May 23

Big Pitching Night Awaits Mets

Should the Mets put the brakes on their current slide, tonight might be circled as a potential turning point with regards to their battered starting rotation. Both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo will make minor league rehab starts, but the headliner will be Matt Harvey’s first home start since he was suspended for blowing off a workout the day before a start.

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

HARVEY: More questions. (AP)

The hope is Matz and Lugo will replace Tommy Milone and Robert Gsellman in the rotation, and the vision the Mets always held for Harvey will finally emerge with no more health questions, or for that matter, no more diva issues.

Harvey alluded as much to that: “It’ll be good to go out and concentrate on the game plan that we go over before the game instead of thinking I have to stay with a certain mechanic. … We’ve figured out what I need to do and now it’s just about going out and executing pitches.’’

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until the end of May or early June when his velocity would return for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Harvey is throwing hard again, but his command has been off and there hasn’t been an edge to his game.

The Mets were to be defined by their pitching, and they have – it has been the single biggest disappointment to this season to date.

Warthen said the current issue for Harvey (2-3, 5.56 ERA) is mechanics, ranging from arm slots to his timing. In his last start at Arizona, Harvey gave up three runs with five strikeouts, but four walks.

The returns of Matz and Lugo could carry significant weight, even more if one of them eventually replaces Harvey.

May 16

Robles’ Role In Jeopardy; Free Fall Continues

Dear Mets readers: I haven’t been around for nearly a week after undergoing back surgery. I came home and today learned my server went down. Please accept my apologies. Hopefully, nothing else will happen. I wish I could include the Mets’ bullpen in that. Best to you, John

The Mets dodged a bullet when Paul Goldschmidt’s fly against Hansel Robles off the center field wall was a replay ruled a double instead of a home run. No worries for the Diamondbacks, who would hit three more homers in the fateful eighth, two off Robles.

Considering Robles has given up nine runs in his last two appearances – not including Sunday’s meltdown – it is probably safe to assume the Mets should be thinking his role should be reduced to mop-up situations like it frequently has been when he’s done.

Pitching was supposed to be the Mets’ strong suit, but the bullpen bridge to the closer was always a rickety one over a rocky cavern with a fast-moving river like in the movie Deliverance.

With Jeurys Familia out indefinitely following surgery to remove a blood clot creating a blockage in his right shoulder. Surgery in St. Louis to remove the clot was successful and he won’t start throwing for up to six weeks and it could be three months before he gets in a game. Just where will the Mets be then?

Addison Reed hasn’t pitched well, and whom in the pen do you trust? Certainly not Robles, whom Collins said his role is in serious jeopardy.

“We use him often because he has such a great arm, but he’s not making pitches, Collins said after the Mets’ fifth straight loss to drop them to eight games behind Washington. “We have to take a good hard look at where he fits, but we don’t have a lot of options.

It is what it is, but you have to manage it anyways.”

One positive tonight was Zack Wheeler, who pitched into the seventh after giving up one run. It was the second consecutive game when a starter entered the seventh only to watch the bullpen cough up the game like a cat with a hairball. Jacob deGrom did so Sunday. DeGrom was supposed to pick up the rotation after Noah Syndergaard went down and will be lost for up to three months.

DeGrom is 2-1 which is good two weeks into the season, but he didn’t win his first game until April 28. DeGrom is on top of the leader boards in strikeouts, but what is really alarming are the seven homers he’s allowed (he gave up 16 all of last year).

Matt Harvey‘s comeback is failing; Robert Gsellman would be optioned if Steven Matz was ready to be activated, but he’s several weeks away; recently-acquired Tommy Milone will get the ball tonight?

What’s next for the Mets?

“Somebody has pissed off the baseball Gods, because every move we make turns out to be the wrong one,” Collins said.

In ancient times, sacrifices were made to the Gods to curry favor.

Who will be the first? Robles? Gsellman? Curtis Granderson? Asdrubal Cabrera?

Will the Mets finally forego their obsession with the Super Two status regarding Amed Rosario? Will they stop thinking Yoenis Cespedes‘ return – which is at least three weeks away – will be the panacea for all that ails the Mets?

The most imminent decision is whether to DL Cabrera and already there are reports Rosario won’t be brought up. Looks like another bad decision in the making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 08

Mets Wrap: Mets Show Resiliency

For the second time in eight days, the Mets got back to their feet after taking what could have been a knockout punch. Tonight they responded from Matt Harvey’s latest brush with immaturity, while a week ago today they responded from losing Noah Syndergaard and by 17 runs to the Nationals.

WALKER: Raps game-winner. (AP)

WALKER: Raps game-winner. (AP)

Tonight, Neil Walker’s ninth-inning single carried the Mets 4-3 victory over the Giants to push the Harvey Soap Opera to the back burner. We’ll see how things are tomorrow when Harvey returns to Citi Field.

The Mets reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, both times overcoming a myriad of injuries and lengthy team hitting slump to play meaningful October baseball.

They are already facing the same obstacles this season but responded with a stretch of losing 10 of 11 by winning seven of ten.

“You can’t let things linger, you have to move on,” manager Terry Collins said, referring to both Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s latest. “We have a great bunch. They are a group of veteran guys. They don’t let down.”

Collins said a win like tonight can be built on to define a season.

“It can,” Collins said. “Yesterday was a tough day. They showed up today and got after it. You have to be resilient in this game. You have to deal with it.”

DeGROM OFF: With Syndergaard on the 60-day disabled list and no knowing where Harvey’s head or heart is located, it’s up to Jacob deGrom to lead what was supposed to be a dominating staff.

Actually, the marquee staff of deGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey, Steve Matz (on the disabled list) and today’s starter Zack Wheeler have never gone through the rotation in order.

DeGrom struck out at least ten for the fourth time in five starts, but walked three and gave up homers to Hunter Pence and Buster Posey in six innings.

By definition, it was a quality start, but deGrom was having none of that talk: “It was better than the last one, but there were still walks and I didn’t get the ball down like I wanted to. If I could figure out I would. I left two balls up and they hit it over the fence.”

MILONE TO START: Newly-acquired Tommy Milone will start Wednesday in the series finale against the Giants. Milone will replace Rafael Montero.

CESPEDES UPDATE: Collins said Yoenis Cespedes reports his hamstring is feeling better, but he is still at least ten days from resuming baseball activities and two weeks from getting in a game.

If you recall, when Cespedes was placed on the disabled list, Alderson said he could be back by May 8, which, of course, is today.

 

May 08

Mets To Protect Harvey With Friday Return

The Mets are thinking about Friday as a return to the mound for Matt Harvey. He will return to the ballpark tomorrow to make his apologies and pitch again Friday when the Mets are in Milwaukee – away from the prying microphones and cameras that would besiege him at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

It seemed logical the Mets should start him Wednesday afternoon over Rafael Montero, who can’t find the plate with a GPS, or recently-acquired Tommy Milone.

Instead, this is just another example of the Mets massaging Harvey’s fragile ego; do it in Milwaukee to spare him the boos he’d undoubtedly hear in New York.

C’mon, admit it, if you were going to be at Citi Field Wednesday, part of you would want to stand up and vent your anger at Harvey, the same anger GM Sandy Alderson finally did.

After acquiescing to Harvey’s pettiness and demands since 2013 – from hiding pain in his forearm that eventually lead to Tommy John surgery, to complaining where he would do his rehab, to his innings fiasco in 2015, to missing a World Series workout because he got caught in traffic and it was later discovered he was out partying the night before, to pitching a fit in the dugout to stay in Game 5 of the World Series he eventually kicked away – Alderson finally had enough.

“We have a policy here,” Collins said of Harvey’s for an unexcused absence Saturday. “I thought it was the right thing to do. I know it’s dramatic, but I think any team in baseball would have probably reacted very similarly. And it wasn’t just Matt Harvey. Anybody in that room that misses a day and nobody knows about it, we’ve got to do the same thing.”

Harvey said he developed a migraine headache after golfing and there was a miscommunication of explaining his absence that the Mets weren’t buying.

I’m not either, because how could he not have Alderson’s cell number? Or, Collins? Or trainer Ray Ramirez?

If we’re venturing guesses, I think him being in Ottawa watching the Rangers is as good as any.

Anyway, before Harvey throws his first pitch, he’ll have some groveling to do with his teammates tomorrow afternoon.

“I know one thing about our society: You make a mistake, you stand up, be accountable and move on,” Collins said. “He needs to address the guys. We’ve got to get this behind us. However he wants to go about doing that, I’ll sign on for it.

“We have a good clubhouse. Understand, you’re never going to have 25 that all like each other. But they respect each other and that’s all I want.”

Harvey may have lost that respect and has a long way to go to earn it back.

May 07

Mets Wrap: Harvey Puts Onus On Wilk

In his April 27 start against Atlanta to replace the injured Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey complained he wasn’t given enough time to prepare.

So, what did Harvey do?

WILK: Put in tough spot. (AP)

WILK: Put in tough spot. (AP)

He did the same thing to Adam Wilk, but on a larger, more selfish scale. With Harvey suspended for three days without pay, the Mets had to call up Wilk, who took the Red Eye from Albuquerque, New Mexico and arrived in New York at 8:45 this morning.

“It was pretty interesting,” Wilk told reporters of his Magical Mystery Tour itinerary that started in Las Vegas and went to Denver to Albuquerque to Los Angeles to New York.

“I tried to get as much sleep as I could. I don’t want to make any excuses; I didn’t make good enough pitches. … I wouldn’t say I was off. I put everything into it that I had.”

Wilk gave up six runs – five earned – in 3.2 innings. His stint including giving up a pair of home runs to Giancarlo Stanton and one to Adeiny Hechavarria.

The Mets supported their newest teammate with all of one hit as they were shut out for the first time this year.

A likely scenario for Wilk is to be optioned back to Vegas.

METS EXTEND SEWALD: A day after saying he couldn’t afford to use his relievers for more than one inning, Collins stayed with Paul Sewald for at least two innings. Sewald gave the Mets 3.1 innings today, throwing 59 pitches.

With Sewald not likely to pitch for at least two games, don’t be surprised if they send him back to Vegas.

POSITIVE CABRERA NEWS: Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the MRI taken on Asdrubal Cabrera’s injured left thumb showed no ligament damage. This makes it likely he’ll have a shorter recovery time meaning top prospect Amed Rosario will not be brought up.

“The good news is it doesn’t have any tear,” Collins said.

The Mets have not yet put Cabrera on the disabled list, meaning they’ll play shorthanded. With the 10-day disabled list available to them, this could be a questionable decision by Alderson.

By not calling up Rosario prior to June, he will become a Super 2, it means he will be eligible for four years of salary arbitration instead of three.

As of now, the plan is to use Jose Reyes at shortstop and Wilmer Flores at third base.

FLUSHING POWER: Stanton’s two homers gave him 20 hit at Citi Field, which prompted Gary Cohen to pose this trivia question: Stanton’s 20 ties him with Yoenis Cespedes, but who are the seven players with more homers?

Answer: Lucas Duda, David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Ike Davis, Flores and Reyes.

METS CLAIM PITCHER: The Mets claimed left-hander Tommy Milone on waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers.

In six games, three of them starts, Milone is 1-0 with a 6.43 ERA and an astounding 1.476 WHIP. He’s not exactly a power pitcher, with 16 strikeouts in 21 innings.

“`His background is as a starting pitcher, so we’ll look at that,” Collins said.

It is presumed he will replace Rafael Montero in the rotation.

UP NEXT: Here’s the rotation for the Mets-Giants series, starting Monday at Citi Field.

Monday, 7:10 p.m., Jacob deGrom (2-1, 3.68) vs. LHP Matt Moore (1-4, 6.75); Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzjia (0-4, 5.03); Wednesday, 1:10 p.m., TBA vs. Matt Cain (2-1, 4.70).

There exists a possibility Harvey might come off his three-day suspension to start in place of Rafael Montero, but Collins would not commit to that.

ON DECK LATER TODAY: More on Harvey.