Mar 05

So Far, So Good For Harvey

It’s not important Matt Harvey is no longer considered to be the Mets’ ace. What is important is for him to just be part of the rotation. As of now, with Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler hurting and struggling, Harvey figures to slot in as third in the rotation.

HARVEY: Looking good. (AP)

HARVEY: Looking good. (AP)

He’s been solid in his two starts, and if he continues to pitch as well in his remaining four exhibition starts as he did in his three shutout innings in today’s 4-2 victory over Detroit, he could conceivably start the season’s second game if Jacob deGrom isn’t ready.

Harvey was throwing free and easy, and topping out in the mid-90s, something he rarely did last spring.

“You don’t want to be a weak link in such a powerful rotation,’’ Harvey told reporters today. “That’s what keeps us going, and pushing each other so hard. It’s nice to finally be part of that.’’

Harvey struck out two, walked one and gave up one in 48 pitches. Ideally, you’d like for him to throw fewer over three innings, we have to remember he’s still trying to return from thoracic outlet syndrome and arterial surgery.

Harvey might never hit 100 again, but he threw hard enough today to win, and if his changeup and slider register in the upper-80s as they did today, he could be very successful.

Most importantly for Harvey is how he’s implemented manager Mickey Callaway’s suggestion to speed up his delivery.

“This is a completely new year, like I’ve said,’’ Harvey said. “My mechanics are completely different. My arm’s completely different.’’

Let’s hope the results are.

Feb 22

Mets Must Make Decision On Wheeler

Zack Wheeler gets the ball tomorrow against the Braves in their exhibition opener. He’ll get roughly 30 pitches or two innings.

It’s one of five appearances he’ll get this spring to prove his elbow is sound enough for him to make the Mets’ rotation. There’s also been talk about trying him out of the bullpen, or him staying back.

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

Frankly, I’m intrigued by the possibility of him working out of the pen. I’m aware of the concern over the up-and-down nature of a reliever being an injury risk, just as the probability of breaking down after pitching on consecutive days.

The biggest chance for injury is if the Mets plan for him to start then switch direction and try him out of the pen. Or, do the opposite in working him in the bullpen during spring training then switching gears during the season.

This is what happened with Jenrry Mejia, who bounced around from the rotation to the pen and back again, only to blow out his arm.

It’s too simplistic to say, “Well, he’s a pitcher, just throw the damn ball.’’

There have been plenty of pitchers to go from the rotation to star in the bullpen. Dave Righetti, Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz all made the transition and starred. Smoltz even went back to the rotation, but the key was it wasn’t done during the season.

I don’t know what the Mets will decide to do with Wheeler, but whatever they do, for this year at least they can’t deviate. Make the decision and stick with it, even if he opens the season in the minors. If they decide to pitch him out of the bullpen, then send him to the minors, he must pitch in relief at Las Vegas.

I’m intrigued by the idea of Wheeler pitching out of the pen. He has a live fastball – his out pitch – and from starting he has a secondary pitch. If he can control his command issues, he could be an effective reliever.

He gets into trouble facing a lineup the third time through when his pitch count rises so maybe being a closer would suit him.

Plus, are you all that convinced Jeurys Familia is a great closer. Both he and AJ Ramos will be free agents in 2019, so it would be beneficial to prepare for them leaving.

Unlike Sandy Alderson, I don’t see the Mets competing this year, so getting some answers would be a good thing.

 

Feb 12

Three Givens In Mets Rotation

The Mets will take five starters north, but only three are givens: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are coming off injuries and we won’t know about them until late in spring training.

DeGrom and Syndergaard – assuming healthy – are two of the best in the sport. Syndergaard missed most of last year with a torn lat muscle and early reports are he’s in great shape and not bulked up like last year.

Harvey has never lived up to his potential because of injuries, and here’s hoping in his walk year he can come close to his 2013 form.

It is entirely possible Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo could fill out the end of the rotation. Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero will also compete but could wind up in the bullpen in long relief as he’s out of minor league options.

If Matz or Wheeler is ready, it is possible Lugo could pitch out of the pen.

Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.

 

Dec 20

Mets Might As Well Keep Harvey

I have advocated the Mets trade Matt Harvey for several years now and still believe if they should jump on any worthwhile trade offer. I just think those ideas are gone and he’s not going anywhere because his trade value has never been lower and the Mets have their reasons for wanting to keep him.

HARVEY: Why not the pen? (AP)

HARVEY: No option but to keep him. (AP)

Harvey’s value is down because he hasn’t pitched well in two years, because of a combination of injuries and simply stinking up the joint. A shoulder injury sapped his velocity as well as his command and movement. With the decline in all three, his confidence has been shot since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series when he selfishly lobbied manager Terry Collins to stay in for the ninth.

Harvey is damaged goods. Teams won’t give up established talent or promising prospects for somebody who’ll be a free agent after the 2018 season. It just won’t happen.

Even so, the Mets have to keep Harvey because of the health concerns surrounding Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and even Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ vaunted rotation hasn’t yet – over five years – made a complete cycle, and won’t again this season because either Matz or Wheeler won’t be ready by Opening Day.

Somebody will go down for the Mets this summer. It’s the way of the world and Harvey will have to fill the void. The Mets aren’t likely to sign a veteran arm this winter so they’ll need Harvey.

The Mets’ best chance to get something for Harvey is for him to get off to a strong – and healthy – start and trade him in late July. After that, well, I still believe Harvey will walk after next season.