May 23

Big Pitching Night Awaits Mets

Should the Mets put the brakes on their current slide, tonight might be circled as a potential turning point with regards to their battered starting rotation. Both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo will make minor league rehab starts, but the headliner will be Matt Harvey’s first home start since he was suspended for blowing off a workout the day before a start.

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

The hope is Matz and Lugo will replace Tommy Milone and Robert Gsellman in the rotation, and the vision the Mets always held for Harvey will finally emerge with no more health questions, or for that matter, no more diva issues.

Harvey alluded as much to that: “It’ll be good to go out and concentrate on the game plan that we go over before the game instead of thinking I have to stay with a certain mechanic. … We’ve figured out what I need to do and now it’s just about going out and executing pitches.’’

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until the end of May or early June when his velocity would return for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Harvey is throwing hard again, but his command has been off and there hasn’t been an edge to his game.

The Mets were to be defined by their pitching, and they have – it has been the single biggest disappointment to this season to date.

Warthen said the current issue for Harvey (2-3, 5.56 ERA) is mechanics, ranging from arm slots to his timing. In his last start at Arizona, Harvey gave up three runs with five strikeouts, but four walks.

The returns of Matz and Lugo could carry significant weight, even more if one of them eventually replaces Harvey.

May 06

Today’s Question: Is Last Year’s Gsellman Back?

Robert Gsellman was one of the surprise Mets in 2016, coming to the major leagues when Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz were injured and filled the void that made the playoffs possible. This season, after Bartolo Colon left as a free-agent and Seth Lugo was injured, Gsellman started the year in the rotation.

Gsellman has struggled against Miami, but is coming off his first victory of the season Monday in Atlanta. That leads to the question: What Gsellman will the Mets see tonight?

The key for Gsellman has always been the first inning. If he gets by that obstacle, the odds shift in his favor. He has a lifetime 7.82 ERA in the first inning, but in the second through the fourth innings it is 1.85.

Yes, that’s the margin separating victory and defeat.

 

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 01

Mets Wrap: Gsellman Gives Innings; Offense Awakens

Robert Gsellman came out of nowhere last year to save the Mets season after Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz went down. They are counting on him again this season – especially with Noah Syndergaard out indefinitely – and gave them five innings tonight.

Given six runs, Gsellman gave up five runs on six hits in a 77-pitch five innings to get the win in a 7-5 victory. Not great numbers, but the most important stat was getting ten ground ball outs.

GSELLMAN: Gives important innings. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Gives important innings. (AP)

“I got a lot of ground balls today,” Gsellman told reporters. “I had my sinker down in the zone.”

Gsellman and Seth Lugo picked up the Mets last season after injuries cost them Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. With Lugo and Syndergaard on the disabled list, Gsellman will have to pitch better and they’ll need innings from Rafael Montero, who is scheduled to start Friday.

OFFENSE WAKENS: The Mets offense came alive in the first two games of the Washington series, and did so again tonight.

Michael Conforto homered to lead off the game and drove in three runs. Most importantly, the Mets strung together five hits in a five-run fourth.

“Some days the offense is going to have to carry us,” manager Terry Collins told reporters.The best part of that inning is that none of the hits were homers.

The best part of the inning is none of the hits were homers.

REED REBOUNDS: Another bright spot was Addison Reed, who pitched so well last season, but has been hit hard lately, giving up four homers in April.

He looked good last night, but after giving up a leadoff single to Matt Kemp he shut down the Braves for the rest of the eighth inning.

REYES HOMERS AGAIN: Collins said the other day he’s considering moving Jose Reyes up in the batting order. It won’t happen because Conforto keeps raking, leading off the game with a homer.

Reyes extended his hitting streak to seven games with his third homer in that span. Traditionally, Reyes hits them in bunches and then goes during a stretch where he tries to hit them and slips into a tailspin.

We’ll see what happens.

UP NEXT: Matt Harvey (2-1, 4.25) was moved up on April 27 to replace Noah Syndergaard and gave up six runs in 4.1 innings and later said he wasn’t ready. Former Mets Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (2-2, 3.80) will start for Atlanta.

ON DECK LATER TONIGHT: Some wins are more important than others.

Apr 27

Syndergaard, Cespedes Lost … Is Season Far Behind?

Welcome, my friends, to Panic City, where your mayor, GM Sandy Alderson and his deputy, Terry Collins, have some serious scrambling to do before they take their last place Mets into Washington for a three-game series with the Nationals.

While Alderson was in his office after today’s 7-5 loss to the Braves – the Mets’ sixth straight – weighing his limited options, Collins was delivering his annual, closed doors, “nobody is going to feel sorry for you … it’s time to grind it out, starting now,” address to his shell-shocked team, losers of ten of their last 11 games.

CESPEDES: Yes, things can get worse. (AP)

CESPEDES: Yes, things can get worse. (AP)

Collins was in a testy mood following a day when starter Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes were lost.

Syndergaard has biceps tendinitis and the Mets hope he’ll be ready for Sunday, but they are accomplished at wishful thinking. Cespedes, whom the Mets gambled was back from a tight hamstring, significantly pulled it legging out a double in the fourth inning and will be lost for an extended period.

Cespedes will get another MRI Friday and likely will be placed on the disabled list before facing Max Scherzer in Washington. There, he will join Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, David Wright, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Brandon Nimmo.

Collins, his voice getting louder with each name, ticked them off one at a time, Duda, Wright, Matt Harvey, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cespedes, Matz, Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud, and said the Mets eventually pulled it together to reach the playoffs.

“I told them, ‘We can do it again, but it’s got to start now,’ ” Collins said. “OK, so the weather is gonna start changing. That can no longer be the excuse. It’s now time to go out and grind it out as we did last year.

“It’s still April, I understand that, but, we can no longer sit back and say, ‘It’s ugly weather, we’ve got some guys hurt.’ No one cares. [The Braves] don’t care, the Nationals don’t care. The only thing that matters are the guys in [the clubhouse], because that’s the product. They’ve got to care. They’ve got to come out, play with some energy and get this going and I truly believe they can do it.”

When asked the timing for this message, Collins played the perception-reality card, Collins said he’s aware of the talk energy is down, but that’s to be expected when your team batting average is .184 and on-base percentage is .268 during this slide.

“Look, it’s just April, I get it, but it’s time,” Collins said. “We’ve got a tough road trip ahead. … We’ve got to grind it out. We can do it, but we’ve got to start now.”

Now, is best defined as Friday in Washington, where the Mets, currently 7.5 games behind the Nationals, will try to stop their free-fall. As of now, deGrom, Zack Wheeler and to-be-announced will start, but Collins can’t say whether the offense will show, especially with Cespedes out.

“We’ve got to go out there and have energy,” said third baseman Jose Reyes. “We know we are going to better than this. … We’re going to see what we’re made of. It’s only April, we have five more months. We don’t want to go too deep in the standings. We have a good ballclub and we’re going to turn it around.”

It’s going to be difficult without Cespedes and Syndergaard. Collins said losing Cespedes “is a big hole.”

Losing Cespedes could have been prevented had the Mets acted proactively, which they did not. Instead, they kept hoping he’d get better. By putting Cespedes immediately on the disabled list, he might have missed both Washington series. Instead, foolishly gambling on a player with a history of muscle pulls, they not only miss Cespedes for both Nationals series, and for possibly up to a month.

“No,” a defiant Collins said when asked if he had any regrets by not putting Cespedes on the disabled list a week ago.

“He did all the things that were required to get in the lineup,” Collins said. “It just happens. It’s easy to say you should have put him on the DL. Well, you know what? Every time you turn around for every little thing, if you keep putting guys on the DL, we can’t run anybody out there.

“The guy pulled a hamstring. He’s wound tight. I am going to go with that. Now he’s going to be out for awhile.”

In saying Cespedes is wound tight, and especially after last season, are specifically the reasons why he should have been put on the disabled list. But, Collins doesn’t make those decisions; he’s there to shield GM Sandy Alderson from the flack he deserves.

As for Syndergaard goes, the Mets can afford a few extra days in making a decision because as a pitcher he works every five days. Syndergaard was supposed to start Wednesday, but was scratched because “I wanted to,” said Collins, not because he felt something in his arm while shagging fly balls before the game.

Syndergaard said the discomfort is in his shoulder and biceps area and isn’t a reoccurrence of the bone spur that bothered him last season.

“It’s quite obvious we can’t take a chance on him,” Collins said. “He’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

Prior to the game, Syndergaard said, “it’s a little thing right now, but we definitely don’t want to become a big thing,” but after the game got testy with a team official for not preventing reporters from questioning him.

Harvey started in place of Syndergaard and was lit up by the Braves. He got a phone call early today saying he would start.

“I really physically prepared for starting today,” said Harvey, who lifted weights Wednesday. “Having those workouts that I did yesterday and the throwing that I did yesterday, I just definitely wasn’t prepared.”

That’s odd because had he paid attention Wednesday when Syndergaard’s arm was barking and he was scratched, should have realized something was going on. Of course, that wouldn’t have taken away the workout, but Harvey could have been more mentally prepared.

Should have, could have, would have can’t turn this thing around for the Mets, who are in desperate need of something to go right.

“We need to be cognizant, when things aren’t going your way, not to go through the motions,” said Jay Bruce, one of the few bright spots for the Mets. “We’re up to the challenge.”

They better be, because 21 games into a season they all believed a World Series was possible, they are looking at that opportunity slipping away.