May 07

Today’s Question: Who Is The Real Harvey?

The Mets scored at least five runs in their ninth straight game. Eventually, that roll will stop, and when it does they will have to rely on their starting pitching, which is in dire straits these days.

HARVEY: Needs to step up. (AP)

HARVEY: Needs to step up. (AP)

Jacob deGrom is their most reliable starter, but the Mets aren’t getting seven innings a start from him. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz remain on the disabled list with no expected return date. Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero aren’t setting any innings records, either, and the latter will get another start because the Mets can’t find any better.

That leaves us to today’s question: What can they expect from Matt Harvey?

Harvey won his first two starts, giving up just four runs while working a total of 12.1 innings. Starts three and four were no-decisions, but he gave up five runs. However, his last two games were losses in which he gave up a combined 12 runs in 9.2 innings. He gave up two homers in those games but had only three strikeouts and eight walks.

Harvey said he’s feeling good – no residual pain from his shoulder surgery – but he’s said that before.

The Mets hoped Harvey could ease back into the rotation, but with the way things are going, they need him to be at his best.

And, the sooner the better.

May 05

Today’s Question: What Montero Will Mets Get?

The Mets return home tonight to open a six-game homestand against the Miami Marlins. It will be the second time already this season the Marlins have been to Citi Field.

Rafael Montero will get the ball in place of Noah Syndergaard.

MONTERO: Who will Mets see? (AP)

MONTERO: Who will Mets see? (AP)

Today’s question is obvious, will we get the Montero whom the Mets were so high on, or will we get the version that last year fell out of favor because he couldn’t find the strike zone?

At one time Montero was a highly regarded pitching prospect, perhaps on a level just below Jacob deGrom, but was always held back by his command. In three starts last season, Montero pitched 11 innings and compiled 14 walks and a 7.36 ERA.

Montero isn’t doing much better this year, with eight walks in 6.2 innings, all of them in relief. He’s also given up eight runs (9.45 ERA).

The Mets don’t have any options other than Montero until Seth Lugo or Steven Matz are eligible to come off the disable list in the next month or so.

May 03

Mets Wrap: Breakout Game For Hitters

See, it can be done. The Mets rapped out 20 hits in a 16-5 rout of the Atlanta Braves tonight without the benefit of a home run.

REYES: Big night. (AP)

                   REYES: Big night. (AP)

Even before they broke open the game with a seven-run eighth, the Mets had this one well in hand, as they went 12 for 20 with runners in scoring position. It might not take until the Braves open up another new stadium before we could see that again.

“We feel like we have a good offensive team,” manager Terry Collins said. “We’re seeing better at-bats and we’re getting better swings.”

The Mets got three hits each from Michael Conforto, Rene Rivera and T.J. Rivera, but one bat that particularly shined was Jose Reyes, who tied a career high with five RBI.

“It is good to see,” Reyes said of the Mets’ resurgent offense. “For the last week we’ve been on fire.”

While a lot of good things happened with the bats tonight, perhaps the most encouraging breakout sign was Curtis Granderson, who hit two doubles and scored three times. Granderson entered the game on a 1-for-33 slide.

The Mets got three hits from Michael Conforto, Rene Rivera and T.J. Rivera, and two hits each from Granderson, Conforto, Reyes, Neil Walker and Jacob deGrom.

The Mets got two doubles each from Conforto, Granderson and T.J. Rivera, and one each from Reyes, Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.

SECOND OPINION FOR SYNDERGAARD: In the midst of several published reports that have Noah Syndergaard missing up to three months with a partially torn right lat muscle, the 24-year-old Mets pitcher will be in Los Angeles tomorrow to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

After Syndergaard complained of discomfort and soreness in his right shoulder and biceps, he had starts pushed back last week first Wednesday and then Thursday.

Syndergaard subsequently refused an MRI, gave up five runs in the first inning of Sunday’s start at Washington, and was injured in the second inning.

JUGGLING THE PEN: Sometimes managers, and I include Collins in this, are married to the accepted norms.

However, with Braves’ right-handed hitting outfielder Matt Kemp leading off the seventh, Collins went with setup reliever Addison Reed to start the inning.

Reed also struck out lefty slugger Nick Markakis and retired Tyler Flowers, but was animated in the dugout after the inning, as if surprised by the move.

“I told him, `I know you’re the eighth-inning guy. But this is the eighth inning for me tonight,’ ” Collins told Reed.

“He understood.”

EXTRA INNINGS: Wilmer Flores was activated from the disabled list and appeared as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Flores is expected to start Thursday. … Travis d’Arnaud‘s bruised hand kept him out. … Collins said Granderson and Walker might rest tomorrow.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up Thursday evening with Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78) returning to his home area against lefty Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.99). … Rafael Montero is still on to start in place of Syndergaard Friday.

Apr 07

Game Wrap: Wheeler Rocked

GAME:  #4

SCORE: Marlins 7, @Mets 2

RECORD: 2-2    RISP: 2-for-5,  8 LOB

HOMERS: 1: Yoenis Cespedes (1).

ANALYSIS

In one of the most anticipated starts by a Mets’ pitcher in years, Zack Wheeler, pitching for the first time since September of 2014 after being shelved from Tommy John surgery, was hit early and hard, giving up five runs on six hits in four innings, logging 80 pitches.

“He needed this,” manager Terry Collins said. “He needed to get back in the flow. For the first game, it was OK.”

WHEELER: Rough start in return. (AP)

WHEELER: Rough start in return. (AP)

Is velocity a big deal? He touched 97 in the first inning, then was in the low 90s two innings later. Was it the weather? Was it coming off surgery? Whatever the reason, the circumstances were such that we can’t make any real assessments until we see how he feels tomorrow and after his next start, Wednesday in Philadelphia.

That’s how Collins saw it. He chose to look at some of the positives, such as his early velocity and building his pitch count up to 80.

“It was not what I wanted tonight, but it was good to get out there,” Wheeler told reporters. “I didn’t have my best stuff tonight. I didn’t have good control and they were able to sit on the fastball. … It’s a long season and I will get better.”

ON THE MOUND: Good relief efforts from Rafael Montero and Josh Edgin, both of whom worked two innings. … Josh Smoker gave up two runs.

AT THE PLATE:  Two hits each by Curtis Granderson and Rene Rivera. … Michael Conforto had a pinch-hit single. … Jose Reyes was hitless in five at-bats and is hitting .056 on the season with only one hit. Maybe a day off would help. … Marlins pitchers struck out eight Mets.

IN THE FIELD: The Mets are getting ripped and the wind chill had to be in the low 30s. Seemed like it would have been a good opportunity to get the bench some work.

ON DECK: The Mets continue their homestand Saturday against Miami with Robert Gsellman getting the start.

 

Mar 19

Montero Making Bullpen Push

The high hopes the Mets have had for Rafael Montero might finally be coming to fruition this spring. What held him back in previous seasons was his command, which ran up his pitch count as a starter and was death as a reliever.

Montero was a bright spot in the Mets’ loss today to the Marlins – Jacob deGrom‘s start was another – with two scoreless innings in which he struck out three, but most importantly didn’t walk a hitter. Overall, he has 20 strikeouts and 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings spanning eight appearances.

“We’ve known that I get a lot of strikeouts and throw a lot of strikes. It’s just been a matter of working on my command, but I’ve been working hard on that,” Montero told reporters. “I’m using the curveball in the dirt a lot and the fastball outside. … It’s just a matter of getting ready quickly and preparing myself mentally. I’m here to help the team. Wherever they put me, I’m going to do my job.”

If Montero can continue at this pace he could merit consideration in a set-up role to Addison Reed.

Montero could always throw hard, but now his location is better and his pitches have movement and are catching the corners, where it previously flattened out over the plate or sailed. His improvement has been one of the most potentially important developments of the spring.

“Right now, he’s locating his pitches that he hasn’t done in the past,” manager Terry Collins said. “He works the edges of the plate, and this year he’s catching those edges. He’s starting to show us things we know he’s got.”