Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Wheeler Unravels In Loss; Gets No Help From Pen

Sometimes too much is made of baseball’s specialized statistics, but one of them speaks volumes of the Mets’ Zack Wheeler. It all fell apart for Wheeler in the Cardinals’ six-run sixth inning, which raised his ERA for that particular inning this year to a lofty 13.50.

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

Outside of injuries that sidelined him for the past two years, what has primarily prevented Wheeler from reaching stardom has been high pitch counts, often culminating into hitting a wall in the sixth inning.

Such was the case again tonight, as Wheeler cruised through four innings, but things began to unravel in the fifth, and he completely lost it in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Paul DeJong and a RBI double by pitcher Adam Wainwright.

As puzzling as Wheeler has been was manager Terry Collins’ decision to send him out for the sixth inning, considering he walked the bases loaded in the fifth.

“He certainly didn’t look tired or like he was laboring,’’ Collins said.

Wheeler said he lost the feel for his curveball and it wasn’t spinning out of his hand the way it should.

Asdrubal Cabrera robbed Jedd Gyorko of a two-run single to get out of the inning. Instead of being grateful, Collins pushed the envelope with Wheeler in the sixth.

Collins not only made a mistake in trusting Wheeler, but compounded it by keeping him in after DeJong’s homer, and doubled down on that mistake by bringing in Hansel Robles, who promptly gave up a three-run to Tommy Phan.

“It was my fault,’’ said Wheeler, who was stand-up and refused to throw his bullpen under the bus. “I should have made my pitches and gotten out of it.’’

Wheeler gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in 5.1 innings and has gone eight straight starts without a victory.

So, after routing Colorado in the first two games coming out of the All-Star break, Mets’ pitchers Steven Matz and Wheeler were routed themselves.

“You can’t go on a run if you don’t get consistent pitching,’’ said Collins, stating the obvious.

Meanwhile, prior to the game, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey played catch on flat ground. Both were pleased, but it was only catch.

Of course, what Collins couldn’t say is he stuck with Wheeler and went to Robles because GM Sandy Alderson gave him no other alternative.

Jul 16

Mets Wrap: What’s Wrong With Matz?

The Mets know what was wrong today with Steven Matz, but what they don’t know is why. Matz gave up seven runs on nine hits in one-plus innings in the worst start of his short career.

After Matz put the Mets in a 7-0 second-inning hole, pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the video tape and reported back to manager Terry Collins that everything was out over the plate.

MATZ: What's wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What’s wrong? (AP)

That told Collins that although Matz was throwing hard, his pitches lacked movement and his location wasn’t there.

“I don’t care how good your stuff is, you can’t do that in this league,’’ Collins said.

The Rockies scored four in the first and three in the second on Nolan Arenado‘s homer.

Matz seemed shell-shocked.

“It all happened so quick, to be honest,’’ Matz said. “The balls were just over the heart of the plate, and they were able to get their barrels to it. I was giving them a chance with where I was missing.

“It’s just not the way you write it up. It’s frustrating, but I’ve got to flush it. I got another start coming up in five days, and I’ve got to prepare for that and try and learn from my mistakes here and just keep going.’’

But, he said something similar after the Cardinals ripped him in his last start prior to the break. Considering, this funk hit Matz all at once, and that he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list following elbow surgery, possibly he hit a physical wall.

It’s been two bad starts. Will there be a third?

Jul 13

Six Plusses For Mets In First Half

It wasn’t all bad for the Mets in the first half, their record notwithstanding.Six players stood out for their performance:

Michael Conforto: The Mets’ lone All-Star, despite a lackluster June. Once pegged as the No. 3 hitter of the future, Conforto flourished in the leadoff spot. He singled in his first All-Star at-bat, but struck out later in the game with the winning run on third. Came off the disabled list the Saturday before the All-Star break. He enters the second half without a position, which is totally absurd. Unless there’s a trade, manager Terry Collins needs to develop a rotation system that gives Conforto four starts per week.

BRUCE: First-half MVP> (AP)

BRUCE: First-half MVP> (AP)

Jay Bruce: With 23 homers, he should have been the Mets’ All-Star representative. GM Sandy Alderson openly tried to deal Bruce after re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, but failing to do so only drove down his trade leverage. If the Mets decide to be sellers Bruce could draw a nice package in return. He’s a free agent after this season, but the Mets have made no overtures of bringing him back.

Jacob deGrom: Easily the Mets’ ace, even before injuries sabotaged the rotation. Had a rough start by giving up 15 runs in consecutive starts. He rebounded with five straight starts of at least seven innings pitched. He has eight such games overall. One red flag are the 18 homers he gave up in only 111 innings pitched.

Steven Matz: He started the season on the DL, but has looked good with a 3.05 ERA in six starts. He worked into the seventh in four of them. A red flag is seven homers given up in 38.1 innings.

Addison Reed: Had a rough stretch in May, but overall has done a great job filling in for Jeurys Familia. He has converted 15 of 17 save opportunities with a solid 1.08 WHIP. He’s a free agent after this season. He could bring a lot in a trade, but if the Mets think they are still in it they’ll need to keep him.

Jerry Blevins: Is tied for first with 44 appearances, but Collins has backed off in recent weeks. Lefty hitters are batting only .167 against him, which would make him an attractive trade chip at the deadline.

 

 

Jul 03

Mets Suffer Crushing Defeat; Waste Matz Start

The Mets are like my last girlfriend, the ultimate tease. I mean, if you’re going to tie the game on a pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth, you might as well hang around and win the damn thing. Instead, the Mets’ bullpen gave it up, and tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals dropped them to 10.5 behind, and in the process waste a sterling Steven Matz start.

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

Yes, you have to win the first game before you can sweep, but make no mistake, the Mets needed to sweep this three-game series at Washington. Even if they win the next two games, the most they closest they’ll get is 8.5 games. Still time, but very disappointing.

Curtis Granderson tied it 2-2 in the ninth on a pinch-hit, two-run homer, but the bullpen – using three relievers in the bottom half of the inning – gave the game away. Why not use your best reliever, Addison Reed, for two innings? Reed didn’t pitch Sunday, so he had some rest.

The bullpen has been an issue this season, and Fernando Salas, who gave up the game-winning hit, really has no business being in the game if the ninth inning of a tie game. Another issue is all the Mets’ pitchers’ walks. Two of the Nationals’ three runs were the result of walks. Overall, they’ve walked 305, good for third in the National League.

You thought, maybe the Mets would pull it out once Granderson homered, but when they didn’t take a big lead that inning, you understood disappointment could still loom, as it did tonight.

 

Jul 03

Mets’ Lineup. July 3, At Washington

Curtis Granderson‘s strained hip will keep him out of tonight’s starting lineup:

Jose Reyes – SS

Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B

Yoenis Cespedes – LF

Jay Bruce – RF

T.J. Rivera – 3B

Lucas Duda – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Brandon Nimmo – CF

Steven Matz – LHP