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 16

Robles’ Role In Jeopardy; Free Fall Continues

Dear Mets readers: I haven’t been around for nearly a week after undergoing back surgery. I came home and today learned my server went down. Please accept my apologies. Hopefully, nothing else will happen. I wish I could include the Mets’ bullpen in that. Best to you, John

The Mets dodged a bullet when Paul Goldschmidt’s fly against Hansel Robles off the center field wall was a replay ruled a double instead of a home run. No worries for the Diamondbacks, who would hit three more homers in the fateful eighth, two off Robles.

Considering Robles has given up nine runs in his last two appearances – not including Sunday’s meltdown – it is probably safe to assume the Mets should be thinking his role should be reduced to mop-up situations like it frequently has been when he’s done.

Pitching was supposed to be the Mets’ strong suit, but the bullpen bridge to the closer was always a rickety one over a rocky cavern with a fast-moving river like in the movie Deliverance.

With Jeurys Familia out indefinitely following surgery to remove a blood clot creating a blockage in his right shoulder. Surgery in St. Louis to remove the clot was successful and he won’t start throwing for up to six weeks and it could be three months before he gets in a game. Just where will the Mets be then?

Addison Reed hasn’t pitched well, and whom in the pen do you trust? Certainly not Robles, whom Collins said his role is in serious jeopardy.

“We use him often because he has such a great arm, but he’s not making pitches, Collins said after the Mets’ fifth straight loss to drop them to eight games behind Washington. “We have to take a good hard look at where he fits, but we don’t have a lot of options.

It is what it is, but you have to manage it anyways.”

One positive tonight was Zack Wheeler, who pitched into the seventh after giving up one run. It was the second consecutive game when a starter entered the seventh only to watch the bullpen cough up the game like a cat with a hairball. Jacob deGrom did so Sunday. DeGrom was supposed to pick up the rotation after Noah Syndergaard went down and will be lost for up to three months.

DeGrom is 2-1 which is good two weeks into the season, but he didn’t win his first game until April 28. DeGrom is on top of the leader boards in strikeouts, but what is really alarming are the seven homers he’s allowed (he gave up 16 all of last year).

Matt Harvey‘s comeback is failing; Robert Gsellman would be optioned if Steven Matz was ready to be activated, but he’s several weeks away; recently-acquired Tommy Milone will get the ball tonight?

What’s next for the Mets?

“Somebody has pissed off the baseball Gods, because every move we make turns out to be the wrong one,” Collins said.

In ancient times, sacrifices were made to the Gods to curry favor.

Who will be the first? Robles? Gsellman? Curtis Granderson? Asdrubal Cabrera?

Will the Mets finally forego their obsession with the Super Two status regarding Amed Rosario? Will they stop thinking Yoenis Cespedes‘ return – which is at least three weeks away – will be the panacea for all that ails the Mets?

The most imminent decision is whether to DL Cabrera and already there are reports Rosario won’t be brought up. Looks like another bad decision in the making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 07

Today’s Question: Who Is The Real Harvey?

The Mets scored at least five runs in their ninth straight game. Eventually, that roll will stop, and when it does they will have to rely on their starting pitching, which is in dire straits these days.

HARVEY: Needs to step up. (AP)

HARVEY: Needs to step up. (AP)

Jacob deGrom is their most reliable starter, but the Mets aren’t getting seven innings a start from him. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz remain on the disabled list with no expected return date. Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero aren’t setting any innings records, either, and the latter will get another start because the Mets can’t find any better.

That leaves us to today’s question: What can they expect from Matt Harvey?

Harvey won his first two starts, giving up just four runs while working a total of 12.1 innings. Starts three and four were no-decisions, but he gave up five runs. However, his last two games were losses in which he gave up a combined 12 runs in 9.2 innings. He gave up two homers in those games but had only three strikeouts and eight walks.

Harvey said he’s feeling good – no residual pain from his shoulder surgery – but he’s said that before.

The Mets hoped Harvey could ease back into the rotation, but with the way things are going, they need him to be at his best.

And, the sooner the better.

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.