May 10

Collins Gives No Confidence Vote To Conforto

Looking at the Mets’ lineup for Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but notice a glaring mistake. Perhaps it was just an oversight on manager Terry Collins’ part, but I’m not thrilled with Michael Conforto batting sixth, protected between the red hot Wilmer Flores (.170, one homer and two RBI) and the sizzling Kevin Plawecki (.229, one homer and three RBI).

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

The Mets touted Conforto as the team’s No. 3 hitter of the future when Collins moved him there in mid-April. The move, where he hit ahead of Yoenis Cespedes, jumpstarted the Mets’ offense and sparked their surge in the standings.

The Mets are 16-5 isince moving Conforto to third, which includes losing the first two games on this trip. Unquestionably, Conforto is on a significant slide, going 3-for-29 (.103) over his last eight games. Basically, that’s a bad week.

Although the Mets are facing a left-hander in Alex Wood, it should be noted he’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA. The message indicated a lack of confidence by Collins in Conforto, but the manager’s words flat out shout it loud.

Lefties are batting .367 this year against Wood, but the manager doesn’t think that’s relevant. Collins said batting Conforto sixth wouldn’t create pressure to perform, but he’s mistaken. There’s more pressure now.

Collins made a big deal saying Cespedes’ presence helped Conforto, but if you buy that logic, you must also accept he’s getting next to no protection between Flores and Plawecki. In addition, what must Conforto be thinking about this demotion?

As far as his reasoning for moving Conforto, Collins told reporters today: “I’d like to leave him in the three-hole if I thought he could do some damage.”

That’s another way of saying he doesn’t think he can do any damage against a pitcher with an ERA just under six. How’s that for a pat on the back?

No, I don’t like this decision. Confidence is essential in the development of a hitter, and this move screams Collins has doubts. When Collins moved Conforto, I wrote how important it was for him to stay with him during slumps. At least the first one.

If Conforto is to become the No. 3 hitter the Mets expect of him, he’ll have to endure dry stretches. So, what does Collins do? He bails at the first sign of a problem. Collins said Conforto will bat third against right-handers, but said nothing about lefties. You have to assume he won’t hit third against Clayton Kershaw.

It has only been eight games. Let Conforto work his way out of this, the same way he’s given a long leash to Matt Harvey.

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Apr 25

Today In Mets History: The Doc Is In The House

It was early on when we first thought this guy could be pretty good when on this date in 1984, Dwight Gooden became the first teenager since Bert Blyleven in 1970 to strike out ten hitters.

GOODEN: Big start in Montreal. (AP)

GOODEN: Big start in Montreal. (AP)

In a 2-1 victory in 11 innings at Montreal, Gooden struck out ten of the 24 batters he faced. He gave up two hits and walked one in seven innings.

Gooden was 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA as he won the Rookie of the Year, made the All-Star team and finished second in the Cy Young Award balloting.

The Mets scored the game-winner when George Foster drove home Keith Hernandez with a single to left.

Jesse Orosco picked up the victory in relief.

ON DECK: Tonight’s Mets Starter: Noah Syndergaard

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Apr 25

Mets Morning Coffee

The vibe for the Mets will be considerably different tonight against Cincinnati than it was when they left after manager Terry Collins said they faced a must-win situation.

The Mets went 7-2 on this trip, but remember five of those victories came against Philadelphia and Atlanta, teams they are expected to beat, and teams they must prevail against if they are to win the NL East.

Today on the blog I’ll have:

Today In Mets History: Rookie Doc Gooden stuffs Montreal.

A brief on Noah Syndergaard.

Lineups, notes, and of course a wrap of tonight’s game. I’m also working on a piece on strikeouts and hope to have that online either today or tomorrow.

Have a great day.

ON DECK: Today In Mets History: The Doc Is In The House

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Apr 24

Mets Wrap: DeGrom Passes Big Test

It is safe to say Jacob deGrom passed the audition. How deGrom responded in his second start of the season and first since April 8 could turn out be one of the most pertinent issues of the year.

DeGROM: Passes big test. (AP)

DeGROM: Passes big test. (AP)

His 16-day absence was first caused because of a strained right lat muscle that turned into something far more serious following health complications of his newborn son.

That deGrom threw 82 pitches and said his lat felt fine gave the franchise a huge sigh of relief.

“He got after it,” manager Terry Collins told reporters about deGrom’s start. “After what he’s gone through he gave us plenty.”

In beating the Braves, 3-2, deGrom gave up one runs on eight hits with no walks and just three strikeouts. His ERA dropped to 1.54. His fastball velocity was clocked in the low 90s, not where he wants it to be. The eight hits were indicative of getting the ball up.

“It was nice to be back out there,’’ deGrom told reporters. “I was a little nervous, but excited to be out there. Everything feels fine.”

What deGrom didn’t like was his inability to put away hitters ahead in the count, but especially was pleased he didn’t walk any hitters.

“I had a lot of guys with two strikes I couldn’t put away,” deGrom said. “Other than that I was pretty happy with the outcome.”

We’ve seen deGrom be more dominant, but this was a great sign for him and the Mets. It was a huge sigh of relief.

Mets Game Wrap

Game: #17  Record: 10-7  Streak: W 3

SUMMARY: DeGrom worked into the sixth and the offense manufactured three runs, two coming of sacrifice flies. “It was great to see,” Collins said. “Personally, I’d like to get four homers every game.”

KEY MOMENT: Two stood out. … The Braves got two hits off deGrom in the first after the Mets gave him a 1-0 lead. A big inning is his first start was not something he needed. … When the Braves got to him for a run in the fifth deGrom minimized the damage.

THUMBS UP: Asdrubal Cabrera remains a bright spot with his timely hitting. … Michael Conforto drove in two runs. … A question entering the season and an issue early, the bullpen has pitched very well. Jim Henderson, Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins were bright spots. … Wilmer Flores legged out his second hit of the season. … No walks issued from five pitchers.

THUMBS DOWN: Despite their power, the Mets struggle hitting with RISP, ranking last in the National League. … You don’t want to go to the bullpen four times, but considering the circumstances it was understandable. … Despite the save, Jeurys Familia is still not crisp. He gave up a run on three hits. … Cabrera failed to get the lead runner on a grounder in the ninth and it cost the Mets a run.

EXTRA INNINGS: Yoenis Cespedes didn’t play for the second straight game because of a bruise to his right upper leg. He will be examined Monday in New York. … David Wright had the day off, but was available to pinch-hit. … Kevin Plawecki started at catcher and Flores at third.

QUOTEBOOK: “You can’t hang sliders. The more he’s out there the better he’s going to feel.” – Collins on Familia’s problems.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7-5: Mets’ record vs. NL East. Braves (3-0), Phillies (3-3), Marlins (1-2). With the sweep of the Braves, the Mets have won seven straight games at Turner Field.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets return home to start a three-game series against Cincinnati Monday at Citi Field. Noah Syndergaard (2-0), Bartolo Colon (1-1) and Matt Harvey (1-3) are scheduled to start.

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Apr 23

Mets Matters: Harvey Still Searching

Mets manager Terry Collins finally admitted the team’s handling of its pitchers perhaps contributed to Matt Harvey‘s sluggish start. The Mets held their pitchers back a week because of last season’s workloads. Harvey threw 12 innings in spring training whereas most starters log close to 30 innings. Harvey’s spring was further cut short by a urinary tract infection.

mets-matters logo“He really never got to where he was game-ready at the end of spring training,” Collins told reporters. “It just kind of carried over into the season.”

Now, was that so hard?

Harvey lost his first three starts before winning an unimpressive start Friday night.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Harvey said. “Parts of the game obviously felt better, and it felt like I was releasing the ball the way I should be. Other times it was not that way. I’m still working. There’s more positives than negatives out of this game.”

Perhaps the biggest negative was Harvey throwing 101 pitches in five innings.

“Obviously throwing that many pitches in five innings is not ideal,” Harvey said. “My goal today was going out there and really trying to work on what we had worked on this past week. At times, I was able to do that, and at times I fell out of that. I have to re-find that.”

Prior to the game, pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey had developed a mechanical flaw where he collapsed his push-off leg working out of the stretch.

“The majority of the time out of the stretch I did feel better,” Harvey said. “Like I said, there’s still work to be done.”

If this is the work in progress Harvey proclaims it to be, it could take a few more starts before he gets it right.

But, on a positive note, at least the Mets seem to have an idea of what’s wrong with Harvey.

DeGROM READY FOR SUNDAY:  Jacob deGrom rejoined the Mets today after being on emergency family leave and will start Sunday against the Braves.

DeGrom said his two-week-old son, Jaxon, was suffering from apnea and would stop breathing while he slept.

“It was definitely scary,” deGrom said told reporters. “When all the tests came back and nothing was seriously wrong, we were pretty relieved.”

Sunday’s start will be his first since April 8, a game he left with tightness in his right lat after six innings. After studying video, deGrom theorizes his landing leg was too stiff.

“I feel good,” deGrom said. “The last few bullpen sessions have been good.”

CESPEDES SIDELINED: Collins said Yoenis Cespedes aggravated the bruise on his right leg sliding into second and would probably not play the remaining two games during this series.

“The bruise is pretty big,” Collins said. “He’s aggravated it, and he’s limping pretty bad. … He’s pretty swelled. He’s certainly not going to be available today.”


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