Mar 13

Callaway Makes Smart Opening Day Call

Based on last year’s performance, Jacob deGrom deserves to be the Opening Day starter, but it’s a credit to manager Mickey Callaway handle on things that the start goes to Noah Syndergaard.

Despite deGrom throwing in the high 90s Sunday in his first exhibition start after a two-week delay with back stiffness, Callaway saw no reason to play charades and push him. What’s the purpose, especially when Syndergaard is healthy and throwing in the 100s?

All too often the Mets pushed pitchers to be ready for the start of the season – you only have to think back to Matt Harvey last year – with disastrous results.

DeGrom will start the season’s second game against St. Louis.

“We think that’s a pretty good one and two coming out of the gate,’’ Callaway said. “We were trying to do everything we can because he earned it based on last year. It just didn’t make sense to us to try and push it, and to get him ready for Opening Day.’’

Harvey and Jason Vargas will take the next two spots in the rotation with Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman competing for the final slot.

Mar 05

So Far, So Good For Harvey

It’s not important Matt Harvey is no longer considered to be the Mets’ ace. What is important is for him to just be part of the rotation. As of now, with Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler hurting and struggling, Harvey figures to slot in as third in the rotation.

HARVEY: Looking good. (AP)

HARVEY: Looking good. (AP)

He’s been solid in his two starts, and if he continues to pitch as well in his remaining four exhibition starts as he did in his three shutout innings in today’s 4-2 victory over Detroit, he could conceivably start the season’s second game if Jacob deGrom isn’t ready.

Harvey was throwing free and easy, and topping out in the mid-90s, something he rarely did last spring.

“You don’t want to be a weak link in such a powerful rotation,’’ Harvey told reporters today. “That’s what keeps us going, and pushing each other so hard. It’s nice to finally be part of that.’’

Harvey struck out two, walked one and gave up one in 48 pitches. Ideally, you’d like for him to throw fewer over three innings, we have to remember he’s still trying to return from thoracic outlet syndrome and arterial surgery.

Harvey might never hit 100 again, but he threw hard enough today to win, and if his changeup and slider register in the upper-80s as they did today, he could be very successful.

Most importantly for Harvey is how he’s implemented manager Mickey Callaway’s suggestion to speed up his delivery.

“This is a completely new year, like I’ve said,’’ Harvey said. “My mechanics are completely different. My arm’s completely different.’’

Let’s hope the results are.

Feb 16

Vargas A Good Signing

I would have preferred Jake Arrieta, but I like the signing of Jason Vargas. Two years for $16 million with a club option for 2020 isn’t a bad deal, especially for a left-hander pitched 179.2 innings and won 18 games.

What’s not to like?

VARGAS: Good signing. (Getty)

       VARGAS: Good signing. (Getty)

Zack Wheeler reportedly isn’t happy, but that’s too bad because after all, he’s frequently injured and has only pitched in 66 games since 2013.

Assuming Vargas – who pitched for the Mets in 2007 – comes close in the next two years to start the 32 game he did last year [Jacob deGrom led the staff with 31].

Vargas is an insurance policy for a staff that had five starters [Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Wheeler, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo] go on the disabled list last year.

He also is a stop-gap for Harvey possibly leaving and gives the Mets a left-handed option if Matz goes down again.

Manager Mickey Callaway echoed what I wrote the other day that a team “can’t have enough pitching.’’

While pitching coach with Cleveland Callaway undoubtedly saw Vargas pitch for the Royals.

Feb 12

Three Givens In Mets Rotation

The Mets will take five starters north, but only three are givens: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are coming off injuries and we won’t know about them until late in spring training.

DeGrom and Syndergaard – assuming healthy – are two of the best in the sport. Syndergaard missed most of last year with a torn lat muscle and early reports are he’s in great shape and not bulked up like last year.

Harvey has never lived up to his potential because of injuries, and here’s hoping in his walk year he can come close to his 2013 form.

It is entirely possible Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo could fill out the end of the rotation. Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero will also compete but could wind up in the bullpen in long relief as he’s out of minor league options.

If Matz or Wheeler is ready, it is possible Lugo could pitch out of the pen.

Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.