Sep 11

Mets Wrap: Zack Wheeler Shows Mettle In Defeat

The New York Mets believe Zack Wheeler will be an anchor in their rotation for a long time to come. He took the loss against Washington Wednesday night, but showed more than enough of the right stuff to say this is going to be a stud pitcher to build around.

Easily, the most important thing Wheeler demonstrated was poise under pressure. He pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first; escaped a runner on second and one-out threat in the fourth; and got out of a runners on the corners with two outs problem in the seventh.

WHEELER: Dealing big time. (AP)

WHEELER: Dealing big time. (AP)

It was great to see Wheeler challenge hitters with his fastball, especially inside. And the control issues he had earlier, well, just one walk.

“This guy competes on the mound,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “With his stuff, in first inning, he did a great job getting out of that jam. I’m impressed with the way Zack Wheeler has pitched.’’

Wheeler made one bad pitch, that being a slider left over the plate Ryan Zimmerman crushed for a homer in the sixth. It was the first homer he gave up in 36 innings, remarkable for a rookie.

Vic Black, who could get a look at the closer role in spring training if Bobby Parnell hasn’t recovered from neck surgery, gave up two runs in the eighth to make it the 3-0 final.

Offensively, the Mets managed three hits as they were shut out for the second time in this series. With the loss the Mets fell a season-low 16 games below .500. It wasn’t too long ago .500 and catching the Nationals for second-place wasn’t an unrealistic goal.

Oh, by the way, with the loss the Mets were mathematically eliminated, crushing news, I know, to those who kept on dreaming.

Once again the Mets are in full swoon mode, especially offensively, in the second half. They have lost three straight, five of their last six games, and are 2-8 so far this month.

Including the Nationals Thursday, the Mets have just four games against winning teams (three with Cincinnati) the rest of the season.

Collins didn’t say the word, but he might as well called his offense clueless.

“You have to figure out what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out,’’ Collins said. “And you have to make adjustments.’’

Clearly, the Mets aren’t making those adjustments.

Newly-acquired Aaron Harang will start for the Mets Thursday afternoon in an effort to avoid the sweep.

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Sep 07

Mets See Good In Zack Wheeler Despite Loss; Scott Rice Season Ends

The result wasn’t what the New York Mets wanted, but overall they must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Zack Wheeler this season.

Even Friday night when he walked five in five innings in a loss at Cleveland.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

I thought Wheeler might have been rushed to the major leagues because he didn’t dominate at Triple-A Las Vegas, and that idea seemed to be reinforced when his control was off early. Wheeler seemed to correct the problem, but it resurfaced against the Indians.

However, after the game he told reporters his shoulder was “flying open.’’ That he understood that flaw, no doubt pointed out by pitching coach Dan Warthen, but limited the damage are positives.

What’s next for Wheeler’s development is to not only notice a mechanical issue by himself, but also be able to correct it during the game. The great ones cannot only recognize a flaw by where their pitch went, but correct in during the at-bat.

During his first two starts, the Mets went overboard in calling his pitches – perhaps in the wake of Terry Collins getting messages Wheeler was tipping his pitches – but they quickly abandoned that plan and allowed him to use his fastball.

Although the Mets will limit his innings for the remainder of the season, Wheeler, 7-4, could get another three or four starts, and should he run the table, will have won more games than Matt Harvey.

Who would have thought that in April?

Who also would have envisioned at the time that Scott Rice would still be around?

Everybody expected big things from Harvey, but Rice was easily the Mets’ most inspirational story of the season. Harvey was the given; Rice was the underdog who made good.

The 31-year-old lefty reliever toiled for 14 years in the minor leagues before hooking on with the Mets this spring. He didn’t stick because of the state of their bullpen, but because he deserved to in leading the majors with 73 appearances.

Rice was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA, but his most important statistic was the .174 average lefties hit off him. As a lefty specialist, that’s important. Rice walked 27 and struck out 41, and could go into spring training as the lead lefty in the pen.

Rice’s season, however, ended with the news he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Even so, Rice was a good Mets’ story this summer. Maybe the best.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 01

Ike Davis Injury Should Open Door For Wilmer Flores At First Base

With Ike Davis likely playing his last game with the New York Mets because of a strained right oblique sustained Saturday afternoon the Mets are presented a golden opportunity to further get answers for next season.

However, what Terry Collins said he’ll do and what he should do are two different things. Collins suggested Lucas Duda getting most of the time, with Josh Satin sprinkled in and Wilmer Flores to get a look once David Wright returns.

DAVIS: Frustration defines career with Mets.

DAVIS: Frustration defines career with Mets.

No, no, no, a thousand times no. If it is believed Collins retaining his job is predicated not on record, but other mitigating circumstances, Justin Turner should be playing third and Flores should be getting the lion’s share of the time.

One of the primary objectives of the Mets the last month should be determining where Flores could play, and we know it won’t be third base because of Wright. And, it shouldn’t be second because Daniel Murphy is a good enough option.

The only other place I would try is shortstop to evaluate his range. If not Flores, then reinsert Ruben Tejada to see if he learned anything in the minor leagues.

For the most part we know about Duda. He hasn’t shown us anything over the past two years to suggest he’ll give the Mets the consistent power the Mets hoped for.

Davis, it likely will be presumed, is done with the Mets as the team probably won’t tender him a contract and let him talk as a free agent.

First base is a position needing a bat, and if Flores can handle it, he’s the best choice.

Ironically, Davis was injured driving in a run with a sacrifice fly. I know, it’s cruel, but that’s what irony can be. For what Davis produced this season, he was not worth $3 million. He’s certainly not worthy of a raise.

GM Sandy Alderson would not speculate on Davis’ future with the Mets, talking yesterday in typical GM-speak: “You have to take into account the entire body of work, as abridged as it might be. It’s what we have available to us and what we’ll use to evaluate him and where we are going into next season.’’

Davis said the oblique had been bothering him for months, but subsided recently. He would not say if the injury had been reported and he was receiving treatment.

Considering the nature of Davis’ tenuous position with the Mets, one would understand him being quiet about an injury, but if true it wouldn’t be any less stupid.

Injuries, if you’re a Met, always come to the surface. In this case, if handled properly, it could give the Mets an answer looking ahead.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Holy UCL Batman! Mets In Trouble Without Matt Harvey!

Matt Harvey might as well play on Twitter because he’s not going to be pitching for the New York Mets any time soon.

Last night, while his teammates outside of Marlon Byrd and John Buck were taking batting practice, Harvey mustered all his strength to tweet: “Thank you everyone for the kind words and support. I may be done this year, but I will be back next year for April 1.’’

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

Then the Mets, no doubt inspired by this bit of news, went out to win one for Harvey.

I have no doubt Harvey will be back next April Fool’s Day, just not starting a game for the Mets. But, I can’t say that with any more certainty than Harvey can predict he’ll make a triumphant MacAurthuresque return.

“If that’s his tweet, that’s his tweet,’’ said Sandy Alderson, who didn’t immediately call off the off-season.

It’s great to be optimistic, but not to the point of being illogical. There’s just too much information currently not available, such as a second opinion after the swelling subsides, which could be in more than two weeks.

What I can tell you with certainty are the Mets would be foolish if they were to bank on Harvey’s return and making a contending run next season. The Mets must, and I can’t emphasize this enough, go on with life assuming Harvey won’t be in it until 2015 at the earliest.

Gloom and doom? You bet, but you’re Mets’ fans, you should be used to it by now.

As far as what Jon Niese did last night in shutting out the Phillies, it was simply a sign he’s recovering from his shoulder tear. It can’t be assumed Harvey will recover that quickly as every arm is different.

Terry Collins, whom I still can’t believe didn’t know about Harvey’s elbow until a few days ago, was accurate in something he said last night that nobody will feel sorry for the Mets and the final month is about auditioning for 2014 jobs.

I’ve endorsed Collins several times for an extension and believe he should return. However, nothing is a slam dunk in this game and Collins will be watched closely on how he handles this adversity. Harvey’s injury plus the Buck-Byrd trade – which was made for the right reasons – is akin to a punch in the gut. Niese’s game was a start, but wounded teams often show an initial spark.

The issue is if they sustain and return to play the alert, aggressive baseball they were before being swept by the Dodgers. Now, more than ever before, Collins needs to show he still has his team and will have them playing with fire until the end.

If they call it a season now, that’s a reflection on Collins.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 27

No Surprise, Mets Mishandle Matt Harvey Injury

When the New York Mets hired Sandy Alderson as general manager a new culture was promised, including the handling of injuries. It has not come to be. With the Mets and injuries, it remains “speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil.”

Another Mets mess with injuries.

Another Mets mess with injuries.

Tightness in Matt Harvey’s elbow, and lack of response to it, could put his career in jeopardy. After talking of the need to protect Harvey by capping his innings, he is done for the year and possibly next season with a tear in his elbow that could require Tommy John surgery.

Tell me, is anybody shocked at how the Mets handled this?

Alderson said he knew about the forearm issue for around a month, which would be a week or so after the All-Star break. Terry Collins said he found out about it a few days ago. Harvey said he told the medical staff before the break, which is why his turn prior to the All-Star Game was cancelled.

One is telling the truth. Of the three, I believe Harvey.

Whenever a player, pitcher of not, receives treatment, a report is given to the general manager and manager. This makes Alderson’s and Collins’ comments “challengeable’’ at best. Does anybody seriously think the training staff would withhold information on Harvey receiving treatment?

Even if Alderson is telling the truth, why wasn’t a MRI ordered immediately? Not doing so is the epitome of irresponsibility. Alderson said the Mets didn’t make a trade because he wanted the team to finish strong. But, that objective doesn’t coincide with the need to protect the team’s best pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden.

What is the point of building for the future if you put your best pitcher at risk just to sell a few tickets and have the spotlight on him at the All-Star Game? Was is worth losing Harvey until possibly 2015?

Damn, if Harvey or Zack Wheeler sneeze, get a MRI.

As for Collins, there’s no way I believe he just found out about the injury. It puts his objectives in question and brings to light the problem of a lame duck manager. Collins’ primary goal is to win now and secure an extension, and if that means running Harvey out there with the blessing of the general manager, so be it. There is absolutely no way Collins didn’t know.

Having an asset such as Harvey and not protecting it with an immediate MRI exam the first time he complained of discomfort is reckless and stupid. It is having a Lamborghini and not parking it in a garage.

I understand Harvey’s competitive nature, but sooner or later he has to learn he’s in this for himself. It’s a team sport yes, but he can’t help anybody if he’s hurt. He has to raise his arm – before he’s unable to – and say, “something is wrong, I can’t pitch.’’ Nobody will think less of him.

By not raising a stink, Harvey cost himself the rest of this season and possibly all of next year with Tommy John surgery.

Yeah, I know injuries can happen at any time, but they are more likely to occur when the arm is sore and tight. Maybe it would have happened anyway, but we’ll never know. What we do know is the appearance of how the Mets handled this was fast and loose. Shoddy.

Yeah, yeah, I hear how dozens of pitchers recovered from Tommy John surgery, but how many have not? Surgery is not an exact science. I defy anybody to guarantee 100 percent the result of a surgery.

No doctor would make that assurance and considering their history in handling of injuries, the Mets definitely can’t.

This is a mess and if I’m Harvey, I’d be angry at myself for not being more proactive and at the Mets for their reckless handling of the injury.

As I’ve written dozens of times, when it comes to pitching injuries, always bet the over.

ON DECK: Will the Mets deal now?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos