if the Mets won’t have motivation as they are can still secure home field advantage in the NLDS with the Dodgers. The Mets’ 3-0 loss Thursday in Philadelphia coupled with the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory in San Francisco, leave the teams each with 89-70 records. However, the Mets hold the tiebreaker after winning the season series with the Dodgers, going 2-1 in Los Angeles and 2-2 at Citi Field.

Collins blamed pitching for the Mets’ showing in Philadelphia, but the offense is off its game, having scored only three runs in their last 18 innings.

Friday’s game is rained out, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday. The extra day might give Yoenis Cespedes a chance for his two bruised fingers on his left hand to heal enough so he can play. He would not have played Friday. The extra day could also help infielder Wilmer Flores‘s stiff lower back. It is questionable how much he’ll play this weekend.

Collins said his starters – Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard – will be limited to 80 to 90 pitches – but will he deviate with home field on the line? Syndergaard will start the day game Saturday and Harvey the night game while deGrom goes Sunday.

Collins isn’t concerned about the possibility of having to play a doubleheader – that’s almost expected – but hopes the Mets won’t have to play a make-up game Monday.

However, in looking at the big picture that won’t matter because regardless of what happens this weekend, the Mets will still be playing next week.

Oct 01

Robles Suspended

Major League Baseball suspended Mets reliever Hansel Robles for his high-and-tight pitch directed at the head of Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

The pitch came after warnings were given to both benches after the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes and Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Phillies Odubel Herrera were hit. The suspension applies to the regular season, so is Robles appeals, he could serve it next year. The Mets are placing a premium on getting home field in the NLDS against Los Angeles, so him serving it this weekend aren’t likely.

Robles drew the ire of the Phillies for quick-pitching earlier this season.



Oct 01

Lefty Reliever Remains Concern For Mets

It is imperative the Mets get Jon Niese in a couple of games in this weekend, preferably in back-to-back outings, as the lefty bullpen specialist remains an issue. However, a poor weather forecast might prevent that from happening.

Although volunteering to go into the bullpen was admirable, Niese was not effective in two outings in Philadelphia against left-handed hitters (he gave up four hits against five hitters).

GILMARTIN: Effective today. (Getty)

GILMARTIN: Effective today. (Getty)

Overall this season lefty batters are hitting .297 against him with a .335 on-base percentage. Those aren’t numbers conducive to being a lefty specialist.

If you’re wondering about swapping Niese for Bartolo Colon in the rotation (assuming Steven Matz is left off for the NLDS), his numbers against lefties are a .290 average with a .309 on-base percentage, so that’s not practical.

A mitigating factor towards making this decision is the ability of each to get loose quickly. Niese knew when he would enter the game and given ample time to get ready.

However, neither he nor Colon could have that advantage in the playoffs. As of now, Colon seems slated for the rotation with Matz sidelined with a stiff lower back. The Mets want to get Matz work this weekend, but the weather might prevent that from happening. As a last resort, the Mets could send him to Port St. Lucie.

With Niese not working out, it might be tempting for manager Terry Collins to consider Tyler Clippard in that role as lefty batters are hitting just .138 against him. However, if Collins uses him in that role, what would it mean to the overall set-up of the bullpen regarding the set-up role?

They could explore Clippard against lefties and use Addison Reed in the set-up role, but changing roles on the fly is always tricky. Even so, the Mets must have separate concerns with Clippard, who has given up eight runs in his last ten appearances (ten innings).

Speaking of changing roles, there’s Sean Gilmartin. He’ll likely make the playoff roster if Matz can’t go. He was effective today, giving up two runs in five innings. This year, lefties are hitting .272 against him, but he hasn’t been showcased as a specialist.

A intriguing possibility is Hansel Robles, who has given up 13 hits in 78 plate appearances to lefty hitters (.167 average with a .214 on-base percentage). Dario Alvarez is getting a look-see, but his window (six appearances, including today) is too small.

This concern is primarily based on a potential late-inning match-up against Adrian Gonzalez (28 homers and 88 RBI). Of course, they could go the route the Angels took against the Giants’ Barry Bonds in the 2002 World Series and just intentionally walk him.

Sep 08

The Mets 2016 Schedule

The Mets released their 2016 schedule. The first things I look for when the new schedule comes out are the Opening Day opponent, the home opener opponent, and final weekend of the year.

Opening Day is April 4, at Kansas City, which totally stinks. I hate interleague play to begin with, but on  Opening Day it is absurd. In fact, the Mets have two interleague series in April (April 15-17) at Cleveland. This always presents the problems about rescheduling rainouts, or worse, multi-hour rain delays. But, if major league baseball doesn’t care about the comfort and safety of its players, and the comfort of its fans, then I guess I won’t, either.

The home opener is April 8 against Philadelphia. The first homestand has three games each against the Phillies and Marlins. The opener is a Friday and doesn’t have the provision of a built in off day the next day.

Because of the prospect of bad weather, April should be mostly divisional play, which makes rescheduling easier because you know that team will be back. That being said, Cincinnati and San Francisco making their only Citi Field visits in April is also weak.

Besides Kansas City and at Cleveland, interleague play includes the Yankees in back-to-back series (first Citi Field then Yankee Stadium) the first week of August. They also go to Detroit the first week in August and host Chicago the last week in May and Minnesota in mid-September.

Washington comes in May 17-19; July 8-10 and Sept. 2-4.

The Mets have only two West Coast trips, San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado, May 5-15; Arizona and San Francisco, Aug. 15-21 (they end that trip with three games in St. Louis). From a travel standpoint, they don’t leave the Eastern Time Zone in September. Both scheduling scenarios are huge breaks.

The season ends with back-to-back, three-game series at Miami and Philadelphia. Going under the assumption Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia will be as bad as they are this season, it is a plus the Mets end of the season with 13 straight games against those three teams. In addition, factoring their records as of today, the Mets have 99 games against teams with losing records.

Starting times have not been announced.

Merry Christmas.


Sep 05

Comparing Schedules Of Mets And Nats

There have been several stories recently, not to mention comments made on SNY, how the Mets have the easiest schedule of the playoff contenders for the rest of the season, with their opponents having a .440 winning percentage.

So, what does this mean?

Other than fodder for gamblers, bookies and radio talk show hosts, absolutely nothing of substance.

The Mets went into the Labor Day Weekend holding a six-game lead over the Nationals, and with six games remaining between them. Should they go into Washington Monday with such a lead or less they would not be controlling their own destiny. Which is a phrase you’ll be hearing over the next few weeks.

Here’s how the schedules of the Mets and Nationals compare until the end of the season:

Today: Mets: at Miami; Nationals: Atlanta.

Tomorrow: Mets: at Miami; Nationals: Atlanta.

Monday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Tuesday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Wednesday: Mets: at Washington; Nationals: Mets.

Thursday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: Off.

Friday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

Saturday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

Sunday: Mets: at Atlanta; Nationals: at Miami.

September 14: Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 15:  Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 16:  Mets: Miami; Nationals: at Philadelphia.

September 17:  Mets: Off; Nationals: Miami.

September 18: Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 19: Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 20:  Mets: Yankees; Nationals: Miami.

September 21: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 22: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 23: Mets: Atlanta; Nationals: Orioles.

September 24: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Off.

September 25: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 26: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 27: Mets: at Reds; Nationals: Phillies.

September 28: Mets: Off; Nationals: Reds.

September 29: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

September 30: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

October 1: Mets: at Phillies; Nationals: at Atlanta.

October 2: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

October 3: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

October 4: Mets: Nationals; Nationals: at Mets.

From here until the end of the season, the Mets have a slightly tougher schedule with their three games against the Yankees. Other than that series, their schedules are identical.

In addition, the Mets are confronted with several issues, including injuries to Michael Cuddyer, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy; Jacob deGrom in his worst stretch of the season; the emerging issue of Matt Harvey’s innings and it being a distraction; Jon Niese‘s struggles; the uncertainty of Steven Matz; how their young starters will respond to playoff pressure; and their porous bullpen.