Sep 18

From Matz To Duda, A Lot To Like About Mets

There are several things to take out of Friday’s Mets-Yankees game, none of which pertains to so-called bragging rights. Tell me, does anybody really believe in that?

The first is Steven Matz. All along, I’ve advocated leaving Matz out of the playoff rotation, simply because I didn’t believe he has the experience to pitch in that high-pressure atmosphere. Now, the playoffs are more intense than the Yankees, but Matz showed a lot tonight.

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

After a rocky first inning, which included a leadoff walk, Matz turned in a masterful performance. He went after hitters and pitched ahead in the count. He never pitched afraid.

I like Matz and still think the Mets might have something there as a lefty specialist in the playoffs, but know they won’t go there. Where they might go, and this would be delicious, would be to pass over Matt Harvey because of his “innings limits,’’ and go with Matz.

That would be terrifically ironic.

Also important was the revival of Lucas Duda with a mammoth homer and double. He would have also had a single if not for the shift. The Mets have crushed the ball since the Yoenis Cespedes trade, but widely absent in that power display has been Duda. When the playoffs arrive, they’ll need power from the left side.

Speaking of which, Daniel Murphy hit another clutch homer tonight for the go-ahead run. He also hit a game-tying homer on the last road trip in Atlanta, and prior to that, a key homer in Miami.

Murphy, by the way, is a scream with a great sense of humor. After his triple did you notice how he pushed away third baseman Chase Headley’s glove? Just a funny moment in a tense evening. How can you not love that stuff?

I can’t help but think that with the development of Wilmer Flores as a second baseman, and with David Wright seemingly healthy, the Mets won’t bring back Murphy. That becomes even more probable if they earmark money for Cespedes and their young pictures.

Finally, there was Addison Reed, who has been overpowering in his bid for becoming the seventh-inning answer.

As a devout interleague play hater, I took nothing out of beating the Yankees. However, I saw a lot to like in preparation for October.

Sep 14

If Harvey Remains An Issue, Let Him Go Home

This won’t go over well with many, but so be it: I don’t care if Matt Harvey pitches in the playoffs for the Mets. I don’t care if he pitches for them again this season or not.

This “will he or won’t he?’’ crap is boring with much of it Harvey’s fault. If Harvey wants to pitch that badly in the playoffs, then pitch. The easy thing is to blame agent Scott Boras, which SNY wrongly did last week. Once and for all, eliminate this innings issue. Supposedly this was done when he pitched in Washington.

HARVEY: Won' be throwing tonight. (AP)

HARVEY: Won’ be throwing tonight. (AP)

Harvey didn’t clear things up yesterday in Atlanta, and it will surface Monday when Logan Verrett starts over him against Miami. Harvey is supposed to pitch this weekend against the Yankees, but after that, nobody knows. There’s talk of keeping Harvey in a regular rotation, but have him pitch a half-game, with Sean Gilmartin or Erik Goeddel pitching multiple innings.

How sharp he’ll be in this format, and if he can extend himself again in the playoffs are in question.

The Mets are fortunate to have broken open the NL East. They are also fortunate the Nationals collapsed and might not even finish .500. Imagine what a mess this would be if there was still a race.

When Harvey spoke recently about selecting Boras for a reason, we knew it was to cash in for the bucks during his 2019 free-agent season. That’s fine. That’s his right. That’s his prerogative.

But, if you’re going to take that stance, don’t insult us with how badly you want to pitch this season and in the playoffs. If 180 innings is your ceiling then you, and the Mets, should have handled things differently this season. (He’s at 171.2 innings now.)

The Mets are going out of their way saying Harvey’s innings aren’t a distraction. Maybe they aren’t once the game starts, but we can’t escape hearing about it. This remains an issue as the Mets bear down on their first playoff appearance since 2006 because nothing has been defined.

“We’re all on the same page,’’ Collins said. “We need to get him out there a little more consistently. … If we get in the postseason, we’ve got to have Matt Harvey ready to pitch, and I don’t need him to have 15 days off. So we’ve got to come up with a plan that’s going to get him out there a little bit more.’’

Today is Sept. 14, and now you say you have to come up with a plan? If the Mets had a plan entering the season, they wouldn’t have to be scrambling for one with the playoffs less than four weeks away.

There are many unanswered questions:

Who will be in the playoff rotation? Will it include Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon? If Harvey is there, but limited, will they need to carry an extra reliever at the expense of a position player?

If Harvey goes into the playoffs with too much rust, how will it affect him? It’s the playoffs and one bad start can mean the difference between winter and the next round?

If the Mets advance, what will happen with Harvey in the next round?

With their pitching, the Mets could run the table. But, Harvey is part of that pitching. If they get to the World Series, what is Harvey’s availability?

This is something that shouldn’t be on the Mets’ plate at this point.  If the Mets can’t go into the playoffs without Harvey being an issue, perhaps the best option is to leave him off the playoff roster. This would give him plenty of rest for his start next March in Port St. Lucie.

Sep 09

Things Couldn’t Have Worked Out Better For Matt Harvey

It was Matt Harvey‘s worst outing of the season for the Mets, yet he came out smelling like roses. He’s the guy who doesn’t find loose change under his seat cushions, but $20 bills. At least so far, it has been that way.

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

HARVEY: Comes up golden. (Getty)

We don’t know yet how much Harvey will pitch in September and his availability for the playoffs, but things are looking good for now. After four days in which he took a public relations hit for the innings flap issue after agent Scott Boras dared remind GM Sandy Alderson of the 180 innings magic number.

The print media took its shot at Harvey, but SNY continued to treat him with kid gloves as it failed to acknowledge Boras doesn’t say anything without Harvey’s knowledge. Guys, Boras is Harvey’s mouthpiece.

Harvey wants to tread lightly in September and pitch in October, but that might not be possible to his liking. However, Tuesday’s game and the completed sweep tonight gives the Mets a seven-game lead with 23 games remaining, to create a gap seemingly wide enough where missing Harvey a couple of times might be possible without creating any angst. Whether it is Logan Verrett or Steven Matz, it doesn’t matter.

The key here is Harvey got what he wanted with a limited amount of friction from the front office. Even a loss or two might not be the end of the world now. Had Harvey been beaten, he would have gotten all sorts of questions if the controversy was a distraction.

However, if Harvey only starts two more games – against the Yankees and Washington as reported – the question of how sharp he’ll be could become an issue. But for now, that’s just conjecture. For now, the Harvey issue doesn’t seem so intense.

 

 

Aug 18

How Will Mets’ Rotation Shake Out In September?

Sorry for the no-show yesterday folks. Had another setback and back in Ohio for more rehab. There are good and bad stretches, and I’m currently on one of the bad ones. It happens, but like your Mets, I have to keep plugging away. It’s the only way to get from here to there, and in the case of our heroes, that would be the playoffs.

We’re two weeks away from the Mets playing meaningful games in September, and for the Mets what will again entail the return of the six-man rotation. That is, of course, if management follows through on its intent to keep the starters on their innings limitations.

It all begins when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1 with Steven Matz. The Mets will also throw a spot start or two to Logan Verrett, who was added to the roster today in Baltimore. Verrett will work both as a starter and reliever, with an emphasis on the latter now that Bobby Parnell is back on the disabled list.

The driving force behind the innings limits was to protect Matt Harvey, who already has thrown 154 and is on pace for 211, which is roughly 15 more than the Mets wanted. This is an issue I’ve been pounding on all season and I can think of several games in which Harvey should have been cut off but wasn’t. There was the Yankees game in which he was hell bent to try for a complete game during a blowout. There was also the sore throat game in which he should have been skipped. That accounts for almost six innings right there. Can you see now why that was important?

Noah Syndergaard has thrown 135.1 innings this year after 138 last season. The Mets are thinking a 35-inning jump maximum.

Jacob deGrom threw 178.2 innings last season and already has 146.2 this year.

There are no limits for Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon.

On of the residual issues here is the bullpen, which is now getting dangerously thin. Without a reliable bullpen to carry some of the workload, it will add pressure to the starters. This is where the Mets can get into trouble.

 

 

Aug 15

Mets Bullpen Is Achilles Heel

There have been some really great closers – Mariano Rivera and Dennis Eckersley, to name two – but what complemented them was the depth of their bullpens. Both the Yankees and Athletics were championship deep.

The Mets have faith in Jeurys Familia as their closer and Tyler Clippard in a set-up role. However, as evidenced by Bobby Parnell Friday night and future ex-Met Jenrry Mejia, depth is a problem.

PARNELL: Reliability a concern. (AP)

PARNELL: Reliability a concern. (AP)

For the most part, I’ve liked what Hansel Robles has done. At one time Carlos Torres was considered reliable. Not anymore. And, Sean Gilmartin and Eric O’Flaherty aren’t quite a comforting cup of hot cocoa on a winter’s night.

Familia has had implosion moments and it must be remembered this is the first time he will pitch under playoff-type pressure.

The bullpen has an Achilles Heel quality about it, so if GM Sandy Alderson has a chance to snag somebody off the waiver-wire scrap heap he would be wise to do so. Waiting for Jerry Blevins to return isn’t a sound strategy.

The Mets have a nice lead, but one capable of evaporating with a bad week by the bullpen. You might recall September of 2007.

The bullpen is a significant question moving forward. The Mets would be wise to act now rather than lament later.