Oct 28

Mets’ DeGrom In Must-Win Game Tonight

Nobody can say for certain what big games Jacob deGrom might have later in his career that could carve legacy, but there’s no doubt the Mets’ run during these playoffs is contingent on him showing up large in Game 2 tonight against Johnny Cueto.

No deGrom; no World Series title.

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

DEGROM: Poised and ready. (Getty)

The Mets’ best pitcher this season must fight through fatigue for his team to take this Series back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece. The must regain the command he lost in his last two starts against the Dodgers and Cubs.

Those teams couldn’t come up with the big hit to put deGrom and the Mets away. The Mets aren’t even here without his second start against the Dodgers in which he stranded five runners in scoring position.

Such grit rarely works against the Royals, who came from behind twice last night to beat the Mets.

“One of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out. We’ve got to put them away,” manager Terry Collins said after Kansas City survived 14 innings last night, and to do so needed to overcome Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.

That begins with scoring early and often against Cueto, and deGrom becoming overpowering again.

“They’re going to battle you,’’ deGrom said. “They’re not going to strike out a lot and they’re going to put the ball in play. I think my job is to keep the ball down.

“I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.’’

Against the fastball-hitting Cubs, deGrom said he had to temper his approach with more off-speed pitches and relied on his change-up. Much has been made of Kansas City’s ability to put fastballs in play, so that might be his formula tonight.

“There’s going to be adjustments to be made like there is in every game,’’ deGrom said. “I think it’s just seeing what’s going on out there.’’

And, recognizing it quickly because if he doesn’t the game can get away very fast.

Oct 26

Five Keys For Mets To Win

It is the day before the start of the World Series and who would have guessed I’d be previewing the Mets? I certainly wouldn’t have, but damn, isn’t this great?

FIVE KEYS FOR METS

FIVE KEYS

This is the Mets’ fifth trip to the World Series, and they’ve only been favored once, in 1986 against Boston. This time they are a pick `em against the Royals.

If the following are answered in the positive, there could be another parade down the Canyon of Heroes:

Pair of Aces: Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom go in the first two games and should be well rested. Sure, the Mets can lose both and come back to win, but those odds would be long. One of them has to win if the Mets are to win.

A Murphy-type stretch is needed: If not Daniel Murphy, then somebody needs to get hot. Nobody knows how the layoff will affect Murphy. Maybe it will be Lucas Duda, or David Wright, or Wilmer Flores. Whoever it is, somebody must turn it on.

Overcoming the aches and pains: Harvey has a bruise in the back of his throwing arm; Curtis Granderson has a jammed thumb; Yoenis Cespedes has a strained shoulder.

Building the bullpen bridge: The Mets have had to use Bartolo Colon to get to Jeurys Familia. The bullpen bridge from the starters to the closer hasn’t been strong. The Mets’ bullpen is not as strong as Kansas City’s and that will undoubtedly come into play. If the Royals are winning by the sixth inning that will be difficult for the Mets to overcome.

Shutting down the Royals early: Much has been made of Kansas City’s speed, ability to put the ball into play, and, of course, hit the long ball. The Royals’ offense is more balanced than Chicago’s, and their hitters aren’t intimidated by the Mets’ hard throwers.

There other variables, such as adjusting on the fly to an injury; coming from behind, which they never had to do against the Cubs; dealing with poor weather and bad calls; how nerves will come into play; and what happens when a key player goes cold.

The Mets have been a team of resiliency all season. They need to be that way just four more times.

Oct 22

2015 NLCS Recap: Mets Never Gave The Cubs A Chance

MLB: NLCS-New York Mets at Chicago Cubs

There were a several times this season when it didn’t look as if this would be a Mets’ summer. Through injuries, slumps and innings-limit controversies, this was going to be another long season.

However, Wilmer Flores’ tears told us why he wanted to remain a Met and why he loved this team like we do. A few days later GM Sandy Alderson brought in Yoenis Cespedes and the clubhouse was infused with an energy the Mets hadn’t known since 2006, the last time they played meaningful games in October.

“Are you kidding me?’’ said David Wright, who long after the final out in Wednesday night’s 8-3 victory to complete their NLCS sweep of the Cubs, went back to the field to slap hands with Mets’ fans who made the trip to Wrigley Field.

“I can’t describe the emotions going through me. We got tested this year. We were the underdogs against the Dodgers. We were underdogs against the Cubs. But, we made it. I can’t wait for the World Series to begin.’’

Here’s how the Mets reached their fifth World Series in franchise history to become Amazin’ Again.

GAME ONE: Harvey Shines In Opener

There’s something about Matt Harvey that makes you shake your head, then smile and say “I’m so glad he’s a Met.’’ Harvey wasn’t pleased with his Game 3 performance in the NLDS against Los Angeles, but worked into the eighth inning to stifle the Cubs, 4-2, and after the game, said: “I wanted this game bad.’’ Harvey got support from Daniel Murphy, who continued his torrid postseason with another home run.

GAME TWO: Murphy’s Homer Tees Off On Arrieta

Murphy homered in his fourth straight playoff game – who would have thought it? – to back the strong pitching of Noah Syndergaard in a 4-1 victory in a felt-like-snowy night at Citi Field. Murphy’s homer continued his pulverization of the game’s best pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and now Jake Arrieta. “We’re having a whole bunch of fun right now,’’ said Murphy, whose fun would continue in Chicago.

GAME THREE: DeGrom Brilliant Again; Ditto For Murphy

If the Cubs were to get back into the NLCS, it would have to be in the first game at Wrigley Field, but as he did against the Dodgers, Jacob deGrom labored but would not crack in the Mets’ 5-2 victory. The odds of the Cubs coming back 0-3 seemed as long as Murphy hitting another home run, but he did again for the fifth straight game.

GAME FOUR: Mets Dominate In All Phases

It could be said manager Terry Collins gambled this game when he started rookie Steven Matz on the mound and stuck with the slumping Lucas Duda at first base. Collins was rewarded as Matz gave up one run and Duda drove in five runs on three hits in an 8-3 rout. There’s hot, sizzling and Murphy hot, and the much maligned second baseman had four more hits, including a homer for a record sixth straight game and was named the NLCS MVP. Murphy hit 14 homers during the regular season and seven so far in the playoffs. Tyler Clippard called Murphy’s performance other worldly. Unbelievable.

mets win nlcs

Thoughts from Metsmerized Online’s Joe D. 

What began in Spring Training with all the unabashed talk that the team considered themselves pennant contenders that were to be taken seriously, much of it falling on deaf and unbelieving ears, ended on  Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with the team accomplishing what they said they’d do. And now the next stop is the World Series as they await their venue, Kansas City or Toronto.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have beheld it all and witness how they navigated, ever so gracefully, through a maze of adversity, controversy and battling the ghosts of past collapses. To the unbelieving masses, they were never taken seriously, always shrouded in doubt and never getting the accolades early on that they so richly deserved.

While it may appear that the NLCS was won by one man in Daniel Murphy, he would be the first to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. This incredible series win was an all hands on deck effort and there were many who rose to the occasion.

Matt Harvey set the tone in Game 1 when he laid down the gauntlet that would become the recurring theme throughout the series and in many ways it’s defining subplot – and that is the superb pitching performances by all four young flame-throwers that comprised the Mets starting rotation.

Sure the Mets scored 21 runs in the series, but our pitching held the Cubs to just 8 runs in four games. Furthermore, at no point did they ever allow Chicago to play with a lead. Talk about putting the pressure on… The Mets became the first team in NLCS history to sweep a series without ever trailing in a single game. Tremendous.

Another notable hero was closer Jeurys Familia who pitched in all four games and saved a franchise record three of them. In fact, the bullpen as a whole was stupendous. Along with Familia, Bartolo Colon, Addison Reed and Jon Niese combined for 8.0 scoreless innings out of the 36.0 total innings tossed in the series.

And even though the Mets left Eric Young Jr. off the roster, the Mets stole seven bases in this series, more than any other team in the postseason. There was a lot of guts and guile from Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes on the basepaths throughout the series, and some sparkling defense to go with it as well. Superb defensive play from David Wright and Lucas Duda was expected, but standout plays by Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto did not go unnoticed.

In a word, the Mets were relentless. They never let up once and just kept piling on. Joe Maddon and the Cubs never had a chance, This was a total team effort and one for all of us to be proud of. I tip my cap to all 25 players  as well as the manager and his coaches, for an amazing achievement and memorable series that none of us will ever forget. I can hardly wait to see where their journey takes us next. Let’s Go Mets!

2015 world series logo banner

Oct 21

Mets’ Fans And Murphy Should Cherish The Moment

Daniel Murphy has no explanation why he has homered in six straight games during this incredible playoff run by the Mets. He did it again Wednesday night and was named NLCS MVP.

“If I knew, I would have done it six years ago,’’ said Murphy, whose first inclination when asked is to credit his teammates. “I can’t explain it. I’m just going to ride this.”

He’ll ride it into the Mets’ fifth World Series appearance in their history, which begins Tuesday in either Kansas City or Toronto. Nobody really cares where, just that their season will continue.

MURPHY:  Enjoying the moment. (Getty)

MURPHY: Enjoying the moment. (Getty)

I wrote the other day how much I admired Murphy’s attitude, but said it was time he he took a bow after all the static he’s taken for his defense. He deserves this moment in the sun.

With Murphy’s unconscious streak comes the inevitable talk of whether the Mets will sign him long-term or to a qualifying offer. I’ve written it also, but on second thought, what does it matter?

Eventually, I’ll write it again. And, about bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and how he hurt his left shoulder and had to leave the game last night. Or, what’s going on with David Wright’s back. And, what workload the Mets’ starters might have next season. Or, what GM Sandy Alderson will do about rebuilding his bullpen.

There are a lot of things to review about this season, including whether Terry Collins will be named manager of the year. (He should). You guys know me, you know I’ll address them. But, at least for today I don’t want to hear them. I don’t care about next season.

This is a moment to be savored, to be cherished. It is a moment that prompted somebody online to write how he wished he was five-years-old again so he can grow up to be a Mets fan. How precious is that?

“This city deserves it,” said an exuberant Wright, who trusted Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, who promised him good times were within reach.

“This organization deserves it. The players deserve this. … I can’t describe the emotions that are going through me right now.”

The offseason news can wait a few more weeks. The topics will still be there; they aren’t going anywhere.

The last time the Mets were in the World Series was 2000. Before that, it was 1986. Before that, it was 1973 and 1969. Do you sense a trend here?

Wright said this team was a combination of the 1969 Miracle Mets and 1973 Tug McGraw, “Ya Gotta Believe,” team.

When Wright went to the playoffs in 2006, he thought it would be that way every year. However, he learned how fleeting a moment this can be. As Mets followers, we understand that.

We follow the Mets because we love that team. The reasons why, don’t matter. We just do. It is in our DNA.

However, despite the Mets’ young pitching, nothing is a given. Nothing. We don’t know about the future. None of us do.

So, let’s not worry about something beyond our control. Let’s enjoy this, as this is a rare and precious time.

It could be our best time.

 

 

Oct 19

Mets’ Series Lead Could Enable Harvey To Rest

In addition to the historical percentages of advancing to the World Series, winning the first two games of the NLCS against Chicago, gives the Mets the advantage of bypassing the injured Matt Harvey in Game 5 if necessary.

Harvey took a line drive off the bat of Dexter Fowler to the back of his pitching arm in the sixth inning of Game 1, and already, manager Terry Collins is alluding to possibly of starting Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon.

HARVEY:  Questionable for Thursday. (Getty)

HARVEY: Questionable for Thursday. (Getty)

“He’s pretty sore and pretty swelled up,’’ Collins said Monday at Wrigley Field. “He, as we sit here today, is a go. But that could certainly change in the next couple of days.

“I was pretty surprised at how swelled up it was yesterday. So we certainly are going to keep a really close eye on it the next couple of days.’’

Of course, the Mets want to wrap this up as soon as possible, but if they win one of the next two games, they’ll be sitting pretty with a 3-1 series edge heading into Game 5.

Harvey, who won his first two postseason starts, played catch today. Harvey’s innings became a focal point at the end of the season, but if he’s held back Thursday, it will have nothing to do with his workload.

Harvey stayed in the game after he was struck, and pitching coach Dan Warthen said that was beneficial because it enabled him to keep his arm stretched out.

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