Feb 26

Mets’ Tentative Pitching Rotation Pending Niese’s MRI

The New York Mets have their tentative pitching rotation for the first series of the season against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, pending Jonathon Niese‘s health.

Manager Terry Collins, as he’s said all along, will go with Niese on Opening Day, March 31. After a day off, the Mets will start Game 2 with Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee in Game 3.

Of course, this is predicated on health. Niese, who had rotator cuff issues last season, returned to New York today for a MRI on his sore left shoulder. Reports out of Port St. Lucie say Niese has a dead arm and the discomfort is in a different part of the shoulder.

Until the results are in, there’s no way of knowing how much time Niese will miss. Presumably, if he opens the season on the disabled list, everybody in the rotation would be moved up a day with another pitcher added.

That leaves Zack Wheeler as the fourth starter, going against Cincinnati, also at Citi Field, and the fifth starter in the season’s fifth game.

The competition for the fifth starter role appears boiled down to Daisuke MatsuzakaJohn Lannan and Jenrry Mejia. Matsuzaka, based on his performance in September for the Mets, and Mejia recovering from surgery, is the front-runner. Lannan could get the nod if neither Niese nor Mejia are available.

If he goes, this would mark the second straight season Niese was the Opening Day starter. Last season, he held San Diego to two runs on four hits in 6.2 innings in a game won, 11-2, by the Mets.

Colon, an 18-game winner last season with Oakland, figured to be the No. 2 starter. Collins also wanted to make sure Gee started in the series as he was 4-2 last season against the Nationals.

There has clamoring from fans on Internet message boards and websites endorsing Wheeler for the start, but there was no way Collins would lead frog established veterans for a young pitcher with limited experience. Also, this keeps Wheeler from the pressures of a high profile start.

Washington is expected to go with Stephen Strasburg in the opener, followed by Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez.

Oct 09

2013 Season Review: Matt Harvey

matt harvey

MATT HARVEY, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

The Mets were patient in bringing up Harvey last year and it paid off. After making a splash with 10 mostly eye opening starts and leaving a strong impression with his poise and command, it was anticipated Harvey would take the next step and become a solid starter in the rotation. Harvey outpitched his experience and numbers with an ability to mix his pitches and throw breaking pitches in fastball counts. Never mind Harvey’s 3-5 record in 2012, but instead look at his 2.73 ERA and 70 to 26 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Harvey had a dominant 10.6 strikeouts per-nine-innings average. Those 70 strikeouts came in 59.1 innings, which screams domination. With Johan Santana out, the Mets hoped Harvey would step into the No. 2 role in the rotation behind Jon Niese. When the season began the Mets did not have an innings limit on Harvey as the Washington Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg. However, that changed as the season progressed, and perhaps it was too late.

CAREER STATS

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2013 SEASON REVIEW

After winning his first five decisions and seven of eight, Harvey had the world in the palm of his hand. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, showcased on the late-night talk shows and dating a supermodel, with pictures of him on the back pages in the midst of public displays of affection. All that was the result of what he did on the mound, as he overpowered hitters from the beginning and started the All-Star Game. There was talk of him being a Cy Young Award candidate. However, he lost three of his last four decisions and had 12 no-decisions before sustaining a partial ligament tear in his elbow. Harvey complained of tightness in his right forearm prior to the break, of which Terry Collins professed no knowledge. Harvey was truly dominating with 191 strikeouts in 178.1 innings, and walking just 31 with a microscopic 0.93 WHIP and 2.27 ERA.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says:

Harvey eschewed immediate surgery to opt for rest and rehabilitation before starting a throwing program in the hope of being ready for spring training. The Mets hoped Harvey could pitch in the Arizona Fall League as a test, but that is becoming remote. Harvey will be re-examined in late October or early November, and if there’s not sufficient healing in the tear, surgery is still on the table. Harvey is taking a risk that if he doesn’t have surgery, he could further tear the ligament next summer and would miss the rest of next year and 2015 as well. If he has the surgery now he could conceivably be ready next September, which would be important if the Mets are competitive. The way things are progressing it appears Harvey will undergo surgery and the Mets will shop for mid-level veteran innings eater.

Joe D. Says:

The best case scenario for Matt Harvey in 2014, would be a return sometime around mid to late August. I can almost envision the excitement of his return – culminating in a dominating glimpse of the great season to come in 2015. The return of Harvey Day would electrify the fan base and be the perfect tonic going into the offseason and ushering in what we hope will be a run of success for the franchise beginning in 2015. Going into that offseason knowing that Harvey was back and healthy would eliminate the shadow that would be cast if he doesn’t return to make at least 2-3 starts. We need to see him back on the mound. It’s important for his teammates as well as the fans.

Aug 26

Matt Harvey Goes On DL With UCL Tear; Now Comes The Finger Pointing And Questions

The New York Mets should cut Matt Harvey’s innings at 178.1, exactly what it is today after several media outlets reported a MRI revealed a partially torn partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

HARVEY: Special season crashing.

HARVEY: Special season crashing.

I wrote Sunday the Mets needed to devise a definitive plan to reduce his innings, and that plan should now be to shut him down for the remainder of the season. Let’s not assume rest will take care of everything.

Now, comes the questions, and, yes finger pointing.

Did Terry Collins overuse Harvey at the start of the season? Did the plan to implement Harvey’s inning cap come too late, and why didn’t they learn from Washington’s Stephen Strasburg the best plan is to have one at the start of the season?

And, is it not a matter of capping innings, but pitches? Do the Mets even have a definitive plan to protect their young pitchers?

Was Harvey hurting and didn’t inform the medical staff? He said he had he had been dealing with forearm discomfort, but was he forthcoming enough? Did he hold back? Did the Mets know and continued to run him out there in hope for the best?

So many question, and here’s another: Is this just part of pitching, with nobody to blame but fate?

If Tommy John surgery remains on the table, he could miss most, if not all, the 2014 season. So much for making a playoff run next year. If surgery is performed, will it be sooner than later, as to get an idea of Harvey’s return timetable?

Whatever the decision on surgery, it won’t be for at least until after his two-week duration on the disabled list until the swelling goes down. Following that there will be another MRI, perhaps some rehab, and then possibly surgery.

If the Mets are inclined to delay their run at respectability until 2015, how will this impact their 2014 offseason plans? Will they re-sign Daisuke Matsuzaka? Will they go the route of trying to sign an established starter for next year or go patchwork? How will the Mets respond now with Zack Wheeler?

Excluding Johan Santana during spring training, Harvey, who was placed on the disabled list, is the fourth Mets’ starter to sustain a significant arm injury this year. Jonathan Niese underwent shoulder surgery to repair a partial tear in his shoulder. Jeremy Hefner is contemplating a second opinion on surgery, and Jenrry Mejia will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

Harvey had a MRI today after complaining of fatigue and pain in his elbow after a grueling 102-pitch effort Saturday against Detroit.  He will finish the year at 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA. After a 5-0 start, so much more was expected.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the injury is an accumulative result as opposed to one specific game. “This is not good news, obviously,’’ he said. “This is not a career-ending injury under any stretch of the imagination. We’re fortunate we have a lot of pitching depth in our organization.’’

Yeah, but are any of them as good as Harvey?

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Jul 26

Mets, Nationals Heading In Opposite Directions

There’s still a big chunk remaining to the season, but the New York Mets have a chance of, a) finishing over .500, b) finishing in second place in the NL East, c) finish with a better record than the Yankees, or d) all of the above.

It is possible, but also something nobody realistically considered at the start of the season. With a handful of days before the trade deadline, the Mets aren’t going to make a run at the playoffs, but instead have opted to keep a pat hand to ascertain how good they are at the end of the season.

It’s not a bad stance as it gives them a greater understanding of their offseason needs, important since they have close to $50 million coming off the books. Trading pieces such as Bobby Parnell, Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis will only create more holes.

Washington was seemingly given a free pass to the World Series by the national media, but the Nationals are fading fast and the Mets could leapfrog them this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader today.

With the exception of Jenrry Mejia going against Jordan Zimmerman in the first game, all the pitching match-ups favor the Mets.

Not many in the sport are feeling much empathy for the Nationals, who in their first taste of success in decades last season carried themselves with an arrogance that firmly stated “we’ll be back here often,’’ when it shut down Stephen Strasburg.

Instead of limiting his innings piecemeal, the Nationals cut him off at the end and kept him from pitching in the playoffs. That worked out well, didn’t it?

As the Mets attest, the playoffs aren’t a given. They haven’t been back since 2006, but coughed up opportunities the following two years.

I understand the Nationals’ reasoning, just as I understand the Mets’ doing it with Matt Harvey, but there’s a better way than just pulling the ball when he reaches an innings limit. The Nationals ignored the rest of their players and placed more an emphasis on Strasburg than anybody else.

They gave the impression the playoffs would be a given. However, manager Davey Johnson is retiring after this season; Strasburg is having a down year; their bullpen has holes; and the offense has been erratic.

The Nationals basically dismissed the rest of the NL East, which now belongs to the Braves.

The Nationals’ problems are well documented, as are the Phillies’ injuries. This time next week the Phillies could have traded several key pieces, although they say they are keeping Cliff Lee.

This time next week both could be looking up at the Mets.

Amazing.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 13

No Matt Harvey Day

The New York Mets will not have their best pitcher today in Pittsburgh, instead choosing to have Matt Harvey ready for the All-Star Game Tuesday night.

Harvey sits today and probably won’t pitch until next Sunday. The Mets say they are concerned about Harvey’s two blisters and limiting his innings for the second half. Never mind lessening their chances of winning today and possibly tearing open the blisters in the exhibition game.

HARVEY: Not today.

HARVEY: Not today.

While obviously placing a premium on the All-Star Game over the Pirates, the Mets say it’s just an inning on what would be his throw day. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact he’ll be so amped up Tuesday that his effort won’t be anything like a throw day.

With the seriousness the Mets are taking with Harvey in the All-Star Game, you’d think they’d send him back to New York early so he could rest.

In explaining shaving Harvey’s innings now over skipping starts, say in September, Terry Collins said: “We’ve got to worry about the New York Mets. And I understand the integrity of the game and all that stuff. But we’ve got to worry about Matt Harvey and the New York Mets in the long run. What are the NL East teams going to say if this guy is not pitching in September?’’

Just one big contradiction.

I’m curious as to when this idea of limiting Harvey’s innings was hatched. Didn’t they learn anything from Stephen Strasburg last season?

The best way to cut the innings is skipping one start a month. That’s six over the season and estimating at least six innings a start, that’s 36 shaved innings.

Couldn’t anybody from Sandy Alderson to Collins to pitching coach Dan Warthen figure that out earlier?

Actually, depending on whom you speak with, the issue is pitch counts instead of innings. The cutoff is presumably 100 pitches, but Harvey routinely goes 110 or more.

Speaking of pitch counts, why would you pinch-hit for Jeremy Hefner in a tie game with Jordany Valdespin when he’s only thrown 78 pitches, and with your bullpen worn down and LaTroy Hawkins not available with a sore triceps?

Valdespin hasn’t done anything lately coming off the bench, Hefner was grooving, and did I mention the bullpen has been overworked? It all added up to rookie Gonzalez Germen making his debut in extra innings.

You had to figure something bad was going to happen, which, of course, it did.

Today the Mets will go with Carlos Torres, who worked two innings in San Francisco in a blowout win when it would have been a perfect time to break in Germen.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos