Mets Merized Online » strikes Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:46:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Are Mets Starters Out Of Gas? Thu, 29 Oct 2015 17:15:28 +0000 matt harvey

The first two games of the World Series have not been particularly kind to Mets starting pitching. Both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, while not terrible by any means, were certainly off their games. This begs the question: has the fatigue of the long season become too much?

In Game 1, Harvey went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two. He ended up getting pulled after just 80 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.

Last night, deGrom, who has had to battle without his best stuff at times recently, struggled even more. He lasted just five frames, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks. He too struck out just a pair of Royals hitters and needed 94 pitches to get through five.

With Harvey especially, perhaps the workload of this season has finally gotten to him.

“I didn’t feel all that great, so I had to mix things up,” Harvey said after Tuesday’s game. “Obviously from the first pitch on, I knew I had to mix things in and try to keep them off balance. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that in the sixth inning. For a good stretch there, I was getting some quick outs but unfortunately I wasn’t able to hold the lead.”

Harvey is now up to 208 innings on the year, not including the 22.2 he tossed in spring training, after not pitching in any live games last year. Scott Boras did have a point — this is pretty unprecedented for a Tommy John Surgery patient.

deGrom was worked even harder this year, throwing 216 innings between the regular season and playoffs, not including one in the All-Star Game and 26 in spring training. Between the minor leagues and Triple-A, deGrom threw 178.2 last year.

This is not to say the Mets should have altered how they used their starters late in the season and early in the playoffs. After all, the NL East race was tight well into September. However, deGrom and Harvey have been inconsistent lately, mostly due to a lack of command. deGrom has walked three twice this postseason. He only did that four times over the course of the entire season.

Maybe they’ve just happened to have a few off days (which pitchers have all the time) and this is just being fueled by the Mets’ inability to score runs or play defense. Either way, it’s a legitimate question to bring up.

To come back and win this series, deGrom and Harvey will both have to leave it all out on the field for one more start. Let’s hope they have something left in them.

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Cueto Dominates Mets With Complete Game Gem Thu, 29 Oct 2015 13:00:31 +0000  Cueto Johnny

Despite an inconsistent postseason in 2015, Johnny Cueto delivered an incredible performance last night in Game 2 of the World Series. He fired nine outstanding innings while allowing only one run and two hits.

It was a tremendous rebound for Cueto, who allowed eight runs in his last start against the Blue Jays. However, he kept the Mets’ lineup completely off balanced last night with his wicked arsenal and command.

“He threw three or four different pitches for strikes in any count,” Wright said. “And then he kind of keeps you off balance with the quick pitch. And then he kind of takes his time a little bit. As a hitter, it’s all about timing. He disrupted it tonight, for sure — throwing cutters away from right-handed hitters, the sinkers in, changeups, curveballs. Just four excellent pitches throwing them for strikes in any count.”

Cueto seemed to get even better as the game went on  He allowed only one runner to reach base after the 4th inning, and he never gave the Mets a chance to make a comeback.

“The longer the game goes the stronger I get. I loosen up, I feel strong,” Cueto said “Thank God Ned (Yost) told him if we score a couple runs in the 8th I would go out. And thank God we were able to do that and I got the opportunity to close this game out.”

Cueto Johnny

It was an emotional night for Cueto, who dedicated the game to Edinson Volquez’s father who passed away on Tuesday. He also made history last night as he became the first Dominican born pitcher to throw a complete game in the World Series.

It was a very sad day for me yesterday. And there was a lot of focus on my part. I dedicated that game to Volquez’s dad and the whole family, and thank God it turned out that way.”

Cueto showed exactly why the Royals went after him so aggressively on the trade market during the season. He is an excellent pitcher, and he has certainly been worth the risk for Kansas City and GM Dayton Moore.

Hopefully, the Mets will continue to battle this series and have another shot to defeat him in his next outing.

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Oh, What A KNIGHT! Harvey Speaks To Reporters… Sun, 18 Oct 2015 15:19:46 +0000 IMG_20151018_104637

Kudos to Newsday on this spectacular back page in today’s paper that perfectly describes the super-charged atmosphere at Citi Field, no doubt fueled by a dominant pitching performance by right-hander Matt Harvey.

After the game, Harvey spoke to reporters and fielded questions.

Was cold weather a factor in setting up your secondary pitches, making it much harder for the Cubs to kind of react to that?

“Yeah, I think that was the game plan going in. I know I don’t like to watch video too, too much, but Dan Warthen came in a couple hours before the game and just we kind of went over the guys a little bit more than normal.”

“I think the biggest thing was right off the bat he just said, “Find your secondary stuff and kind of work off of that.” Luckily I was able to throw it for a strike when I needed to, and kind of keep them off balance. They hit a couple balls hard, but luckily they were right at guys. I really just tried to throw strikes and the guys made all the plays behind me and they made it easy.”

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Were you happy with your performance after struggling somewhat in your NLDS start?

“I think after the first go around I definitely wasn’t happy. Obviously we won, and that was the most important thing. But I think I kind of said in the press conference yesterday that I really wanted to be back out there as much as I possibly could, and getting the ball the first game, I really wanted to start things off the right way and get us rolling. Fortunately enough I had things working pretty well, and we were able to do that.”

How’s the arm?

“The ball kind of dented my arm a little bit, got me right in the tricep. But I felt fine going out there again, and really felt fine through the rest of the game. It’s a little bit swollen right now, but the training staff will take care of that and we’ll be all set.”

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After a tumultuous month, how did it feel to be hearing fans chanting your name?

“Oh, it was great. I think after everything that’s happened, I think the biggest thing was really staying focused on what I had to do tonight. Regardless of what’s happened, my job was to go out and give us quality innings and keep the damage down and really, like I said, get us starting off right.”

“I wanted to go out there. I wanted this game bad, and luckily we put up some runs. I was able to limit damage, like Murph said. It was a complete team win, and it was nice being able to contribute to that.”

On pitching in the 8th inning.

“I think right away he (Terry) asked how the tricep was doing and if I was fine, and after I said the tricep was all good, it really wasn’t much conversation after that. I give him a lot of thanks for trusting me to go back out there.”

“Unfortunately, I threw a ball over the middle, and that hasn’t landed yet, but luckily Familia, who in my mind is the best closer in the game, came in and shut them down.”


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Harvey Dominates Cubs For Second Career Playoff Win Sun, 18 Oct 2015 13:00:31 +0000 matt harvey

In the second playoff start of his career, Matt Harvey was outstanding. He struck out nine batters in 7.2 innings while allowing just two runs and four hits.

With the win yesterday, he became the third pitcher in franchise history to win the first two games of his Mets’ playoff career. Tom Glavine did so in 2006, and Jacob deGrom became the second earlier this postseason.

Even though he won in his last outing, Harvey was still disappointed with how he performed against the Dodgers. He expected better of himself, and couldn’t wait to get on the mound again in Game 1 of the NLCS.

“No, I think after the first go around I definitely wasn’t happy. Obviously we won, and that was the most important thing. But I think I kind of said in the press conference yesterday that I really wanted to be back out there as much as I possibly could, and getting the ball the first game, I really wanted to start things off the right way and get us rolling. Fortunately enough I had things working pretty well, and we were able to do that.”

Harvey certainly set the tone early as he retired the first 12 batters he faced. He looked as dominating as ever, and kept the dangerous Cubs lineup off balance all night.

After all the controversy surrounding him this season, this was exactly the kind of outing he needed to redeem himself to the fans, who chanted his name as he left the field. He pitched deep into the game, and proved he could be relied on as an elite postseason starter.

“Oh, it was great. I think after everything that’s happened, I think the biggest thing was really staying focused on what I had to do tonight. Regardless of what’s happened, my job was to go out and give us quality innings and keep the damage down and really, like I said, get us starting off right.”

Harvey will be ready to go for his next start against the Cubs, and will look to overpower them once again. The Mets got a scare after he got hit in the arm by a line drive, but he did not suffer an injury and turned out to be okay.

“It’s a little bit swollen right now, but the training staff will take care of that and we’ll be all set.”


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Niese Solid In Back To Back Relief Appearances Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:49:21 +0000 jon niese

In his fourth relief appearance of the season, Jon Niese retired two batters and allowed one hit against the Nationals on Sunday. He also pitched a scoreless inning during Saturday’s game, and has yielded just one run in 3.2 innings of relief during this week.

This performance probably cements his spot on the postseason roster. Collins already made it sound like he was a lock prior to yesterday’s appearance, and said he was comfortable with Niese pitching out of the bullpen. (Howie Kussoy, NY Post)

“I’m comfortable because of the fact that he’s not going to beat himself,” Collins said. “What we got to do is get him to understand relieving is just different from starting and to approach it a little bit different early in the count.”

“The one thing about Jon Niese, he’s a perpetual strike thrower,” Collins said. “When you come out of the bullpen, hitters are swinging early. That’s just what you tell guys when you see a relief pitcher.

“We talked about it the other day, don’t be afraid to do something else and don’t be afraid to miss with it because you can throw strikes. If you fall behind, you fall behind, but he’s a good enough pitcher he can throw strikes. It’s a work in progress and we don’t have a lot of time but we’re trying to get him in there.”

While Niese has been disappointing this season with a 4.13 ERA, he can still be a valuable reliever out of the pen. He gives the Mets an experienced lefty and could provide a lot of innings in long relief if needed.

It’s still great to see him be part of the team’s playoff run even though he won’t be rewarded with a start.  Niese was a good pitcher for the Mets during some very tough years, and he’s finally getting a chance to experience the postseason.

Niese has been a member of the rotation for eight years, and owns a career record of 61-61 with a 3.91 ERA. Prior to this season, he had a three year stretch with a 3.49 ERA during 84 starts.

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Jeurys Familia Ties Franchise Record With 43 Saves Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:50:00 +0000 jeurys familia

Jeurys Familia notched his 43rd save of the season on Sunday, matching Armando Benitez (who saved 43 in 2001} for the most saves in a single season in franchise history.

It’s been a remarkable season for Familia, who was unexpectedly thrust into the closer role after Jenrry Mejia was suspended for PED use in early April.

Familia finishes the season with a 1.85 ERA, 1.001 WHIP, .207 BAA and 86 strikeouts in 78.1 innings while walking 19.

“He was thrown into that closer’s role,” third baseman David Wright said. “And he never looked back.”

“He stepped up and did a tremendous job all year,” Mets manager Terry Collins added.

Enjoy the following article by Brian Mangan who does an exceptional job of chronicling just how special Familia has been this season.

— Joe D.

September 30 - Jeurys Familia is Very Good at Everything

It is no secret around the league now that Jeurys Familia is amazing. Familia posted a 2.21 ERA in 77.1 dominant innings last year (3.07 FIP) and has backed that up with an even more scintillating year this year, tallying a 1.88 ERA (2.79 FIP) and 42 resounding saves in 76.2 innings.

The league has taken notice since Familia was snubbed for the All Star Game in July; and since then he’s been even nastier to hitters. In early September, Familia added an absolutely unfair 95-mph splitter to his arsenal, complementing his 100-mph fastball and wipe-out slider.

Players around the league wilt at the idea of facing him. Media outlets everywhere have called him “unfair”. (For some good reading, here’s Eno Sarris at Fangraphs and Dan Weigel at Beyond the Box Score)

jeurys familiaWhat might be most amazing about Familia, however, is the way he’s gotten these results. Despite the overpowering arsenal, Familia does not have anything about his performance that screams “elite.” Instead, Familia is just really, really good at everything across the board.

It’s pretty clear that Familia could strike out more batters if he wanted to, but right now, Familia is combining elite “stuff” with a willingness to pound the strike zone and get ground balls. Together, this makes him the most elite of the elite. Let’s take a look at how Familia stacks up in the National League.

Among NL relievers with at least 60 innings, Familia is 3rd in saves and 4th in ERA, behind only Ken Giles, Aroldis Chapman, and Hector Rondon.

His strikeout rate is very good, but not elite, ranking 8th in the NL (9.86 K/9). His walk rate is very good, but also not elite, ranking 9th in the NL (2.23 BB/9). His combination of high strikeouts and low walks together, however, conspire to make him 3rd in the NL in K-BB%, which is a much more important stat than K’s or BB’s alone.

Among plate discipline components, Familia again does very well in just about all of them. Familia gets swings out of the zone the 4th most in the NL. Batters only make contact on swings outside the zone 46.3% of the time, which is also 4th best in the NL. Familia also pounds the zone with strikes, ranking 10th in the NL in first pitch strikes. Finally, he sports a very strong swinging strike rate, getting batters to swing and miss the 4th most often in the NL at 16.0%.

Batters don’t do much with the ball when the put it in play against Familia either, hitting ground balls 58.2% of the time, the 9th most in the NL. He gets infield fly balls (this is a very good thing) the 10th most often, and he gets soft contact the 7th most often and hard contact the 9th best rate.

So as you can see, Familia lacks the one stand-out tool. He doesn’t strike out 41% of the batters to face him, like Chapman or Kenley Jansen do. He doesn’t get 72% ground balls like Brad Ziegler. He doesn’t avoid the walk like Mark Melancon, who allows only 1.69 BB/9.

But what he does do — and people who have watched him all season can attest to this — is everything really well. Familia has been a godsend for the Mets this year. He’s a hard-throwing, strike-throwing, strikeout, ground ball and pop-up pitcher with incredible mound presence who has a three pitch arsenal and who can dominate both righties and lefties. There isn’t much more that you could ask for.

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Tyler Clippard Remains Unavailable With Stiff Back Sat, 19 Sep 2015 04:07:11 +0000 tyler clippard

Mets reliever Tyler Clippard, who was unavailable on Friday, remains unavailable on Saturday because of back tightness. He injured during his final pregame throw on Friday.

“He’s got to get some treatment and then go throw, but he’s pretty stiff this morning,” said manager Terry Collins.

Clippard is the Mets regular setup man in the 8th inning, but in his absence on Friday, Hansel Robles and Addison Reed picked up the slack, each throwing a perfect inning in the seventh and eighth innings respectively against the Yankees.

On Robles, Collins noted his improvement: “The thing I’ve been impressed with is the command of his secondary stuff has been so much better that it was earlier. It’s an easy fit right now to put in that spot.”

Collins also praised Reed, who came to the Mets with a reputation for walking people, but has thrown strikes since he arrived.

“Addison really has done a great job,” Collins said. “Like I said, Robles has done a good job. So if we don’t have Clip today, or if he misses the weekend, you know what? We’ve still got some people we can put in there that you feel confident that they’ll pound the strike zone and make somebody beat you.”

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MMO Exclusive: T.J. Rivera Just Keeps Hitting and Hoping Wed, 09 Sep 2015 15:00:57 +0000 t.j. Rivera

When his baseball playing days are behind him, T.J. Rivera wants to be remembered as a grinder, a guy who didn’t simply go through the motions but played with 100 percent effort every time he stepped on a baseball diamond.

“That’s something I’ve always tried to live up to, going out there and playing hard every pitch,” Rivera stated in his final response during an interview I conducted with him on our WIOX, Tip-Off Sports radio hour.

You won’t get an argument about Rivera’s work ethic from Binghamton Met baseball fans who have watched the popular B-Met play three of the four infield positions during parts of the past two baseball seasons. Going into the final weekend of the regular season, Rivera leads the B-Mets in batting with a sparkling .350 batting average.

Amazingly, Rivera’s lofty BA is actually 8 points lower than his team high mark in the batter’s box in 2014. Over two seasons, in 415 B-Met at-bats, Rivera has 147 hits. That’s a combined two year Double-A batting average of .354.

And, in nearly 200 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas this summer Rivera was slashing at the plate. On July 18th, Rivera went 3-for-5 against Albuquerque raising his batting average to .327. A mini slump, 3-23, in the 8 games before his recall to Binghamton, dropped his Triple-A hitting stats to .306.

Putting it simply, T.J. Rivera can hit. With numbers echoing the batting line outlined above on every rung of the Met’s minor league ladder, it’s not surprising Rivera takes a bit of swagger into the batting box. I asked T.J. about his batting approach.

“It really depends on the situation,” he began. “With a guy on third base, you’re trying to do something different to what you’d do with no one on. You’re also just trying to hit the ball hard.”

Rivera went on to say that in every at bat he’s trying to compete with the pitcher. “Early in the count, I’m just trying to find a good fastball in the middle of the zone, something I can drive and something I can really put a good swing on and hopefully hit the ball in a gap somewhere.”

“With a strike or two strikes my approach will change a little bit. My swing doesn’t change but my approach does. With two strikes, I’m going to let the ball get a little deeper. The pitcher’s got a different approach, too, he’s trying to extend the zone a little. So, I have to change my approach and work a little harder to compete.”

“I don’t want to just put the ball in play with two strikes, I want to put it in play hard and make something happen. Obviously, everything changes with guys on base.”

Since T.J, has played at every level in the Mets minor league system, I asked him if there is a specific batting approach or philosophy emphasized in the Met farm system all the way up the minor league chain.

“I wouldn’t say anything too crazy that other teams are not doing. They do like us working the count. They like us to swing at pitches in the zone, and I think any club would probably think the same thing, because you don’t want to help the pitcher out.”

“They’re trying to teach us to find the pitch we like to hit and where in the zone we like to hit the ball best. Then try to hit that pitch and that pitch only until you get two strikes. You don’t want to swing at the pitch the pitcher wants you to. That ends up in a weak ground ball that you’re not looking to do.”


Hitting the way he has year after year, apparently, T.J. Rivera is an attentive student. I asked him too about the difference in the pitching he has experienced as he climbed the Met minor league ladder.

“As you move up to Double-A and Triple-A you’re not going to get as many hitter’s counts where you can get the pitch you’re looking for, So, selective hitting plays a bigger role, because now if I don’t get the pitch I’m looking for and I swing at a pitch too low, I’m not going to do what I want at the plate.”

As Rivera sees it, stronger bullpens at the upper minor league levels also add to the batting challenge. “The bullpens get a lot better, too. It’s like every team has a lot of hard throwers and good arms in the bullpen. Other than that, pitchers at the upper level know how to pitch, so as you get older, you have to get smarter.”

Rivera said that the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez is one of the toughest pitchers he has faced so far in the minors. “You kind of knew he was going to be special.” Ironically, although he has faced some outstanding minor league prospects, it’s many times those crafty pitchers that change speeds in different ways that give him the most trouble.

As far as strong pitchers go, Rivera likes the guys in the Mets system most. “The guys on my teams, they’re the ones who impress me more than anybody, a guy like Steven Matz. I had to face him in spring training and that’s not fun. Noah Syndergaard, I had to face him, too.”

“Guys like that are overpowering. They throw the kind of stuff you’re expecting to see in the ninth inning from a closer, but they’re throwing it for 6 or 7 innings.”

T.J talked about the subtle differences in playing the various infield positions. At shortstop he said he has to remember to move his feet, to get to the ball with his feet because his throw from short is the longest you will make in the infield. Manning third base is about reflexes and handling the hot stuff and knowing the speedsters most likely to place a bunt perfectly down the line. He finds second base a bit easier because of the added time, but coming across the bag and throwing across your body with a sliding runner coming at you makes the turn on a double play an added challenge.

I mentioned that the middle infield slots seems to be the strongest position spots in the Met farm system and asked T.J. to talk briefly about some of his teammates who have played there. Here’s what he said.

Matt Reynolds – Consistent defensive play. He has a nice swing, but he really impresses me defensively at short.

Dilson Herrera – He’s an animal. That kid is a little ball of fire. He’s kind of like Darrell Cecilaini in that he ignites a team because he plays so hard. Sometimes you see a top prospect who kind of goes through the motions. He’s not like that. You’d never think he’s a top prospect because of the way he plays. You’ve got to love the way he goes about his business.

Wilfredo Tovar – Great hands. Smooth defensively. He’ll do some things with his glove that kind of wow you on the field and you’ll think – did that just happen? Great hands.

Daniel Muno – Nothing phases him. He’s the type of guy you can put in a tough situation because nothing phases him.

Gavin Cecchini – He’s impressed me with his stick, and he goes about his business the right way. He plays the game pretty well, pretty hard, and he’s impressed me this year a lot.

L.J. Mazzilli – He’s my roomie, a grinder on the baseball diamond. He knows how to play the game. He hits the ball consistently, and he’s got a really good swing. He hits the ball hard all over the place. He knows how to hit the ball hard to right-center field. That’s impressive.

Met fans always mention that Rivera went undrafted. T.J. told me the Mets called about a week after the draft to discuss his signing on. His humble introduction to professional baseball is a motivator. “There’s a lot that motivates me. For guys that went undrafted, it would be nice to show, we can play the game, too, and to never give up hope.”

Chatting with T.J. on the air and briefly following him this week at NYSEG Stadium, I can only hope he gets a shot and gets a chance at the big leagues. He’s earned it.

“If this kid ever gets a look in the majors, I know he’s going to hit,” said B-Mets GM Jim Weed, who has watched a lot of prospects over the years at Binghamton and the rest of the Eastern League. My sentiments exactly.


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Familia Earns 34th Save, Adds New Filthy Splitter To Arsenal Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:00:15 +0000 jeurys familia

Last night in a 6-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Terry Collins asked his closer Jeurys Familia to get four outs for his ball club. Familia did exactly that, and the Mets perserved in a much needed victory to remain 5 1/2 games up on the Washington Nationals.

Familia came on in the bottom of the 8th inning after set-up man Tyler Clippard had allowed a single to Andres Blanco and a walk to Cody Asche. Clippard then was able to strike out Domonic Brown, but Terry Collins was clearly not messing around as he opted to bring in his closer to finish the inning.

What seemed to be working especially well for Familia last night was his new 94 mph splitter, which was virtually untouchable and impossible for hitters to make contact with. Familia said after the game that he had been throwing the splitter all year in the bullpen, but just started using it in games two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago takes you back to right around when the Mets swept the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Familia had two saves in that series, and since then has thrown 6 2/3 innings while giving up no runs, just four hits, and striking out eight batters.

Since the nightmare of a blown save he had against the San Diego Padres back on July 30th, Familia has collected a total of six saves in six opportunities..

It was a rough start to the second half of the season for Familia as he blew his first three save opportunities, but it seems as though he has started to right the ship.

Last night was an example of how dangerous he really can be. Familia allowed no hits, no walks, and struck out both Altherr and Hernandez on the splitter in the bottom of the 9th to earn his 34th save of the season. It took him just 17 pitches to get the four outs,16 of them were strikes.

Collins said after the game that Familia’s splitter drops eight inches as it approaches the plate. Talk about some filthy stuff. If Familia can continue to be this untouchable down the stretch and keep pitching like he did last night, the Mets will be in very good shape.

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Eric Campbell Optioned To Triple-A, Michael Conforto To Remain With Mets Mon, 10 Aug 2015 19:13:15 +0000 michael Conforto

The New York Mets have announced that utilityman Eric Campbell has been optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room on the roster for Michael Cuddyer who has been activated from the disabled list.

The news means that rookie Michael Conforto will remain with the big league team and most likely platoon with Cuddyer in left field.

“I’m glad I’m going to stay. I don’t really know what my role is going to be, but I’m all in,” Conforto told reporters.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I wanted to update this post with something Sandy Alderson said after the game on Sunday. The Mets GM was asked if he knew yet which player would be optioned to Las Vegas once Michael Cuddyer is activated from the DL on Monday.

Alderson smiled and responded by saying he does know, but that he won’t make an official announcement until tomorrow morning because he has yet to advise the affected player.

But he also said something very interesting in the same breath. Alderson said that “player development is secondary” at this point in the Mets season as they play for the postseason. He also emphasized that the goal is the “best 25 players.”

To me that suggests that rookie Michael Conforto will remain with the team and that Eric Campbell will be demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas before tomorrow’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

I could be wrong, but that’s what it sounded like to me. Let’s hope I’m right.

August 8

I know of no other sport in which fans can form bonds with players on the same scale as we do in baseball. I’m not just talking about any old bonds, I’m talking about the emotional kind of bonds one forms with close friends and family.

I’ve formed just such a bond with 22-year old outfielder Michael Conforto, and after much consideration I’ve concluded that he should be allowed to remain with the team after Michael Cuddyer is activated on Monday.

A few days ago, I was against keeping Conforto on the team because I thought the limited playing time would stunt his development. However, my feelings on the matter have done a complete 180 after watching his performance over his last three games.

This young man has shown a maturity that belies his years and has the inherent qualities of mind and character that elucidate his belonging on a major league team.

In just nine games played, Conforto was a key factor in three of them, producing significantly in high-leverage situations. In doing so, he has woven himself into the very fabric of whatever magic the Mets are spinning these days.

There will still be growing pains , I know. But it feels like Conforto belongs here now. Everything changed when the Mets made the decision to promote him from Double-A Binghamton to the majors.

Call it karma, coincidence or fate, but there is no denying that his youthful energy added some much needed enthusiasm and life to the clubhouse, and that the team’s fortunes were transformed for the better ever since.

How can we send him back to the minors now? After all we’ve seen, and after all he’s done?

Whatever the 2015 Mets end up being and however far they end up going, Michael Conforto is already an integral part of the story, and writing him off now doesn’t sit well with me.

We don’t owe anything to Eric Campbell, but we do have a lot invested in our top pick of the 2014 draft. And as one of my readers convinced me of a few days ago, the experience he is gaining during the team’s pennant chase is incredibly invaluable.

That said, reporters seem to think Terry Collins is leaning toward demoting Conforto and keeping Campbell once Cuddyer is activated. I hope not.

After last night’s thrilling 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Conforto, whose RBI double in the ninth tied the game up, showed his cerebral side.

“I really wanted to come up there and make an influence on the game,” the Mets rookie said. “I ended up expanding the zone a little bit there to get that base hit. With two strikes, I really wanted to give us a chance. I didn’t want to let a ball get past me and strike out looking.”

“It’s a great feeling,” he concluded wearing a big smile from ear to ear.

There’s so much to like about this kid besides such a sweet swing and a very good approach. I want to see more of him, not less .


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Pure DeGromination Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:12:56 +0000 Jacob , deGrom

You’re looking at the official 2015 All Star Game portrait of Jacob deGrom which he just posted to Instagram.


Jacob deGrom has been brilliant for the Mets this season, posting a 9-6 record with a 2.14 ERA that ranks fourth best in the National League. In his last seven starts, dating back to June 1, he has a 1.42 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 50.2 innings.


Today’s back page on Newsday. I love this. Asked about how he felt about his first All Star Game, deGrom said it validated his hard work trying to prove last year’s numbers were legit.

“I wanted to prove that it wasn’t luck,” deGrom said, speaking with reporters. “Everybody says your second year’s your toughest year.”

We want to wish Jacob the best of luck tonight, and hopefully he gets that chance to pitch against Mike Trout as he hopes… And then strikes him out. :-)

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Niese Tosses Seventh Consecutive Quality Start Mon, 13 Jul 2015 13:35:08 +0000 jon niese

Pitching in place of injured Steven Matz on Sunday, fellow southpaw Jon Niese responded with his seventh straight quality start as the Mets completed a sweep of the Diamondbacks with a 5-3 win.

Niese tossed 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on five hits including a home run by Paul Goldschmidt. He walked none and struck out three en route to his second straight win. He told reporters it was all about throwing strikes aggressively.

“I had a four-game slump there where I just wasn’t able to execute anything and I was able to get through it,” Niese said. “We got a lot of confidence in our stuff. We just go out there and attack hitters.

“That’s the biggest key. We’re not trying to work around guys. We’re attacking them and we’re having a lot of success.”

Niese, 28, has been on a great run, allowing just three or fewer earned runs in each of his last seven outings, and posting a 2.64 ERA since June 1.

“It’s all about command with Jon,” said manager Terry Collins. “He’s got four pitches and when he uses them all he’s effective.”

Last week, reporter Andy Martino said that despite Niese’s impressive stretch, he’s done nothing to increase his allure to other teams or increase his value. I’m not buying it.

Mets starters as a whole have all been incredibly effective as they hold to pitching coach Dan Warthen’s mantra of attacking the strike zone.

The rotation has produced a 1.56 ERA (19 earned runs/109.2 innings) in their last 16 games dating to June 25.

Oh crap, just realized I threw Warthen a compliment, that should be good for a couple of dozen angry people freaking out.

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Matz Brilliant Again Versus Dodgers Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:33:45 +0000 steven matz

Following his historic MLB debut, Steven Matz dominated again during his second start. He tossed six shutout innings against the first place Dodgers while allowing only two hits and striking out eight.

“This guy has got outstanding stuff. You saw it today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got three ‘plus’ pitches. He throws strikes. He doesn’t beat himself. He’s a great athlete. He fields his position. He handles the bat. He’s going to be really good.” (Adam Rubin, ESPN NY)

“After his last start, he was a little stiffer than we liked,” Collins said. “

“Pitching coach Dan Warthen had him throw between starts and he had a little stiffness still. So we said the other day we’re going to have to back him down tonight. So we said about 100 pitches, and that’s where he got us to. … He’s fine, as you saw. That’s what that first start does to you — all of that adrenaline and trying to overthrow a little bit.”

Matz has been even better than advertised since getting the call to the majors.  His ERA stands at an outstanding 1.32, and he now joins Dick Selma (1965), Gary Gentry (’69), Roger McDowell (’85) and Mike Pelfrey (2006) as the only pitchers in Mets’ history to win two games in their first two appearances.

His 5 RBI is also tied for the most by a player in his first two games as a Met. Matz drove in a run yesterday with a RBI ground out in the 4th inning.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great. It’s been a good learning experience so far. I’m going to keep on learning and try to get better.”

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Bombs Away: Dillon Gee Roughed Up PCL-Style Fri, 26 Jun 2015 05:38:10 +0000 dillon gee

What an inauspicious return to the mound for Dillon Gee, who made his first start for Triple-A Las Vegas tonight.

Gee, who came so close to being a former Met this past week, tossed five innings and gave up six runs, all earned, on seven hits including two doubles and two homers.

The veteran right-hander walked one and struck out six in his 86 pitch effort. And despite the pedestrian performance, Gee shockingly came away with the win.

The Las Vegas 51s lambasted Salt Lake City by a score of 20-8 in a 24-hit barrage. You gotta love PCL baseball.


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Morning Grind: Logan Verrett Impresses In Mets Debut Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:04:55 +0000 Logan Verrett

After a head scratching move earlier this week that saw the Mets’ brass promote Akeel Morris from Single-A St. Lucie straight to the big leagues, the team righted the ship by demoting Morris to Double-A Binghamton after he surrendered five runs in two-third’s of an inning in Wednesday night’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It’s what you dream of,” Morris said.  ”To get up there and pitch in the big leagues. It didn’t go the way that I drew it up. It happens. You shake it off and get back at it next time.”

To replace Morris, who made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t ready, the Mets subsequently called up Logan Verrett from Triple-A Las Vegas, who has definitely racked up some frequent flyer miles to start off his rookie campaign.

The Mets left him off the 40-man roster at the conclusion of last season, exposing him to the Rule 5 draft, where he was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles.

Verrett was then claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers, whom he made his major league debut for, before being returned to the Mets last month.

For the 51′s this season, Verrett was 2-0 with 3.00 ERA in 11 games (4 as a starter). In his minor league career, Verrett is 30-13 with a 3.83 ERA in 80 games (73 as a starter).

“I know he throws strikes, and that’s been the key,” Terry Collins said

“This guy knows how to pitch. He knows how to use his stuff. He’s got an outstanding breaking ball. We’re hoping that he gives us a right-hander down there who will throw the ball over the plate.”

“If somebody needs a day off or we’re getting deep in a game and we need someone who can give us multiple innings, he’s the perfect guy.”

Used primarily as a starter in the minors, Verrett surely impressed in his Mets debut out of the bullpen Thursday night, and was certainly the silver lining to an otherwise horrendous game that saw the Mets muster up a dismal one run on three hits, and saw Bartolo Colon get shelled after Wilmer Flores failed to catch what looked like a routine line drive.

Entering the game in the bottom of the seventh, Verrett pitched two scoreless innings, recording four strikeouts.

In what has become a very taxed and heavily depleted bullpen, Verrett will look to solidify himself as a reliable reliever in the wake of all the injuries the Mets have had this season.

What we saw Thursday was impressive, and hopefully Verrett can seize this opportunity in the big leagues this time around after having a bit of a rough time in Texas to start the season.

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Colon Dedicates Victory To All Mothers, First To Win 6 Games Mon, 11 May 2015 11:19:15 +0000 bartolo colon

Yesterday’s start against the Phillies on Mother’s Day wasn’t an ordinary one for Bartolo Colon.

Colon, who lost his mother to breast cancer last year, says he dedicated his win to all mothers. (Michael Radano,

“It’s really special because it is Mother’s Day,” Colon said through an interpreter. “I just want to dedicate this to all the mothers that are not here and are in a better place. Just happy that it happened today.”

Colon wasn’t quite at his best on Sunday, but he still continued to pound the zone with strikes.

“I’m throwing strikes and attacking the zone,” Colon said. “They were swinging early in the count so they were helping a lot.

“When I was younger, I would see the [radar] gun, and every time it was about throwing hard. When I saw the 100 [mph], I was overthrowing. Now, I’m a more complete pitcher and it’s not about the velocity. It’s about execution.”

“When you play behind him you know he’s not walking anybody,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “So you better be ready because they are going to put the ball in play. That’s big when you are playing defense because you know you are going to be involved and they are ready to help. He’s a pro.”

Colon has been outstanding this year as he owns a sparkling 6-1 record with a solid 3.30 ERA.

He has also achieved several impressive accomplishments during his tenure as a Met.

  • Colon is the first pitcher to win 6 games in the MLB this season.
  • Colon’s 40-to-1 Strikeout to Walk Rate is the best through seven starts to begin a season since 1900.
  • Colon has the second longest streak in Mets history without allowing a walk at 40.2 innings.
  • Colon is tied with the 5th most wins in the National League since 2014 with 21.
  • Colon reached the 200 win milestone in August 2014.


Despite concerns over his age and injury history, Colon has been worth every penny of his two year, $20 Million dollar contract.

According to FanGraphs, Colon has been worth $28 million over the course of his contract prior to yesterday’s game.

Not only has he been a key contributor on the mound, but he provides the team with outstanding veteran leadership. Colon has been a great mentor to several of the team’s younger pitchers such as Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia.

The Mets took a gamble on giving Colon a guaranteed second year, but it is a risk that has paid off significantly.

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Harvey Aims To Pitch Even Better Tonight Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:49:24 +0000 matt harvey

After a an incredibly dominating start in his season debut against the Washington Nationals, a start that had Gary Cohen saying, “It’s like he never left,” Matt Harvey is looking for more tonight when he takes on the Philadelphia Phillies.

“For me, 90 pitches through six innings is not good enough,” Harvey told reporters on Monday morning. “If I’m throwing 90 pitches, I’d like to get at least into the seventh.”

Harvey was in command all day against the Nationals, throwing first pitch strikes to 20 of the first 22 Nationals batters he faced. When all was said and done, he went six dominating and scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, tossing 91 pitches, 63 of them strikes. The most memorable part of his outing was watching him strike out Bryce Harper three times on high hard ones.

Still, as good as he was, Harvey sees room for improvement and is looking for an even better performance tonight with a focus on being more efficient with his pitches.

“Early attacking, a little bit more, a little bit better, a little more fine and try to get us later in the ballgame.”

Harvey will be performing at home this time, in front of crowd that will be cheering him on from the first pitch to the last as Harvey Day makes its return to Citi Field.

“Your home crowd is always behind you. For me they’ve been great, always been extremely supportive and very uplifting.”

Strap yourselves in and enjoy the spectacle.

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And Here Comes Sean Gilmartin Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:43:10 +0000 sean gilmartin

I know, I know, only two weeks ago I said, “No way this guy makes the 25, he looks like roadkill out there.” But what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a lefty reliever who throws with no fear.

So out of this pack of underwhelming relievers, Sandy’s words not mine, here comes Sean Gilmartin who has squarely placed himself in front of the pack after a few very solid appearances.

After facing the Yankees on Sunday and tossing 1 2/3 hitless innings, Gilmartin did it again on Wednesday, facing and retiring four batters including three lefthanded hitters; Gilmartin struck out Stephen Drew and Brett Gardner, and got Didi Gregorius to pop out.

“For me that’s back to back very good outings for Sean Gilmartin. He’s throwing his breaking balls for strikes. He’s got the lefties, he can pitch them in. He’s used his changeup. He’s pitched very well. Right now, again, it’s still wide open.”

Gilmartin has picked up the pace and has drastically improved his chances of earning a bullpen spot. These next 11 days however, will tell the real story.

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Michael Conforto Seizes the Moment, Shines in Spring Debut Sun, 08 Mar 2015 09:48:26 +0000 minsder8s-1-web

In Saturday’s split squad game against Atlanta, the Mets beat the Braves by a score of 3-1 at Tradition Field. Jacob deGrom started and was sharp for two innings, but make no mistake that  2015 first rounder Michael Conforto, was the big story of the day.

Conforto went 3-for-4 at the plate  and drove in all three Mets runs in the game. But most impressive of all was how relaxed and confident he looked at the plate.

After singling to center in his first at-bat, Conforto quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole his second time up against the tough lefthander Manny Banuelos. This is where we’ll see what kind of a hitter he really is, I thought, and boy did he make an impression. Conforto worked the count to 3-2 and then his quick hands turned on a fastball which he ripped to center field for a two-run double. It was a major league at-bat to be sure, and it came against a lefty pitcher. Outstanding.

In his third at-bat in the bottom of the 5th, Conforto was up against the veteran reliever Matt Capps, who quickly got two strikes on the former Oregon State star with back to back changeups. Conforto was fooled and swung through both of them. However the third time wouldn’t be a charm for Capps as Conforto adjusted and ripped a single to right field.

In his final at-bat of the game, the Braves finally retired Conforto and got the kid to golf a shallow fly to right field to end his big day.

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The Mets gave Conforto the official lineup card as a souvenir to remember the day and the experience. It was a nice gesture.

“I kind of surprised myself a little bit. I felt very comfortable,” Conforto told reporters after the game. “I had a lot of fun today, it was a good experience.”

“I felt very comfortable. My goal was to just come over here and have fun and embrace the moment. The opportunity to be out here with these guys was pretty cool. I had a lot of fun today.”

Manager Terry Collins was impressed with his very first look at the young outfielder.

“He’s got a short swing, he’s got a quick bat through the strike zone. It’s the first time I’ve seen him. But, for sure, he’s got one of those really nice swings,” Collins said.

“You saw during each at bat, they would throw him something off speed and he would make an adjustment once he saw it. Good hitters can do that”

“It’s good for him to get over here. There’s a chance we’ll try to get him back over here when we need some outfielders. We’ve got some nice players coming. We want to give them some looks, so we know what’s coming up the pike.”

It was a great day for the organization on Saturday, as they caught a glimpse of what could be he next big thing for the Mets.

Bottom line… Conforto looked like he belongs and someday soon he’s going to be a star in this game. I project him to be MLB ready by June of 2016.

(Photo: Howard Simmons)

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Kevin Long Discusses Hitting Approach and Philosophy Sun, 18 Jan 2015 14:00:49 +0000 Kevin long cage

This off-season, the Mets hired former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long to help alleviate some of the Mets woes on offense. In an article by John Harper of the NY Daily News, Long shared his thoughts about the Mets approach and he believes there are misconceptions about it.

“I think they’ve had to try to change the culture here,’’ says Long. “It’s funny, because, isn’t walking a byproduct of swinging at good pitches? It’s about swinging at good pitches. It’s about making smart decisions.”

“I believe the most important thing you can have as an offensive unit is guys that walk and guys that drive the baseball for power. But to drive the baseball, they have to swing at strikes.”

“I’d say that 95% of big league hitters can do damage with a pitch that gets some part of the heart of the plate. So if we can hone in on that, our walks will go up and we’ll drive the baseball.”

“I do think you can be too patient, if you’re taking fastballs in the heart of the plate just to work the count. But with some guys you do need to make them take just so they learn. We want to be aggressive in the strike zone but take the walk if it’s available because we want traffic on the bases. It goes hand in hand.”

Long also talked about his own philosophy and style as a coach:

“I feel very comfortable with what I see and taking that to the player and saying, ‘here’s what I’m seeing, here’s the adjustment I think needs to be made, here’s the drill I think can fix that, and let’s go to work.’

“Part of it is listening to their feedback too and creating a trust with the player. My philosophy is that I work within a guy’s individual scheme. I don’t have a cookie-cutter approach. Remember Walt Hriniak (a Charley Lau disciple who worked with the Red Sox and White Sox in the 80s), where everybody did it one way? That’s not my style.

“My style is more to work within what an Ichiro does, or a Jeter did, or a Cano. Or take a Swisher and kind of put him back together again. I’ve been given a lot of credit for being able to do that. And I feel comfortable doing that, where some hitting coaches, they can’t do it. It’s not their forte.”

Long has already worked with some of Mets hitters and provided an early analysis of several players. Here is what he had to say:

David Wright:

“I wasn’t here, I didn’t live that shoulder injury with him, but if you have a shoulder injury and you start to extend your swing, especially on a pitch away that you want to drive to the opposite field…if you feel pain doing that, you cut your swing off to compensate, and you can’t get through the ball and drive it. What I’m seeing now is a guy who’s healthy, he feels good, and I’m sure he’s on a little bit of a mission.”

Lucas Duda:

“He’s a beast. This guy’s special. You know when Lucas Duda’s hitting because it’s a different sound. There are some things he needs to work on, and lefthanded pitching is one of those. But we’ll gain on it. Remember, the knock on Curtis (Granderson) was he couldn’t hit lefties. And what happened? He ended up killing lefties (as a Yankee). It’s basically about angles. We’ve started on some drills to help Lucas with that and, I’ll tell you what, he looks great.”

Curtis Granderson

“I’m excited about working with him. We’ll just try to get back to what he was doing some of those years (with the Yankees) when he was hitting 40 home runs. You look at where his swing was. You look at where it is now. I felt like we had a very good blueprint. Get compact, ‘A’ swings that will play in any ballpark.”

Wilmer Flores

“He has a good understanding, a good feel for what he’s doing. He uses his hands real well. A lot has been made of using his lower half a little more. He’s a no-stride guy so he should be able to make good decisions. He’s looking to go middle-away but I feel like he reacts to the ball inside very well. There’s room for improvement and we’ll address things as we go along.”

Travis d’Arnaud

“When he came back from Triple-A he looked like he had some fire in him, and he wasn’t thinking so much. He’s got to get his body in a good position to be explosive. He’s got power but when his hands are moving all around or he’s jumping at the ball, those things aren’t going to come out. He’s quieted down quite a bit and he’s moving in the right direction.”

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