May 18

Mets Game Wrap: Harvey Comes Up Empty, But Mets Win

In his last start, the Mets’ bullpen coughed it up in Chicago and Matt Harvey got a no-decision in a loss to the Cubs. Tonight, Jeurys Familia blew his first save opportunity of the season, but the Mets regrouped to win, 2-1, in 14 innings.

Tonight was the third straight start in which Harvey failed to win his sixth game.

The Mets, playing in their first extra-innings game of the season, won it when the struggling John Mayberry Jr., drove in Eric Campbell on a bases-loaded, pinch-hit infield single. By this time, Harvey was long time gone with an ice-pack on his valuable right arm.

Familia, who had been perfect, was shaky in the ninth. The Cardinals put runners on the corners on Yadier Molina‘s hit-and-run single and Jason Heyward followed with a sacrifice fly to right.

The Mets had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth, but Michael Cuddyer struck out to end the inning with two runners on.

BULLPEN OVERALL STRONG

Yes, Familia was off, but overall the Mets’ bullpen still got five scoreless innings from Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Alex Torres and Carlos Torres.

DEFENSE ENABLED HARVEY TO STAY IN

Harvey came out for the eighth inning despite throwing 97 pitches. This is how it should be with Harvey. If the game is close late, this is when you push the envelope with Harvey, who was greatly aided by double plays in the fourth and seventh innings.

Wilmer Flores started an inning-ending double play in the fourth when he made a diving, back-handed stab of a sinking line drive. Flores also took part in a double play in the seventh.

Take away those two plays and Harvey would have been forced to pitch to at least another two hitters. That would have pushed him over 100 pitches and he would have been out of the game.

Harvey struck out nine for the second straight game.

DUDA BEATS SHIFT TO DRIVE IN RUN

Sometimes the Cardinals are too smart for their own good. With Curtis Granderson on third and Lucas Duda at the plate, the Cardinals put on shift that almost defied belief as they had the third baseman hold the runner and put everybody else on the first base side of the infield.

However, if you’re going to employ that shift, you have to pitch inside but John Lackey left the ball out over the plate and Duda grounded it up the middle. With a normal shift, the shortstop would have been in position to field the ball.

GOOD DEFENSE SAVES HARVEY RUN IN FIRST

Cuddyer saved the Mets a run in the top of the first when he cut off Jhonny Peralta’s double from going all the way to the left field wall. Had Cuddyer not cut off the ball, Matt Holliday, who reached on an error by third baseman Eric Campbell, would surely have scored.

Lackey put down the Mets, 1-2-3, in the bottom of the first.

By the way, Milwaukee centerfielder Carlos Gomez, who was hit in the head by a Noah Syndergaard fastball Sunday, homered in his first at-bat tonight in Detroit.

METS GET POSITIVE INJURY NEWS ON WRIGHT, D’ARNAUD

The Mets got some positive injury news today regarding David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud. Wright, on the DL with a pulled right hamstring, was on the field today resuming baseball activities.

“The big thing now is to see how he [feels when he] wakes up tomorrow,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters prior to Monday’s game.

D’Arnaud, on the DL with a fractured finger, swung the bat today for the first time.

Collins did not speculate on when they will return, and also offered no timetable for relievers Bobby Parnell and Vic Black, who are on rehab assignments at Single-A St. Lucie.

May 18

Mets Lucky Tonight, But Can’t Afford To Keep Wasting Harvey Starts

The Mets’ Matt Harvey missed in his third straight start to get his sixth victory tonight against St. Louis. With their offense – and some starting pitching – erratic since April 24, the night Jacob deGrom was torched at Yankee Stadium, the Mets can’t afford to waste a Harvey start.

Harvey threw at least seven scoreless innings for his second straight. It was seven last week against the Cubs and eight tonight against St. Louis. He struck out nine in each start.

HARVEY: Can't waste his starts. (AP)

HARVEY: Can’t waste his starts. (AP)

Harvey has given the Mets a winnable effort in every start. He’ll lose from time to time as he did against the Phillies, but when he comes up with an effort such as the one he had tonight and last week in Wrigley Field last week, well, you can’t throw those away.

The Mets were fortunate to come away with a 2-1 victory in 14 innings.

Part of this goes back to the unpopular debate of limiting Harvey’s innings. By how they’ve handled things so far, the Mets don’t have a definitive plan. Harvey is an incredible talent, but is also coming off Tommy John surgery. They need to be careful as to save his innings for later this year.

Against the Cubs, they pulled him early. They played it the right way tonight and let Harvey pitch the eighth. This was made possible because the defense – keyed by Wilmer Flores – pulled off inning-ending double plays in the fourth and seventh innings.

Take away those plays and Harvey would have had over 100 pitches after the seventh.

This is the year the Mets vowed they would compete, and GM Sandy Alderson has even eyed 90 victories. Given that, innings saved in April and May can later be used in September, and if they are lucky enough, possibly October.

That’s why Harvey starting – and working into the seventh – the game he had strep throat, and letting him pitch into the ninth at Yankee Stadium in a blowout win, were foolish choices because it was more important to pitch longer tonight and last week.

The Mets played it the right way with Harvey tonight. They gave him the extra inning. They handled everything correctly with their pitching. Eventually, Jeurys Familia would blow a save opportunity. They just didn’t give him enough runs.

That’s three straight Harvey starts without a victory. The Mets were fortunate tonight it didn’t bite them.

May 12

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Finally Gets Ball

It’s all about Noah Syndergaard’s major league debut for the Mets tonight in Chicago. Syndergaard, 22, was 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Las Vegas.

mets-matters logoMets’ fans have waited for this since the trade that brought him here from Toronto in exchange for R.A. Dickey.

“`I’m excited to see this kid pitch, because I’m a fan,” manager Terry Collins said. “But, first and foremost, I’m the manager of this team. And I think he’s good enough to win here, or he would not be out there. This is not a show. This is not a Broadway play that we’re going to throw this kid out there and see how he sings. We know how he sings.”

To help get him acclimated to his new teammates and the major league life, Syndergaard joined the Mets Saturday in Philadelphia. That might help in ordering room service, but it will do nothing in helping him deal with major league hitters.

LAGARES OUT: Center fielder Juan Lagares will not play tonight because of what the team said is a slight strain in his right arm pit.

Lagares was injured last Tuesday while making a diving catch against Baltimore. Collins said an exam revealed no breaks or blood clots.

Lagares is on a 2-for-25 slump since the injury. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will start in center. He is 3-for-27 for the season.

EXTRA INNINGS: Reliever Buddy Carlyle left Monday’s game with spasms in his lower back. … In a rehab assignment at St. Lucie, Bobby Parnell gave up three runs in a blown save. He threw two wild pitches and his fastball was clocked at 90-92 mph. … Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was cleared to begin baseball activities. … John Mayberry Jr., is on a 3-for-29 slide to begin the season, but Collins said he would continue starting him against left-handed pitching.

 

 

May 01

Mets Game Wrap: Harvey Halts Slide With Gem

Matt Harvey did what aces are expected to do, which was pick up his struggling Mets when they needed him most with a 4-0 gem tonight over the Washington Nationals.

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

The Mets went into the game losers of three straight to watch their once sizable lead over the Nationals dwindle down to five games (4.5 over Atlanta and Miami). Yes, tonight was as close to being a “must win” game as you can get on the first day of May.

Harvey relishes these situations and responded by giving up only five hits in seven scoreless innings despite not having his best fastball (indicative of only three strikeouts). Consequently, Harvey had to go to his breaking ball more than he normally would have wanted.

Matt Harvey takes these games to heart. When you have a No. 1, it’s just great to have,” manager Terry Collins said. “You can depend on him.”

His 5-0 record is comprised with three victories following a Mets’ loss. Earlier today I wrote about what makes Harvey special, but there’s another reason – he can locate all of his pitches and do so without his best fastball.”

It was thought Harvey, who was aided by Michael Cuddyer‘s homer in the fourth and a diving catch by Juan Lagares‘ diving catch in the fifth, might come out for the eighth, but Collins said he didn’t think he had anything left.

“I thought he had run out of gas,” Collins said. “He was starting to labor between pitches. The one thing I didn’t want to do was to have to go out there if and they got a  guy on and you have to go out and get him.”

Harvey had no qualms with Collins’ decision.

“I think he made the right decision,” Harvey said. “He did exactly what he needed to do. He made the right call.”

This put the Mets in position of having to rely on Jeurys Familia for a fifth-out save. What could have been a tense situation was considerably relaxed with Daniel Murphy‘s three-run double in the eighth.

Harvey called Familia’s effort “huge,” but the same can be said for his.

 

 

May 01

Mets Make Right Move By Sticking With Flores

It wasn’t that long ago when Mets manager Terry Collins said his team would eventually run into problems – “blips,” he called them – but vowed “there would be no panic.”

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

In the wake of Wilmer Flores’ costly error Thursday night that lead to a three-run inning for the Nationals, if there were a time the Mets would have panicked in the past, this would have been it.

The defense of their middle infield of Flores (six errors) and Daniel Murphy (four) was a question entering the season and remains so; the Mets have lost seven of their last nine games, and they are no longer in coast mode.

Flores made no excuses and said he botched the play. Normally, that’s enough, but the last 24 hours have seen a lot of Flores bashing, which, although deserved in part, is also shortsighted. Much of that bashing was from former-Met-turned analyst Nelson Figueroa.

“I wish I had the answer to it,” manager Terry Collins said. “When we decided he was going to be the shortstop, you realize there might be a couple rough spots.

“But, you realize the minute you jerk him out of the lineup and throw him on the bench because he’s not good enough to play shortstop, you might as well put him someplace else because those days are over playing shortstop. … You have to be a little patient.”

Collins is 100 percent on the mark about this, as patience is the Mets’ only option. What, do you want to play Ruben Tejada full time? And, before anybody brings it up, Troy Tulowitzki has an injury history and $129 million remaining on a contract that runs through 2020 (with an option for 2021). And, we’ve danced through this before; the Mets don’t want to part with any of their young pitching in a trade.

Until next year’s free-agent market develops, it is pretty much Flores or bust.

The Mets’ only option is to fiddle from within, which is what they did when they promoted second baseman Dilson Herrera after Thursday’s game and said Murphy will move to third base while David Wright remains on the disabled list for at least another week.

Consequently, the Mets will move Eric Campbell to the bench and demote lefty reliever Jack Leathersich to Triple-A Las Vegas.

This might not be a palatable option, but it is the only one. And, more to the point, it means Collins is staying true to his word and not panicking.

After all, we are only one month into the season and the Mets are perched atop the NL East which nobody expected. It is way too soon to shut the window on Flores.

ON DECK:  Why I like Matt Harvey