Aug 18

Conforto Sits Tonight; Lineup Against Marlins

Every star has them, even blooming ones and Michael Conforto is no exception. After hitting three homers last weekend in Philadelphia, Conforto went 2-for-15 with five strikeouts in the four games against the Yankees.

“I definitely was excited for it. I don’t know if that played a part in [my struggles],’’ Conforto told reporters after Thursday night’s 7-5 loss to the Yankees.

“I took some tough at-bats. They pitched me well, they did some things to keep me off balance. But I wouldn’t chalk it up to anything more than that. It was a tough series for me at the plate, but I don’t think I was pressing or anything like that.’’

Such a slump merits a night off, and Conforto is out of the lineup for tonight’s game against Miami. Here’s the lineup:

Juan Lagares – CF

Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B

Yoenis Cespedes – LF

Wilmer Flores – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Amed Rosario – SS

Matt Reynolds – 3B

Brandon Nimmo – RF

Chris Flexen – RHP

Aug 17

It’s Time For Mets To Send Matz To Minors

Can Steven Matz and the Mets finally admit something isn’t right? Can they finally admit that a side trip to Las Vegas might be just the thing to straighten him out and find something to build on for next year.

It’s now been eight starts in which Matz has alternated between so-so, bad and simply terrible. Is there a fourth category to describe tonight’s 7-5 meltdown against the Yankees?

MATZ: It's time for Vegas. (AP)

                                   MATZ: It’s time for Vegas. (AP)

In between those starts, he’s been working on drills with pitching coach Dan Warthen that will help him keep the ball down. He’s been studying video to spot any mechanical flaws.

“I’ve been trying some different stuff but it hasn’t translated,’’ Matz said. “When guys are on base I’m leaving the ball up in the zone and that’s where I’ve gotten hurt. I have to figure out what is causing that.’’

Nothing, at least not yet, has worked.

“We’ve wrung the rag dry trying to find answers that could help him,’’ said manager Terry Collins. “But, when he’s out there on the mound he has to make quality pitches. … We’ve got to find something that will work.’’

Seven runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings was the damage charged to Matz. It is the fifth time in 13 starts Matz has given up at least five runs. Since I’m listing horrible statistics, he’s also given up 12 homers in 70 innings. That includes a three-run homer to Gary Sanchez in the first. Other ugly numbers: It is the 16th time this season the Mets have given up at least three runs in the first and they have been outscored 104-84 in the opening inning.

Matz, whose first-inning ERA in 9.00, hung a 0-2 changeup over the plate to Sanchez. He is 0-6 over his last eight starts and overall fell to 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA. His problems began with a two-base throwing error to first on a ball hit back to the mound by Brett Gardner leading off the game.

“But, you have to move on,’’ said Collins. Translation: Winning pitchers must overcome.

I guess the only positives for Matz tonight are he kept Aaron Judge out of the third deck and won’t have to pitch to Giancarlo Stanton this weekend.

Matz, who spent the first two months on the disabled list recovering from surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow, also missed the 2010-11 seasons following Tommy John surgery.

Perhaps Matz is hurting again, or hit a wall in his recovery and has a dead arm and is gutting it out. Maybe he’s hiding an injury. Maybe he’s tipping his pitches, but you’d think they would have discovered it if he has been. Maybe his mechanics are all screwed up.

“I asked him if he was physically OK, but he said he is fine,’’ Collins said, shaking his head.

Matz answered every question calmly and professionally. He didn’t duck anything.

“It’s not a good feeling. I don’t want to say I’m lost,’’ Matz said. “I want to think I’m one step away from having things click.’’

The season is lost for the Mets, but it might not be totally lost for Matz. It is still possible he could work things out with a couple of starts in Las Vegas. Perhaps that’s a gamble the Mets should make.

At this point, what would it hurt?

 

Aug 17

What’s Wrong With Matz?

Steven Matz insists he’s fine, but a lot of Mets pitchers have said the same thing. Maybe he’s not feeling that biting pain in his elbow or ache in his shoulder, but something isn’t right.

Recovering from surgery, and he’s had several, there could be a dead arm period. If so, he’s either denying it, hiding it or foolishly attempting to pitch through it. Each of those decisions is bad.

Seven poor starts in a row for five straight losses in the decisions column say either something is wrong with his arm or he’s not the pitcher the Mets envision him to be.

If the Yankees light him up tonight, which is a highly likely scenario considering opponents are hitting .386 against him at Citi Field, which translates into a 9.33 ERA, then maybe the Mets would be wise to give him an MRI and rest him for a start or two.

What would it hurt?

Aug 16

Mets Better Served With Lagares In Center

As much as I enjoy watching Michael Conforto, and have no doubt about his ability to play center field, the Mets would be better served – assuming they don’t shock everybody and bring back Jay Bruce – if Juan Lagares plays center field.

LAGARES: Gold Glover. (AP)

LAGARES: Gold Glover. (AP)

After all, Lagares won a Gold Glove in center and is blessed with outstanding speed, and if GM Sandy Alderson expects to build the 2018 Mets with pitching, defense should be at a premium.

Lagares has flashed his defensive brilliance in this series, and had two hits in tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Yankees. He doubled leading off the game, and what I loved to see, beat out a bunt leading off the eighth.

JUDGE GOES DEEP: Seriously, he went deep for the second time against the Mets, this time driving a Robert Gsellman pitch into the third deck – in left center.

Judge’s 37th homer was measured at 457 feet.

NEW FACE AT THIRD: Both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores were scratched from the starting lineup, each with sore rib cage muscles. Travis d’Arnaud started his first professional game at third base.

Rib cage injuries can take a long time to heal so don’t be surprised if one, or both, end up on the disabled list.

The Yankees eschewed a chance to test d’Arnaud in the first inning when they had a runner on third, but Didi Gregorius elected not to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt.

Depending on the situation, d’Arnaud rotated between third and second, but amazingly the ball didn’t find him until Aaron Hicks popped out in the ninth.

WRIGHT UPDATE: David Wright, on the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder impingement and spinal stenosis, thinks it is possible he could play this season, but GM Sandy Alderson doesn’t think he’ll have enough time.

“I don’t know how many answers he will have, or we will have through the end of this season,’’ Alderson said, adding the Mets could attempt to add a third baseman in the offseason.

EXTRA INNINGS: Matt Harvey threw three scoreless innings in his second rehab assignment for Class-A Brooklyn. Harvey struck out the side on ten pitches in the third inning. … Rene Rivera homered, the Mets’ 179th of the season. … Mets’ hitters struck out eight times. … Gsellman, who started for Seth Lugo, gave up three runs on four hits in 5.1 innings. … Paul Sewald gave up a two-run double to Gregorius in the seventh to take the loss.

 

Aug 15

Why Not Trade Grandy To Nationals Or Yankees?

If the Mets are hell bent on trading Curtis Granderson, and they can get something decent in return in the form of a prospect or not having to pay any part of the $4 million remaining on his salary, I have no problem with them dealing him to the Yankees or Nationals.

Why not?

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

The season is over and if what they get back can help the Mets, what’s the problem? What I think is stupid is the Mets possibly missing out on a deal for Granderson because they want him for the Subway Series.  Could that really be a reason not to trade him now?

Granderson will be a free agent after the season and said he’ll retire if he can’t find a good deal as a player. So, what are the odds he’ll come back to bite the Mets next year?

Relations with the Yankees are frigid at best following the Jay Bruce and Neil Walker trades, so that’s a long shot at best. However, with Bryce Harper out indefinitely, the Nationals have more of a need.

Of course, the Mets would rather not trade within the division, but they have already gotten their money’s worth out of Granderson’s four-year, $60-million contract, so why not?

It might be fun to see Granderson match up against Bruce in the World Series.