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.

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.