Series Preview

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. 

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. 

The Mets Will Remain in First Place

Today’s game is the biggest game the Mets have played since they moved to Citi Field. It’s their biggest series in seven years. No matter what happens, they will leave Washington in first place. 

They’re carrying a four game lead into Washington. Even if the get swept, they will remain in first. If the Mets sweep, they will be seven up with 26 games remaining.  Like James Ingram, all I’m asking is that the Mets win “Just Once.”  That’ll give them a three game lead presumably forcing the Nationals to sweep the Mets in the last series of the season to have a shot of winning the division. 

The Mets set up their post-All Star Break rotation with Noah SyndergaardMatt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom facing the Nationals in their first two series against each other. After the Mets August 2nd win completing the sweep, the Mets have been in first place, and they do not look like they want to give it back.  The Nationals seem to have noticed. 

They have set up their rotation so the Mets face Max ScherzerJordan Zimmermann, and Steven Strasburg. While the Mets will lead-off with Jon Niese, they will follow with Harvey and deGrom. The last two games of this series is must see TV. Especially with Harvey and deGrom, I like the Mets chances. 

Since 2009, the Mets have had a losing record. We dreamed of the day that this young pitching would come together and lead the Mets to the playoffs and beyond. The Nationals are the only obstacle in their way. “I know we can break through it.”  

Who’s on First?

With injuries to Lucas DudaDaniel Murphy, and Michael Cuddyer, the Mets had to improvise at first base this past weekend against the Marlins. That meant we saw Kelly Johnson and Eric Campbell play first base. 

It seems with the most important series in seven years, the Mets can turn back to their two best 1B options. After his two game rehab stint, Duda is rejoining the Mets in Washington. After sitting out two straight games, Murphy made a pinch hitting appearance in the seventh. He grounded into a double play, and he didn’t exactly look like he was busting it down the first base line. Cuddyer has wrist tendinitis requiring a splint and a cortisone shot. He’s still unavailable. 

I’m glad Duda and Murphy are seemingly ready to go. However, I’m still nervous about Duda’s back and Murphy’s quad. These are nagging types of injuries. Given their recent history dealing with injuries, please excuse me for not believing either player is fully ready to go. Murphy running out of the box should convince you of that. 

Terry Collins has a delicate situation here because the Mets need to put their best foot forward in this series. He started it by sitting David Wright yesterday. They’ll be further aided with Duda at first and Murphy at second. I’m sure that’s where they will be in the lineup. I hope they’re able to contribute. 

I hope they stay healthy because a season and postseason rides on it. 

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. 

Take a Deep Breath, It’s the Marlins

For three straight seasons, I was there when the Mets season ended.  In 2007 and 2008, the season ended with a baffling loss to the Marlins. The 2006 – 2008 seasons left its scars.  Those years weren’t worse than the 2007 – 2014 irrelevance. Well, it’s 2015, and the Mets are back in first place. 

You know what else is back?  The talk of the Mets collapses. All over Twitter, there is discussion about not jinxing anything. Tom Verducci published an article in Sports Illustrated which, in part, highlighted Collins’ own collapses in his prior managerial experience. I’m sure with the Mets playing the Marlins that will only intensify. 

It shouldn’t even be a discussion. In 2007, the Mets entered September with a two game lead over the Phillies. In 2008, the Mets entered September with a one game lead. These Mets entered September with a 6.5 game lead. These Mets have an intact starting rotation even if the team is tempting fate with their handling of it. Even if there are issues with the bullpen, it’s in much better shape with a healthy closer like Jeurys Familia

The Marlins now are 14 games under .500 and are part of the Mets weak schedule. They’re a mess even by Marlins’ standards. They still don’t have Giancarlo Stanton back from the DL. The Mets are 9-4 against these Marlins. I’m not worried. 

The 2007 and 2008 Mets were a different team from top to bottom. They were lacking something. We don’t know the makeup of this team yet. There have been positive signs like the sweep of the Nationals. There were negative signs like getting swept by the Pirates

Today is September 4th. There’s one month of baseball left starting with the Marlins. For the fans that need it, those ghosts that haunt them will begin to be exorcized tonight. For the other fans, this is a series against a second division club. For everyone, it’s time to enjoy the winning baseball. 

Two More Conforto Games Left

With David Wright set to come off the DL on Monday, it seems as if Michael Conforto‘s days are numbered. This series against the Rockies will be his last until September. 

First things first, with Terry Collins’ inane handling of Conforto, it seems Conforto will only play two games. Since Eric Campbell was sent down on August 10th, Conforto will only have started in seven of eleven games. Regardless of his inactivity, Conforto has made contributions. There was the homerun against the Rays and the one against the Pirates. 

He will be missed. I believe he was missed during his time on the team. Let’s enjoy this weekend because he’ll be gone for two weeks. 

I Hate the Pirates

It’s funny. The three divisional format in every league was supposed to, in part, amp up rivalries. The problem when they set up the NL East was that there were no rivalries amongst those teams. 

The teams I hated are all in the NL Central: the Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates. I came to hate the Pirates in 1990. The Pirates crushed my young dream of seeing the Mets in the playoffs again. 

In 1990 , I rooted for the Reds in the NLCS. In 1991 and 1992, I rooted for the Braves. One of my favorite memories as a kid was this: 

It’s funny now to think of ever rooting for the Braves, but baseball was much different back then. It’s also funny to think Barry Bonds couldn’t throw out former teammate, Sid Bream. After the 1991 NLCS, the Pirates couldn’t resign Bobby Bonilla allowing the Mets to get him on what would become “The Worst Team Money Can Buy.”

Again, your memory is funny. When the Mets first got Bonilla, I was thrilled. You were too. You know what else is funny?  If you look over his stats, he was a pretty good player on the Mets. However, any sympathy I would’ve had for him went out the door with 1999 poker game. 

Anyway, after 1992, that was it for the Pirates. Barry Bonds would go to San Francisco, and the Pirates wouldn’t have a winning team again for another 21 years. I loved every minute of it. Now, however, the Pirates are a loaded, dangerous, and likeable team. 

With them it all starts with Andrew McCutchen, who is the best player in the National League. He’s a CF putting up consistent All Star and Hall of Fame stats. It seems like every year, he gets unexpected help. This year that man is Jung Ho Kang, who probably is the rookie of the year. 

A deep pitching staff is lead by Gerritt Cole, who is on the fringes of the Cy Young discussions. Luckily, they will miss him. Unfortunately, the Mets will throw Bartolo Colon. Also, Matt Harvey will be the only stud muffin to fm go in this series. 

Right now, the Pirates are the better team. However, the Mets play well at Citi Field while the Pirates are [barely] a sub .500 team in the road. Overall, I see this series as a measuring stick rest. I hope the Mets are up for the challenge. 

Time to Throw Down

After watching the Mets-Cardinal series, it’s easy to be negative . . . I know I was. The Mets got blew a great Thor game, we saw the fork sticking out of Colon, and then watched them take 18 innings to score three runs. However, it’s the beginning of a new week, so let’s start that week off with some optimism.

Going into the All Star Break, the Mets were 2 games behind the Nationals (3 in the loss) with 12 games yet to play against them. After an awful weekend in St. Louis (and really is there any other kind there), the Mets are still in the same position. Now, the Mets come storming into Washington with Harvey, deGrom, and Thor. The Mets are ready to throw down (yes, the pun is intended).

This was Sandy’s rebuilding plan come to fruition. No matter how bad the offense is or how much it is struggling, good luck trying to score.  Harvey has a 16 inning scoreless streak, deGrom has given up 12 runs in his past 10 starts (not including the All Star Game), and Thor’s last four starts have seen him allow 2 ER or less.

The Mets have been brutal on the road, but their three best pitchers are going out there. This is a pennant race. Through everything that has happened thus far this season, I’m still excited. Lets Go Mets!