Apr 11

Mets Wrap: Wheeler Sterling In First Start

The most important thing to take away about the Mets from tonight’s victory in Miami isn’t that it was their eighth straight, but how well Zack Wheeler pitched in his first start of the season.

If I were into bandwagon hopping, I would say if Wheeler continues to bring it as he did in beating the Marlins, 4-1, to extend the best start in franchise history to 10-1.

WHEELER: Solid debut. (AP)

WHEELER: Solid debut. (AP)

Wheeler, who hasn’t pitched for the Mets in two years, gave up one run on two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. It is the longest a Mets’ starter has gone this young season.

“I thought he did a really good job of staying ahead,’’ said manager Mickey Callaway. “He pitched with a lot of confidence.’’

Wheeler, who had a spring training ERA north of eight, gave up a first-inning homer to Miguel Rojas in the first, was in complete control after that and retired the last 16 batters he faced.

“I was trying to go out there and give up a chance to win,’’ Wheeler said. “I was able to pound the zone and have command of my fastball for the most part. It was very satisfying.’’

We can presume Wheeler will get at least another start with Jason Vargas on the disabled list.

PLAWECKI GETS HIS BREAK:  Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Mets recalled catcher Tomas Nido from Binghamton (AA), who was activated for tonight’s game.

The ten days enables the Mets time to evaluate the injury, including the possibility of Tommy John surgery. If that happens, d’Arnaud could be transferred to the 60-day disabled list, and former Washington National Jose Lobaton would be promoted to the Mets. That decision could be reached as soon as Friday.

“That’s a long road if he goes the surgery route,’’ Callaway said. “Anytime anybody has to go through that, that’s tough.’’

Callaway had a sense something was wrong with d’Arnaud’s arm from watching try to throw runners out at second – unsuccessfully.

Plawecki was struck on the left hand by a pitch and sustained a deep bruise. X-Rays were negative.

GONZALEZ DOES IT AGAIN: Veteran Adrian Gonzalez, who hit a grand slam in Washington, drove in the game-winning runs with a two-run, pinch-hit single in the eighth inning.

Gonzalez, who made the Opening Day roster in large part because of Dominic Smith’s leg injury, is hitting .298 with a .406 on-base percentage. Gonzalez’s two-run single gave the Mets their sixth-come-from-behind victory of the season.

“When we’re down, we know how to get the job done,’’ Callaway said. “You can feel the energy in the dugout.’’

 

Mar 23

Wheeler Doesn’t Deserve Rotation Spot

It appears the Mets will have to wait a little longer before their “vaunted’’ rotation completes a one-through-five cycle. That’s because, based on performance Zack Wheeler should open the season in Las Vegas.

The Nationals torched Wheeler for five runs in two innings – throwing 58 pitches – on Thursday, this coming after Washington bullied him for five runs in three innings in his previous start. Ten runs in five innings isn’t just a bad two starts, it’s pretty much what he’s done all spring.

Wheeler hasn’t lasted longer than three innings in any of his five starts this spring. Last I checked, an 8.10 ERA this spring training is awful, and not worthy of a spot on the Opening Day roster. And, if not for Jason Vargas injury he wouldn’t be.

“I am highly disappointed,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “I have got to keep my head up, though. I am feeling healthy, feeling good, but maybe just off a little mechanically, and hopefully I can get that figured out quick.’’

Manager Mickey Callaway believes Wheeler is putting too much pressure on himself by being too fine. Consequently, Wheeler is forced to come in with the fastball when he falls behind in the count.

That’s trouble for any pitcher at any level, whether he’s healthy or not.

“I still think we have a decision to make and we’re not quite ready to make it yet,’’ Callaway said. “We have to continue to evaluate all the pieces we have.’’

If Vargas is ready, he’ll go. If not, it could be Seth Lugo. It just shouldn’t be Wheeler right now.

Mar 22

Lugo And Gsellman Likely To Make OD Roster

With the Mets having only two reliable starters in their rotation, that leaves three questions, which would stand to reason they would want to take at least two long relievers for their bullpen. Rather than string out the bullpen – Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak – the prudent option is to take both Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to round out the pen.

That would make for an 11-man bullpen, with Paul Sewald being the 12th reliever.

Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are the only two starters capable of working at least seven innings, with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, based on their health history and spring training performances, pegged to last five innings, perhaps six at most.

Rather than leave Lugo and/or Gsellman in Triple-A in preparation for the worst-case scenario, manager Mickey Callaway’s thinking is to save innings on the back end of the rotation, which makes total sense.

“We want to take the best guys, the best pitchers we have, that give us the best chance to get as many outs in any game as possible,’’ Callaway told reporters.

Rafael Montero doesn’t factor into the equation because he will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a complete tear of the collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Since he was out of options and would be either traded, lost on waivers or cut, this buys the Mets at least a year to move him.

Mar 19

Who Is Sold On Mets’ Rotation?

By default, the one-time Mets’ vaunted rotation will enter the season intact. Jason Vargas fractured right thumb opened the door for Steven Matz, who, by his credit, made a strong bid for the spot when he gave up two runs with nine strikeouts in six innings against Houston on Monday.

Working in Matz’s favor is the Astros played with the same lineup that won the World Series last season.

“You saw it, and obviously, the strikeout total was high, but that’s maybe the best lineup he is going to face all year,’’ manager Mickey Callaway said. “That’s a pretty potent lineup and he went after them. That is what I thought was best about him today.’’

But, don’t be fooled by this bit of news because the Mets’ pitching is far from settled.

Despite Monday, Matz is far from a done deal. Likewise with Zack Wheeler. And, despite his vows to the contrary, is anybody really sold on Matt Harvey?

Jacob deGrom experienced back stiffness earlier in camp but insists he’s fine now. The same applies to Noah Syndergaard, who missed most of last season with a torn lat. He’s throwing over 100 and is blowing away hitters, but I have reservations with him.

I hope I’m wrong but to me, Syndergaard is suffering from the same malady that has stricken Harvey, and that is falling in love with his press clippings and Comic Book persona.

Thor was an immortal fictional character; Syndergaard is a mortal who spends too much time on Twitter.

Mar 13

Callaway Makes Smart Opening Day Call

Based on last year’s performance, Jacob deGrom deserves to be the Opening Day starter, but it’s a credit to manager Mickey Callaway handle on things that the start goes to Noah Syndergaard.

Despite deGrom throwing in the high 90s Sunday in his first exhibition start after a two-week delay with back stiffness, Callaway saw no reason to play charades and push him. What’s the purpose, especially when Syndergaard is healthy and throwing in the 100s?

All too often the Mets pushed pitchers to be ready for the start of the season – you only have to think back to Matt Harvey last year – with disastrous results.

DeGrom will start the season’s second game against St. Louis.

“We think that’s a pretty good one and two coming out of the gate,’’ Callaway said. “We were trying to do everything we can because he earned it based on last year. It just didn’t make sense to us to try and push it, and to get him ready for Opening Day.’’

Harvey and Jason Vargas will take the next two spots in the rotation with Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman competing for the final slot.