Jun 18

DeGrom Carries Mets Again

With his father and son watching, Jacob deGrom had one of those dream games when he smacked his first career home run and dominated the Washington Nationals. The win prevented the Mets from being swept and temporarily stopped what could be a free fall.

Whether competing for a pennant, a wild card, or just trying to reach .500, a team needs a stud pitcher.

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

Sandy Koufax once told me that if you’re going to win you need a pitcher who is 12 games over .500,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You have to have that kind of guy. Jake is here to win.”

DeGrom has pitched back-to-back stellar starts after back-to-back stinkers in which he gave up 15 runs. DeGrom followed up his complete-game against the Cubs by going eight innings today, giving up one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

He’s given up one earned run in 17 innings after solving his mechanical issue of flying open and throwing across his body.

“I was able to keep my front side close,’’ was how deGrom explained what’s been working for him. “I was able to locate [my change-up] on both sides of the plate.’’

At 6-3, I don’t know if deGrom will finish 12 games over .500, but he’s pitching like an ace. Some pitchers when they struggle can’t turn it around, but deGrom seemingly has fixed his problems.

That’s what aces do.

With the Mets heading on a brutal trip to Los Angeles (four games), San Francisco (three) and Miami (three) represent ten games that could define their season.

DeGrom’s win comes before the Mets face Clayton Kershaw Monday to start a four-game series against the Dodgers. This has the potential to be an ugly week, and stopping losing streaks is also the definition of an ace.

CESPEDES RESTS: Twice Saturday Yoenis Cespedes legged out infield hits and went from first to third on singles. He also scored on a sacrifice fly and made running catch down the line on a fly ball. That proves his hamstring didn’t bother him yesterday, but it’s the day after that is important.

“I’m more concerned with fatigue and some of the other things that have happened in the past,’’ Collins said.

When they brought Cespedes off the disabled list, they did so with a plan. And, for once they stuck with their plan.

Too many times the Mets abandoned a plan with a player and he later was reinjured.

A struggling team like the Mets needs all the help it can get, but they did the right thing this time.

A SPOT FOR REYES: With Asdrubal Cabrera expected off the disabled list shortly, we’ll be seeing less and less of Jose Reyes at shortstop. And, as long as T.J. Rivera keeps hitting – four more hits today – he should play third base – or someplace, every day.

“He keeps getting hits,’’ Collins said. “He has to play.’’

Conversely, Reyes went 0-for-5 today to see his batting average drop to .193 and his on-base percentage to .269.

For now, Wilmer Flores must stay at second and Rivera on third. So, when Cabrera returns, Reyes has to go to the bench.

EXTRA INNINGS: With a ninth-inning double, Daniel Murphy has reached base in each of the 29 games he’s played against his former team. Murphy is batting .391 with ten doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI vs. Mets. … With the win the Mets are now 1-6 vs. Washington at Citi Field. …  Michael Conforto showed breakout signs with two hits and two RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets begin a season-defining stretch of playing 16 of their next 19 games on the road tomorrow night in Los Angeles when Zack Wheeler starts against Kershaw.

Jun 02

Mets Wrap: Harvey Doesn’t Have It

After a rough start, the Mets’ Matt Harvey struck out five of six hitters to provide the illusion he might have turned things around. However, that stretch became the illusion to give credence to speculation his last start was more smoke than substance, if not a fluke.

It’s hard to believe Harvey’s 31-pitch first inning was his high point as he ended up giving up six runs on five hits and four walks in five innings in taking the loss in losing to Pittsburgh, 12-7, tonight at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Didn't have it. (AP)

HARVEY: Didn’t have it. (AP)

Once again, it was Harvey’s inability to locate his fastball and command his secondary pitches. In short, nothing worked for Harvey, now 4-3 with a 5.43 ERA.

“Last week he was so good,” said manager Terry Collins said. “There are times when you have to battle through it.”

Coming off thoracic outlet surgery, pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until mid-June at the earliest that Harvey would regain his velocity. Well, he’s topped out at 97 several times but was consistently in the low 90s tonight.

`My location wasn’t there,” Harvey said. “When you score seven runs you should win the game. … My location was off. I felt good (physically), but the location was off.”

However, regaining his pinpoint command has been another issue. It was clear in the first his command was off by the high pitch count, and further underscored by a leadoff walk and three runs given up in the fourth.

After Lucas Duda’s homer gave the Mets a lead for a second time, Harvey helped give it back again with a leadoff homer by Josh Bell and walk to Andrew McCutcheon in the sixth.

Why Collins let Harvey come out for the sixth is beyond me.

BULLPEN LOSES IT IN SIXTH: It’s hard to figure out what Collins was thinking as he left Paul Sewald in to struggle in the sixth inning as he retired only one of the eight hitters he faced.

Sewald gave up a single, two-run homer, infield hit, RBI double, single, hit a batter and issued a bases loaded walk.

Yeah, I know the Mets are short-handed in the bullpen, but one would think sometime before the walk to Bell to force in a run a light-bulb would have gone on in Collins’ head telling him Sewald didn’t have it tonight and short-handed or not, the Mets still had a game to win.

The Mets lead 7-5 going into the inning and trailed 11-7 when it was over.

Sewald should have been pulled after Elias Diaz’s homer (he drove in three with a bases-loaded double in the fourth off Harvey).

“It was one of those nights,” Sewald said. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I didn’t have my best fastball. I was struggling to get people out.”

Yeah, I get it, Collins doesn’t have many reliable relievers in the bullpen. Sewald was one of them before tonight.

“We were short tonight in the pen,” Collins said. “We didn’t want to burn too many guys in the pen. … He’s got to get us through the inning and he couldn’t do it.”

Now what?

If Collins doesn’t trust his relievers, then they shouldn’t be on the team, and that’s on GM Sandy Alderson.

DUDA’S POWER WASTED: Duda homered twice against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole giving him ten for the season.

Duda has been sizzling with six homers in his last eight games.

Too bad it was wasted.

 

May 30

Mets Lineup, May 30, Brewers

Tyler Pill will make his major league debut tonight against Milwaukee at Citi Field. Here’s the Mets’ lineup behind him:

Michael Conforto, LF: A player of the month candidate tied for first in extra-base hits (16), second in runs scored (25) and tied for fourth in homers (seven).

Jose Reyes, 3B: Hitting .250 with RISP. Is hitting .175 at home. … Recorded 2,000 career hit May 20.

Jay Bruce, RF: Tied for 11th in NL with 18 RBI in May. … Has two homers and seven RBI in last seven games.

Neil Walker, 2B: Is hitting .330 with eight doubles, four homers, 18 RBI and runs scored for May. Has .381 on-base percentage in May.

Lucas Duda, 1B: Another hot Met, hitting .407 with four doubles, three homers and nine RBI over last seven games.

Curtis Granderson, CF: Is five hits shy of 1,600 for career. … Hitting .286 with two homers and nine RBI in last 17 games.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Hitting .423 with RISP. … A career .303 hitter vs. Milwaukee.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: Hitting .286 with RISP. … Hitting just .067 (2-30) at home.

Travis Pill, RHP: Was 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA in the minor leagues. … Making major league debut tonight, but worked two-thirds of an inning and taking the loss Saturday.

May 08

Mets Lineup, Vs. Giants, May 8

The Mets attempt to rebound from to the pummeling Giancarlo Stanton gave them, and the embarrassment that has been Matt Harvey’s behavior, tonight at home against San Francisco.

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

Michael Conforto, LF: .357 (5-14) lifetime vs. Giants … .545 (6-11) with RISP … hitting .333 with six homers and 15 RBI in the leadoff spot.

T.J. Rivera, 1B: .400 (2-5) lifetime vs. Giants … .333 (3-9) with RISP … hitting .364 in last nine games.

Jay Bruce, RF: .295 (59-200) lifetime vs. Giants … .423 (11-26) with RISP … Hit seven homers with 16 RBI in April.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: .224 (11-49) lifetime vs. Giants … .000 (0-7) with RISP … activated from DL, May 2.

Neil Walker, 2B: .322 (47-146) lifetime vs. Giants … .391 (9-23) with RISP … has 94 homers since 2012, most of any second baseman in NL.

Jose Reyes, SS: .304 (63-207) lifetime vs. Giants … .222 (4-18) with RISP … has reached base in 12 straight games/

Rene Rivera, C: .231 (12-52) lifetime vs. Giants … .500 (5-10) with RISP … hit .429 during last homestand.

Juan Lagares , CF: .283 (15-53) lifetime vs. Giants … .250 (1-4) with RISP … last homer was July 15, 2016 at Philly.

Jacob deGrom, RHP: Is 3-1 with 3.42 ERA lifetime vs. Giants. … Is third in NL with 49 strikeouts. …  Beat Atlanta, 16-5, May 3 in last start.

May 06

Mets Wrap: Offense Keeps Rolling

The count is up to nine straight games in which the Mets scored at least five runs. The Mets batted around to score five runs in the first inning, then added on all night to complete an 11-3 victory over the Marlins.

GSELLMAN: Gets win. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Gets win. (AP)

The Mets moved within one game of .500, and go for the sweep with Matt Harvey starting Sunday.

And, once again, the Mets won big without the benefit of the home run, which has been their offensive identity. Tonight they got two bases-loaded walks from Michael Conforto; Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI double; three RBI by Jay Bruce on two doubles; one RBI and hit from T.J. Rivera; and two more hits from Jose Reyes.

“Guys are taking a good approach,” Bruce said. “They are going to the plate with a plan.”

That plan is patience, said manager Terry Collins.

“It’s not going up there looking for a walk,” Collins said. “It’s looking for the pitch you can hit.”

And, if that pitch doesn’t come, then there’s nothing wrong with a walk. The Mets drew seven walks, of which two scored. The Mets also had two hit batters that scored, and another run who reached on an error. That’s five gift runs.

GSELLMAN GETS WIN: Robert Gsellman won his second straight decision despite not pitching very effectively. Gsellman gave up three runs on eight hits, no walks and two strikeouts in five innings.

Gsellman’s short stint again forced the Mets to go into their bullpen, using five relievers, Paul Sewald working the last two innings.

Collins acknowledged his bullpen faces being overworked, and said he’ll try to limit them to an inning apiece.

CESPEDES UPDATE: Alderson said Yoenis Cespedes is making progress with his left hamstring and will return to New York Monday for further tests. Alderson said the tests will hopefully ascertain why he’s susceptible to muscle pulls.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WILLIE: Today marked the 86th birthday for Willie Mays, arguably the games’ greatest living player.

Mays, who broke in with the New York Giants in 1951, and after a Hall of Fame career forged mostly in San Francisco, was traded to the Mets in 1972 and played in the 1973 World Series.

Mays retired with a career .302 average, 3,283 hits, 660 homers, 1,903 RBI, 338 stolen bases and a .941 OPS.

Mays is a two-time MVP, 24-time All-Star and a 12-time Gold Glove Award winner.

UP NEXT: Matt Harvey (2-2) enters Sunday’s series finale after giving up six or more runs in consecutive starts for the first time in his career. Jose Urena (0-0) will start for the Marlins.