Oct 02

Things Still On The Line For Mets Against Nationals


For much of this season, the Mets pointed to this weekend’s series against the Nationals as critical to getting into the playoffs. Nobody thought it might be essential to get their heads screwed on straight. After mauling Cincinnati in four games to clinch the NL East, the Mets are scrambling to regain their sharpness after being swept in three games by the Phillies.

COLLINS:  Needs to make motivate his team. (AP)

COLLINS: Needs to make motivate his team. (AP)

After sweeping the Reds, manager Terry Collins projected a lull in his team’s adrenalin flow. He said yesterday he needs to channel his inner Knute Rockne.

“If you’ve been down this path, you knew that there was going to be an energy drain,’’ Collins said. “We always have a little scout meeting before the series and I will try to give my `A’ speech.’’

It’s not as if the Mets won’t have motivation as they are can still secure home field advantage in the NLDS with the Dodgers. The Mets’ 3-0 loss Thursday in Philadelphia coupled with the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory in San Francisco, leave the teams each with 89-70 records. However, the Mets hold the tiebreaker after winning the season series with the Dodgers, going 2-1 in Los Angeles and 2-2 at Citi Field.

Collins blamed pitching for the Mets’ showing in Philadelphia, but the offense is off its game, having scored only three runs in their last 18 innings.

Friday’s game is rained out, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday. The extra day might give Yoenis Cespedes a chance for his two bruised fingers on his left hand to heal enough so he can play. He would not have played Friday. The extra day could also help infielder Wilmer Flores‘s stiff lower back. It is questionable how much he’ll play this weekend.

Collins said his starters – Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard – will be limited to 80 to 90 pitches – but will he deviate with home field on the line? Syndergaard will start the day game Saturday and Harvey the night game while deGrom goes Sunday.

Collins isn’t concerned about the possibility of having to play a doubleheader – that’s almost expected – but hopes the Mets won’t have to play a make-up game Monday.

However, in looking at the big picture that won’t matter because regardless of what happens this weekend, the Mets will still be playing next week.

Sep 24

What’s Mets’ October Thinking On Matz?

The Mets’ magic number is down to three games following tonight’s victory in Cincinnati, but getting a step closer to the postseason for the first time since 2006 doesn’t mean they are any closer to setting Steven Matz‘s playoff role.

Matz hasn’t lost in six career starts, but hasn’t been as good as he was prior to going on the disabled list in early July. Tonight the Reds hit him for three runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings, in which he threw 93 pitches. The damage against him would have been greater had he not struck out eight.

MATZ: How will he be used? (Getty)

MATZ: How will he be used? (Getty)

Matz has a power left arm and a bright future, but does that future include a spot in the playoff rotation? He’ll make the playoff roster, but his role hasn’t been announced. We just know he’ll be there.

I’m thinking there are four potential roles for him:

* He could be one of four starters, with the others being Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. This would leave bullpen roles for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese.

* Because of the uncertainty surrounding Harvey with his innings, Matz could be in the rotation along with Niese or Colon, with Harvey coming out to the bullpen. This would work when Harvey would come out to start an inning.

Because of the mystery surrounding this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets already know they might leave Harvey off the playoff roster, and in that case Matz would likely get the starting spot.

* Again, because of Harvey’s innings issue, if he is to pitch half-games in the playoffs, perhaps he could be used as the second arm in the game to pitch in short relief.

* Finally, because of injury questions with relievers Carlos Torres and Tyler Clippard, Matz could be utilized as a situational lefty or as the seventh inning specialist.

The wild card in all this is Harvey’s innings. Even without Harvey, or with him in a reduced role, the Mets have more of a need in the bullpen than in the rotation.


Sep 08

The Mets 2016 Schedule

The Mets released their 2016 schedule. The first things I look for when the new schedule comes out are the Opening Day opponent, the home opener opponent, and final weekend of the year.

Opening Day is April 4, at Kansas City, which totally stinks. I hate interleague play to begin with, but on  Opening Day it is absurd. In fact, the Mets have two interleague series in April (April 15-17) at Cleveland. This always presents the problems about rescheduling rainouts, or worse, multi-hour rain delays. But, if major league baseball doesn’t care about the comfort and safety of its players, and the comfort of its fans, then I guess I won’t, either.

The home opener is April 8 against Philadelphia. The first homestand has three games each against the Phillies and Marlins. The opener is a Friday and doesn’t have the provision of a built in off day the next day.

Because of the prospect of bad weather, April should be mostly divisional play, which makes rescheduling easier because you know that team will be back. That being said, Cincinnati and San Francisco making their only Citi Field visits in April is also weak.

Besides Kansas City and at Cleveland, interleague play includes the Yankees in back-to-back series (first Citi Field then Yankee Stadium) the first week of August. They also go to Detroit the first week in August and host Chicago the last week in May and Minnesota in mid-September.

Washington comes in May 17-19; July 8-10 and Sept. 2-4.

The Mets have only two West Coast trips, San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado, May 5-15; Arizona and San Francisco, Aug. 15-21 (they end that trip with three games in St. Louis). From a travel standpoint, they don’t leave the Eastern Time Zone in September. Both scheduling scenarios are huge breaks.

The season ends with back-to-back, three-game series at Miami and Philadelphia. Going under the assumption Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia will be as bad as they are this season, it is a plus the Mets end of the season with 13 straight games against those three teams. In addition, factoring their records as of today, the Mets have 99 games against teams with losing records.

Starting times have not been announced.

Merry Christmas.


Jul 17

Oddsmakers, And Numbers, Don’t Like Mets

Last year’s National League champions, San Francisco, won 88 games to qualify as a wild-card entry. For the Mets to win that many games, they must go 41-32, nine games over .500.

Oddsmakers have the Mets at 33-1 to win the World Series, this after being 25-1 on July 1. Evidently, that four-game winning streak entering the break carried little goodwill.

We shall see what the Mets are made of after the first three series of the second half – at St. Louis and Washington, and home to the Dodgers.

The Mets are stacking their rotation for the Washington series, with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. And, since Syndergaard goes tonight at St. Louis, it computes to the five-man rotation.

That means Harvey will get his way, for at least for the near future. You wanted it big boy, now just pitch.

“For us to stay in this race, we’ve got to beat Washington,’’ said Collins. “That is why we aligned the rotation the way we did.’’

Sure, the Washington games are important, but if the Mets lose in St. Louis but beat the Nationals, what have they gained?

The bottom line is all the games are important to the Mets, who will attempt to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, but with an offense ranked 28th in scoring at 310 runs, which is roughly 3.5 a game.

With a 3.23 ERA, there is virtually no margin for error, and making it all the more difficult is there’s no imminent help on the horizon, whether from outside the organization; in the minor leagues; or from the return of the injured David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets’ primary competition for the wild-card at Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Francisco. They currently trail the Pirates and Cubs, but are one game up on the Giants. Also, all three teams are .500 or better on the road while the Mets have been dismal away from home. And, of course, the Giants have a championship pedigree.

GM Sandy Alderson has taken heat, and deservedly so, for not being aggressive in the trade market.

He did an admirable job cutting payroll and jettisoning the likes of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and others, but somewhere in his contract his job description there needs to be a clause about putting a winning team on the field, not a cheap one.

May 07

Reading The Murphy Tea Leaves

The thing that stands out about the recent Daniel Murphy trade rumors is the lack of denials from the New York Mets. None. Sure, scouts look at players all the time and we shouldn’t be surprised San Francisco was in over the weekend to look at Murphy. It stands to reason considering the Giants have a Pablo Sandoval size hole at third base.

It is no coincidence Murphy was moved to third to be showcased when Dilson Herrera was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas.

MURPHY: Sliding on out of here? (AP)

MURPHY: Sliding on out of here? (AP)

It also comes as no surprise the Mets have made no overtures to extend Murphy’s contract. And, they have had plenty of time.

It all makes sense, except for one thing: The Mets are playing winning baseball and Murphy, although not hitting well, does have a pile of RBI since he was moved into a run-producing slot in the batting order.

So, what happens in the next couple of weeks when David Wright comes off the disabled list? Especially if Herrera is hitting?

Who can’t see the Mets trying to unload Murphy?

But, if theMets accept token players, minor league scraps, if you will, while having their best season in six years, if should tell you a lot about GM Sandy Alderson and what management really considers as a priority.

My guess is winning isn’t ranked first.