Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.

Jun 11

Harvey Stand Up About Falling Down

The best thing the Mets’ Matt Harvey did Wednesday night was not offer excuses for his mauling by the Giants.

There are explanations for everything, but Harvey wouldn’t say the three home runs crushed by the Giants or his second seven-run outing in his last four starts, was the result of Tommy John surgery.

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

“This is Major League Baseball,’’ Harvey told reporters moments after suffering his fourth loss of the season. “You can’t hit your spots, you can’t mix things in well, you’re not going to do your job very well.

“I just have to be better. There’s no excuses to be made. My job is to go out and put up zeroes. I’m not doing that very well. Right now I’m just not executing anything.’’

Normally a strikeout machine, Harvey had only only two last night. Harvey is throwing hard enough, but a product of Tommy John surgery is his pitches weren’t darting; the movement he normally has wasn’t there.

Of the three, location, movement and velocity, speed is the least important. Harvey is usually in the strike zone, but has little movement in it. That makes him easier to hit.

“Everything was all over the place,’’ Harvey said. “I just tried to go a certain place and couldn’t do it. The ball was over the middle or high. … I’m just not doing my job very well.’’

Harvey said he feels fine physically and wouldn’t bite on surgery as being an out.

“It’s just a terrible performance,’’ Harvey said. “The last couple of starts have been extremely bad. I’m just not getting it done, not helping the team in any way. Something needs to change. I need to go to square one.’’

He already took the first step by not having any alibis. Good for him.

 

Jun 10

Giants Light Up Dark Knight

Another game, another bunch of homers hit – no, make that crushed – off the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

The Giants looked comfortable in slugging three homers off Harvey and ripping him for seven runs. It was the second time in four starts he was blistered for seven runs.

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

Harvey (now 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA) has given up 12 homers and 24 extra-base hits overall in 12 starts. After Harvey was rocked for 11 runs in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Miami, manager Terry Collins suggested the problem was a dead arm.

Harvey quickly dismissed that stock theory for when a pitcher gets torched a couple of times, which made sense because he was clocked in the mid-90s and including the Marlins game, threw over 100 pitches in back-to-back starts.

So, what’s the problem? Why has Harvey given up eight homers in his last four starts, after giving up eight homers in his previous 26?

First, consider Wednesday was Harvey’s 48th career start, which puts him in the equivalent of his second full season, which is when the real learning takes place. And, don’t forget, the hitters are learning, too.

We also must remember he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and perhaps his arm isn’t what he would want. His breaking pitches, in particular his slider, don’t have the same bite they had in 2013 when he was an All-Star and achieved cult status.

We must also look at his walks. He’s only walked 14, which is a great stat, but it also means his pitches are usually in the strike zone. Although he still throws hard, Harvey must recognize he can’t get by simply throwing heat. It also suggests his pitches, although thrown hard, don’t have the darting movement needed.

Knowing Harvey’s control is exceptional; hitters don’t hang around to fall behind in the count. Harvey has given up three homers on the first pitch (overall hitters are batting .450 off him on the first pitch). He’s also given up five homers after being behind 1-0 in the count.

So, it isn’t just one thing, but several contributing factors to why hitters are lighting up the “Dark Knight.’’

 

Jun 08

Mets Need Another Parnell Injury If They Want To Keep Him

The New York Mets’ injury news continues to get worse. Former closer Bobby Parnell’s 30-day maximum rehab assignment stay expires Wednesday, at which time the Mets are obligated to activate him from the disabled list.

PARNELL:  Due back soon (AP)

PARNELL: Due back soon (AP)

If this scenario sounds familiar to Mets’ fans that’s because it is – they went through this several years ago when they didn’t want to bring back Oliver Perez. You remember how well that worked out, don’t you? The Mets were forced to activate Perez otherwise he would have exercised his right to become an immediate free agent. The Mets would loved to have traded him, but knew they’d get nothing in return.

Parnell, who underwent Tommy John surgery, April 8, 2014, has not done well in his rehab. Parnell’s fastball, a 96 mph., average with the Mets, but had touched 100 mph., is at 92 mph.

Going for the reach as he often does, manager Terry Collins said he’s hoping adrenaline will add some steam to his fastball.

While at Double-A Binghamton, Parnell was 0-2 with a 14.21 ERA in seven games. In 6.1 innings, he’s given up 11 hits and six walks. Parnell is clearly not ready to return to the Mets, and more to the point, bringing him back now would only weaken the team.

While the best thing would be to keep him on the disabled list, the Mets don’t have that option. They could try to trade him, but would get nothing, and nobody will deal for an injured pitcher with a $3.7 million contract.

The Mets could release Parnell, but that won’t happen. As is often the case with the Mets, their best option is to hope – that they can find some other injury and stash him back on the disabled list.

 

 

Jun 07

Mets Must Overhaul Handling Of Injuries

While introducing the Sandy Alderson Era, Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon promised a different mentality emanating from the top. The Mets would be more aggressive in obtaining talent, and perhaps just as importantly, more diligent and proactive in keeping that talent on the field.

The Mets have long been criticized for their handling of injured players, including David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Ryan Church, Pedro Martinez, Ike Davis and the list goes on.

WILPON: Needs to overhaul handling of injuries. (AP)

WILPON: Needs to overhaul handling of injuries. (AP)

Injuries haven’t been diagnosed properly, players played when they should’ve been benched or were rushed back. Players also haven’t been proactive in reporting injuries, which in the case of Matt Harvey, this likely lead to his surgery. Perhaps most bizarre was when Beltran opted to have surgery on his own.

This season has been about injuries and an 11-game winning streak. That streak is why they’re where they are considering they lead the major leagues with 12 players on the disabled list.

Eight players are gone from the Opening Day roster, and three players in the starting lineup in Sunday’s game at Arizona were injury related. There’s not a day when injuries aren’t the focal point. Injuries will dictate if the Mets make the playoffs; what, or if, they’ll make any trades; and possibly, their offseason agenda.

What should also happen is a complete overhaul of their injury protocol. From the trainers, to the team physicians, to the organization’s philosophy in handling and treating injuries, everything should be on the table for review. What they are doing now isn’t working.

Why, over the years, has there been a glut of arm injuries resulting in Tommy John surgery? Why have there been so many muscle pulls and strains? Is there a problem in the offseason training program? Are players encouraged or discouraged to report aches and pains?

Do the pitchers throw too much or not enough? Is nutrition an issue? Do the players stretch enough? Is there too much weight lifting during the season?

There’s not a constant with each injury, but something isn’t right and it must change. Teams like to say, “next man up,’’ but for the Mets it seems to be “who’s the next to go down?’’ Yes, injuries are part of the game, but for the Mets it seems to be all nine innings.

What should also be noted is playoff caliber teams need to overcome injuries and adversity, and that brings us back full circle to Wilpon and Alderson. Will ownership provide the financial resources, and does Alderson have the capabilities to fill the void?

We’re waiting.