Tagged: Neil Walker

Walker to the DL, Harvey Right Behind Him, and No Noah Until Late August

By Paul DiSclafani

Is there no end to the madness with the Mets injuries?

First the Mets placed 2B-Neil Walker on the 10-Day DL with a partially torn left hamstring. No surprise there if you saw Walker pull up lame running down to first last night against the Cubs.  Also, no chance he is back after 10 days.

When Matt Harvey left the game after throwing just 58 pitches, one of them landing over the Shea Bridge courtesy of Kyle Schwarber, you knew something was wrong, it was just a matter of what. Arm fatigue?  Soreness?  Hang-Nail?

Following the game, Harvey lamented that “My arm was just not working at all. I think the last time I threw an 87 mph fast ball was in high school.”

Sure enough, turns out after an MRI and a CAT SCAN, he has a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder. He is going to miss several weeks. Hope the Mets don’t have one of those Obama Exchange plans because these tests must be costing them a fortune.

The Mets said that both Harvey and Walker received a PRP injection. Walker can begin rehab immediately after receiving the injection, but Harvey cannot begin until he is pain free.  Neither is expected back for several weeks.

At a press conference today, general manager Sandy Alderson also said that Noah Syndergaard will not even throw a baseball for at least the next four weeks, meaning it will take a number of weeks after that to begin building up any arm strength. Mets are not expecting to see Syndergaard back with the Big Club until late August.

And oh yeah, The Nationals are coming into town tonight for a four game weekend series.

Colon Outduels Arrieta as Mets Beat Cubs Again, 4-3

By Paul DiSclafani:

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

What is going on out there in Flushing?

The Mets (43-37) got to Chicago ace Jake Arrieta early and held on for their third straight win against the NL Central leaders, 4-3. Unbelievably, the Mets go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.

When the Mets limped home from Washington DC after being swept by the Nationals on Wednesday, they were facing an 11 game home stand starting with four games against the best team in baseball, the Chicago Cubs. In third place and now six games behind the Nationals, fans on Social Media were jumping off the bandwagon and already looking forward to the opening of NFL training camps.

Instead of throwing in the towel against the formidable Cubs, who not only had beaten the Mets nine straight since 2014 but had a chip on their shoulder and something to prove after being swept by the Mets in the NLCS, they regrouped and circled the wagons.

“You can believe you can compete, but then when you go out and do it, it means a lot,” manager Terry Collins said about the importance of playing well in this series against the Cubs. Thursday they managed a comeback 4-3 win, Friday they hit five home runs in a 10-2 drubbing and tonight they beat Chicago’s Ace, who was 12-2.

“The confidence that it sends throughout the clubhouse, there is no other way to do it except to go out there and beat one of the real good teams and we’ve done that and we want to finish it off tomorrow.”

Just as they did in Game 2 of the NLCS, the Mets got a first inning, 2-run home run from their second baseman just inside the right field foul pole, only this time it was Neil Walker giving the Mets an early 2-0 lead with his 15th home run of the year.  Arrieta then gave up a double to Yoenis Cespedes, then settled down to get the next 10 in a row.

Starter Bartolo Colon cruised through the first three innings without allowing a hit, but Kris Bryant led off the fourth with a single right before Anthony Rizzo launched a 423 foot shot to center field to tie the game at 2-2.

In the Mets half of the fourth with one out, Asdrubal Cabrera broke through the shift with a base hit and after Wilmer Flores popped out, Arrieta walked Alejandro Del Aza, moving Cabrera to second with two outs. That brought up Travis d’Arnaud who took a strike, then blooped the next pitch into nowhere man’s land over second base and just out of the reach of second baseman Javier Baez.  De Aza scored all the way from first behind Cabrera to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Colon (W, 7-4) was magnificent the rest of the way, allowing just two more hits and departing in the sixth with the 4-2 lead. “Sometimes he escapes words,” said Collins after the game about Colon.  “He just never ceases to amaze you.”  Of course, the Cubs were not going to go quietly.

Eric Goeddel got the first two outs in the seventh, but Ben Zobrist made it 4-3 on the first pitch he saw with a home run to right. That brought in Jerry Blevins who got ahead of Jason Heyward 0-2, then walked him, prompting Collins to go to Addison Reed a little early to face Kris Bryant.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Addison,” Collins said about bringing Reed in before the eighth inning. “You just gotta trust him.  You trust guys that can throw strikes, because hitting is hard.  If you can locate and you can make your pitch and a guy gets a hit, you tip your hat.  And that’s what Addison has done ever since he’s been here.  He just makes pitches.  There is a certain stage in the game where you think, ‘Hey, this is where we are going to win the game or lose the game’, and I thought we needed to get Bryant out and I thought Addy was the guy to do it.”

Reed got ahead of Bryant 1-2, but a wild pitch moved Heyward into scoring position. Reed then bore down and got Bryant swinging to end the inning.  Back in his more familiar position in the eighth, Reed allowed a leadoff single to Rizzo, then struck out the next three – Wilson Contreras, Miguel Montero and Addison Russell, all flailing at strike three.

That set up Jeurys Familia to try and nail down the save. Unlike Friday night when the Cubs loaded the bases, Familia needed just nine pitches to secure his 28th save of the season and his 44th consecutive regular season save.

Arrieta (L, 12-3) had won his first 12 decisions this year and has now lost three of his last six starts. He allowed four earned runs and eight hits in just 5 1/3 innings and struggled with a 35-pitch first inning. Arrieta, the reigning CY Young Award winner in the NL, had not lost a game on the road since May of last year (19-0 in 24 starts).

Noah Syndergaard (8-3) goes for the sweep on Sunday against Jon Lester (9-3). Matt Harvey beat Lester in the NLCS Opener last year and Syndergaard beat Arrieta in Game 2.

POSITIVES: Loney made a nice 3-3-6 DP in the third … Walker with 15 home runs, is just one shy of his total for all of 2015 … Colon has not given up more than 2 earned runs in a game since May 18 … Juan Lagares got into the game, but hit into a double play in the sixth … Curtis Granderson could return to the lineup on Sunday … Brandon Nimmo led off again with a walk and another hit … d’Arnaud was 2-3 with 2 RBI.

NEGATIVES: Mets had eight hits against Arrieta, but failed to get a base runner after he left them game with one out in the sixth … Loney and Flores were both 0-4

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.

Cubs Finding Out About Nimmo as Mets Snap Four Game Skid

By Paul DiSclafani:

Brandon Nimmo celebrates his first Major League RBI in Mets 4-3 win over the Cubs AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Brandon Nimmo celebrates his first Major League RBI in Mets 4-3 win over the Cubs
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

The Mets (41-37) snapped a nine game regular season losing streak against the Cubs (51-27) with a come from behind 4-3 win, scoring three times in the seventh inning and holding their breath as the Cubs threatened in the ninth inning. Jeuurys Familia worked out of a jam as the Cubs put runners on second and third with no outs.

Trailing 3-0 in the sixth and being held to just two hits by Cubs starter John Lackey, the Mets seemed well on their way to their fifth straight loss when lightning struck in the form of Yoenis Cespedes.

After getting Neil Walker to foul out to first to start the sixth inning, Lackey fell behind Cespedes 2-0 before the Cuban launched a moon shot into the third deck in left field (section 436 to be exact) to put the Mets on the board and cut the lead to 3-1. Nobody has ever hit a home run into the third deck in Citi Field since the park opened in 2009, but Cespedes was among a handful of players that did it during the 2013 Home Run Derby.

The homerun energized not only the crowd but the Mets as the bench erupted.

Mets starter Steven Matz, who was pitching with an extra day’s rest, put them in a 2-0 hole after just five pitches when Kris Bryant followed Ben Zobrist’s leadoff single with a home run. He later gave up a solo home run to Javier Baez in the sixth.  Matz pitched just 5 1/3 and issued three walks and seven hits to go along with six strikeouts.

Eric Goddel (W, 1-0), who relieved Matz in the sixth and got the final two outs, threw just 10 pitches to finish the seventh inning when the Mets offense went back to work.

With Lackey still on the mound, Travis d’Arnaud singled to left with one out after Wilmer Flores opened the inning with a line drive out to center. That was it for Lackey, who was replaced by Joel Peralta.  Peralta got ahead of pinch hitter Alejandro De Aza 1-2, but eventually lost him, putting runners on first and second.

Rookie Brandon Nimmo, making only his fifth start for the Mets, also fell behind Peralta 1-2, but he kept battling, fouling off three straight before singling up the middle and collecting his first major league RBI as d’Arnaud scored to make it 3-2. With De Aza racing to third, center fielder Albert Almora threw to third late and Nimmo alertly took second on the throw.

“I’m just trying to stay calm, act like nobody is on base,” Nimmo said about his RBI single. “… I was absolutely ecstatic. It is hard to put into words because this is just something I dreamed about ever since I was a kid. To be able to come through and help the team win, you always need it, but tonight was really, really big. To just be able to help the team somehow and be able to come up here, it feels good to contribute.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon then summoned Pedro Strop to pitch to Walker and decided to play the infield in to try to cut down the tying run at the plate. Strop got ahead of Walker 1-2 and he grounded it slowly to second base.  Even with the infield in, Baez had no play at home, so he fired to third to get Nimmo as he tried to advance.  But Bryant, who was also playing in at third, didn’t get back to the bag in time and the throw went off his glove and into foul territory, allowing Nimmo to score along with De Aza and the Mets took a 4-3 lead.

Now it was up to the bullpen to hold the lead and get the Mets a win they desperately needed. But the Cubbies were not going to go quietly into the night.

Wilson Contreras greeted Addison Reed with a single to lead off the eighth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Reed struck out Baez and Chris Coghlan, but then walked Addison Russell and Terry Collins brought in Jerry Blevins to face pinch hitter Jason Heyward.  Why not bring in Familia for a four out save in that situation?  Blevins got behind Heyward 2-1, but got him to ground one back to the mound and the Mets were out of the inning, still clinging to a 4-3 lead.

That set the stage for Familia as he tried to nail down his 27th save of the season and 43rd in a row.  After getting ahead of pinch hitter Miguel Montero 0-2, he walked him on four straight pitches, then gave up a booming double to Zobrist over Nimmo’s head in right field and the Cubs were in business with second and third and no outs and Bryant coming up.

“I’ve been in that situation before”, Familia said, “I try to calm down a little bit, don’t get too high, control my emotions and make my pitch.”

Familia pounded Bryant with splitters out of the strike zone and struck him out for the first out. After intentionally walking Anthony Rizzo, Familia pounded Countreras the same was as Bryant, getting him swinging for the second out.  He then got Baez to pop up an 0-2 pitch to end the game.

If there was ever a “must” win game for the Mets this season, this was it. Coming off a moribund 2-5 road trip in which they had more injuries than runs scored, facing the best team in baseball for a four game set was not what they had in mind.  Even though the Mets swept the Cubs in the NLCS, the Cubs were much improved and the Mets were not.

“It sure came at the right time, to come back against that team the first game of this 11-game homestand,” Collins said. “I think it’s huge for us. It lifted the spirits of everybody in there that they could come back and win a game, which we haven’t done in a while.”

As the Mets say good-bye to a miserable June, Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.67) faces off against Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58) on Friday night. DeGrom is 0-4 in his last 10 starts and hasn’t won a game since April 30th.  Hammel has never beaten the Mets in five starts (0-3).

POSITIVES: Familia leads all of baseball with 27 saves … Mets had lost nine straight to the Cubs dating back to 2014 … Cespedes has 19 home runs … Mets had just six hits, but d’Arnaud had two of them …

NEGATIVES: Granderson was out of the lineup after an MRI revealed a mild strain of his left calf.  He may miss a couple of games, but Juan Lagares is ready to come off the DL.

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 …

Mets Roll Boxcars In The Third Inning And Beat The “Craps” Out Of Giants, 13-1

By Paul DiSclafani:

Cespedes greeted by Wright, Conforto and Granderson after drigin them all home with his Grand Slam. AP Photo / Julie Jacobson

Cespedes greeted by Wright, Conforto and Granderson after driving them all home with his Grand Slam. AP Photo / Julie Jacobson

When the 13-7 Mets completed their second consecutive series sweep on Wednesday to win their seventh straight game, the NY newspapers could only talk about the quality of the teams they had beaten – the Phillies and the Reds.

“Wait until the Giants come to town”, they said. “Now they are getting into the tough part of their schedule”, they cried, “Let’s see how they respond.”

Respond they did.

The Mets (14-7) set a franchise record by scoring 12 runs in the third inning, highlighted by a Grand Slam from Yoenis Cespedes to turn an 8-0 nail biter into a 12-0 laugher and win their eight straight game, 13-1 over the San Francisco Giants (12-12). The Mets sent 15 batters to the plate in the third and registered eight hits and four walks, chasing San Francisco starter Jake Peavey (L, 1-2) before he even got an out (6 ER, 5W, 2 INN) and beating up on reliever Mike Broadway (6R, 5H, 1W, 1 INN), splitting the 12 runs between them.  Peavey, a former Cy Young winner, saw his ERA balloon to 8.61.  Broadway recovered nicely to get eight straight, but the damage was done.

Michael Conforto had two hits in the inning, driving in three runs, but it was Cespedes who put the icing on the cake. Cespedes had singled earlier in the inning to drive in two runs, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead, and when he came up with the bases loaded about 20 minutes later, it was already 8-0 and there was still only one out.  Like he did on Tuesday night with a pinch hit 3-run home run, Cespedes hit a laser just beyond the left field fence on the first pitch he saw, only this time it was a Grand Slam giving him 6 RBI in the inning.  Cespedes now has seven home runs on the year and 23 RBI.  He even set a franchise record with an extra base hit in nine consecutive games.

The lucky recipient of all those runs was Steven Matz (W, 3-1), who pitched six shutout innings, striking out four and scattering seven hits. Since losing his first outing of the year on April 11 and lasting just five outs while being charged with 7 earned runs, Matz has won three straight and given up just two runs in 19.1 innings (0.96 ERA), striking out 21 and lowering his ERA to 3.86.  The Mets have scored 27 runs during his streak.

Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.54) takes on Matt Cain (0-2, 6.43) in the late afternoon (a 4:05 start) as the Mets go for their eighth straight win.

POSITIVES:  Cespedes broke Butch Huskey’s 1998 team record with six RBI in the third inning and is the first player to do it in the majors since 2012 … First eight Met batters reached base in the third inning until Matz fouled out on a third strike bunt attempt … Mets had 12 hits and six walks … Matz had an ERA of 37.80 after his first start of the year and now it sits at 3.86 … Mets were an incredible 9-16 w/RISP … Conforto, Neil Walker, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits each … Conforto is now hitting .343.  Cespedes (.313), Cabrera (.312) and Walker (.306) are all hitting over .300 …

NEGATIVES:  Peavey and Broadway combined for 66 pitches in the third inning … Broadway’s ERA is now over 18 … Lucas Duda was the only regular not to get a hit, but he walked twice and scored a run … Antonio Bastardo pitched a scoreless ninth, but he walked two more batters and has surrendered five walks and nine hits in his 10.1 innings.  He also has 16 strikeouts.

Thanks for reading!  You can read other articles from me on “Around The Horn Talk

Mets Sunday Brunch 4/10/16: No More “If’s”; Who’s Making These Schedules and Mr. Met Didn’t Get a Ring?

By: Paul DiSclafani

mets sunday brunch2Nice to have baseball back in New York. The largest regular season crowd ever to fit into Citi Field witnessed the Home Opener and all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it.

I’ve always loved Opening Day and this one was special. We got to celebrate the raising of our fifth National League Championship banner and for the first time, there was a real palpable feeling that we were going to get another one this year.

Every year in recent memory, all talk about the Mets chances started with “If…” – If the pitching holds up, If this guys has a bounce back year, If the other team under performs. Finally, there aren’t too many “If’s” that are deal breakers.

Of course like any team, the Mets have a number of “If’s” that could be a potential problem, but none of them (I think) cause the train to go off the rails.

“If David Wright Can Play With Spinal Stenosis…” – As it relates to David Wright, of course that is a problem. Although the Mets didn’t specifically address the issue during the Spring, they made some curious moves that could have shored up a solid “Plan B”:  releasing Reuben Tejada and not resigning Juan Uribe or Kelly Johnson.  Granted Wilmer Flores can learn to play 3B, what if there is an injury to Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera?  The Mets are kind of thin on the infield after Flores – how many more chances are we going to give Eric Campbell?

“If the pitching holds up…” – you mean ALL the pitching? If there was any team that could survive a major injury to a pitcher, it’s this team.  Of course, injuries to multiple pitchers would derail any team.  This staff is constructed to take a licking and keep on ticking.  There are three legitimate #1 pitchers and a potential #2 guy.  Then our #5 guy would be a number 3 anywhere else, know what I’m saying?

“If Yoenis Cespedes plays like his first six weeks and not his last…” – Really? Is that a concern?  He is going to be a major factor in the middle of the lineup and hopefully not a liability in the outfield.  Is he going to hit 50 home runs?  Did you expect him to hit 50 home runs?  Let’s be realistic, people.  Cespedes is going to get his hits, drive in runs, and force opponents to pay attention to the other guys in the lineup.  We haven’t had anyone like that in a long time.

We are five games into a 162 game season, let’s sit back and enjoy things for a while before we start worrying about things we really don’t have to worry about.

DeGrom and the Lat Injury

Something has been slightly off about Jacob deGrom the entire Spring as he experienced back pain and a groin injury while losing some heat on his fastball. We started to see it late last season, especially as he labored in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers with a gutsy performance that should always be considered in the top 10 of any Met pitching performance.

degrom 091515Then he took himself out of the home opener after just 76 pitches and six innings because of “lat tightness” on a day that he couldn’t hit more than 92-93 mph on the jugs gun.

I know, I know – last year Steven Matz had “lat tightness” and the Mets let him make his next scheduled start in Los Angeles and we didn’t see him again for two months after he tore the lat. Why don’t we just be cautious on this one?

With his wife about to give birth to their first child and his next start not scheduled until Wednesday, let deGrom go home to Florida to be with his wife and stay there, skipping his next start. Thursday is an off day, so his next scheduled start after that is Tuesday, April 19th in Philadelphia – that’s a full 10 days off.  Don’t know how much “rest” a new father can expect to get, but he certainly should not have any chance of “tweaking” his lat changing diapers.

 

Michael Conforto Is A Hitting Machine

Are we about ready to let this guy play every day? In his first three games, Conforto is 4-9 with two doubles, two walks and three RBI and two of those RBI came against a lefty.  Do I love Juan Lagares?  I love the 2014 Juan Lagares, but I don’t know where that guy went to.  Maybe Terry Collins should consider giving him a few games in right for Curtis Granderson (.063).  The slim and trim Lagares is 2-5 so far, but still seems a little tentative in the OF.

But Conforto may continue to push the issue of playing time sooner rather than later for Collins. When you watch him hit, you always get the feeling he is going to put it in play.  Conforto, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are making the middle of the Mets order something to be reckoned with.

Daniel Who?

Remember that guy who hit home runs in six straight postseason games? Remember that guy who led the team in doubles and was the most clutch and consistent hitter on the team?  Remember that guy who just sometimes didn’t know what to do with the ball when it came to him, no matter what position he played?

daniel murphyListen, I loved Daniel Murphy and was sorry to see him go, especially to a team like the Nationals. But have you been watching Neil Walker in the field?  Of course, he has been pretty impressive and productive at bat (4-12, 3R, 1HR, 5 RBI), but is he a professional second baseman or what?

I have watched all three games so far and not once when the ball was hit to second base did I have to say, “oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” and hope that it would result in an out. Is Walker the greatest second baseman to ever play the position?  Of course not, but he will do just fine in Flushing.  I know that the fans of the Pirates are all lamenting the loss of Walker.

Murphy has certainly kept up his end of the bargain for the Nationals (4-11, 1HR, 5 RBI) and all Mets fans should wish him the best.

Who Makes This Schedule Anyway?

Can someone tell me why baseball can’t schedule the first two weeks of the season in places with domes and warm weather? There are domes in 7 cities, including “cold” weather places like Toronto and Milwaukee.  There are another seven teams in “warm” weather cities, like Texas and Atlanta, including five in California alone.  That’s almost half the league.

snowy baseballDo you think the Mets or Yankees would complain if they had to start the season on the road? They were melting ice in the outfield for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.  It snowed in Chicago on Thursday.

On Monday, when most teams opened the season, Seattle (who has a dome) played in Texas (a warm weather climate) and Toronto (who has a dome), played in Tampa Bay (who has their own dome) while the Dodgers opened the season in San Diego. Was it really necessary to play on April 4th in Cleveland, Baltimore and New York?

This weekend we have games in sunny Detroit, Colorado and Chicago while two teams with their own domes (Houston and Tampa) and three California teams, are all on the road. Oh yeah, Texas is playing in Los Angeles while San Diego is bringing their snow parkas out to Colorado.

Mr. Met Didn’t Get a Ring?

How did that happen? The supposed “Best Mascot in Sports” didn’t get a ring from an organization that gave out over 750 of them?  A Mets spokesman said that the organization established a specific set of criteria for the non-players to receive the second place rings and Steven Boldis (Mr. Met for the last 12 years) didn’t qualify.mr. met

“There were specific criteria for part-time and per diem employees related to hours worked last season. He (Boldis) worked approximately half of the required hours last season, did not meet the criteria, and as such did not receive a ring.”

Guess the new rules to help speed up play during the games hurt his chances of getting a ring. But let’s be realistic, where do you get a size 67 ring anyway?

The Rest of the Month for the Mets

After starting off the season against the World Champion Royals, the Mets face the Phillies ( six times), Miami (3), Cleveland (3), Atlanta (3) and Cincinnati (3) the rest of the month. That’s 18 games against five teams that lost 463 games last year – an average of 93 games each.

This week’s recaps:

Mets Blow Bartolo’s Gem

Mets Raise Their Pennant

Syndegaard Dominates Champs

 

Mets Ready to Raise Their NL Championship Flag as Phillies Come Into Town

By Paul DiSclafani

Citi fieldThe Mets (1-1) take on the Philadelphia Phillies (0-3) in the opener of the three-game series beginning on Friday night at Citi Field, where they will celebrate their 2015 National League Championship season with the raising of the NL Pennant and receiving their NL Championship rings.

With a rare two days off following Noah Syndergaard’s dominant performance against the Royals (6 innings, 2 hits, 9K, 0 runs) on Tuesday afternoon, helping them gain a split against the World Champs, the Mets take on a Phillie squad that got swept by the Cincinnati Reds in their opening series. The Reds (64 wins) and the Phillies (63 wins) posted the two worst records in all of baseball in 2015.

The Mets went 14-5 against the Phillies in 2015 and scored the most runs against them (111) than any other team. The Mets averaged almost 6 runs per game against the Phils (5.84).

With all the pomp and circumstance expected for the Mets 55th Opening Day on Friday afternoon, the Mets have compiled a league best 33-21 in home openers, including a 2-0 win over the Phillies last year.

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

With the impending birth of pitcher Jacob deGrom’s first child hanging in the air, the Mets rotation is a little in flux. Manager Terry Collins announced that if deGrom is unavailable Bartolo Colon will get the start against Jerad Eickhoff (3-3, 2.65).  Eickhoff (part of the Cole Hamel trade last July) started 8 games for the Phillies in his rookie season in 2015 and struck out 49, walking 13 in his 51 innings.

DeGrom (14-8, 2.54), the 2014 NL Rookie Of The Year, had 205 K in his career high 191 innings last year. He did not have his best stuff against the Phillies in 2015, pitching just 16 innings in his three starts (1-0) and surrendering 21 hits and 8 earned runs.  He will be at Citi Field on Friday, but should he get the call from his wife, he will depart and head down to Florida for a few days.

The veteran Colon (14-13, 4.16) is penciled in as the fifth starter, and won on Opening Day last year in Washington, but he made a relief appearance in Kansas City on Sunday night. The 43 year-old Colon has always feasted on the Phillies, going 4-1 against them last year with a 2.81 ERA.

That leaves Matz for game 2 on Saturday night. Matz (4-0, 2.27) made just six starts for the Mets in 2015 regular season due to injuries (34K in 35 inn), but made three post season starts (one in each series) with mixed results.

Matt Harvey, the Opening Day starter in Kansas City on Sunday, would then start the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

The Phillies are scheduled to throw Vince Velasquez in Game 2. Velzaquez came over from Houston as part of the Ken Giles trade in the off season.  The rookie started 7 games for the Astros last year (1-1, 4.37) and struck out 58 in 55.2 innings.

Jeremy Hellickson (0-0) started on Opening Day for the Phillies, throwing six innings with just three hits and one unearned run. He will start the series finale on Sunday afternoon.  Hellickson was 9-12 for the Diamondbacks in 27 starts last year.

WHO’S HOT

You couldn’t really use the word “hot” to describe any of the Mets batters after just two games. They managed just 13 hits against the Royals in the opening series and just two of them were for extra bases.  Michael Conforto drilled a double and Neil Walker hit the Mets lone Home Run.  Walker leads the team with 3 RBI and David Wright was on base four times (3 walks and a hit).

The Phils weren’t much better at the plate against the Reds in their 3-game disaster. They managed just 11 hits and four runs in the three games.  Freddy Galvis and rookie Maikel Franco each hit a HR and drove in 2 runs.

WHO’S NOT

Travis d’Arnaud is the only regular still looking for his first hit, going 0-6 against the Royals. Curtis Granderson is not that far behind him, going 1-8 and four strikeouts.

The Phils Odubel Herrera (1-6) and Peter Bourjos (0-7) helped the team to a .175 batting average coming into the series.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Looks like the best day, weather wise, might be on Sunday. The home opener will be cloudy and windy.  But it is Opening Day and that is usually a good day for the Mets.  You know, they did lose their first six opening day games and then eight of their first nine.  That means they are 31-13 since 1971.  This will be their 10th home Opener against the Phillies, the most against any franchise, breaking the tie against the Cardinals.  The Mets are 8-1 in home openers against the Phillies.

Want some more numbers? In home openers, the Mets are 10-6 in 1-run games and thrown 10 shutouts (including last year against the Phils) while being shut out just 3 times.

Mets are honoring long-time broadcaster Ralph Kiner with a pre-game tribute and unveil a Kiner logo on the left-field wall. I guess that now makes it a real Kiner’s Korner.  John Franco, Rusty Staub and Edgardo Alfonzo will be part of the NL Pennant banner raising ceremony and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will throw out the first pitch.