Jun 28

Matz Makes It All Right For One Day

Quality start doesn’t even begin to describe what Steven Matz gave the Mets today at Citi Field in his major league debut. His pitching, power and poise highlighted a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati. He also broke up a double play and started one after fielding a hard comebacker to the mound.

“He was as good as advertised,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He was ready for this. It was time. … He was ready to show he belonged.’’

MATZ: Shines in debut. (AP)

MATZ: Shines in debut. (AP)

Matz was making his major league debut five years removed from Tommy John surgery; after the Mets toyed with the decision to bring him up; and, after more than a three-hour delay so the Mets could finish a 2-1 victory over the Reds in a completion of suspension game.

“The more time I had, the more the anxiety went away,’’ said Matz, a sign of his composure.

His composure also surfaced when his first pitch of the game was something out of “Bull Durham,’’ a fastball to the backstop. On his fifth pitch, Tony Phillips hit a replay-reviewed homer.

Matz set the Reds down in order in the second and then, using Las Vegas teammate Matt Reynolds’ bat, ripped a two-run double. He would later hit a hit-and-run single and two-run single.

All the while, he toyed with the Reds on the mound, giving up two runs – Todd Frazier also hit a solo homer – on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings.

Matz went further in his debut than Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler went in theirs.

While Harvey grew up rooting for the Yankees, Matz’s childhood passion growing up on Long Island was the Mets and spent many nights at Shea Stadium. Of course, the Mets want to play on that emotional attachment and as the team struggled through the past month there was a growing groundswell for his promotion. And, for the Mets, it was to attract more than the 130 family and friend he could sometimes hear from the stands.

There’s speculation the Mets promoted Matz to divert frustrated their fan base from their recent plunge in the NL East standings and a woeful offensive slide. That’s for another day, as this one was to enjoy a glimpse into a promising future.

However, while it was gray at Citi Field, there was a glimmer of sunlight, and he wore No. 32.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.

May 22

Six-Man Rotation Could Be Good For Mets, Pending Harvey’s Approval

The New York Mets are again making noise about going with a six-man rotation when Dillon Gee is activated from the disabled list. Doing so would allow them to not choose between Gee and Noah Syndergaard, Friday’s starter in Pittsburgh.

The Mets considered this before Gee was injured, but rejected it, in large part because it would have meant Matt Harvey pitching with more rest than in a normal five-man rotation.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

However, as often is the case with the Mets, they don’t have a definitive plan. They didn’t when it came to naming a format to regulate Harvey’s innings; settling on a batting order; and determining a leadoff hitter.

I don’t have a problem with a six-man rotation, if it is implemented properly, meaning – stick with it.

The negative is less starts for Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but the flip side is they could be stronger when they do pitch.

Another positive is less starts – and more rest – for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. Another positive is that if Gee pitches well, which he has this year at times and in his rehab, it enables the Mets to showcase him for a possible trade by the July 31 deadline. If they do this, they can go back to the more conventional five-man rotation.

But, what if it works? What if the extra rest and extra pitcher improves the team? Remember, at one time a four-man rotation was the norm. The Mets really have nothing to lose by this, especially since it could give them an idea of what might happen next summer when they have Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz.

However, for it to work, two things must happen, 1) the Mets must give it time to develop, and 2) the starters must be on board with the change.

If one starter, and of course I’m talking about Harvey because he’s been known to make noise when he doesn’t like things.

It will be interesting to see if the Mets sacrifice the chance to better the team to appease one player.

 

 

 

 

May 13

Trading Syndergaard Or Matz Not A Good Idea

Less than 24 hours after Noah Syndergaard made his Mets’ debut, the radio call-in shows were buzzing today with talk of trading him or Steven Matz for Troy Tulowitzki, or Addison Russell, or any other hot-shot shortstop.

Personally, I don’t want Tulowitzki. He’s too expensive salary wise and in terms of prospects that would need to be dealt and has a significant injury history.

SYNDERGAARD: Keep him.

SYNDERGAARD: Keep him.

Here’s another thing, of his career numbers, how much is because of Coors Field? Yes, we’ve seen him hit at Citi Field, but how much of that was against crummy Mets’ pitching?

Syndergaard showed good things last night and I can see why teams would want him, but on this issue I agree with GM Sandy Alderson, I don’t want to give up him or Matz just yet.

There are lots of reasons why the Mets shouldn’t give up Syndergaard, most significantly is the future state of their pitching.

* Matt Harvey has pitched well coming off Tommy John surgery, but for at least the next year the Mets need to be cautious with him. They have said so themselves. Sometimes pitchers hit a wall coming off this surgery.

* Bartolo Colon will be gone after this year and most likely so will Dillon Gee. Won’t the Mets need to replace them?

* The Mets won’t get Zack Wheeler back until next July at least, and nobody knows how he will be then. Without Colon and Wheeler, I’m counting two spots that must be filled for sure at the start of next year.

* Jacob deGrom is off to a slow start, which, if it continues should make us wonder how much last year was a fluke. I like deGrom a lot, but if he continues to struggle somebody must pick up the slack.

* They’ve been trying to trade Jon Niese, who is basically a career .500 pitcher with an injury history.

* And, realistically the 5.1 innings Syndergaard gave the Mets last night isn’t enough to dust off a shelf at Cooperstown just yet. We don’t know how he and/or Matz will perform.

Also, we know the Mets’ offense has been weak and nobody can project when David Wright will return and at what level. And, because the Mets have other issues other than Wilmer Flores, they must hold onto their pitching if they are to compete this year or next.

Other teams aren’t stupid. They won’t trade the Mets a top-flight shortstop in exchange for guys like Niese, or Gee, or Flores. It won’t happen.

Consequently, the idea of trading Syndergaard or Matz isn’t something they should be considering, no matter who is on the other end of the phone line.

 

May 12

Composure Most Important Thing For Syndergaard

Just as they were with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, don’t look for the Mets to bring up Noah Syndergaard for a spot start. Once he’s here, unless he really spits the bit, he’s not going anywhere. Like everybody else, I’m excited to see him pitch, just as I was when Harvey and Wheeler first came up.

What it means is Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen or be traded, with the Mets having to take less than they want to move him – and save money. That much is inevitable when Gee comes off the disabled list. The Mets were so hot to trade him because they knew this day was coming. The only snap for the Mets was Gee getting hurt, otherwise they could have kept Syndergaard down for Super Two status.

noah-syndergaardWe can talk all we want about Syndergaard’s stuff and his fall-off-the-table curveball. We know from spring training, Triple-A Las Vegas and his Tweeting he has no shortage of confidence. However, his stuff and confidence will only carry him so far tonight in Wrigley Field.

The most important thing Syndergaard must take to the mound is poise. Actually, I’d like to see him get in trouble to see how he responds to adversity and pressure. That quality is what defines a great pitcher. We’ve seen it in Harvey and until recently, in Jacob deGrom. Now, I want to see it in Syndergaard.

The standard cliche for a rookie pitcher is it’s still the same game he’s been playing in the minor leagues. Not true. In the minor leagues he’s facing minor leaguers. This is the major leagues and mistakes get hit a long way.

Syndergaard must keep the ball down and get ahead in the count. That much is obvious, But, he also needs to minimize damage when he gets in trouble. He needs to find something when that curveball is missing its spot.

The distance between the rubber and the plate is the same, but everything else will be different, including the opposition, the pressure and all those eyes watching him.

Syndergaard did a lot to get here. He must do a lot more to stay.