I always try to look for something when I watch the Mets and last night it was R.A. Dickey. But, let’s be frank, there’s nothing compelling about them right now.
DICKEY: Four more starts.
Terry Collins has often spoken of accountability, fundamentals and playing the game the right way. I can’t see that anywhere in the second half. The Mets have gone 12 straight games at home without scoring more than three runs and have lost 21 of their last 25 at Citi Field. That’s almost impossible to do.
It makes me wonder if they’ve quit on Collins and themselves. When a team packs it in it shows up on offense because players start swinging at garbage – as if to get it over with – and give away at-bats. Bernie Williams said you can’t afford to take a pitch off, let alone a play or an at-bat. Winning entails total concentration and you don’t see that with the Mets.
When they cut it to seven games below .500, silly me, I thought they had a chance to play for something. But, they’ve lost five straight. Meanwhile, the Phillies, who have been behind the Mets in the standings for a good part of the season and were sellers at the trade deadline have reached .500 and are still in the wild-card hunt. That says a lot about them.
The Mets are again closing in on the basement, and with games remaining against Miami and teams with something to play for, how can they not land there?
Enjoy it while you can. The Mets plan to shut down Matt Harvey after 175 innings max, which is about three more starts.
While he’s been one of the bright spots to a disappointing season, I have no problem with the decision as there’s nothing to be gained by running him into the ground. If he’s as good as projected, he’ll be throwing 200-plus innings soon enough.
Harvey has been impressive through his first seven starts, in particular in limiting the damage when he gets in trouble. The ability to fight through threats, whether it be by improvisation or pure power and guile makes for the foundation of a good career.
This is something we also so yesterday from Jon Niese, who was in constant trouble but held the Phillies to single runs in three straight innings. We’ve seen worse from Niese, so this is another good sign.
Overall, I expected more from Niese than 10-9 at this point. His sub-4 ERA says he hasn’t always gotten the most run support. While there have been rocky nights for him, in the long run there’s still a lot of potential there and the combination of him and Harvey, plus R. A. Dickey and comebacks from Dillon Gee and Johan Santana, gives the Mets the basis for a good rotation next season.
Now, if they can only score some runs and redo the bullpen.
The pattern is inescapable: Three times is not a charm for Chris Young.
YOUNG: Falters again late.
When Young goes through a batting order for a third time hitters tee off on him as if it were batting practice. However, yesterday’s decision by Terry Collins to stick with him was understandable, and still a learning experience.
It is also an indictment on the major league’s worst bullpen, which has a lofty 5-plus ERA.
Young was cruising and was at only 67 pitches entering the seventh. There was no indication he was about to falter. Moments later, say seven pitches, the lead was gone.
Sometimes it is better to hold a pat hand, which is what the Mets have done with Jonathan Niese over the past few years. More than a few times we heard Niese’s name mentioned in a possible trade.
NIESE: Untouchable (AP)
Whom the Mets would have received in return would not have lifted them from their 2007-2011 funk. At least, not as much as Niese is lifting them now. He’s 7-3 after last night’s 11-1 rout of the Phillies.
The players the Mets might have received could have given them a temporary spark, but they were in need of a deep rebuilding with their pitching and that begins with a stud left-hander, and Niese certainly fits that mold.
Niese was dominant last night with all his pitches, working quickly and staying ahead in the count. Give him a few runs and he’s golden. Last night he had more than he needed.
Niese is a major reason why the Mets, if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs. There’s nobody that could have predicted. Nobody.
At one time the Mets were eight games over .500 and poised to go on a roll. Instead, they faltered and threatened to go below .500. However, this has been a resilient team – perhaps its best attribute and they are seven over with two more games against the Phillies and three against the Cubs. Ten over by the break is very possible.
The Mets are doing what they should be doing against the reeling Phillies, and that is to beat up on them. When facing a down team go for the throat. While they are hurting, the Phillies still have that strong rotation and Ryan Howard due back. The season is not over for them. Other teams have made up more ground in less time, so putting as much space between them is essential for the Mets.
The Mets and Phillies have had a fake rivalry, and it has been rare when both teams were good at the same time. That’s when the competitive edge of the rivalry comes into play. They are division rivals and geographic rivals, but there’s little tenseness.
An element of hate was removed when Jose Reyes left in the offseason. The Phillies despised him and his style of play and gloated whenever they could. Reyes is gone and took that spice with him.
This year the Mets are playing well and chasing Washington for the NL East. Meanwhile, the Phillies are down and have made it known they will listen to offers for Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels. Both would look nice in Mets pinstripes, but forget it.
The Phillies have been in the playoffs since 2007. This year they’ve been beset with injuries and sluggish play. This is the time for the Mets to put them away, to put three games worth of distance between them before the All-Star break.
If the Mets are as good as they claim to be, they need to continue their momentum from the Dodgers series – including overcoming the disappointment of not getting a sweep – and laying the wood on a wounded opponent.
In that sense, there’s an element to the rivalry that has been missing.