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.

Apr 30

Mets Game Thread: De Grom Perfect So Far; Strasburg Shaky

Someday, Stephen Strasburg might become a star, but he’s not pitching like it these days.

The Mets got to him for a pair of runs in the third on Kevin Plawecki’s RBI double and run-scoring single by Curtis Granderson.

Yes, Strasburg was injured and had Tommy John surgery, but he’s regressed and after going 15-6 in 2012, but is 23-22 since, including 1-2 this year.

Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom has thrown three perfect innings.

Mets 2, Nationals 0 (3rd)

Apr 25

Was Harvey Showing Off For His Future Team?

As I watched Matt Harvey pitch for the Mets today against the Yankees, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was he showing off for his future bosses? I have little doubt from his body language there’s little question to the matter of showing up his current boss.

Please don’t say Harvey someday toiling for the Yankees has not crossed your mind. How could it not? It definitely must have crossed the minds of GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons. If you were to wager a hundred bucks with Titanbet on whether Harvey will be a Met or Yankee when he reaches free agency, seriously, who’d you bet on?

HARVEY: What is going on with him? (AP)

HARVEY: What is going on with him? (AP)

Harvey, who makes no secret he grew up in Connecticut a passionate Yankees fan, was superb in toying with his boyhood team for the better part of 8.2 innings as he gave up two runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

However, what tells me Harvey will someday be gone is: 1) his youthful affection for the Yankees, which culminated in being photographed watching Derek Jeter last season from the stands when he was on the disabled list; 2) his attraction, like a moth to a light bulb, to the New York nightlife, which always has the light shining brightest on the Yankees; 3) his agent, Scott Boras, who has a reputation of getting every last dollar, and we all know the Yankees will outspend the Mets; and 4) we’ve never heard him passionately say he wants to finish his career in a Mets’ uniform.

He had a chance today to say something about that, but passed.

And finally, Mets’ management appears to be afraid to challenge their young, stud pitcher, who consistently pushes the envelope on about every issue. He sparred with Alderson as to where he would do his rehab and the issue of wanting to pitch last season.

Despite lip service in spring training, Harvey did nothing to dispel the notion there’s a divide when he refused to give up his start last Sunday despite being ill, and pitching the last month with a sprained ankle (Collins said he didn’t know about it until the middle of last week, which is unfathomable).

Harvey flat out said he didn’t want to give up the start last week and it was obvious he did not like Collins pulling him today. Even after Collins made up his mind, Harvey fought to stay in the game. Then, as he walked into the dugout he could be seen shaking his head.

Finally, in the handshake line after the game, he shook hands with Collins, but breezed past him and didn’t acknowledge what the manager said.

“I didn’t look at the board once to see how many pitches I had,’’ Harvey said, which would make him unique as pitchers always know. “I still felt good, I still felt strong. I thanked them for letting me come out for the ninth.”

The gratitude did not sound convincing.

Collins did all he could after the game to boost up Harvey and gave the impression nothing was wrong, saying he had a limit of 105 pitches. This was despite Collins saying coming out of spring training he’d try to limit him to 90 to 95 pitches. Collins said he chose to leave Harvey in after he left the mound following the eighth inning when the pitcher said, “I want this one.”

Managers often acquiesce to such requests, but usually not those coming off Tommy John surgery.

I appreciate the difficulty of Collins’ position, but fault him and Alderson for not defining a position for Harvey prior to the season. Had they been decisive then, and don’t forget Alderson comes across as knowing it all, this wouldn’t be an issue. Because they didn’t, Harvey’s innings will come to the forefront with every start.

Since Alderson and Collins have no intent to do something definitive with Harvey’s workload, I would have appreciated them not blowing smoke saying they wanted to conserve his innings, especially that for Harvey’s second straight start they didn’t take advantage of pulling him from a blowout victory.

They could have saved two innings last Sunday and three today. That’s five innings – enough for another start – they could have saved for September. Tell me, wouldn’t you rather have Harvey save his bullets now and use them later in a pennant race?

Growing up in Connecticut, Harvey watched Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams involved in pennant races and undoubtedly thought someday of pitching for them in the playoffs.

On this day, at least Harvey was smart enough to not let his past conflict with what’s happening around them today.

“I’m playing for the Mets, that’s who I play for,’’ Harvey said. “I’m a New York Met.’’

One almost expected to hear, “for now.’’

Apr 22

Harvey Will Pitch With Slight Ankle Sprain

Here’s why the New York Mets – despite winning ten straight games – can make you want to beat your head against a cement wall.

The person: Matt Harvey.

The issue: An injury.

The event: Harvey went to see a doctor Wednesday afternoon for consultation on a lingering foot injury.

The diagnosis: The doctors said it was a mild left ankle sprain, but before that manager Terry Collins, who apparently received his medical degree in an online medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, said, “he’s fine, it’s nothing.’’

Collins also said Harvey pitched with it for a month and will make his start Saturday against the Yankees. After Wednesday’s 3-2 over the Braves, Collins said he didn’t even know about it until two days ago. How is that possible? How does the manager not know his best pitcher has a sprained ankle? For him to admit that is admitting he doesn’t know what is going on with his team.

Incomprehensible.

Collins also said Harvey dismissed the idea of skipping the start. Of course he did, because Harvey is the one who makes those decisions. Collins never should have said Harvey would start prior to the exam, and even after should have said he would see later.

After the game Collins called it mild, but leg injuries are critical to a pitcher because it can alter mechanics and put stress on the arm, not a good thing for someone coming off Tommy John surgery.

How would Collins know it is “nothing?’’ It was obvious something enough to where Harvey had to see a doctor, which, whether it was his decision or somebody else’s, was the proper move.

When it comes to injuries, never trust management’s assertion “it is nothing,’’ and for projected missed time always bet the over.

And, for those who say they are long-time Mets fans, remember this is an area where management hasn’t done well. Don’t believe me?

That’s your choice, but kindly remember David Wright, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Ryan Church, Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and well, need I say more?

Apr 19

Mets’ Mettle To Be Tested Again

Playoff-caliber teams must overcome adversity and the New York Mets will be tested again.

It was a bad day all around for the Mets despite winning their eighth straight game today, 7-6 over Miami. They not only had bad luck with injuries to Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins, but also a dose of bad managing.

Let’s start with the bad luck.

D'ARNAUD: Fractured arm. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Fractured arm. (AP)

It began in the seventh inning when the lefty reliever, Blevins, took a line drive off the bat of Dee Gordon and sustained a fractured left arm. He will be out indefinitely. In the bottom of the inning, Travis d’Arnaud – who was off to a sizzling start – fractured his right hand when he was struck by a fastball from A.J. Ramos. He is also out indefinitely.

As for the bad managing, Matt Harvey was sick, but Terry Collins started him anyway. With his innings carefully monitored this season, here was a perfect opportunity to preserve some of those innings. They gave away a freebie that doesn’t come around often.

If nothing else, Harvey had a 7-1 lead after the fifth. So, why pitch him into the seventh? That made no sense. Collins rested the hot Michael Cuddyer citing the big picture. Why didn’t he apply the same logic with Harvey?

So, where do the Mets go from here?

They have two other lefty relievers in Sean Gilmartin and Alex Torres, but lefty hitters were 0-for-14 against Blevins (who recovered to get Gordon with a glove-hand flip). Hansel Robles will be brought up to replace Blevins. As for d’Arnaud, who is hitting .317 and had two hits before leaving the game, he will be replaced by prospect Kevin Plawecki, who is off to a slow start at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Injuries have already hit the Mets hard, with Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin lost for the season after Tommy John surgery, and David Wright, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell on the disabled list. Wright is resuming activity, but Black had a setback in a rehab assignment.

The injuries tarnished the Mets’ 10-3 sterling silver start – Detroit is the only other team with double-digit victories – but what is important now is how they respond.

Sometimes, season-defining tests come early.