May 19

DeGrom Pitches Like Ace He Is

There are a lot of ways to define an ace, and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom nails it on all fronts. There are eye-popping fastballs leading to brow-raising statistics, but the ultimate measure is when things are going to pot, as they were in the seventh when a blister grew raw on his right ring finger and the Angels loaded the bases with no outs.

DE GROM: Glimmered tonight. (AP)

DE GROM: Glimmered tonight. (AP)

With the Mets up by two runs, the game was clearly in the balance, but deGrom regrouped to strike out Danny Espinosa, get Ben Revere on a juggling catch by Jose Reyes, and then get Cameron Maybin on a fly to right.

“We needed a win tonight,” said manager Terry Collins. “We needed to win bad. … It us unbelievable what he did in the seventh inning. He wasn’t tired, but did have the blister. He reached back when he needed to.”

DeGrom (W, 3-1) was done after seventh, giving up four hits and three walks with nine strikeouts, to enable the Mets to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Both Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard have been termed “an ace,’’ but for my money if you had to pick one, it would be deGrom, and it really isn’t close.

 

May 17

Today’s Question: What Version Will Mets Get From Harvey Today?

Today’s Question: Will the real Matt Harvey, or the version he claims to be step up?

Arizona was where it all began for Harvey, who struck out 11 Diamondbacks in his major league debut late in the lost season that was 2012. He had poise that day, an explosive fastball, and above all, devastating command.

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

The Mets crowed about what they had, and they had the right. Harvey finished the year at 3-5, but with a 2.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

A few short months later, Harvey masked the pain in his right forearm, and when the injury was finally revealed, he, along with coaxing of ownership, let their future start in the All-Star Game.

He was brilliant that night in Citi Field, but a few weeks later the burning in his elbow needed to be cooled by Tommy John surgery. We can gloss over the pettiness in his sparring with management about whether to have surgery, went to have it, and where he should rehab.

He fought the Mets at every turn, and when he came back in 2015 he fought with them over his innings limit.

Then there was Game 5 of the World Series.

Now, Harvey goes to the mound with a 31-31 career record and more questions than answers. Harvey goes in with a three-game losing streak and suspension on his most recent resume.

“You get to the point where you don’t sit here and say, ‘I hope I get this’ and ‘I hope I get that,’ ” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “You just send him out there and you hope he’s getting back to what Matt Harvey is. That’s what I’m looking for: improvement. That’s it.”

What is the real Matt Harvey? Well, on-the-field he’s been underachieving with average numbers. Off-the-field he’s still caught up with an arrogant sense of entitlement whose act is wearing thin.

He received no public support from his teammates, which is rare in a baseball clubhouse. That’s partly because he’s done nothing lately to prove to his teammates he’s worth the trouble.

That’s the heart of the matter.

 

May 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.

 

May 05

Mets Lose D’Arnaud – Again – To Disabled List

The Mets placed Travis d’Arnaud on the 10-day disabled list today with a bruised right wrist, but manager Terry Collins said he would be out longer.

“It’s a bone bruise they discovered,” Collins told reporters. “It sounds like it’s not a big deal, but we know from the past, it is a big deal. There’s no timeframe right now. … It won’t be just a 10-day DL, I don’t think.”

D'ARNAUD: Goes to DL. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Goes to DL. (AP)

D’Arnaud – who has always had trouble staying on the field – was initially hurt, April 19, when his wrist hit Aaron Altherr’s bat on the follow-through of his throw to second.

Over the next four games he was only available as a pinch hitter. D’Arnaud returned as a starter, April 26, then aggravated the injury on Tuesday swinging at R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball.

“The swelling wouldn’t go away for the past two days, so we went and got it checked and it showed a bone bruise in my hand, and I just need time to let it heal,” said d’Arnaud, who played in just 67 games because of hand and elbow injuries in 2015, and 75 games last season.

When he plays, d’Arnaud shows offensive potential, although throwing out base runners has always been a problem.

“It’s pretty frustrating for us because we know what this guy’s potential is, and we’ve seen it,” Collins said. “It seems like just when he starts to get it going, something happens. Again, it’s not one of those three- or four-day things. It’s something that takes him out of the lineup for two weeks or three weeks. Hopefully, this doesn’t take that long.”

Rene Rivera started tonight and had two hits, including a RBI single in the Mets’ 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Miami. He had three hits in the Mets’ 20-hit explosion Wednesday in Atlanta.

Rivera is better than d’Arnaud defensively, but the more he plays the more his offensive flaws get exposed. That brings us to Kevin Plawecki, who hasn’t been able to take advantage of his opportunities. He is expected to start Saturday.

May 04

Today’s Question: Will Collins Leave Well Enough Alone?

Mets manager Terry Collins has often been like the weekend grill master who can’t resist poking at the coals.

So, the day after they rapped out 16 runs on 20 hits, today’s question is: Will Collins leave well enough alone?

That means not being seduced by Jose Reyes’ five RBI and resist moving him back to the leadoff spot. It also means leave Michael Conforto at the top of the order.

There could be some juggling because Collins said Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker could use a day off.

But, nothing drastic should be done. Let’s hope Collins slept on last night’s 16-5 rout in Atlanta was something he savored and left well enough alone.