Jun 10

Perfect Day For Mets And Matz

Pitching and power were to be the formula to carry the Mets this season, and today felt like it was supposed to be.

Today’s 6-1, 8-1 sweep was fueled by pitching; strong efforts from Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz, that were backed by Mets power, a grand slam from Yoenis Cespedes and a three-run homer from Jay Bruce in the nightcap.

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

“This is what we thought we were going to get with the guys we thought we were going to have,” manager Terry Collins said.

The last time the Mets swept a doubleheader was June 18, 2013, when they showcased fire-ballers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, their arms of the future. However, the circumstances then differed greatly from today’s mauling today.

Four years ago, the Mets were a team on the rise; a team to be carried with their young pitching. Today, the Mets are a team fighting to keep open their window of opportunity.

Cespedes came off the disabled list, said he didn’t feel 100 percent, then hit a grand slam in the opener. However, today’s real storyline was Matz’s return in the nightcap after ten months on the disabled list.

Matz gave up one run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in seven innings. He accomplished that with just 98 pitches. Conversely, in his start Friday, Harvey threw over 100 pitches in five innings.

“His command of his stuff,” Collins said matter-of-factly about the key to Matz’s success.  “He’s around the plate. This is the kind of outing we were hoping we’d see.’’

Matz said he had nerves, but said he always gets them. He said he had to step back and collect himself.

“It feels good to get back out there and compete,” Matz said. “I was able to locate my fastball away. My command was there and I felt really locked in.”

In the opener, Gsellman threw 6.2 scoreless innings while giving up three hits. There has been some talk after this stretch of 18 games in 17 that Gsellman might go to the bullpen, but today’s outing might give pause to that thinking.

While we’re at it, we should give pause to the thinking things will be all right now that Cespedes is back.

“I feel good, but I don’t know that I can run at 100 percent at this point,” Cespedes told reporters prior to the game.

So, why did GM Sandy Alderson activate him? Cespedes didn’t play in the nightcap and may not play Sunday, but could return Monday against the Cubs.

Alderson risked Cespedes for what he got today, the game-icing slam. But, if he can’t run, won’t he cost the Mets in the long run? His failure to advance from second to third on a fly ball could have cost the Mets.

It didn’t, and Collins matter-of-factly said the Mets would protect him, but it the player himself said he’s not 100 percent, then it could be only a matter of time before Cespedes pulls his hamstring again.

As for Matz’s return, he looked sharp and threw free and easy.  There never seemed a question that the Mets took their time to protect Matz.

I can’t imagine them starting Matz if he said his elbow was barking, so, why would they start Cespedes if he says he can’t run 100 percent?


Jun 07

Talk Of Six Man Rotation Bogus

With the Mets about to enter a string of 18 games in 17 days, manager Terry Collins said he’s exploiting going to a six-man rotation. The only problem is, by definition, they wouldn’t be going into. six-man rotation if they will go through the cycle two or three times.

Collins said adding Seth Lugo and Steven Matz coming off the disabled list, to be added to Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, would take the Mets through this stretch. That should take the Mets through the month.

However, for it to be a true six-man rotation, then it should be full time, shouldn’t it?

I have no problem training these guys during spring training and then open the season in a six-man rotation. Personally, considering four starters were coming off arm surgery this spring, it would have been a good idea to start the season in a six-man.

Of course, DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Harvey would have balked, but that would have been expected.

What Collins suggested isn’t a true six-man rotation but simply plugging in an extra starter because of a double-header, which the Mets have this weekend in Atlanta. This isn’t the first time Collins has done this, but I’d actually like to see a six-man rotation.

But this isn’t a six-man rotation if it isn’t full time.




Jun 01

Mets Wrap: Flores Needs To Play

I’m tired of Terry Collins saying Wilmer Flores has worked hard to stay ready, and whenever he gets an opportunity he produces for the Mets.

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

If so, then why isn’t he playing every day?

Several times I laid out a format where he could play at least four games a week – playing one game at each infield position – which Collins has no interest in trying. If not this, then at least start him over Jose Reyes, whose time with the Mets should be nearing an end after their 2-1 loss today to the Brewers.

Flores homered leading off the eighth today, after a blistering May in which he hit .379, third best in the Major Leagues. He started 14 games for the month and had nine multi-hit games.

“I’m seeing the pitches and getting good swings,” Flores said.

Conversely, Reyes has only eight multi-hit games all season. He’s currently on a 0-for-15 slide, and is hitting .193 with a .266 on-base percentage.

It’s clear Reyes isn’t giving the Mets anything, while Flores has provided some punch whenever he gets a chance.

With the Mets six games under .500 and fading, what do they have to lose?

WHEELER START WASTED: Zack Wheeler gave up 10 hits with two walks in 6.1 innings, throwing 102 pitches. However, three double-plays (4-5-6) gave him the opportunity to pitch into the seventh.

“He really did pitch good,” Collins said. “He got out of some jams. He’s back. He’s fine as we continue on.”

I love how Wheeler works out of trouble, but I’m not wild about his high pitch counts, especially since he’s on an innings count.

“All I can ask is for me being healthy,” Wheeler told reporters of his expectations.

His innings limit has been reported at 110, and he’s currently at 55.2.

EXTRA INNINGS: The loss dropped the Mets ten games behind the Nationals. … Fernando Salas did a solid job in relief of Jerry Blevins with five strikeouts in two innings. … Collins was ejected for arguing an interference call of when a ball boy got in the way of Flores’ attempt to catch a foul ball. Initially, the call was ruled an out, but was overturned (correctly so).

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Friday for the start of a three-game series. Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Tyler Pill will start for the Mets.

Harvey is coming off a 7-2 victory in Pittsburgh, May 28, in which he gave up one run in six innings with only two walks in a 102-pitch effort.

In 46 career starts at Citi Field, Harvey is 16-13 with a 2.73 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates.

May 26

Walker, DeGrom Key Rout Of Pirates

It was a sweet homecoming for Neil Walker, who returned to his Pittsburgh hometown Thursday night to get caught up in the euphoria of his beloved Penguins going to the Stanley Cup Finals, and tonight hitting a pair of homers in the Mets’ 8-1 rout of the Pirates.

WALKER: Goes home with two homers. (AP)

WALKER: Goes home with two homers. (AP)

“I’m happy with the way I’m playing right now,” Walker said. “It’s always special coming back here and nice for people to cheer for you.”

Walker, who is coming off back surgery, accepted a $17.2 million qualifying to return to the Mets rather than test the free agent market. Walker can become a free agent this winter but said he wants to remain with the Mets.

There is reciprocal interest by the Mets in Walker, but there won’t be talks until this winter.

DeGROM BENEFICIARY: The primary beneficiary of Walker’s flexing was Jacob deGrom, who took advantage of the support to be given the opportunity to start the ninth.

DeGrom gave up a leadoff single in the ninth, but Collins left him in to strike out David Freese for his tenth strikeout. DeGrom gave up one run on six hits in 8.1 innings in the longest outing of a Mets’ starter this season.

“He did exactly what we needed,” manager Terry Collins said. “He gave the bullpen the night off.”

ANSWER TO TODAY’S QUESTION: As expected, the Mets optioned Rafael Montero to Triple-A Las Vegas and promoted reliever Tyler Pill.

Pill was 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA for Vegas. The Mets haven’t named a starter for Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee and Pill could get the ball.

CESPEDES UPDATE: Yoenis Cespedes went 0-for-2 with a walk in a rehab start for Class A St. Lucie. The expectations are Cespedes should be activated from the disabled list (left hamstring) next week.

UP NEXT: Zack Wheeler (3-2, 3.74) is coming off a win, May 20, against the Angels. In that game, he gave up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and five walks.

May 16

Robles’ Role In Jeopardy; Free Fall Continues

Dear Mets readers: I haven’t been around for nearly a week after undergoing back surgery. I came home and today learned my server went down. Please accept my apologies. Hopefully, nothing else will happen. I wish I could include the Mets’ bullpen in that. Best to you, John

The Mets dodged a bullet when Paul Goldschmidt’s fly against Hansel Robles off the center field wall was a replay ruled a double instead of a home run. No worries for the Diamondbacks, who would hit three more homers in the fateful eighth, two off Robles.

Considering Robles has given up nine runs in his last two appearances – not including Sunday’s meltdown – it is probably safe to assume the Mets should be thinking his role should be reduced to mop-up situations like it frequently has been when he’s done.

Pitching was supposed to be the Mets’ strong suit, but the bullpen bridge to the closer was always a rickety one over a rocky cavern with a fast-moving river like in the movie Deliverance.

With Jeurys Familia out indefinitely following surgery to remove a blood clot creating a blockage in his right shoulder. Surgery in St. Louis to remove the clot was successful and he won’t start throwing for up to six weeks and it could be three months before he gets in a game. Just where will the Mets be then?

Addison Reed hasn’t pitched well, and whom in the pen do you trust? Certainly not Robles, whom Collins said his role is in serious jeopardy.

“We use him often because he has such a great arm, but he’s not making pitches, Collins said after the Mets’ fifth straight loss to drop them to eight games behind Washington. “We have to take a good hard look at where he fits, but we don’t have a lot of options.

It is what it is, but you have to manage it anyways.”

One positive tonight was Zack Wheeler, who pitched into the seventh after giving up one run. It was the second consecutive game when a starter entered the seventh only to watch the bullpen cough up the game like a cat with a hairball. Jacob deGrom did so Sunday. DeGrom was supposed to pick up the rotation after Noah Syndergaard went down and will be lost for up to three months.

DeGrom is 2-1 which is good two weeks into the season, but he didn’t win his first game until April 28. DeGrom is on top of the leader boards in strikeouts, but what is really alarming are the seven homers he’s allowed (he gave up 16 all of last year).

Matt Harvey‘s comeback is failing; Robert Gsellman would be optioned if Steven Matz was ready to be activated, but he’s several weeks away; recently-acquired Tommy Milone will get the ball tonight?

What’s next for the Mets?

“Somebody has pissed off the baseball Gods, because every move we make turns out to be the wrong one,” Collins said.

In ancient times, sacrifices were made to the Gods to curry favor.

Who will be the first? Robles? Gsellman? Curtis Granderson? Asdrubal Cabrera?

Will the Mets finally forego their obsession with the Super Two status regarding Amed Rosario? Will they stop thinking Yoenis Cespedes‘ return – which is at least three weeks away – will be the panacea for all that ails the Mets?

The most imminent decision is whether to DL Cabrera and already there are reports Rosario won’t be brought up. Looks like another bad decision in the making.