Mar 07

Mets Today: deGrom Starts Against Braves

Following back-to-back perfect starts from Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and his under-construction curveball will attempt to make it three straight Saturday afternoon against Atlanta in Port St. Lucie.

DeGROM: Unveils curveball.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Unveils curveball. (Getty)

Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year is working on a curveball to give his repertoire more depth. Opposing teams will adjust to deGrom, and the curveball is an attempt to counter those adjustments, which is essential because the last thing a pitcher should be is predictable.

“It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch,’’ deGrom told The New York Post about his curveball. “Talking to Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens.

“Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance.’’

He will be that much more difficult if deGrom can control his curveball to get ahead in the count so he isn’t reliant on starting off each hitter with a fastball.

Last year deGrom was just trying to make the team. Things are a lot different this spring.

“This spring is so different,’’ deGrom said. “I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training.’’

Gee is currently slated to work out of the bullpen and manager Terry Collins will use him in that capacity today to get used to that timing.

The game will be telecast on WPIX-11.

Mar 05

Wheeler Responds To Nats’ Harper

I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, and from Bryce Harper, either. Sure, the Nationals’ outfielder was giddy about his team getting Max Scherzer and why shouldn’t he?

WHEELER: Responds to Harper.

WHEELER: Responds to Harper.

“To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing,’’ Harper told reporters. “I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.’’

I would have hoped he’d have that confidence in his team.

As for Wheeler, it wasn’t exactly talking smack according to professional wrestling or NBA standards, but the soft-spoken Met had something to say.

“I guarantee you we all saw what Bryce Harper said,’’ Wheeler told the New York Daily News. “He said, ‘give me my ring… we’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring, I’ll guarantee you that.’’

Wheeler isn’t a braggart, but I was glad to see him exhibit some spine. I wouldn’t want to have seen anything less from him.

It’s good he’s thinking that way, but if the Mets are to challenge Washington, much less compete in the NL East, they must do better than going 4-15 against the Nationals.

ON DECK: Daniel Murphy to go on ESPN to tell his side.

Mar 02

No-Brainer: If Not Harvey, Colon Should Be Opening Day Starter

If the Mets are to name an Opening Day starter who isn’t Matt Harvey, there is only one logical choice and that is Bartolo Colon as he is the least likely to be overwhelmed by the circumstances.

COLON: A no-brainer.

COLON: A no-brainer.

Jon Niese has been an Opening Day starter before, but as a left hander I would slot him No. 3 to put a break in the rotation. Starting him in the first game would require too much juggling.

As for Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, neither is in what you would call in the ace category.

Ideally, they want Harvey, and personally, I think manager Terry Collins is biding his time to see how Harvey comes out of spring training before making the call. He doesn’t want to announce something today about Harvey and then having to change his mind.

I believe that is his reluctance in making an announcement on the Opening Day starter. Collins said Harvey would start one of the first five games, and he’s waiting this out to see what kind of spring he has. I would slot Colon behind Harvey, and the former wouldn’t get bent out of shape if Harvey were to be named at the last minute.

But, if he were to make an decision now, it must be Colon, who was his most reliable starter last season winning 15 games and working over 200 innings. But, Collins isn’t making a decision now, and I think it is because he’s hoping on Harvey.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

Feb 25

Too Early To Name Opening Day Starter

Mike Puma of The New York Post recently wrote the Mets are strongly considering going with Zack Wheeler as their Opening Day starter. While I like Puma and don’t dispute his sources, naming Wheeler, or anybody else for that matter, as the Opening Day starter now is premature and a bad idea.

Of course the media wants to know. I want to know, but considering the make-up of the Mets’ rotation it serves no purpose announcing a starter this early.

WHEELER: No reason to name his Opening Day starter now. (Getty)

WHEELER: No reason to name him Opening Day starter now. (Getty)

The Mets already said it will not be Matt Harvey, but what if that changes? It already changed from him being the home opener starter to working in of the first five games.

With six weeks remaining until Opening Day and the Mets lacking a legitimate ace such as Johan Santana or even a healthy Harvey, simply too much can happen that could change Terry Collins’ mind:

* What if Harvey has a great spring training? Surely he then would get the nod.

* What if Wheeler has a lousy spring training, or worse, is injured?

* What if one of the other starters emerges strong this spring. What then?

The Opening Day starter should be based on two things: 1) experience, and 2) merit. Wheeler, despite showing promise last year and is a cornerstone of the future, doesn’t meet either.

If he’s healthy, it should be Harvey because of his brief window of success and what he means to the franchise. If not, the best choice should be Bartolo Colon.

It is highly improbable he won’t be traded this spring, so it has to be him. He’s best equipped to handle the distractions and pressure, and last year was the Mets’ most accomplished starter winning 15 games and working over 200 innings.

Wheeler is the sexy pick, but for the best results, it should go with Colon.

But, even so, the same rules apply. It is too early and every manager should know not to make a decision until absolutely has to … and Collins has not need to make an announcement now.

ON DECK TODAY: Mets’ Matters: Today’s notebook.

Feb 21

Collins Says Mets Capable Of Playoffs

Is it genuine optimism for the New York Mets or simply unfounded wishful thinking? In the past two days, both GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins alluded to the playoffs. No guarantees, and with the qualifier, “capable of” if they execute. Hell, anybody could have told you that.

“Now we’ve just got to go play,’’ Collins told reporters Saturday in Port St. Lucie. “It’s all about execution. As we’ve seen in the past, there are teams that were world champs and the next year they’re in last place. And there are teams that were in last place that the next year they’re in the playoffs.

“If we play up to expectations and what we think are the caliber of players we have, we’ll be playing in October.’’

Collins’ thinking is based on the potential of the Mets’ pitching; the additions of Michael Cuddyer in right field and John Mayberry for the bench; and healthy returns of David Wright and Matt Harvey.

There are other issues: Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler must progress; the bullpen is seemingly sound, even without Bobby Parnell available at the start of the season; the leadoff spot is unsettled between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson; Wilmer Flores is an unproven commodity at shortstop.

Harvey is a huge key, and Alderson acknowledged there’s nothing concrete about his innings ceiling. It was initially reported Harvey would probably miss the start of the season, but likely pitch the home opener. Collins said today Harvey would start one of the season’s first five games.

I prefer something more definitive, but it is early. Things change.

“We’ve been sitting around for four years asking everybody to be patient and even the players,” Collins said. “Well, it’s time.’’

A lot has to happen if the Mets are to reach the playoffs, let alone have their first winning season after six straight losing summers.

Sure, there’s reason to be hopeful, but the playoffs? Well, I’ve heard this before from the Mets so I’m not swallowing this hook, line and sinker.

October baseball? I’ll believe it when I see it.