Apr 22

Mets Wrap: Harvey Not Sharp, But Wins

The answer was an empathic NO, Matt Harvey did not find it. Regardless of how Friday night’s game would turn out, the main storyline for the Mets was going to be Harvey, and whether he could avoid hitting the wall that marked his three losses to start the season.

HARVEY: Still searching for answers. (Getty)

HARVEY: Still searching for answers. (Getty)

Harvey was far from sharp, but came away with his first victory, 6-3, over the Braves, whom you must remember aren’t the Braves of old who routinely tormented the Mets.

Harvey, backed by a pair of Curtis Granderson home runs, struggled but pitched well enough to temporarily take the collective fingers off the Mets’ off the panic button. Even so, Harvey was pushed and despite winning the Mets know it can’t keep going on like this for the pitcher who craves the moniker of “ace.”

Manager Terry Collins finally admitted Harvey’s light spring training workload, compounded by a bladder infection, has been a strong contributor to his career-high four-game losing streak (dating back to last year).

Harvey gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five arduous innings in which he threw 101 pitches. For that many pitches, the Mets would want at least another two innings from Harvey. His primary problem was not keeping the ball down and his slider didn’t have the bite he must have to succeed.

Staked to a 4-0 lead in the second on Granderson’s grand slam homer, Harvey labored through a 33-pitch bottom of the inning to give back two of the runs.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #15   Record: 8-7    Streak: W 1

 SUMMARY: Granderson’s two homers and five RBI carried Harvey to his first victory in a performance that can kindly be called “not a gem.”

 KEY MOMENT: Granderson’s slam.

 THUMBS UP: Yoenis Cespedes threw a runner out at the plate to end the fifth. … His RBI double in the seventh marked his seventh straight game with an extra-base hit. … Strong showings by relievers Antonio Bastardo and Addison Reed.

THUMBS DOWN: Harvey’s short start forced the Mets bullpen to log four more innings. … David Wright struck out two more times and already has 21. … Juan Lagares was doubled off second in the ninth when another run would have helped. … Jeurys Familia got the save, but wasn’t sharp. … Cespedes aggravated his leg injury on the double.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Jacob deGrom threw a successful bullpen session in Port St. Lucie Fla. He will rejoin the team Saturday and start Sunday. Collins said deGrom could be limited to 85 pitches. DeGrom last pitched April 8 and has been away from the team when his son, Jaxon, was born with medical complications. … Collins was a passenger in a taxi involved in a minor traffic accident Thursday. There were no injuries. … Pitching coach Dan Warthen is away from the team for his mother’s funeral. … The Braves haven’t announced Sunday’s starter. … The game was delayed by rain in the bottom of the eighth inning.

QUOTEBOOK: “Matt can be a little aloof at times.” – Keith Hernandez on Harvey after the pitcher seemingly walked away from a conversation between innings with catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

 BY THE NUMBERS: 4: Granderson became the fourth player to hit grand slams for both the Mets and Yankees, joining Robin Ventura, Darryl Strawberry and Carlos Beltran.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz (1-1, 7.27 ERA) attempts an encore of last Sunday’s gem in Cleveland. He’ll go against Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 2.38).

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Apr 01

Matz Putting It Together At Right Time

The one pitching Met I was most concerned with appears to have pulled it together, and that’s Steven Matz, who pitched five hitless innings in an 8-1 rout of the Cubs that snapped a 14-game winless streak.

Matz struck out six and walked two, and there were no comments after questioning his stamina or conditioning.

“This is definitely a good way to go into the season,’’ Matz told reporters. “My slider was working and it’s definitely something I’m going to be using. I’m definitely getting to where I need to be.’’

However, “getting to,’’ isn’t exactly “being there,’’ and it should be pointed out starters are expected to work at least six innings and possibly seven in their final tune-up.

Matz threw 73 pitches, which won’t do in his first start. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom threw 71 pitches in a minor league game in Port St. Lucie.

All Mets starters operated under a reduced workload in spring training. It took awhile for Matz to come around, but Matt Harvey had a miserable spring. Manager Terry Collins said he won’t be concerned until the games count, and that will be Sunday with Harvey.

After the game, the Mets finalized their Opening Day roster with Kevin Plawecki being the last position player and relievers Jim Henderson and Logan Verrett rounding out the staff.

Mar 14

Mets Handling Wright Correctly

The Mets continue to handle David Wright with kid gloves, which is the only way to go. Wright, who has yet to play in an exhibition game this spring, singled in five at-bats in a minor-league intrasquad game today. Wright didn’t play in the field.

As of now, the plan is to get Wright into a dozen exhibition games, and there’s no idea as to how many games he’ll play this season.

Wright will play in minor league games Tuesday and Thursday, and possibly getting in a regular season game for the first time on Friday.

“You don’t know what to expect your first time taking at-bats as far as timing and stuff, and that was really secondary to going out there, simulating some at-bats in a game-like situation,” Wright told TCPalm.com. “Taking some swings, trying to run to first base, run the bases a little bit – I thought it went great. Obviously, the biggest thing now is try to get some timing, but I feel mechanically health-wise, I thought it worked out great. Now it’s just a matter of doing it over and over again.”

Wright does up to 90 minutes of stretching and exercising prior to each game, so even if he’s not playing his body is taking a toll.

So, even if you don’t notice Wright’s name in a box score, understand he’s still working and his body is being taxed. Hopefully, it will pay off.

 

Mar 13

Vegas Should Be The Place For Plawecki

The Mets finally acknowledged what they probably should have all along and that’s catcher Kevin Plawecki – projected as a back-up to Travis d’Arnaud – might begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s probably the best thing for all concerned.

PLAWECKI: Should open season in Vegas. (Mets)

PLAWECKI: Should open season in Vegas. (Mets)

Manager Terry Collins, while saying nothing has been determined, admits this will be a topic amongst the Mets’ hierarchy in the coming weeks. It’s an age-old debate: Is Plawecki better served backing up d’Arnaud and maybe playing twice a week on the major league level, or being in Vegas where he’ll start and get consistent at-bats?

If Plawecki goes, then Johnny Monell will probably make the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“We haven’t had that discussion as to where he’s going to fit the best, or what we think is the best for everyone involved,” Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “That has not taken place. What we’ve got to do is take what we think are the best 25 and get out of the gate and go from there. If the conversation goes to where, ‘Hey, look, we need to have this guy ready to be an everyday guy,’ he may have to go play [in Las Vegas].

“If we think we’re better off being able to get him two to three games a week at times [backing up d’Arnaud], then he’s got a good chance of making the club.”

As of now, I’m thinking the minors is the place for Plawecki. In their perfect world, Plawecki and d’Arnaud would compete and the loser would be traded. Plawecki appears to be the better prospect – and d’Arnaud seemingly can’t throw out a baserunner if he was crawling to second.

It’s hard to project the trade value for either player because neither has played a full season or in d’Arnaud’s case, without injury. I’d be guessing if I projected either as the Opening Day 2017 starter. For now, d’Arnaud should be with the Mets next month and Plawecki in Vegas.

Mar 11

Mets’ Depth Will Come To Play Early

Depth was to be a Mets’ strong point this year, and it will come into play a lot earlier than anticipated with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera expected to miss the start of the season with a strained patella tendon in his left knee. Ruben Tejada, who lost his job after Cabrera was acquired and recently has been the subject of trade rumors to St. Louis, is starting again.

TEJADA: Back in line up. (AP)

TEJADA: Back in line up. (AP)

“[Cabrera] may not be ready for opening day, and that’s one of the reasons we have the depth on our roster that we have now,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Friday. “If he’s ready in three or four weeks, it’s essentially the first week of the season and we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Cabrera was in New York Friday at the Hospital of Special Surgery to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection. He was injured Thursday when he was running the bases and didn’t slide.

“I was running – with the fly ball  to second, and thinking slide,” Cabrera said. “I saw the bad throw, so I tried to stay up. I felt something in my knee. It’s sore right now.”

With Cabrera in the first season of a two-year, 8.5-million contract, the Mets hoped to unload Tejada – who will make $3 million in 2016 – for a prospect before losing him to free-agency next winter.

Timing is everything, and right now it isn’t good for Cabrera. It’s better for Tejada, and it could be good in the long run for the Mets. When Cabrera returns – and there are no setbacks – and if Tejada plays well and proves his leg is sound, it could enhance his trade value.