Juan Lagares – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Wilmer Flores – SS
Eric Campbell – 3B
Darrell Ceciliani – LF
Kevin Plawecki – C
Matt Harvey – RHP
Sometimes, Mets manager Terry Collins sounds like a man who is trying to convince himself of something he’s not sure of, when he said, or vowed, his team would not panic.
As somebody who has been in on hundreds of such press briefings, I know why the topic of panic was raised. Believe me, it’s not because it’s New York and the media is prying. The question would be the same in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or even laid back San Diego. When you lose seven of ten games and nine games in the standings to your main division rival, nerves get frayed, no matter how loudly or vociferously, Collins denies it.
“There’s a lot – a lot – of baseball left,’’ Collins said last night. “There’s no sense of urgency here. We have things we have to continue to try to do. We have to continue to try to watch the workload of some guys. We need to continue to try to get healthy. But there’s no panic here, believe me. Not in the clubhouse. Not anyplace else.”
This is what Collins believes and I don’t doubt he thinks that way. He would be a fool to admit otherwise. That’s why I don’t get why some in my profession would even pose the question. They already know the answer.
I raised the issue yesterday the Mets are at a critical point to their season, and I did so because I’ve seen them fold before. Do you remember September of 2007 when they lost a seven-game lead to the Phillies with 17 games remaining?
Of course you do.
It has been in the Mets’ DNA to go into long, dry spells. That’s where they are now. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Reporters ask questions to find out.
The Mets’ primary issue now is a stagnant offense that has scored three or fewer runs in 16 of their past 22 games. Not surprisingly, they are 10-15 since their 11-game winning streak.
GM Sandy Alderson already said not to expect help from the outside, that the plan is to wait for David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud to return from the disabled list. There are other options, such as juggling the lineup, but that smacks of panic unless the move is justifiable, which it would be when Wright and d’Arnaud to come back.
The Mets don’t have a good bench, so benching somebody isn’t a great option. Plus, the guy they always look to sit is Wilmer Flores, who is their best home run hitter. Just who in their minor league system is an answer?
The Mets’ best option, as distasteful as this sounds because that’s been Alderson’s mantra, is to wait this out. Slumps happen in a 162-game schedule and that’s what’s going on with the Mets.
Getting out of a slump takes time, and I don’t know how patient the Mets will be. Unfortunately, neither does Collins.
However, when the story of this season is written, this period will be the watershed moment.
Kudos to Matt Harvey after the Mets’ bullpen kicked away an opportunity for his sixth victory of the season. Just as he did on the mound, he handled the post game like a pro.
Harvey failed in his third straight start for his sixth victory, and in his last two games saw the bullpen blow a 1-0 lead late. In those two games Harvey struck out 18 and threw 15 scoreless innings. He deserved better than two no decisions. He should be 7-1 now, but don’t feel sorry for him because he’ll win many more before he’s done.
There will be times when he gives it up, pitches lousy, but somehow come away with a victory. That’s the nature of the sport.
Harvey handled everything perfectly last night. He could have thrown both his hitters and bullpen under the bus, but didn’t. He chose the professional route.
You saw raw emotion when he left the mound. He’s human. He had to be disappointed, but didn’t show it in front of the cameras. Pitchers, like quarterbacks, can’t afford to wear emotions on their sleeves. Only a few can get away with it.
“Well, I think at that point, you just gotta hope we come out and score a run,” Harvey told reporters about went through his mind after the Cardinals tied the game in the ninth. “Take the win/loss out of the equation and concentrate on cheering your teammates on in the bottom half of the inning. … John Mayberry came up and got it done [in the 14th inning], and a win is a win.”
I’ve seen countless pitchers moan and complain about a lack of run support, or point their fingers at a fielder who committed and error, or the bullpen. These pitchers aren’t usually liked by their teammates. The Mets have had a few of them.
But, Harvey is different. His teammates like and respect him, not only for his talent but work ethic. Coming back from Tommy John surgery isn’t easy. He understands this is a team game and he’s one of 25. He knows there will be times when a reliever saves his hide, or a hitter overcomes a bad pitch Harvey made by mauling a couple of home runs. Or a fielder makes a great play. For example, last night Michael Cuddyer and Wilmer Flores made run-saving plays that without them, there wouldn’t have been a blown save.
That’s the nature of the sport, and in that respect, Harvey gets it.
ON DECK: May 19, Mets’ Lineup Vs. Cardinals