Tagged: Jacob deGrom

Bruce and Mets Slam Nationals, 8-2

By Paul DiSclafani

Clinging to a 4-2 lead against the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to home runs from Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom issued consecutive 4-pitch walks to load the bases with no outs. As the Home Opening Day crowd reached a fevered pitch, deGrom circled the mound, stepped on the rubber and had to go to work.

Because deGrom was cruising to that point, (seven straight outs, 1 earned run and just four hits in five innings), new manager Mickey Calloway didn’t have anyone warming up in the bullpen, so deGrom know it was his mess and he’d have to clean it up. DeGrom got a strike on Ryan Zimmerman before he hit a lazy fly ball to short right for the first out that was too shallow to score a run.  Then Kyle Kendrick hit a liner to short that Jose Reyes snagged for the second out.  With Trey Turner standing in the way of getting out of a sticky situation, deGrom got him to swing and miss twice to get ahead 0-2, once on a fastball and then on a slider away.  Then he got a generous call strike three on a high and away fastball to finish the inning that Turner vehemently disagreed with, resulting in him getting ejected.

DeGrom (W, 2-0) worked out of his own mess to keep it a 4-2 lead. Jay Bruce then blasted a Grand Slam the next inning and the Mets (5-1) take the first game of this early series against the Nationals (4-3), 8-2.  In a long baseball season, one game doesn’t define a season, but the Mets certainly drew first blood in their desire to let the Nationals (and the rest of the National League) know that this season is going to be different.

Both teams traded runs in bizarre fashion as the Nats scored in the first inning on an error by Bruce to take a 1-0 lead. The Mets followed by scoring on a balk by starter Stephen Strasberg, the first balk he has committed since 2013.

Down 2-1, Cespedes tied the game in the fourth with his third HR of the season, a laser beam to left field. That seemed to allow deGrom to focus as he got seven straight Nationals before his meltdown in the sixth.  But by that time, Conforto had put the Mets ahead 4-2 with a 2-run home run in the fifth.  The ball, original ruled a double, was reviewed and correctly called a home run as it cleared the left field wall.

Strasberg (L, 1-1), who was gone after six innings, was charged with four runs on five hits and six strikeouts, watched in earnest as his relief, Brandon Kintzler, ran into trouble in the seventh. With one out, Brandon Nimmo came off the bench and delivered a double off the wall in right.  Conforto reached on a four pitch walk, but Kintzler got Asdrubal Cabrera to look at strike three for the second out.  He then got ahead of Cespedes 1-2, but he worked out a walk to load the bases, bringing up Bruce.  Once again, Kintzler got ahead, this time sneaking two fastballs past Bruce without a swing.  But Bruce worked the count to 3-2 before depositing a sinker to deep right-center for his first home run of the year and his sixth career Grand Slam, giving the Mets an 8-2 lead.

Today, the Mets were able to punch the bully in the mouth and get away with it. Let’s see if they can keep it up.

Friday is a scheduled off day, but the weather reports for Saturday in the Nation’s Capital are not promising with snow and rain approaching. Steven Matz (0-1, 6.75) is scheduled to take on Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.50) in the afternoon.  Sunday is a night game, with Matt Harvey (0-0) against Tanner Roark (1-0).

POSITIVES: Mets win their first road game of the season after a terrible 2017 on the road (33-48) … deGrom improved to 14-8 in Day Games … Mets have won three straight … Conforto hadn’t had an AB since last August.  He scored twice and hit an opposite field HR … Cespedes (3 HR) has 7 RBI in 5 games … Bullpen put up three more innings without a run, allowing just 2 hits and six more strikeouts … Hansel Robles gave up a double in his second appearance, but recorded three more strikeouts.  He’s struck out six of the seven batters he’s faced … Nimmo came off the bench with a pinch hit double

NEGATIVES: Todd Frazier went 0-4 and his average dropped to .190 … Jose Reyes went 0-4 and is still looking for his first hit of the season (0-7).  He made the Mets first error of the season yesterday and misfired on a relay throw that could have nailed a runner at the plate.  He looks old …

Mets Sunday Brunch 4/16/17: You Gotta Protect The Pitchers, but Where is the Offense When You Need It?

By Paul DiSclafani

When Steve Carlton, all those many years ago, struck out 19 Mets and lost a game, the natural first question would be – How?  You would think that if you could get 19 of 27 outs without anyone putting the ball in play for those AB’s, that would be a formula for success, right?

Sprinkled in between those 19 K’s were nine hits and four walks, and the Mets cobbled together a 4-3 win.  Did I mention that Ron Swoboda hit two, two-run home runs?

Last night, Jacob deGrom tied a career high 13 strikeouts in his seven innings of work against the Marlins, leaving the bullpen to protect a 4-2 Mets lead.  DeGrom‘s only transgressions were the back-to-back solo home runs he allowed in the second inning to Justin Bour and Marcel Ozuma.

In three starts this year, deGrom has three no-decisions to go with a 1.89 ERA.

For the second consecutive night, the bullpen was not up to the task.  Fernando Salas, who has now appeared in eight of the Mets first 11 games hadn’t allowed a run in his previous seven appearances, including pitching two innings in the Mets crazy 9-8, 16-inning win on Thursday.  He allowed back-to-back home runs, turning an impressive performance by deGrom into just a footnote as the Marlins turned those four home runs into a 5-4 win.  Christian Yelich hit a 2-run home run after Salas issued a 2-out walk to Miguel Rojas to tie the game and then Giancarlo Stanton hit a moonshot on a 3-2 pitch to give the Marlins the lead, 5-4.

Who do you want to blame, Salas?  I bet you weren’t complaining when he got the first two outs of the inning.  Should we blame manager Terry Collins for going to Salas again?  Should we blame Collins for not letting deGrom come out for the eighth inning?  How about the Mets hitters?

In the first inning, after taking a 1-0 lead on Neil Walker’s RBI double, the Mets had runners on second and third against Adam Conley, then Granderson jumped on the first pitch for a line drive out that ended the inning.  The Mets didn’t get another hit until the seventh inning, when Walker reached on a bunt single.

The night before, a 3-2 loss in the ninth inning against reliever Josh Edgins, wasted another good effort by Noah Syndergaard.  Why Edgin in the ninth inning of a tied game is a question for another night.  It was the offensive effort that failed in this game too.

In the second inning, down a run 1-0, the Mets loaded the bases against Edison Volquez with two outs on consecutive walks to Jose Reyes, batting seventh and Noah Syndergaard, batting eighth.  That brought up Rene Rivera, who got ahead 2-0 an inexplicitly swung at the next pitch, ending the inning with a fly out.

The next inning, still trailing 1-0, the Mets loaded the bases against Volquez again, this time with only one out on two walks and a hit.  That brought up Michael Conforto who watched two of the first three pitches from Volquez bounce in the dirt, getting ahead in the count 3-0.  When asked by Gary Cohen if he would give Conforto the hit sign, Keith Hernandez said, “Absolutely, Volquez is all over the place.”

Conforto then reached for an outside fastball and hit a fly ball to Center that tied the game 1-1. But effectively snuffed out a big inning as Wilmer Flores, after getting ahead 2-0, grounded weakly back to the pitcher.

Here’s my two cents:

It’s 11 games into the season, there are still 151 games to go.  I understand that a win in April is just as important as a win in September.  But pitching is way more fragile than hitting and a win in September to get you over .500 doesn’t mean anything in a Division like this unless you want to fight for a one-game Wild-Card playoff all year.  Of course, when you miss the playoffs by two or three games, these are the games you look back on and lament.

This team has an offensive problem and a fielding problem.  They are not built for manufacturing runs.  There is no speed on the bases and no creativity.  Only bombs and more bombs.

I would describe their outfield as “plodding” to say the least.  And do we really need five outfielders?  The Mets dressed just 11 bench players and one of them was a second catcher.

Because they must protect those surgically repaired arms, they need to bring them along slowly and therefore, the bullpen is going to get a lot or work.  A lot of bullpen work means a lot of pitchers in the bullpen, meaning not a lot of bats left on the bench.

Maybe at this point, if we can’t get our starters into the seventh inning, we should be protecting our bullpen arms and not using everyone every night?  Can’t we find someone who can finish an entire inning or two out of the bullpen?  Maybe early April games shouldn’t be used for one batter match-ups?

Your offense is what it is at this point.  There is no help on the horizon.  Therefore, they need to better manage their bullpen or this is going to be a very long season.

THIS AND THAT

Do we need to worry about Syndergaard’s fingers?  Blisters first, and now broken fingernails? … Quirky schedule has the Mets playing only the NL East the first 24 games, including the Washington Nationals six times.  The Nats come to Citi Field this weekend.  B then, the Mets (7-5) will have played 16 games against the three teams that are supposed to be the bottom feeders of the Division:  The Phillies, Braves and Marlins.  Except those teams have won five of their 12 games against the Mets so far … A quick look at the standings show the Mets at 7-5 and only three other teams with eight wins.  The “worst” team in the league is the St. Louis Cardinals, who at 3-8 trail the Division leading Cincinnati Reds (8-4) by 4.5 games.  How long is that going to last? … Mets starters deGrom (0-0), Syndergaard (1-0) and Matt Harvey (2-0) have made eight starts and had five no-decisions.  They have allowed a combined 10 earned runs in 50 innings.  That is going to get awful annoying as the season goes along…

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

Bruce Goes Deep Twice, Mets Top Phillies, 4-3

By Paul DiSclafani

AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson

Jay Bruce went deep twice (for the first time as a Met), including a game changing 2-run home run into the second deck in the eighth inning, as the Mets (4-3) come back and beat the Phillies, 4-3.  The win puts the Mets into First Place in the National League East.

Bruce, with his third home run of the season in the fourth inning, bailed out starter Jacob deGrom (ND), who struggled in the first inning, putting the Mets into a 2-0 hole.  Batting cleanup for the first time this season, Bruce cut the lead to 2-1.  With the scored tied 2-2 in the eighth, Bruce hit a bomb well into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park, with two strikes and two outs, putting the Mets ahead, 4-2.  He already has four home runs in just seven games.

When Bruce was traded to the Mets on July 31st last year, he had already hit 25 home runs with the Reds.  He then hit two home runs in his first five games, but didn’t hit another one until September 1st.  Bruce hit just eight home runs with the Mets in his 50 games.

Prior to the home run, Asrdubal Cabrera was buzzed by Phillies pitcher Edubray Ramos (L, 0-1) with a pitch well over his head and into the backstop.  The pitch was payback for Cabrera’s bat flip last September, when he hit a walk-off home run in extra innings against Ramos.  Although the pitch didn’t hit Cabrera, it caused a stare down and some finger pointing, resulting in a walk to Cabrera, who scored on Bruce’s home run.

Both benches were warned and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was ejected for arguing after the warning was issued.

DeGrom uncharacteristically walked leadoff batter Cesar Hernandez to start the game and found himself in a base loaded, one out situation after consecutive singles.  Michael Saunders then singled to right for the third straight hit, to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.  Again, deGrom was facing the bases loaded and issued a 3-2 walk to Cameron Rupp to make it 2-0.  With deGrom struggling, Brock Stassi then hit it right back to the pitcher and deGrom started the 1-2-3 double play to get out of the inning.

The Phillies (3-4) wouldn’t score again.

DeGrom willed his way through six innings (2 ER, 2 W, 3K), giving the Mets a chance to get back in the game.  Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Bruce led off with a walk and went all the way to third on an infield single by Curtis Granderson when the throw to first skipped past Stassi.  Neil Walker then brought Bruce home with a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game, setting up the fireworks and heroics in the eighth.

The Mets bullpen did the rest, with a little drama along the way.  Jerry Blevins (W, 1-0) finished off the seventh inning for Josh Smoker, who put two runners on with a single and a walk as the Mets caught Howie Kendrick off first base in a run-down play after a pitch escaped Travis d’Arnaud.  Blevins then needed a double play to end the eighth after a two out single put the tying run at the plate.

In the ninth, Addison Reed came in for the save and gave up a home run to Stassi leading off the inning to make it 4-3, as Stassi got revenge for hitting into the double play in the first inning.  Reed then got a strikeout before Daniel Nava got a base hit to put the tying run on base.  But Hernandez filed out to center and Reed struck out Kendrick for his second save of the year.

Matt Harvey (1-0) gets the start tomorrow against Clay Buckholtz (0-0) as the Mets try to make it three in a row.  Mets complete the series with the Phillies on Wednesday, then travel to Miami for a four-game weekend series.  The Mets play their first 24 games of the season against the NL East, including six with Washington.

POSITIVES:  DeGrom got his 500th career strikeout in only his 77th career game, the third fastest Met to 500K behind Doc and Harvey … Mets had only four hits and Bruce had two of them.  Three of their hits went for extra bases … Granderson’s hit got him up to .208 … Blevins still hasn’t allowed a run

NEGATIVES:  Reyes went 0-4, dropping down to .037 … Phillies had 10 hits and Mets issued four walks … Mets were 0-5 with runners in scoring position

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

Big Sexy Returns and Mets Fall in 12 Innings To Braves

By Paul DiSclafani

With all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day in the rear-view mirror, the Mets and their fans were looking forward to welcoming back one of their most popular players in recent years, the one they call “Big Sexy”, the ageless Bartolo Colon.  Unfortunately, they didn’t anticipate having to wait through eight pitchers and 12 innings as the Mets (1-1) lose their first game of the year, 3-1 to the Braves.

Rafael Montero (L, 0-1), the seventh pitcher for the Mets, continues to defy logic as he just simply can’t get out major league hitters.  Montero, once the jewel of the Mets minor league pitching arms, has not proven he can pitch at this level.  Time and again, Montero dominates in AAA, only to fail here in the majors.

He worked out of trouble in the 11th, getting a double play with the go-ahead run on third, but couldn’t wiggle his way out of a bases loaded jam in the 12th.  Matt Kemp laced his third double of the night, knocking home two runs as the Braves beat them Mets, 3-1.

But this night started out as a love-fest between the fans, players and Colon.

As usual, Colon did not disappoint.  He pitched six shutout innings and held the Mets to just two hits, just like we figured he would.  Colon, who had been the virtual anchor of the Mets pitching staff in his three seasons in the Orange and Blue, leading the team in innings pitched every season.  He won 44 games.  Colon, who turns 44 in May, said that the Mets never offered him a contract in the off-season, so he signed a 1-year, $12M deal with the Braves.

Lost in the Colon hype was Jacob deGrom’s first start since September 1st of last season.  DeGrom was equally effective, striking out in the first three innings and giving up just two hits, but threw too many pitches and was gone after six shutout innings

While deGrom and Colon were dealing zeroes from the mound, everyone was anticipating Colon’s first at bat, which came in the third inning.  With a runner on second, Colon strode to the plate to a standing ovation from the Citi Field faithful.  DeGrom joked before the game about facing Colon as a batter, “I’m not going to buzz him or anything, I just don’t want him to get a hit off me.”  Although he did foul a pitch off, deGrom struck out his former teammate looking.  Colon did get a little bit of revenge in the sixth, making contact, but grounding out to shortstop.

Bruce got things going in the fifth with the Mets first home run of the year, bouncing a 2-2 pitch from Colon off the top railing of the right field fence and giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

While deGrom continued to put up goose eggs, he had to bow out after six innings after throwing 95 pitches, departing with a 1-0 lead.  Hansel Robles, who pitched a scoreless inning on Opening Day and benefited from the Mets scoring six runs as he was the winning pitcher, just didn’t have it.  After getting Matt Kemp to tap a ball just two feet for the first out, Nick Markakis drilled a ball past Bruce in right center for a triple.  He then walked Brandon Phillips on four pitches and fell behind Adonis Garcia 1-0 before Garcia lined a double over Bruce’s head, tying the game 1-1 and putting runners on second and third.  With first base open, Robles hit Kurt Suzuki, the #8 hitter to load the bases.

That brought out Terry Collins, who called for Jerry Blevins to get them out of the jam.

Emilio Bonifacio then pinch hit for Colon, ending Big Sexy’s night with at least a no-decision.  Bonifacio worked Blevins to a full count, then struck out on a fastball for the second out.  Ender Inciarte then grounded out to Lucas Duda to end the threat and keep the game tied at 1-1.

Mets threatened in the bottom of the 10th after Bruce doubled and Lucas Duda was issued a no-pitch intentional walk, but reliever Jose Ramirez struck out Travis d’Arnaud and pinch hitter TY Kelly.

After Montero gave up two runs in the 12th to give the Braves the lead, Jimmie Johnson (W, 1-0) got the Mets to go quietly in their half of the 12th with his second scoreless inning of relief.  After handing the Mets the game on Opening Day, the Braves bullpen backed up Colon’s gem with six scoreless innings.

Matt Harvey makes his season debut on Thursday (weather permitting), returning from his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery against Jamie Garcia and the Braves in the rubber game.

POSITIVES:  Jay Bruce had three hits and with three walks on Opening Day has been in base six times in two games … Yoenis Cespedes was on base twice against Colon, a walk and a single … Travis d’Arnaud had one of the Mets hits … Lucas Duda received the Mets first “no-pitch” intentional walk in the 10th inning.  There were three no-pitch intentional walks in the game … In-between Robles and Monero, the bullpen put up four shutout innings with just two hits … Colon was 4-1 against the Mets in his career with a 2.81 ERA in five starts

NEGATIVES:  Pitchers hit .351 against deGrom last season … Jose Reyes was charged with the Mets first error of the year … d’Arnaud took a call strike three right down the middle of the plate in the 10th inning with Bruce on second and one out … Mets struck out 12 times …

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

 

Mets 2017 Opening Day – Cautiously Optimistic

By Paul DiSclafani

During the spring of 2016, we were “all in” on the National League Champion Mets.  Sure there were concerns about Matt Harvey’s innings following his workload after returning from Tommy John surgery.  And of course, there were concerns for all of the pitchers who had been pushed way past any limit they had ever endured while the Mets were chasing a World Series title that eventually eluded them.

And concerns about David Wright?  Not to worry, he was going to give us about 130 games.

Of course, you all know what happened.  Injuries, injuries and more injuries.  And oh yeah, Daniel Murphy ate the Mets alive.

So what did we learn, Mets fans?

We learned that we probably should have enjoyed ourselves more during that World Series run in 2015, but more importantly, we learned that we need to be a little more cautious in our pre-season hoopla.  Not that we shouldn’t be excited about this team in 2017, just that maybe we should take a step back and look at exactly what we have.

We have a really good team here that is built on pitching and Yoenis Cespedes.  We have four pitchers that missed time last year (some significantly) with injuries and another that hasn’t pitched in the majors since September of 2014.  Our first baseman and second baseman had significant back injuries.  Our new right fielder doesn’t seem to like to play in New York.  Our rookie sensation in the outfield from 2015 suffered a severe sophomore slump and currently doesn’t have an open outfield position.  We are in a Division that includes the Washington Nationals, who won 95 games last year and beat us about 100 times.  Oh yeah, our closer that saved over 100 games in the last two seasons is suspended for the first 15 games.

Of course, don’t they usually say that “past performance is no indicator of future results”?

Yet many baseball pundits think that this team is not only going to win the National League East, but they are going back to the World Series.

And I tend to agree with them, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

If you have been reading all “previews”, the one word that permeates all of these articles is “if”.  If the pitching holds out, if this guy stays healthy, etc.  Isn’t that little “if” the same for all teams at this point?  It seems to make sense that if you get good pitching and clutch hitting, you are going to win a number of games.

Like most of you, I am looking forward to this season.  I think we have something to prove.  I think the Mets think they have something to prove.  I think the pitchers think they have something to prove.

If you want a position by position breakdown with predictions, the Daily News and Newsday have provided that for you already this week.  I’m out of the prediction game (for now).  But I like what I have seen down in Florida.

The pitching looks good.  Cespedes looks primed for an MVP caliber year.  David Wright is not a factor (which is sad), but that gives Jose Reyes a lot more playing time.  Jay Bruce looks like he has accepted the fact that he is not going back to Cincinnati (or anywhere else).  How many batting orders are going to have a number six (Bruce) and seven (Lucas Duda) that can go deep?

Take a quick look at the starters – Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Robert Gsellman.  We still have Steven Matz (hopefully) and Seth Lugo (hopefully) waiting in the wings.  That’s seven guys who could be a 1, 2 or 3 pitcher on any roster right now.  Are all of them going to perform at a CY Young level?  Of course not, but they don’t have to.  They just need to continue to give their team a chance to win every day.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are still a good double play combo and Curtis Granderson might surprise some people in Center Field and hitting cleanup.

Does this team have a lot of question marks?  What team doesn’t?  They have too many left handed hitting outfielders.  Who is going to come off their bench?  Is Matt Harvey ready?  How long before Syndergaard’s arm falls off?  Is Wheeler a bomb waiting to explode?  Why didn’t they address first base with someone other than Wilmer Flores?  Are injuries a problem already?  Lugo, Matz and Juan Lagares are starting on the DL.

Come on, now.  Can we just get the season started?  Did anyone notice that the Yankees won 24 games in Spring training, more than any other team in baseball.  Did you also notice that Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed only one earned run in 23 and 2/3 innings only got 8 outs today and was charged with seven earned runs?

Let’s take this spring training thing with a grain of salt, shall we?  Let’s take all the talk and hype down a notch and let the game begin.

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.  Let’s be ready to go on Monday and enjoy this baseball season, no matter what happens.  This is a very good baseball team.  This is not a 72 win team.  This could be a 90 win team,  This team could make the playoff for the third consecutive year – a first in franchise history.

I’m on board.  I’m ready for Opening Day.  I’m just cautiously optimistic…

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which was ranked as one of the top 100 MLB Blogs

 

Mets Sunday Brunch for 9/18/16: Good News and Bad News; Wild Card Magic Number; Good Bye to WallyBall

By Paul DiSclafani:

mets sunday brunch2Who’s running the Mets Information Dissemination Unit anyway?

How do you pump up the fan base on Thursday announcing that one of your best pitchers is ready to go on Sunday, then pull the rug out from everyone less than 48 hours later and announce not only that he’s not ready for Sunday, but he is done for the season.

And that he needs ulnar nerve surgery in his elbow.

And that he will miss at least three months in recovery.

On Thursday, we were discussing if the Mets will line up their pitching rotation so that deGrom would be available for the one-and-in Wild Card game. We were discussing what this may mean to the rotation spots for Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman with deGrom back and possibly Steven Matz.

Then today we find out this nugget from deGrom, who felt pain in the elbow while shagging fly balls in the outfield during BP on Friday. His elbow “kind of” flared up again.  “I think we knew that something was going to have to be done in the off-season, and we were going to put it off until then.”  Turns out he has been experiencing “numbness” in his fingers for four or five starts BEFORE the Mets decided to shut him down on September 1st.

Granted, the Mets have no obligation to disclose this information to the press and the fans. As a fan, maybe we really didn’t want to know.  But we knew about Noah Syndergaard’s elbow issues and we knew about Matz’ elbow issues and that both would be facing off-season surgery.  Why not deGrom?

Why not hold off on triumphantly announcing that he was going to pitch on Sunday until the day after his bullpen to make sure there were no lingering issues? What was the rush to make the Sunday announcement on Thursday?

The Mets released the results of his MRI two weeks ago that there was no damage. Who’s reading these results, Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff?

Sandy Alderson had a press conference on Friday to announce the issue with deGrom’s elbow, saying “So he will not pitch on Sunday and it is unlikely he will pitch the rest of the season. We’ll see.”

We’ll see? Did he have to add that?  Was that necessary?  Did we really need to add parmesan cheese to the top of a pile of stinking dog doo?

Does he think we Mets fans couldn’t take (or understand) that his elbow problem will require surgery and the sooner we get this done, the quicker he can get back and be ready for 2017?

“It’s likely that this will require a surgical repair, not a significant surgical procedure at least with respect to risk going forward. But it is something that will have to take place at some point.”

Is there any procedure done on a Mets player that has ever been described as “not significant”?

Kind of like saying, “Don’t worry, little Billy. Rover is going to be just fine.  It’s a simple procedure to remove all of his internal organs.”

Why can’t the Mets either choose to be straight with the fans, or just don’t announce anything until you have a complete and final answer? Would there have been such an outcry today if on September 1st, Sandy Alderson made this announcement?

“After reviewing and consulting with the medical staff, we’ve made a decision to shut down Jacob deGrom for a few weeks because he has been experiencing numbness in his fingers on his pitching arm. We will reevaluate his condition to see how the elbow responds with rest.”

Then when yesterday’s announcement comes, there is no outcry. We were hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

And what about Terry Collins and the rest of deGrom’s teammates? You built them up on Thursday, only to knock them down again on Friday.

“I actually watched Jake’s bullpen on Friday and it was outstanding”, Collins said. “The 15 minutes later, after batting practice, he walked in and said ‘I can’t pitch’.  You shake your head and the thought is ‘who’s going to pitch?’  It’s hard.  The team, we’ve just gotta be resilient.”

Thanks to the Mets Information Dissemination policies, so do the fans.

WILD-CARD HERE WE COME?

With 15 games left, the Mets and Giants are now tied for the top Wild-Card position (and a one-game, home-game playoff) with the Cardinals two games behind and the Pirates five games behind. The Mets are still 9 games behind the Nationals for the NL East Title, so maybe we let that one go, OK?

With one game left against the Twinkies (55-94), Atlanta (57-91) comes into Citi Field for three games, followed by a four game season ending home stand against the Phillies (67-82). That’s a whopping 85 games under .500, and average of 28.3 games under.  Add to that the final season ending road trip through Miami (73-75) then Philly again and that’s a boatload of very bad teams.

The Giants have six games left with the first place Dodgers while the Cardinals still have a series against the already-clinched Cubs and the “we’re not dead yet” Pirates. Plus they play each other one more time today.

With 79 wins for the Mets (and the Giants) and 71 losses for the Cardinals, that gives the Mets (and Giants) a Magic Number of 13 to clinch the Wild Card. With 15 games left, if the Mets finished just 7-8 (86-77), the Cardinals would need to finish 10-5.  Give the Mets one more win to finish at 8-7 (87-76), the Cardinals would need to finish 11-4.

See where I’m going with this?

However, getting to the Wild-Card game doesn’t really feel like making the playoffs. It’s a silly gimmick MLB came up with a few years ago to keep a few other teams “alive” in the final weeks of the season.  Don’t you think there would be enough (if not more) drama if the Mets, Giants and Cardinals were playing for the one and only Wild-Card spot?  Now that would be fighting for a playoff spot with the winning team heading to Chicago for the NLDS.

Ask the Yankee fans what they think about making a one-game, winner-take-all baseball game. Baseball should never be a one-game playoff, unless you compete over the course of 162 games and end up in a tie for first.  It’s not football and it never will be.  Baseball should not try to make it “more entertaining” for fans that are not enjoying it the way it was mean to be played.

THE END OF WALLY BALL

Did it have to end this way for Wally Backman?  Of course it did.  Backman for all his fire and winning pedigree just wouldn’t play the game that Alderson wanted him to play.  He wouldn’t be a puppet.  But who through he ever would?

Does anyone what to see Donald Trump become Jeb Bush after he gets to the White House?

People are who they are. That’s why they hired him.  The Mets knew what they were getting.  What did people expect Roseanne Barr to do when she sang the National Anthem all those years ago, become Pavarotti?

Backman is a firecracker that will lead an under achieving major league team to the playoffs and World Series for one reason and one reason only – the players will go through a brick wall for him. His players will play with a passion or they won’t play at all.

That’s what Wally Backman brings to the table, even with all his baggage.

Maybe that type of managing style went away for good when Lou Piniella retired, but just take a look at the track record and results of guys like Piniella, or Billy Martin or anyone with a little fire in their belly.

They burned bright at first, but then flamed out. But they all achieved results.

Good luck Wally. Hope you get that major league managing chance because we all know you will be successful.  Just too bad we couldn’t see you do it here…

NOTES:

Sign Bartolo, sign Cespedes, buyout Bruce and play Conforto. Did I miss anything? … What about seeing if Bruce can play 1B? … Nice to see Lucas Duda’s face again, but why the rush to bring him back to the majors if he hasn’t even faced one pitch of live game action?  Understanding that the minor league season is over, there weren’t enough players to put together at the Port St. Lucie complex for a pick-up game he could have played in? …

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Mets take 2 of 3 From Fish as Nationals Roll Into Town; Harvey to the DL

By Paul DiSclafani:

Jose Reyes celebrates his return to the Mets with two doubles in 4-2 win over the Marlins AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Jose Reyes celebrates his return to the Mets with two doubles in 4-2 win over the Marlins
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

After their surprising four game sweep of the Chicago Cubs last weekend, the Mets (46-38) took care of business against the Marlins, winning the rubber game, 4-2 and can now set their sights on the First Place Nationals, who come into New York for a four game weekend set.

After being swept by Washington, the Mets were left for dead heading into their big rematch series with the Cubbies, but pulled themselves out of the offensive funk that plagued them for most of the month of June, shocking everyone, including themselves, and sweeping all four games against the team with the best record in the league. But that left them vulnerable this week as their personal tormentors, the Marlins, came into town.

With Matt Harvey on the mound for the Holiday game on Monday, the Mets found themselves in a 6-0 hole before chipping away at the lead, scoring in each of their last five frames for an 8-6 comeback win for their fifth straight. But on Tuesday they laid an egg, dropping a 5-2 decision as Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs.  That set up the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon.

Wilmer Flores, who hit two home runs on Sunday when he tied a franchise record going 6-6 against the Cubs, hit two more today as the Mets get a win for Jacob deGrom, 4-2.  DeGrom, who hadn’t won a game since April 30th (10 straight starts) has now won two straight as the Mets have won six of their last seven.

DeGrom (W, 5-4) pitched seven strong innings, striking out seven and allowing two runs. Both came in the form of solo home runs by Stanton, who also hit two home runs on Tuesday.  Stanton hit milestone #200 in the sixth inning.  He hit home runs in his last two AB’s on Tuesday and his first two AB’s on Wednesday, giving him four home runs in consecutive AB’s.  Last time that happened was with Albert Pulols in 2006.

Jose Reyes got to play shortstop instead of third base when Asdrubal Cabrera was unable to play due to a family emergency and made the most of his second start in his re-debut with the Mets. After taking an 0-4 collar on Tuesday, Reyes smacked two doubles as the leadoff hitter.  “He creates a lot of problems at the top of the lineup,” Neil Walker said. “He’s going to be important for us setting the table for the guys in the middle.”

Curtis Granderson, batting behind Reyes in the lineup, drove in two runs in the third inning to give the Mets a 3-0 lead before Stanton got one back in the top of the fourth. But Flores got that one right back in the bottom of the inning.

Addison Reed pitched a perfect 8th while protecting a 4-2 lead, setting up first time All-Star closer Jeurys Familia to get the final three outs for his 30th save of the year.  Familia has now registered 46 consecutive regular season saves.

Now the Nationals, with a four game lead over the Mets, come into town before the All-Star break, for a four game series. After being swept in their previous series, the Mets have fought back, winning six of their last seven, but trimming only two games from the Nationals lead.  This might be considered a “statement” series for the Mets, their chance to show the Nationals they are not going to go quietly into the night.

Game one will feature 43 year-old Bartolo Colon (7-4, 2.87) against rookie Lucas Giolito (0-0, 0.00). The highly regarded Giolito made his major league debut against the Mets on June 28, throwing four shutout innings of one-hit ball before the rain came and he needed to be replaced.

The rest of the series probable pitchers shape up like this:

  • Game 2 (FRI): Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 2.41) vs Stephen Strasburg (11-0, 2.71)
  • Game 3 (SAT): Logan Verrett (3-5, 4.01) vs Max Scherzer (9-6, 3.21)
  • Game 4 (SUN): Steven Matz (7-4, 3.34) vs Gio Gonzalez (4-8, 4,79)

HARVEY ON THE DL

Matt Harvey landed on the 15-Day DL with “discomfort in his right shoulder”. After meeting with team doctors, Harvey will visit a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) specialist Robert Thompson in St. Louis on Thursday.  Maybe this at least partially explains the recent poor performances Harvey has experienced.  Zack Wheeler is not expected back until late July, so the logical choice will be Logan Verrett to take Harvey’s spot in the rotation.

Harvey is just 4-10 in his 17 starts with an ERA of 4.86. He has allowed 111 hits in 92.2 innings, the fourth highest hit total in the league and tied for the league lead with 10 losses.

Former Mets pitcher Chris Young experienced “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” in his career and was miserable until he had surgery. Obviously, the Mets are worried enough that Harvey might also be suffering from TOS that he is seeing an expert on the subject tomorrow.

THE RETURN OF JOSE REYES

The superstitious baseball fan will point to Tuesday’s Mets loss, following a five game winning streak, as proof that you don’t mess with success and that putting Jose Reyes into the lineup jinxed the Mets. Guess that lasted only one game as Reyes followed his 0-4 re-debut with the Mets on Tuesday with two doubles and a run scored in Wednesday’s win.  Reyes, for all his baggage, gives the Mets the one thing that no one on the current roster can – speed.  Is it really a bad thing that he took a spot away from Matt Reynolds?

POSITIVES: Familia is only the 15th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 30 saves before the All-Star break, which happens to be a Mets record.  Three of the other 14 did it in 2013:  Jim Johnson (33), Joe Nathan (30) and Mariano Rivera (30) … Granderson, Flores and Reyes all had two hits … Flores now has seven home runs … Cespedes (0-4) snapped a nine game hitting streak and has had a hit in 13 of his last 15 games, raising his average from .280 to .304

NEGATIVES:  Got a bad feeling about Harvey going to see a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome expert …

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Five Home Runs Power Mets Past Cubs Again, Arrieta is Next

By Paul DiSclafani:

Brandon Nimmo Celebrates First Major League Home Run in 10-2 rout of Cubs AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Brandon Nimmo Celebrates First Major League Home Run in 10-2 rout of Cubs
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Within the span of two games against the team with the best record in baseball, the Mets have brought their fans back a few more feet from the ledge as they hit five home runs against pitcher Jason Hammel on Friday in a 10-2 drubbing between multiple rain delays to go along with Thursday’s thrilling come from behind 4-3 win, which snapped a four game losing streak. Although the Mets had lost nine consecutive regular season games to the Cubs since 2014, they have now beaten them six straight, including a sweep of last year’s NLCS.

With nothing specific to point to other than the infectious smile of rookie Brandon Nimmo, the gloom and doom of being swept in Washington earlier in the week has given way to hope and optimism. That is, until Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the Cubs tonight.

Arrieta, arguably the league’s best pitcher at 12-2 will try to use that league leading 2.10 ERA to his advantage against a Mets team that is suddenly feeling its Wheaties.

The Mets finally provided some run support for Jacob deGrom on Friday as they tied a team record hitting five home runs against the same pitcher, allowing deGrom (4-4) to become a winner for the first time since April 30th, snapping a 10 game winless streak.  Asdrubal Cabrera (twice), Yoenis Cespedes (#20), James Loney and Nimmo hit home runs in the rout.  For Nimmo, it was his first in the major leagues (measured at 442 feet) and prompted the appreciative Citi Field crowd to demand a curtain call.  Nimmo, smiling all the way around the bases, gave the ball, which landed in the bullpen area, to his parents, who were in attendance.   Loney and Cabrera went back-to-back in the second inning.

In addition to his home run (and curtain call), Nimmo made a sliding one-handed catch of a fly ball in right field, prompting manager Terry Collins to say, “It’s always nice to have those young guys come up, because they bring energy.”

Now we’ll see how that energy translates to offense against Arrieta. Since tossing six shutout innings against the Pirates on 6/17 and lowering his ERA to 1.74, Arrieta has come back down to Earth a little.  He was the losing pitcher against St. Louis on 6/22 and lasted only five innings in his last start against, of all teams, the last place Reds.  Arrieta was charged with five earned runs and issued five walks, but the Cubs still managed to get him the “W” in an eventual 11-8 win.

The Mets roughed up Arrieta in Game 2 of the NLCS for three runs in the first inning highlighted by two-run home run by Daniel Murphy en route to a 4-1 win. But Arrieta is 2-1 lifetime against the Mets with a 1.82 ERA in the regular season.

Bartolo Colon (6-4, 2.86) goes tonight and tries to keep this good feeling going for the Mets as they continue to tread water heading into the All Star break next week. After what the Mets have been through the last two weeks, they are certainly enjoying their new-found enthusiasm.

“I’m real aware that it’s the gloomiest days when you lose here,” Terry Collins said. “If you lose two or three in a row here, it’s very hard to deal with. But it’s a long year.”

POSITIVES: Mets hit five home runs in a home game for the fifth time in franchise history, but for the first time at cavernous Citi Field.  Last time was at Shea Stadium in 2000 against the Marlins … Juan Lagares has been activated for tonight’s game after going 6-18 with a triple and a couple of RBI with AA Binghamton as he continues to try to play through a partially torn ligament in his left thumb … Reliever Seth Lugo made his big league debut and pitched two scoreless innings of relief (2 hits and a HBP), but then was sent back to AAA Las Vegas to make room for Lagares.  He is the first Met to ever wear #67 – now THAT’s a future trivia answer …

NEGATIVES: Curtis Granderson will miss the rest of this series and the Mets expect to make a decision on whether to put him on the DL today or tomorrow … David Wright looked gaunt in speaking to the media yesterday and has resigned himself to the fact that he will not play again this season.

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at A View From the Bench, an official affiliate of MLB.com. A View from the Bench is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Mets Pound Gio And The Nats 7-1; Duda to the DL – Could Miss Six Weeks

By Paul DiSclafani:

Cespedes launches number 15 AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Cespedes launches number 15
AP Photo / Alex Brandon

The Mets (26-18) hit three home runs off Nats starter Gio Gonzalez to win their fourth straight game and pull to just one-half game of Washington, 7-1. The Nationals (27-18) took two of three last week at Citi Field as Gonzalez threw seven shutout innings in a 7-1 win over Bartolo Colon.  What a difference a week makes.

This time it was Colon (W, 4-3) who was the master, following up his miserable performance last week where he walked five and hit a batter with seven innings of five hit ball, walking just two.

Gonzalez (L, 3-2), who had gone 44 consecutive starts without giving up more than one home run, was  tagged for three dingers and charged with all seven runs.  He had a microscopic 0.97 ERA against the Mets in his last four starts. Gonzalez gave up a 3-run home run to David Wright in the third inning, when the Mets strung together six consecutive base runners to put up a five spot and erase a 1-0 deficit.  Then in the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes launched his 15th to right center followed two pitches later by Neil Walker’s 11th of the year.  It’s the seventh time the Mets have gone back-to-back this year already.

DUDA TO THE DL

Fresh off their weekend sweep of the Brewers, the Mets needed to make a statement against Washington. With all the talk about Matt Harvey’s confidence being shot, Jacob deGrom’s velocity being down and Colon being rocked in his last two starts, the Mets got more bad news when they learned Lucas Duda would miss significant time with a stress fracture in his lower back.  He could miss as much as six weeks.

“There’s no real timetable,” Manager Terry Collins said. “It’ll be a while. I guess there are some exercises he can do, but nothing baseball related for a while. We’re looking at a fairly long period before he’s going to be able to get back and do some baseball stuff.”

David Wright had a similar injury in 2011 and tried to play through it before it was diagnosed properly and he missed two months. He had words of encouragement for Duda, but didn’t sugarcoat it.

“You have to be conservative with it. You have to take your time with it,” Wright said. “You have to make sure that you’re meticulous with your rehab. It’s something where you’re talking about a bone being damaged. There’s going to be a time, if it was anything like mine, where you can’t do anything. You have to be very aware of your movements on a daily basis. You have to do things that keep that area stabilized so the bone can heal itself. And then, after that, is when the rehab comes into play. That’s when you really have to stay on top of it. It’s pretty boring. It’s a little long. It’s monotonous. But you have to stick with it because, as me being somewhat of a case study now, these things can kind of creep on you later in your career. And I felt like I did my rehab as good as I possibly could have.”

WHO’S ON FIRST?

So what is Plan B for the Mets? Eric Campbell made the start on Monday and Wilmer Flores is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.  The Mets are exploring other options, including using Michael Conforto and David Wright.  Conforto never played first base in a game, but has taken ground balls there in college.

“They always had me taking ground balls,” Conforto said about college. “They always had me make sure I was available in case there was an emergency situation, or if something wasn’t working out with one of our infielders. I was always taking ground balls at third, shortstop, first base. So I’ve been in there. I’ve practiced there. Just not a whole lot of game experience. … I’ll give it my best. I’ll do what I can to prepare myself for that if that becomes an option.”

Collins said he even approached The Captain, who of course agreed to do whatever is best for the team.

“I said that my entire career: Whatever this organization, whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll be on board as long as I can do it and can help,” Wright said. “With that being said, besides the handful of times that we played the shift, that’s about as many groundballs as I’ve ever taken on that side of the infield.”

Mets brought up career minor leaguer Ty Kelly, who has spent more than seven seasons in the minors, but whose .391 average at AAA is the best in all of professional baseball. Kelly plays all positions (except pitcher and catcher) and worked as a first baseman after being drafted by the Orioles in 2009.  Mets indicated that 2013 first round pick Dominic Smith, a 20-year old who was drafted out of high school and has only been at AA for two months, is not ready for the majors.

Bet the Mets wish they still had Kelly Johnson …

UP NEXT: The soap opera that is Matt Harvey will debut another chapter tomorrow as The Dark Knight tries to find himself after two straight disappointing starts, including the worst outing of his career last time against Steven Strasburg, when he gave up nine runs while recording just eight outs.  Harvey spoke about his frustration with ESPN, but he is not going to miss a start.  “For me, taking time off isn’t going to do anything.  I’m not a quitter.  I’m not going to just quit and put the ball down.”

Terry Collins poo-poo’d the notion of skipping Harvey against the Nationals tomorrow.

Nobody is more frustrated than him. He said, ‘I’m not backing away from this.’ A lot of guys would have taken that out. He had a shot to. He could have said, ‘I need to get away from this.’ But he didn’t. He just said, ‘I’ve got to get back out there and I’ve got to pitch. That’s the only way I’m going to get through this.’ I thought that was the most impressive part of it.”

POSITIVES: Six Mets had two hits each – Granderson, Lagares, Cespedes, Walker and Cabrera .. Colon turns 43 tomorrow – Happy Birthday, Big Sexy! … Wright’s home run in the third inning was the 86th of his career that put the Mets in the lead and his 240th as a Met.  He is just 12 behind Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record … Cespedes’ home run was his 32nd since he joined the Mets on 7/31/15, Matching Chris Davis and Khris Davis for the most in the majors since then …

“It’s A Real-Life Situation” – Jacob DeGrom Place on Emergency Family Leave for Newborn Son

By Paul DiSclafani

degrom 091515Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom has been placed on family medical emergency leave because of a medical issue with his newborn son.  Manager Terry Collins confirmed that Jaxon deGrom, born on Monday night developed “complications”, but was unable to elaborate on the child’s condition.

Although deGrom had been battling physical issues all spring and more recently missed his last start with tightness in his lat, both deGrom and the team felt he was on track to make his next start on Tuesday. But baseball is just a game.  It may be his livelihood, but this is his life.

“I’ve spoken to him every day,” Collins said. “He’s where you would expect him to be. He’s not sleeping much. We’re certainly rooting for him and Stacey and the baby to hang in there. … It’s a real-life situation. Certainly we take the game of baseball very seriously. This changes a lot of things. He’s such a good guy. Stacey is outstanding. You sit here the last few days — and those guys in [the clubhouse] can all tell you — they do the best they can to stay in touch with him. We’re all praying and pulling for him. Unfortunately it’s part of life and we’ve got to take care of business.”

Jacob and his wife Stacey welcomed Jaxon Anthony on Monday evening, but the family would prefer that the medical issue be kept private. The baby is still in the hospital.

You can read more baseball articles from me on “Around The Horn Talk