May 14

Mets Wrap: Struggles Continue; Drop Into Third

It would happen eventually with the Mets, that their vaunted offense would sputter and couldn’t be carried by their pitching.

COLLINS: Bad call costs Mets. (AP)

COLLINS: Bad call costs Mets. (AP)

Logan Verrett, starting in place of Steven Matz, was shelled, and for the third straight game the offense provided little. Together it added up to a 7-4 loss Saturday night to the Colorado Rockies.

The loss, coupled with Philadelphia beating Cincinnati, dropped the Mets into third behind the Phillies. That’s third behind the Phillies.

The Mets were eight games over .500 when they began their season-long 11-game road trip. They close it out Sunday having already lost six games.

Manager Terry Collins insists on saying he has a power-hitting team, but they’ve only scored 29 runs in the ten games so far on this trip and scored three runs or less six times. Add to that Matt Harvey falling deeper into his funk; Matz is ailing; and Bartolo Colon was shelled in his last start.

Jacob deGrom hopes to put the brakes on this slide before the Mets return home to face Washington.

METS GAME WRAP

May 14, 2016

Game: #36   Score: Rockies 7, Mets 4

Record: 21-15  Streak: L 3

Standings: Third, NL East 1.5 GB Nationals and half-game behind Philadelphia   Playoffs Today: Second WC vs. Philadelphia

Runs: 143 Average: 3.97  Times 3 runs or less: 15

SUMMARY: Verrett was hammered, but by the time the offense showed signs of life in the sixth the hole was too deep.

KEY MOMENT:  Catcher Tony Wolters’ two-run double in the third broke the game open. The double came after a controversial call by home plate umpire Carlos Torres that resulted in Collins being ejected. Torres said the ball was tipped, but replays didn’t show it that way.

THUMBS UP: Neil Walker broke out of his slump with three hits, including getting back his home run trot (No. 10). … The Mets had 13 hits, including bunching four together in the sixth. … Another good appearance by Sean Gilmartin. … Ditto for Jim Henderson. … Two hits by David Wright, including a hustle double leading off the seventh.

THUMBS DOWN: Verrett gave up seven runs on ten hits in 2.2 innings. … Mets went 3-for-11 with RISP and left eight. … Only one walk? Hard to believe.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Matz might not throw tomorrow. The Mets haven’t said if he’s in or out of the Washington series. … DeGrom is 2-0 lifetime against the Rockies. … Wright could sit Sunday. There’s talk the Mets should drop Wright in the order, but his on-base percentage is a team-high .376.

QUOTEBOOK: “It’s unfair. No reason for it. [The hitter] was heading back to the dugout. [The umpire] said he heard it. You can’t challenge it. … It cost us the game. End of story.” – Collins on the blown call by umpire Torres.

BY THE NUMBERS: 43: Number of at-bats between homers for Walker. 

NEXT FOR METS:  DeGrom starts Sunday.

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Apr 20

April 20, Mets’ Lineup At Philadelphia

The Mets behind Bartolo Colon go for the series sweep at Philadelphia tonight. Before we get carried away about how the Mets are pulverizing the Phillies at Citizen Bank Park, please remember it isn’t just the ballpark, but the Phillies’ incredibly bad pitching.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Curtis Granderson – RF

David Wright – 3B

Michael Conforto – LF

Yoenis Cespedes – CF

Lucas Duda – 1B

Neil Walker – 2B

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Colon – RHP

COMMENTS: Despite Walker’s recent tear, I am glad manager Terry Collins resisted the temptation to tinker with the lineup and move him up. Perhaps it is because everybody is hitting, too, but it shows consistency and that’s a good thing. … I never cared much for Wright hitting second, but he’s no longer the Mets’ only big bat, so second is fine. Just keep Conforto third.

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Apr 12

Mets Not In “Panic City”

This column is in response to Adam Rubin’s question at the bottom of today’s Morning Briefing, I will say no. Rubin asked his readers if they were yet a resident of “Panic City,’’ what GM Sandy Alderson called some Mets fan when the team floundered last season before regrouping to reach the World Series.

SYNDERGAARD: Big start tonight. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Big start tonight. (Getty)

My readers know me for calling it straight. Many of them believe I might be too critical of the team. The over/under for Mets’ victories I posted Opening Day was 92, believing they could improve on last season by having Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes full time.

That’s still very possible.

It’s very easy to spot the problems six games into the season: the offense has not produced and their vaunted starting pitching hasn’t lived up to expectations. The bullpen was overworked in Matz’s start, but giving up three runs in 7.1 innings isn’t that bad.

The three best starts were made by Syndergaard in Kansas City, Jacob deGrom in the home opener and Bartolo Colon Saturday night. Matt Harvey has been roughed up twice and Matz was torched Monday night.

I want to go back to a column I posted earlier suggesting the rotation didn’t get enough work during spring training. Normally starters work about 30 innings during spring training, but no Met pitcher worked more than 15. This was done with the objective of protecting those young arms, and the immediate by-product has been location.

The only real concern here is with deGrom’s tight right lat muscle. Perhaps he wasn’t in his best condition before of the shortage of work. His velocity has been off. Is that injury or lack of work? We don’t know yet.

I posted last night I wasn’t concerned with Matz, but let’s go back early in spring training when he was worried about results and manager Terry Collins questioned whether he was in his best condition.

The lack of work will eventually resolve itself as the season continues. After all, they can’t go back to spring training.

Hopefully, Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen will learn from this and tweak their offseason and spring training workout programs. There’s nothing they can do now.

Offensively, we’re seeing signs of life from Cespedes and Wright.

Curtis Granderson hasn’t produced, but the same thing happened last year. His track record is he’ll get better. The Mets have only two homers in six games, but that will change. There have been too many strikeouts and missed scoring opportunities.

You can blame the weather, but it was just as cold for the Royals, Phillies and Marlins. It won’t get any easier tonight against Jose Fernandez or over the weekend in Cleveland.

We also should remember something Wright said at the start, and that’s the Mets will have a bullseye on their backs all year. Philadelphia and the Marlins, not surprisingly want a piece of the Mets. They were the National League champs, every team should want to knock them down a peg.

Tonight’s Mets’ lineup has only two hitters – Granderson and Lucas Duda – who were with the team all of 2015.

The others were either injured and missed significant time – Wright and d’Arnaud – or are in their first full seasons with the team. That would be Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.

You can’t tell much about a team or a player after six games. Let’s see how things are at the end of the month. We all knew getting back to the Series wouldn’t be a breeze.

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Apr 10

Mets Wrap: Concern For DeGrom, Not Team

If you’re concerned about Jacob deGrom, fine, you should be. However, if you’re worried about the Mets’ sluggish start, it’s way too early to panic, although we all knew that after another loss fans would get antsy. It will be interesting to listen to the call-in radio shows tomorrow.

DeGROM: Next start is scratched. (AP)

DeGROM: Next start is scratched. (AP)

Prior to the game, the Mets announced deGrom will miss his Wednesday’s start because of tightness in his right lat. The Mets toyed with the idea of waiting until deGrom threw today, but when he reported continued soreness they did the prudent thing and scratched Wednesday’s start and said Logan Verrett would get the ball.

Hooray for common sense.

Steven Matz had a similar injury last year and was lost for two months. We heard all winter the essence of the Mets was their young pitching, and if they stayed healthy they should return to the playoffs.

Of course, this being the Mets, common sense has its limitations. There are still no plans for deGrom to undergo an MRI. I’ll say it again, that’s just not smart.

In deGrom, the Mets will be without a workhorse, but I would rather not have him for six innings Wednesday than lose him for two months or more.

“It’s improved, but not enough,” manager Terry Collins said.

Verrett was superb when he replaced Harvey last summer in Colorado. Other possibilities should deGrom’s injury be worse than anticipated are Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero. But for now, they need to get quality innings from Noah Syndergaard, Matz, Bartolo Colon and Harvey. They didn’t get them today from Harvey, who gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.

The key word was “quality,” and Harvey didn’t have it for his second start. However, I’m not worried about Harvey. He’s healthy. He was simply beaten, and will be beaten again. But, unless his elbow starts to bark, I’m not thinking about Harvey.

The problem has been the offense. Yoenis Cespedes homered today to break a 15-inning scoreless stretch. But, the Mets aren’t getting anything from Lucas Duca, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. Actually, other than Michael Conforto and Neil Walker at the start of the week, they haven’t gotten much from anybody.

Yup, the Mets aren’t off to the start they hoped, and we all expected them to win the series against the Phillies. But, it has only been five games.

Unless there’s bad news about deGrom, just relax.

Here’s what happened today:

GAME #5:  Phillies 5, at Mets 2.  Record: 2-3.

SUMMARY: After the news about deGrom, the Mets’ offense was supposed to rally around Harvey. Maybe next time. Harvey clocked at 97 mph., in his first appearance on the mound since Game 5 of the World Series. It wasn’t as if Harvey was mauled as he gave up a run on a sacrifice fly and later a two-run homer to Odubel Herrera.

KEY MOMENT: Herrera’s homer.

THUMBS UP: Cespedes homered and singled to show breakout signs. … Reliever Jim Henderson continued to perform and now has seven strikeouts in three perfect innings.

THUMBS DOWN: Pretty much everything else. … Granderson is 1-for-20. … The Mets had four hits Sunday after getting just three Saturday. … Harvey is now 0-for-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

INJURY UPDATES: No word as to when deGrom will throw next. DeGrom will remain with the Mets until wife Stacey delivers. She is five days late. … Lefty relieverJosh Edgin gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning in a rehab assignment in the Florida State League. Edgin’s projected return date in May 1. … Zack Wheeler is scheduled to have a minor surgical procedure Tuesday to remove an undissolved stitch in his right forearm. Wheeler’s return date is July 1.

QUOTEBOOK: “I would say it’s quite a bit better today. I think we’re going to err on the side of caution, though, this early in the season.” – deGrom on his lat injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.29: Mets ERA, fourth best in the NL;  .192: Mets batting average, second worst in NL?

NEXT FOR METS: Matz will make his first start of the season Monday against Miami at Citi Field.

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Apr 09

Mets Should Do The Smart Thing And Skip DeGrom

We have long been aware of the Mets’ hit-and-miss nature in their handling of injuries. They could be on the verge of making another mistake as manager Terry Collins said Jacob deGrom‘s next start is up in the air. He told reporters today no MRI is planned for deGrom’s tight right lat muscle.

DeGROM: Needs to skip next start. (AP)

DeGROM: Needs to skip next start. (AP)

DeGrom wasn’t in a talkative mood this afternoon with reporters, but the word it is still very sore.

Collins said if deGrom doesn’t show substantial improvement and throw his between-starts bullpen Sunday, he would likely be scratched from Wednesday’s start against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

Who hasn’t heard this refrain from the Mets about one of their injured players? They did it with Matt Harvey in 2013 and last season with Steven Matz. Neither one of those gambles turned out well. They’ve also mishandled injuries with David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church and many others.

It’s cold today and will probably be likewise Wednesday. DeGrom complained of back tightness in spring training. None of the Mets’ starters worked significant innings this spring. Plus, they have other options available.

DeGrom is a vital key to whatever success the Mets have this year. What could be their possible reasoning in not wanting deGrom get an MRI? You would think they would want to know as much about deGrom’s injury as possible.

If tonight’s game gets bagged, Collins could push his starters back a day. But, why don’t they do the smart thing and just say now they will skip deGrom until the injury risk is greatly reduced? Injuries can always happen, but what’s the point of pushing the envelope on this?

They should just say they are resting deGrom and do the right thing now.

Why is that such a hard thing for them to figure out?

ON DECK: Mets Game Wrap: Game #4 vs. Phillies.

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