Apr 14

Harvey Needs To Be Smarter For Mets

If you’re the Mets, you want more from Matt Harvey than he gave them last night. Yes, they won and he got the decision, but you need more from your ace.

You want Harvey to be sharper, but you need him to be smarter.

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

Harvey looked ordinary after starting with back-to-back strikeouts, but later missed on a couple of pitches in the “sweet spot,’’ zone on homers to lefty hitters Chase Utley and Cody Asche. That happens, but where Harvey was totally off was how he plunked Utley in retaliation for Phillies starter David Buchanan hitting Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer.

Harvey said it was the situation of the game, but he wasn’t believable when he said he “got over amped it got away.”

Everybody knows when a pitcher throws at a hitter he does by throwing behind him. Utley knew it; he never made a move toward Harvey and didn’t even stare him down, unlike what the pitcher did with him.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to admit it as that means an automatic fine, if not a suspension.

Harvey was clearly not happy with the home run, or the RBI single, to Utley. His pitch count was slowly rising – another 90-plus pitches in six innings – and he was getting frustrated. You could see it on his face when the cameras caught him in the dugout.

One expected retaliation, but Harvey must be smarter in picking his spots. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez – as you expect them – weren’t happy with Harvey. The other apologists at SNY, from Nelson Figueroa on down couldn’t bow enough to him.

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.

Harvey missed on the home run pitches, but by inches. He’s walked only one hitter in his two starts compared to 17 strikeouts, so you know he can locate when he has to. It was clear that ball didn’t get away; Harvey knew where it was going.

In a close game and a runner on third, you don’t hit Utley. It was blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner scored?

This came right after pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the mound, and there was no way he told Harvey to hit Utley. Harvey, as he frequently likes to do, acted on his own.

Earlier today I wrote how Harvey’s presence gives the Mets a chance to win. Tonight, he gave them a chance to lose.

Harvey actions weren’t the lone dark spot on what was a bright night in a bizarre game at Citi Field.

In the long term, David Wright had to leave the game with a pulled hamstring sustained while stealing second in the eighth inning.

“A couple of feet before I got to the bag I felt my hamstring grab,” Wright said. “I thought I could stretch it out but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made a couple of years ago.”

Wright will undergo a MRI Wednesday morning and the Mets are expected to bring up Eric Campbell from Triple-A Las Vegas.



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 14

April 14, Mets Lineup Vs. Phillies

Here’s tonight’s batting order for the Mets against Philadelphia:

Curtis Granderson, rf: I don’t want him here, but he’s among the leaders in walks which gives him a healthy on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3b: Still think he should hit third, but he’s hitting and that’s what counts. He’ll stay here for awhile.

Lucas Duda, 1b: His stroke seems a lot shorter and quicker. He’s poised for another big year.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: I like him behind Duda.

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I understand the idea of wanting to give him more RBI opportunities, but it’s not happening right now.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Probably the hottest hitting Met right now.

Juan Lagares, cf: I want to see him batting leadoff, but average and on-base percentage says he doesn’t deserve hitting first.

Wilmer Flores, ss: He’s probably under the most pressure to get going. His approach seems better the past few days.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Don’t you get the impression from him that he should not only pitch, but hit clean-up like the typical high school star?



Apr 14

Harvey Excited About Tonight; Knows He Must Be Better

For all his self-confidence, and yes, arrogance as well, the best thing Matt Harvey brings to the Mets is the sense that when he pitches, they can win. They last had that feeling in 2006 when Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine took the ball.

Harvey gave that aura in 2013, and it is back.

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

Harvey is coming off a nine-strikeout performance in his first regular-season start since having Tommy John surgery. The best part was that despite being amped up, there was no pain or discomfort. He will again be pumped up for his return to Citi Field tonight against the Phillies.

“I know he’s excited,” manager Terry Collins said yesterday. “I know the team is excited. And I know the fans are excited.”

Harvey said: “`I don’t want to make a story about it, but it’s obviously exciting to be home.”

But it is a story, and his presence is a big deal to the Mets, who are giving away Matt Harvey T-shirts Friday. Hell, the organization even held back his start until today so it can sell a few more tickets. The gate for tonight is over 30,000.

The organization sees dollar signs when Harvey pitches, but there’s more than that to Harvey, who looks at his starts as artwork. Despite the zeroes and strikeouts last week against the Nationals, Harvey colored too much outside the lines. He knows the need to improve his command.

Harvey reached his pitch count of 90, but in six innings. That must get better for a number of reasons: 1) it shows his command wasn’t always there, and eventually it will catch up to him, and 2) it means more work for the bullpen.

Harvey knows what is expected of him, and more importantly, what he expects of himself.

“I definitely can be a little bit more fine,” Harvey said. “For me, I think 90 pitches through six innings is not good enough. If I’m throwing 90 pitches, I’d like to at least get into the seventh.”

There’s definitely a buzz with these Mets, although it is early. You sense it when you’re in their clubhouse, but talk is cheap.

“We’ve talked a lot about how good we can be,” David Wright said. “But true confidence is in winning.”

And, Harvey gives them the belief winning is attainable.


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.