Steven Matz

What’s at Stake in the Subway Series?

For the Mets?  Nothing quite yet. The NL East is pretty much a lock. They’re giving Steven Matz a chance to show he’s ready for the playoffs. Mostly though, the Mets are just trying to stay healthy and get homefield advantage in the NLDS. 

Currently, the Mets are two games behind the Dodgers for homefield advantage in the NLDS. Both teams have a tough home series this weekend. The Mets have the Yankees, and the Dodgers have the Pirates. The goal of this weekend is to not lose ground. After this the Mets can beef up on the Braves, Reds, and Phillies to make up this two games. Remember, the Mets need only tie because they won the season series against the Dodgers. 

You know what’s not at stake this weekend?  New York. The Mets could sweep the Yankees by a combined score of 30-3, and it wouldn’t give them New York. Although, it would excite the fan base. What gives the Mets New York is sustained dominance. Some wins now are good, but a World Series is better. 

However, the goal for now is homefield advantage in the NLDS. Once that’s accomplished, the other goals will come into focus. 

It’s My Island

This is a huge start for Steven Matz. As a local kid from Long Island, it’s his opportunity to stand up and proclaim, this is the Mets town. It’s time for a man named Steven to stand up and declare:

In all seriousness, Matz has something more important to stake his claim – a postseason roster spot. Right now the postseason rotation is still in flux. It seems the only one assured of a spot is Jacob deGrom

Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard both have innings limit issues. Jon Niese has been utterly ineffectiveBartolo Colon has beaten up on the NL East and sub-.500 teams. Logan Verrett is nothing more than a spot starter. There’s an opening for Matz, and frankly a left handed starter, with the Dodgers coming up in the NLDS.

The Dodgers feature a number of big left handed bats with Adrian GonzalezJoc PedersonAndre Ethier, and Chase Utley, who you know is chomping at the bit to beat the Mets again.  It would be great if the Mets could throw a lefty starter out there to neutralize those bats.  It’s all the more important without a lefty in the bullpen.  Niese has shown it shouldn’t be him. 

This will be the last Mets opponent over .500 until the last series of the season. The Yankees are in a dog fight in the AL East and Wild Card. They need the series a lot more than the Mets do. Most likely, he will face Jacoby EllsburyBrett Gardner, and Greg Bird. It’s a good primer.

Matz needs to step up. He needs to go out there tonight and pitch like the ace the Mets fans think he is. I want to see his grandfather celebrating all game long. If we see it, it means Matz is pitching well. It means he’s securing a postseason start. It means the Mets will have a better chance of winning the NLDS. 

It may lead further towards the Mets taking back New York. It may see mad, but it may become Steven’s Island. 

How Long is Logan’s Run?

Tonight, Logan Verrett is making his second start with the Mets. With everything that’s going on, I’ve lost track of whether this is supposed to be a Matt Harvey start, an implementation of a six man rotation, or both. 

What I do know is that Verrett needs to impress to make the postseason roster. By my calculation, there are only three possible spots left up for grabs on the playoff roster. I’m assuming the breakdown of those spots is as follows: lefty, middle relief, long man. 

Unlike someone like Jon Niese, Verrett has bullpen experience. Verrett has made nine appearances out of the Mets bullpen. In those appearances, he’s pitched 14.1 innings with a 2.51 ERA and a 0.977 WHIP. If you eliminate his terrible August 28th appearance against the Red Sox where he let up 3 hits (2 homeruns) in one inning of work. Eliminating that appearance drops his relief number to a 0.69 ERA and a 0.840 WHIP. Unfortunately for Verrett, it doesn’t work that way. 

In five of the nine appearances, he went at least 2.0 innings.  However, he has only appeared in back to back games just once. The time this happened was the aforementioned Red Sox appearance. I’d imagine that will be his only back to back appearance as he will probably be a starter the rest of the year. 

That’s unfortunate for him because I believe that limits his chances of making the postseason roster to the long man spot. Right now, I believe Sean Gilmartin is a front runner for that spot due to his good work as the long man this year and the fact that he’s left-handed. If I’m right that may give Erik Goeddel an inside track to the postseason roster. 

There’s also the chance the Mets carry both Verrett and Gilmartin as long men giving Terry Collins some real options in the postseason. That decision may rest on how Steven Matz finishes the year. If Matz makes a real case to be in the playoff rotation (which he has not done thus far), either Noah Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon may wind up in the bullpen. 

If it’s Thor, I see him as an ace reliever out there to throw 150 MPH for one inning. If it’s Colon, I believe he’s the long man.  I think Thor in the bullpen would help Verrett’s chances of making the roster while Colon I the bullpen would damage those chances.  As you can see there’s a lot of moving pieces without addressing the whole Harvey situation. I’m not addressing that situation yet due to the number of conflicting reports that are out there. 

The main variable as far as Verrett is concerned right now is how he pitches. If he doesn’t pitch well, he’s not making the roster no matter the scenario. If he pitches well, he puts a lot of pressure on the Mets. That’s a good situation for him and the team. I’d rather the Mets have to make difficult rather than easy choices for the bullpen. 

Tonight will be a very important first step in Verrett’s personal march to the postseason. 

Mets 1-2 Punch Their Way to a Win

This was the Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes Show. With the offense scuffling tonight, they accounted for four of the Mets five runs. It showed why Cespedes receives the MVP talk while Granderson is truly the Mets’ MVP. 

In the third, Granderson walked and scored on a Cespedes double. In the fifth, Granderson scored on a balk after being moved to second on a Cespedes single and Daniel Murphy ground out (he was absolutely robbed of an RBI double by Freddie Freeman. He scored for the last time on a laser homerun by Cespedes in the ninth. 

Even though Steven Matz looked to be fitting himself and an inconsistent umpire, he only allowed one earned run in five innings. While Matz may not have been great, it was impressive he was able to get though five innings. 

Erik Goeddel pitched a 1-2-3 sixth despite letting up two deep fly balls. Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, further showing he’s the seventh inning guy. Tyler Clippard did his usual good work in the eighth. Jeurys Familia recorded his 40th save securing the 5-1 win. 

The only concern from the game was Murphy’s leg. He probably would’ve been safe on Freeman’s play if he was able to run full speed. As Keith Hernandez pointed out, Murphy seemed to be slow and since after his seventh inning single. Terry Collins may need to find him a couple of more days. 

Overall, it was an ugly win, but a win nevertheless. It was good enough to increase the lead to 8.5 games. 

Before the game, the Braves had a nice ceremony commemorating 9/11. They even showed the Mike Piazza homerun, which happened against them. They also wore the First Responder caps in batting practice, which they will auction off for charity. While I’ll criticize the Mets players and MLB, I’ll compliment the Braves here. 

The Braves also had a wonderful rendition of “God Bless America.”  They represented baseball and the country well. 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

After last night’s big homerun, I wanted to write a post about Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ chances of making the postseason roster. I then realized such conversation is premature without first discussing who is definitely going to be on the roster, and what the roster needs will be. 

Please note this list assumes all injured players will be healed and ready for the playoffs. And yes, I’m taking Matt Harvey at his word. So without further ado, here’s my best approximation:

Position Players

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Lucas Duda
  4. Wilmer Flores
  5. Daniel Murphy
  6. Ruben Tejada
  7. Juan Uribe
  8. David Wright
  9. Kelly Johnson
  10. Yoenis Cespedes
  11. Michael Cuddyer
  12. Curtis Granderson
  13. Juan Lagares
  14. Michael Conforto

Pitchers

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Bartolo Colon
  4. Noah Syndergaard
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Tyler Clippard
  7. Addison Reed
  8. Hansel Robles

While typically an MLB team carries 12 pitchers, that number is usually reduced to 11 relievers. That means there’s three spots open for pitchers like Sean GilmartinDario AlvarezCarlos Torres (if healthy), Erik GoeddelLogan VerrettJon Niese, and of course Steven Matz. Notice, I did not put Bobby Parnell and Eric O’Flaherty on the list. If all the position players make the list, there’s only room for 11 pitchers anyway. 

With an injury, like Cuddyer’s, the decision will come down between Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young, Jr., and yes, Eric Campbell

The Mets have tough decisions to make. They have about a month of tryouts. So far, Gilmartin, Alvarez, and Nieuwenhuis have made their cases. Other players have their opportunities as well. It’s nice having this conversation instead of talking about next year. 

Do You Still Celebrate Harvey Day?

It’s been an eventful week for Matt Harvey, the Mets, and Mets fans. Who are we kidding?  It’s been an eventful two years. All season long, Mets fans have celebrated Harvey starts as “Happy Harvey Day!”

I get the impression Mets fans aren’t celebrating Harvey Day anymore. They’re willing to overlook his 12-7 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. They’re overlooking how they pined for him all of 2014 because he was the key to being a team that could be a World Series contender. They’re overlooking the fact that Harvey has so far delivered.

I understand the anger. I understand the frustration. I can even understand why people presume that they can tell someone to tell someone to do with their health and career. What I can’t understand is forgetting all that Harvey has done for the Mets. What I can’t understand is the Mets fans double standards. 

Mets fans actually booed a looming free agent superstar in Mike Piazza. For comparison purposes, it would be like the Mets fans booing Yoenis Cespedes now, and Cespedes is nowhere near the player Piazza is.  I’m sure the Mets fans will elect to boo Harvey as well. I guess that puts Harvey in good company. 

Also, the Mets have botched the handling of Harvey’s inning limits, whether or not the 180 was a strict limit. Seriously, they’ve aborted the six man rotation on three different occasions. They’ve refused to bring back Dillon Gee. They never called anyone else up to take Steven Matz‘s place in the six man rotation when he was injured

The Mets made their choice. They let Harvey, and the other pitchers, rack up innings so they had a better chance of winning games in the short term. They were hoping they could bully their pitchers to ignore doctor’s, and yes, agent’s advice, to go beyond their innings limits. We’re going to boo Harvey for this?

I’m not. I’m going to cheer Harvey today (from my living room). I’ll cheer him in this and all other starts he makes in 2015 and beyond. I hope you will as well. 

Matt Harvey Timeline

I’m presenting the following Matt Harvey timeline with no interpretation or commentary. 

  1. July 16, 2013: Harvey starts the All Star Game at Citi Field
  2. August 2013: Harvey makes a few starts with some elbow problems 
  3. August 24, 2013: Harvey roughed up by Tigers, describes himself as “getting pretty tired.”
  4. August 25, 2013: Harvey informs Mets he’s having an abnormal amount of forearm discomfort. 
  5. August 26, 2013: MRI reveals Harvey has a UCL tear. Harvey reveals he wants to avoid surgery. 
  6. October 4, 2013: Harvey elects to have Tommy John surgery. 
  7. October 22, 2013: Dr. James Andrews performs successful Tommy John surgery on Harvey. 
  8. January 23, 2014: Harvey announces he wants to pitch during the 2014 season. 
  9. March 19, 2014: Harvey announces he wants to rehab with the team and not in Florida. 
  10. March 25, 2014: Mets announce Harvey will split rehab between NY and FL. 
  11. August 1, 2014: Harvey begins throwing from a mound (slightly ahead of schedule) and states he wants to pitch for the Mets if they make the playoffs. 
  12. September 4, 2014: Mets announce they will not let Harvey go 100% until the 2015 Spring Training. 
  13. September 2014: Harvey is shut down and will not appear in a game. 
  14. November 2014: after taking a month off, Harvey begins throwing on flat ground and long tossing. 
  15. February 9, 2015: Harvey reports early to Spring Training. 
  16. February 20, 2015: Alderson announces 200 innings limit for Harvey including playoffs. 
  17. March 3, 2015: Mets set rotation so Harvey starts the second home game, which the Mets admit makes good marketing sense. 
  18. March 6, 2015: Harvey throws 25 pitches in his first Spring Training start. 
  19. April 8, 2015: Harvey beats the Nationals in his first regular season start since 2013.
  20. April 9, 2015: Collins announces Harvey will be limited to 190 innings. 
  21. April 14, 2015: Harvey wins in his return to Citi Field. 
  22. April 17, 2015: Mets announce they will move to a six man rotation with Rafael Montero to keep Harvey fresh. 
  23. April 28, 2015: Montero starts in a loss to the Marlins. 
  24. April 30, 2015: Montero placed on the DL. 
  25. May 25, 2015: Harvey experiencing a dead arm. 
  26. June 3, 2015Dillon Gee comes off the DL, and the Mets announce they’re moving to a six man rotation. 
  27. June 7, 2015: Gee is ineffective and is moved to the bullpen. Collins announces he’s abandoning the six man rotation. 
  28. June 15, 2015: Gee is designated for assignment. 
  29. June 26, 2015: Mets announce they are calling up Steven Matz and will be going back to the six man rotation. 
  30. June 28, 2015: Matz makes his major league debut. 
  31. June – July 2015: Matz informs Mets he has “stiffness underneath his left armpit.”
  32. July – August 2015: Harvey sees a dip in velocity in all of his pitches. 
  33. July 3, 2015: Dan Warthen deems Matz fine after watching a bullpen session. 
  34. July 4, 2015: Harvey complains the six man rotation takes him out of his rhythm after a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers. 
  35. July 5, 2015: Matz pitches six shutout innings in win over Dodgers. 
  36. July 6, 2015: Terry Collins tells Harvey to get over the six man rotation. 
  37. July 9. 2015: Matz has lat injury which requires him to be shut down for three weeks. 
  38. July 12, 2015: Collins announces Mets are abandoning the six man rotation due to Matz injury. 
  39. August 2015: Scott Boras contacts Mets with concerns over Harvey’s innings pitched. 
  40. August 21, 2015: it’s reported that Harvey has no objection to the Mets skipping one or two of his starts. 
  41. August 23, 2015: The Mets skip Harvey in the rotation, and Logan Verrett gets the win over the Rockies. 
  42. September 2, 2015: Mets announce they will skip a second Harvey start. 
  43. September 3, 2015: Harvey is forced to leave a game with dehydration and weakness in a win over the Phillies. 
  44. September 4, 2015: Jon Heyman reports Scott Boras informed the Mets that Harvey has a strict 180 innings limit. 
  45. September 5, 2015: Harvey attends press conference and states he always thought 180 innings was a hard cap. He refuses to answer questions regarding the playoffs. 
  46. September 5, 2015: backlash from fans and media to Harvey’s press conference. 
  47. September 6, 2015: Matt Harvey announces he will pitch in the postseason. 
  48. September 7, 2015: Sandy Alderson announces Harvey has two regular seasons starts left and may not pitch throughout the entire postseason. 
  49. September 8, 2015: Harvey scheduled to pitch against the Nationals. 

Niese’s Last Chance?

As I’ve said before, it seems like the Mets are having auditions for a spot on the postseason roster. Jon Niese has already been put on warning that his start against the Nationals will be the biggest start of his career

That’s not hyperbole. Right now, Niese is probably the Mets worst starting pitching option. While he’s been shrinking, his teammates have been stepping up. On Saturday, Bartolo Colon became the oldest Mets pitcher to have a complete game shut outNoah Syndergaard pitched a good game saving the bullpen and giving the Mets a chance to win. Steven Matz had a strong start until leaving the game with a blister. 

As the other starters are stepping up, Niese is shrinking from the moment. Hopefully, this has nothing to do with his shoulder. The Mets haven’t done him any favors by putting him up against Max Scherzer and a rejuvenated Nationals lineup. It’s the perfect time to step up. 

The Mets fans are on the fence right now (not me). They’re invoking 2007 and 2008. It’s like they need an exorcism to prove those demons are gone. Niese probably needs one as well. He made his first three career starts in 2008, all in September. He went 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP in 14.0 innings. In his last five starts, he has a 7.06 ERA and a 1.535 WHIP. 

He’s almost as bad this year as we was in 2008. We’ve seen the meltdowns with him when something doesn’t go right. The pressure gets to him. It seems like the pressure of a pennant race also gets to him. He has time to prove me wrong. I want him to prove me wrong. 

The Mets won’t take him out of the rotation in the regular season, especially with the recent drama. However, if he keeps this up, he’s out of the rotation in October. It’ll be amazing to see the man born on the day the Mets last won the World Series not be on the postseason roster. 

If Niese wants to be there in October, it starts today. 

Prado Killed the Mets

For one Sunday afternoon, it was nice to focus on baseball. The good?  Steven Matz went 5.2 innings with four hits, two walks, six strikeouts, and two earned. He left on the long side. The bad?  He had to leave in the sixth with a blister problem. 

Given the hand he was dealt (yet another pun from me), Terry Collins did a good job with the bullpen. I hate that Tyler Clippard let up the game tying homerun in the eighth. I love how angry he was about it. I love how he was pacing in the dugout angry after the inning. I love the fire he showed. 

If nothing else, this is a resilient team. After just losing the lead, the Mets loaded the bases. Unfortunately, Travis d’Arnaud, who has been d’Man lately, hit into a double play. Sure enough, it was started by new Mets killer, Martin Prado

Now, I’m not getting on Collins for pulling d’Arnaud. I know Anthony Recker had a passed ball on a strike three that started the game winning rally, but Recker is a good defensive catcher.  I also trust Collins knows if one of his players needs a blow. Also, you want d’Arnaud as fresh as possible with a huge series starting with tomorrow’s day game against the Nationals. 

The Marlins would win with Prado’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. He’s a new Mets killer. I can’t kill anyone for this loss. Collins made the right moves. I don’t have a problem with Clippard going a second inning. The Mets simply lost because the Marlins were the better team today. 

The team fought hard. Sometimes, it’s just not your day. The Mets will still have a four game lead going into Washington. They still control their own destiny. I’m not talking collapse yet. 

This is a resilient, fun team. Have some faith. Have some fun. Lets Go Mets!

Matz is Back

I’m excited to see Steven Matz pitch today. I went with my son to see his first career start. We need just a baseball game, especially with everything going on with Matt Harvey. It’s nice to be excited for something positive. That and wins are the best cure for everything happening. 

I know the Marlins are terrible and he’s still building up arm strength, but you have to start somewhere. Enjoy today because we may be seeing an important October piece begin rounding into form. It appears now that we’ll need him as a starter. I’m excited for today. 

Let’s Go Matz!