May 09

Tejada Makes Most Of Opportunity

Mets manager Terry Collins was rewarded with Saturday night’s decision to go with Ruben Tejada over Wilmer Flores at shortstop. It will be interesting to see how long Collins rides the hot hand after Tejada’s play in the 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.

Last weekend, Collins went with Tejada in consecutive games after a string of Flores’ errors. At the time I wondered if the Mets were greasing the skids for benching Flores full time. Tonight, with Jon Niese, who throws a lot of groundballs on the mound, Collins went with the better glove and the thought returned.

This time, Tejada did something to warrant staying in the lineup with two hits and starting a key double play that literally saved the game for the Mets. What Tejada did was give the Mets – for one game, at least – the type of shortstop play they expected of him when he assumed the job after Jose Reyes’ departure.

Tejada doubled lead to off the fifth and scored on an error, but in the eighth is when he earned his money. The Phillies loaded the bases with one out when Carlos Ruiz ripped a hard grounder Tejada backhanded to start an inning-ending and game-saving 6-4-3 double play.

“[Ruiz] hit the ball very hard,’’ Tejada said. “We had to, no matter what, had to make that play.’’

Considering Flores’ defensive problems, one had to think he wouldn’t have made that play and the Phillies could have at least tied the game.

The Mets’ hadn’t been happy with Tejada’s work ethic the past few years and some thought he might not have made the roster coming out of spring training, but that appears to have changed.

“It’s the hardest I’ve seen him work,’’ Collins said. “He’s kept himself ready to play. Here’s a guy who wants to get back in there.’’

Collins plans to start Tejada Sunday at second base and you wonder how much of a chance he will get.

 

May 08

Harvey Goes For Sixth Straight Against Phillies

By its simplest definition, a pitching ace must show up big when his team needs him most, which is what the Mets want tonight from Matt Harvey in Philadelphia.

Harvey (5-0, 2.41), who beat the Nationals and Yankees in his last two starts, will be trying to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach six victories this season. The last Mets starter to open a season at 5-0 was Pedro Martinez in 2006. The club record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

He is 6-0 lifetime against the Philles, whom he beat April 14, 6-5 at Citi Field. If you recall, that was the game Harvey threw behind Chase Utley and plunked in the back. Utley is having a miserable season, batting .103, but is 6-for-15 lifetime against Harvey. Utley sat out the Phillies’ last two games but is in the lineup tonight.

The Mets are coming off a 5-1 win Wednesday over Baltimore, their second straight after losing seven of their previous ten games.

May 02

Wright More Than A Week Away

As they should, the Mets are treating David Wright‘s hamstring injury with kid gloves and perhaps learning from experience, aren’t making any projections about his return. GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Friday having Wright back next weekend in Philadelphia “seems a little aggressive.”

Wright went on the disabled list April 15 with what was called a right hamstring strain that was subsequently changed to a pull. At the time, Alderson said it might take three weeks, but that won’t happen. Wright said he feels it when he exerts himself running and was restricted to physical therapy yesterday and plans to resume running today.

There were rumblings earlier this week Wright might come back for the Washington series, but this is the right call all around.

Holding the best record in baseball at 16-8, there’s no reason to rush him. None. With previous injuries Wright sometimes pushed the envelope and played hurt. He acknowledged that when he went on the disabled list and said he didn’t want to risk injuring himself further.

Apr 14

Mets Game Thread: Harvey Off His Game

Matt Harvey looking rather ordinary after starting this game with back-to-back strikeouts. His command has been off despite the seven strikeouts, throwing it into that “sweet spot’’ zone to the lefty hitters.

Chase Utley’s drive was a hard slap in the face, but he’s done that to a lot of Mets’ pitchers.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Even so, Harvey has not been sharp, and not very smart, either. OK, you want to stand up for your hitters, but you with a runner in scoring position you don’t throw behind Utley.

It was so blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner moved up, and Utley got to hit with a runner on third?

No way Dan Warthen told him to hit Utley. Harvey did that on his own, and it allowed Philadelphia an opportunity to take the lead.

Plus, why take the chance jump starting the Phillies? First and foremost you want to win the game. Harvey will deny it after the game, but he was wrong there.

Offensively, you have to be thrilled with Lucas Duda, who jumped on that first pitch with that quick stroke on a breaking ball. Maybe last year he would have taken that pitch.

Michael Cuddyer is out of the game after being hit by a pitch. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in. It’s a close game and you have to wonder if having a thin bench will come back and bite them on butt.

Mets 5, Phillies 3 (5th)

 

Apr 13

Mets’ DeGrom Could Be Best Of Young Starters

When we consider the potential of the Mets’ young pitching, Jacob deGrom might have the highest ceiling of all. Imagine what he could have done to the Phillies this afternoon had he been pitching with his best stuff.

DeGrom threw 6.1 scoreless innings in the Mets’ 2-0 Opening Day victory over Philadelphia, and did it with what he called a too-hard change-up, but with his usual spotless command.

DeGROM: Stuffs Phillies. (AP)

DeGROM: Stuffs Phillies. (AP)

“I didn’t think he had his “A” game,” manager Terry Collins said of deGrom, who gave up seven hits, one walk and with only three strikeouts.

“He competed,” Collins continued. “He didn’t let down. When he had to throw a strike he threw a strike.”

A pitcher will make roughly 34 starts in a complete season, and have dominating stuff in perhaps a third of them. When he can win when he’s a little off, it speaks volumes to what kind of pitcher he can be.

“It tells you he’s pretty good,” David Wright said. “It’s a sign he has good command.”

That deGrom only had three strikeouts meant his pitches had sharp, late-breaking movement because he was able to get the Phillies to put balls in play without getting a good swing at him.

“I thought about my game last year and I try to continue to get better,” said deGrom. “When you don’t have it, then it becomes a mental battle.”

DeGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, is now 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies. He’s turned out to be a reliable innings eater having gone at least six innings in his last 14 starts, the second longest streak in the majors.

The Mets are understandably proud of their young pitching, but for all the talk about Matt Harvey, deGrom has as much upside as any of them, and could be around the longest.

When it comes to Harvey, a popular school of thought is he’ll leave for the Yankees once he becomes a free agent. And, Zack Wheeler is currently on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until late June of next year at the soonest. That means we won’t have a real picture until sometime in the 2017 season.

That leaves deGrom, who just might have the biggest upside of all.