The Kings of Queens

A place for all things New York Mets related.
28 Feb

Why Matt Harvey can still be the Matt Harvey of old

Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports

Before Matt Harvey was sidelined with a partial UCL tear in his right elbow, he was performing at an elite, Cy Young-caliber, level in 2013. He was 9-5 with a 2.27 E.R.A and 191 strikeouts over 178.1 innings pitched to that point in August. Harvey finished fourth in votes for the 2013 N.L Cy Young Award.

Fast-forward eighteen months and one Tommy John surgery later, Matt Harvey begins Mets spring training in preparation for his return to the majors this April.

Can Matt Harvey pick up where he left off as one of the brightest young arms in baseball?

The simple answer is yes; there is reason to believe Harvey will be that good again. However, the numbers also imply that it could take some time.

According to an American Journal of Sports Medicine study that looked at 147 cases of Tommy John surgery from 1999 to 2011, a small increase in TJS recipients' success rate was found.

"Among the players [147], 29 (20%) failed to return to MLB competition, 19 (13%) returned only to active status (failing to appear in >= 10 games in a single season), and the remaining 99 (67%) returned to established play after surgery."

From what we know Harvey will be in that 67% majority, but what should we expect from him in terms of production?

Hardball Times writer Jeff Zimmerman found that Tommy John surgery does not help a pitcher increase velocity, but it does help limit the effects on aging.

According to Zimmerman's study, the "percentage difference between their pre-surgery projected performance and their actual performance" was the highest for the pitcher in their first season back. The first season averages an increase of 5.8% in E.R.A, 7.2% in HR/9, 5% in walks, and a 4.4% decrease in strikeouts.

After the first year, the statistics begin to stabilize quickly in every category except strikeouts due to the average decline in velocity.

The second season back averages a 0.6% increase in E.R.A, a 2% decrease in HR/9, a 0.7% increase in walks, and a 1.6% decrease in strikeouts. The third season averages a 0.2% increase in E.R.A, a 2.1% increase in HR/9, a 0.7% increase in walks, and a 0.9% decrease in strikeouts.

This data suggests that the pitcher returning will most likely see the biggest production difference in their first year back, but also that the pitcher will progress closer to their pre-surgery projected performance over those first two seasons.

We can expect Harvey's least impressive performance in 2015, but it should not be worth any major concern, especially because he's already begun throwing and has received positive feedback from his team this spring.

The New York Times reported that Harvey faced 'live' hitters for the first time in his rehab from Tommy John surgery this past Friday. Harvey threw a total of 40 pitches while the batters were not permitted to swing at his collection of fastballs, sliders, and change-ups. Mets manager Terry Collins presumed that Harvey’s last pitch traveled about 94 to 95 miles per hour, which is regular-season speed for him.

Mets captain David Wright told Harvey after the session that his release was similar to what he saw back in August of 2013.

“He felt like it was very similar, if not better, than before,” Harvey told the Times.

“The biggest thing was that it looked like the ball was coming out free and easy," said Wright.

"I was in compete mode," said Harvey. "I wasn't holding back."

The road for Matt Harvey continues here. His attitude and competitiveness to this point shows us that he is determined to be great once again and that nothing will stand in his way of getting there. 

22 Sep

Mets sweep, eliminate Braves from playoffs

DeGrom earned his ninth win of the season Sunday in Atlanta, solidifying himself as a top candidate for N.L Rookie of the Year. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Oh, how sweet is it to watch the Braves miss the playoffs? It's amazin'!

Remember when the Mets could never win a game at Turner Field? Well, they just finished off a three-game sweep of the Braves in Atlanta for the first time since 2007, and simultaneously eliminated them from the playoffs. The Mets also won the season series against Atlanta by a 10-9 margin, capturing that feat for the first time since 2006. 

Hooray! It's beginning to look like the old days. Sort of. 

Tossing another stellar performance on Sunday (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K), in possibly his last start of the year, rookie RHP Jacob deGrom will likely be the leading candidate for N.L Rookie of the Year after going 9-6 with a 2.63 ERA. DeGrom came out firing again, striking out the first four Braves he faced. The outing was his fourth career double-digit strikeout performance. 

In a season that's slowly winding down, the Mets can feel relatively satisfied with where they currently sit: A 1/2 game behind Atlanta for second place in the N.L East at 76- 80. Plus with six games left on the season, New York can still finish at .500 with five more wins. 

Maybe things are slowly turning around for this ball club. They've already improved on the 74-win seasons the past two years. Now, they've got to end on a strong note and carry that momentum into the spring. I believe Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson can see the difference in this team and last year's team. If they can point out the weaknesses, replace them, and put forth a solid group of nine starters on the field in 2015, I have faith they can get things done with this durable, deep pitching rotation functioning as the back bone of the team. 

And right now Jacob deGrom is becoming one of those much-needed ingredients for future success. 

10 Sep

DeGrom dazzles again for Amazin's

DeGrom (8-6, 2.62) showed once again that he is able to pitch with conviction, intelligence, and lights-out stuff- as a rookie.

This story will never get old for you, Mets fans.

Rookie righted-handed pitcher Jacob deGrom earned his eighth win of the season Tuesday night after holding the Rockies to eight scoreless innings, three hits and nine strikeouts in the Mets' 2-0 win. DeGrom lowered his ERA to 2.62 after the win and extended his streak of consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to 22, tied for most with any pitcher in their first 20 big league starts.

DeGrom would also be listed at #5 in National League ERA if he had enough innings to qualify. Regardless, he will continue to be brought up in N.L Rookie of the Year conversations because of his stellar consistency on the mound this season. 

With the rookie's gem lifting the Mets (70-75), New York currently sits just 5.5 games outside of the wildcard, behind Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Miami, for one of the top two spots.

The bad news, of course, is that David Wright will be shut down for the remainder of the season with a troublesome left shoulder. Wright was playing with discomfort in the shoulder since June 12 when he jammed his shoulder on a head-first slid into second base on a steal. Wright ends this season with a career-low eight home runs, 63 RBIS in 535 at-bats and the longest draught of his career in home runs: 189 at-bats. 

If the Mets are planning to make a late run into the wildcard, or more realistically, get to .500 on the year and stay that way, they will now have to do it without their captain.

25 Aug

Duda justifies himself as clear answer to first base

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The Mets' productive hitting display on Sunday afternoon in L.A was a rare sight. The triple-play they recorded was even rarer. However, the one aspect of the game that was not rare by any means was the power-hitting ability of Lucas Duda after he launched two long-balls into the stratosphere located above Southern California. 

It's actually becoming a normality this season. 

Duda is currently in the middle of his best Major League season right now, putting up career highs in home runs (26) and RBIs (76) with nearly a month left to play. The big man is third in the NL in home runs and sixth in RBIs and has five home runs and 12 RBIs in his last ten games. 

So is there now even a question whether the Mets chose right in Duda over Ike Davis? 

No, there isn't. 

There is not much comparison between the two first basemen after Duda broke out of his shell and Davis remained the clueless sub-par hitter who showed signs of real power, but was never able to keep the bat on the ball consistently.

Ike Davis has hit seven home runs and driven in 34 RBIs since moving to Pittsburgh earlier in the season. Davis is batting .239 while Duda is batting .260. 

Now that Duda has undoubtedly locked himself up at first base for next year and presumably the years following if he continues to hit with the same conviction and strength, the Mets can safely say they have fixed another vital piece to the puzzle. 

The Mets have found themselves one piece every team wants and needs but struggles for some time to find. That is a big, power-hitting first basemen like Lucas Duda. 

While New York (61-70) and Sandy Alderson look for any life remaining in 2014, they will continue to look ahead to the future by determining if they have found the answers in left field, shortstop, and catcher, or if the answers are not yet in New York.

18 Aug

Montero improves, Mets bats do not

If there was any positive from the Mets' 2-1 loss to the Cubs Sunday afternoon, it was Rafael Montero's effort in just his sixth career start, where he tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, struck out six and pitched into the eighth inning for the first time as a big leaguer. 

Montero will likely be sent back to Triple-A Las Vegas next weekend when Jacob deGrom returns from the DL, but nonetheless, the rookie's impressive start surely had to boost his confidence as well as the manager's. 

However, one thing that continues to plague the Mets (59-66) is their extreme lack of hitting over the past two series at Citi Field. 

New York's lineup has not totaled more than four hits in any of their past four games. 

Over the past six games, the Mets have scored 15 total runs, averaging 2.5 runs per game and only exceeding 3 runs once (on Saturday's 7-3 win over Chicago, where the Mets also only had four hits). 

The lack of offensive production is proving costly for Terry Collins' team who just last week found themselves 7.5 games out of first and 6 games out of a Wild Card spot. 

Following a sweep from Washington where New York was outscored 14-4, and two wins in three games over the Cubs, the Mets now sit 11.5 games behind the first-place Nationals in the N.L East.

Fortunately, things aren't as ugly for the Mets in the Wild Card race. 

New York is 7 games back of the top two slots, with Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Miami and Cincinnati all in catching distance ahead. 

For the Mets to make any kind of push from the middle of the N.L pack towards the top, they must find offensive production wherever they can get it. New York's starting pitching has not been the problem, but their porous hitting performances over the last week have really come to hurt them in the race. 

The Mets will look to finish off the Cubs (53-70) Monday afternoon at Citi Field when Carlos Torres (5-5, 3.68) starts in replacement of Bartolo Colon, who was scratched Monday to join his "extremely ill" mother in the Dominican Republic. 

Torres will oppose Cubs' RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-1, 1.73). 

David Wright, who left Saturday's game with shoulder issues after being hit by a pitch and missed Sunday's game, will return to the lineup Monday in the series-finale with Chicago. 

13 Aug

Nats are real Kings of Queens

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Citi Field was a quiet place last night. 

As I took in the delights of trolling Bryce Harper and ferociously rooted on my Mets against a much-despised first place counterpart in the Nationals, I quickly understood why my sign saying Bryce Harper doesn't respect women would prove to be useless in actually effecting the game's outcome.

Bryce Harper homered in his first at-bat of the evening, putting the Nats up 2-0 early. (I slightly lowered my sign after this. It was the Hunter Pence soap opera all over again.)

Then something hit me. 

Boy, these guys dressed in gray and red in the opposing dugout really know how to play. Of course I knew they were a good team, maybe even a better-than-good team. However, thinking they were a great team would require me to witness their expertise in person, and that is exactly what I did. 

I witnessed them toss my beloved Mets up and down the field. This happened in our ballpark nonetheless, for what seemed like the millionth time.

It was a disgrace. And at the same time, I admired what the other team was accomplishing. 

The Nats ended the night with four home runs, one each from Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and of course, a rookie making his MLB debut, Michael A. Taylor. 

As for the Mets hitting, there was almost none of it. The Mets scattered nine hits, eight of which were singles and one being a double. 

Whether it's a lack of hitting or a surplus in Doug Fister's pitching ability when he faces the Mets, I don't know. Fister improved to 12-3 on the year after the win, holding the Mets scoreless through seven on seven hits with three strikeouts. 

The night seemed unforgettable from a Mets point of view. The team looked like trash, and it was very hard to watch at times. As for the other side, it was apparent that team was going places. 

Now I know no one expected Rafael Montero to be perfect, but he could've been anything but worse. Once again, Montero did not look ready for the show and the Nats took clear advantage of that. 

I saw some statistics today (Thank you, Adam Rubin) that made me cringe when looking at the difference between these two ball clubs and I thought I should share them with you:

Since September 11th, 2011, the Nationals are 23-4 at Citi Field. 23-4! The Nats have also won nine consecutive games at Citi Field and they have scored at least seven runs in three of their four games at Citi Field this year while the Mets have scored seven runs just eight times in 56 home games. 

I mean, talk about quality showing up crap. I couldn't even believe these numbers. I thought the Mets were somehow gaining in on their D.C foes. The Mets aren't horrible, they're just not good, which typically means they're just average. Plain and simple.

After looking at the numbers and last night's horror show at Citi Field first-hand, it's really not hard to see anymore. 

The Washington Nationals are not just better than the Mets, they are a lot better. 

I'm hoping this is not the case for long, but you never know with this game. You never know.

12 Aug

Mets prepare for great challenge against top-dog Nationals


The New York Metropolitans (57-62) enjoyed their weekend in Philadelphia as they took three-of-four from the last place Phillies and set up what surely will be their biggest test of the season so far against their first-place foes from our Nation's Capitol. 

The Mets host the first place Washington Nationals (63-53) for three games at Citi Field starting Tuesday night.

Washington took two of three against New York in D.C last week and will look to improve on their fantastic 7-2 record against the Amazin's in 2014. 

For New York to remain hopeful of contending down the stretch they must finally win a series against the Nationals this week. In series against the Nationals, the Mets are 0-3 this season.

Series Probables:

Tuesday: Montero (0-2, 5.40) vs. Fister (11-3, 2.49), 7:10 p.m

Wednesday:  Colon (11-9, 3.97) vs. Zimmermann (7-5, 3.06), 7:10 p.m 

Thursday: Gee (4-4, 3.54) vs. Strasburg (8-10, 3.68), 7:10 p.m

DeGrom placed on 15-Day DL

July's N.L Rookie of the Month, Jacob deGrom, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with rotator cuff tendinitis. The Mets reported he may only miss two starts. Let's hope they're right. Rafael Montero was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he's gone 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 15 starts this season.

The last time Montero was called up in May, we all saw how unprepared he was for the big leagues. Now he's got to bring his A-game stuff against a potent Nationals lineup in a nearly must-win for the Mets. 

Following this series, the Mets face the Nats in seven more games (4-home/ 3-away) for the rest of the season. 

4 Aug

Bullpen falters twice, Mets fall to Giants 4-3

AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

While the dynamic duo of Jenrry Mejia and Juerys Familia has been excellent of late for the Mets, today's 4-3 loss to the Giants did not follow the same trend. 

Familia surrendered the Mets' 3-2 lead in the seventh when he allowed a lead-off triple to Hunter Pence and followed it up with a walk to Gregor Blanco and a wild pitch, granting Pence with the tying run.

Mejia's afternoon was just as bad. The solidified closer entered the ninth with the game tied at 3. After recording two quick outs, Mejia surrendered a single and stolen base to Blanco, a walk to Buster Posey, and a blooping RBI-double from Pablo Sandoval that landed in the stands and gave the Giants a late 4-3 lead. 

The Mets would have no answer against Giants reliever Santiago Casilla in the bottom half of the ninth, going down 1-2-3 and falling to 53-39 on the season.

Dillion Gee looked a lot shaper in the no-decision, allowing two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. Gee's ERA entering today was 8.10 in three starts since the All-Star break. 

As for the Mets hitting, the team went 1-for-6 with RISP and left eight runners on base.

Mets pitchers surrendered the lead twice and never went ahead in the game after that. 

San Francisco took 3 out of 4 from the Mets, who now travel to D.C to face off against the division-leading Nationals for a three game series. 

Zack Wheeler (6-8, 3.60), who is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his last six starts, will oppose Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.88) on the mound Tuesday evening in our nation's capitol. 

3 Aug

deGrom solidifies himself as special talent, pitches Mets to 4-2 win

Rich Schultz

Once again the story of the night was Jacob deGrom. 

DeGrom (6-5, 2.77) earned his fifth straight win after allowing just two runs on four hits over 7.1 innings in last night's 4-2 victory over San Francisco. 

DeGrom is 5-0 in his last five starts with only four total runs allowed. In his last eight starts since June 21, he has an ERA of just 1.58.

With "Rookie of the Year" talk every where he turns, it is now expected of deGrom to show his elite craft every time he steps onto the mound. DeGrom has quickly emerged as one of the top starting pitchers on the Mets staff in just his rookie season and continues to impress after every start.

Last night was another perfect example.

Both the Mets (53-57) and the San Francisco Giants (59-51) batters failed to get on base before the seventh inning of last night's game. An all-out pitcher's duel between Jacob deGrom and Jake Peavy was taking place. One, for the win of course, but two, for lasting the longest without allowing a hit. 

With two outs in the seventh inning, Pablo Sandoval broke up deGrom's no-hit bid when he extended his arms on a low, well-located curveball and found himself on second base as the first base runner in the game. 

The no-hit bid was gone for deGrom, but just minutes later Jake Peavy's no-hitter would be gone too, and it would prove to be much more costly for him and the Giants. 

In the bottom of the seventh inning with one out, Daniel Murphy lined an opposite-field double over the head of Michael Morse onto the warning track for the Mets' first base runner of the night. David Wright followed with a bloop single to left, which Michael Morse played on a hop, keeping Murphy held up on third base. 

Lucas Duda was then hit by a pitch and loaded the bases for Travis d'Arnaud, who drove in Murphy on a sacrifice fly to right field. With two outs and David Wright in scoring position on third, Juan Lagares smacked Peavy's first pitch past the shortstop, driving in Wright and putting the Mets up 2-0. 

Next up, Wilmer Flores, who doubled on the second pitch he saw from Peavy, knocking in both Duda and Lagares and extending the Mets' lead to 4-0. 

DeGrom would surrender two runs on three runs in the top half of the eighth, but Juerys Familia came in for relief and silenced the Giants for the remainder of the inning. 

Jenrry Mejia made an appearance in the ninth, allowing a couple of hits and outs, but eventually shutting the door on a ground out to second base and capturing the Mets 4-2 victory and the fifth straight W for Jacob deGrom. 

Next Game:

Bartolo Colon (10-8, 3.88) verus left-hander Madison Bumgarner (12-8, 3.41) at 1:10 p.m. Sunday.

28 Jul

Mets split series with Brewers, end road trip 5-5

Associated Press

Since the All-Star break, the Mets as a team are hitting .186. That's right. Mets hitters went 60-for-322 over their last ten games, averaging 2.2 runs per game. (Only better than the Reds in the National League who are 1-9 over the same span)

The Mets, however, still ended their 10-game road trip at 5-5. 

With the help of quality starts by Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, and a reliable bullpen that shut the door more than once, the Mets came away with an even record on the road. 

Undoubtedly the most significant player on the Mets this second half and the entire last month is rookie RHP Jacob deGrom (5-5, 2.79). 

Every time deGrom takes the mound he delivers and almost seems to improve. 

The month of July was deGrom's coming out party in the majors. He went 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA and allowed only five earned runs over 32.1 innings pitched. He's second to none for N.L Rookie of the Month in July and should easily win the award. 

As for the Mets lone significant bat, it's been Lucas Duda. 

Duda tallied a hit in nine of the 10 games this past road trip, including four home runs and seven RBIs. His pair of late-inning two-run home runs in Milwaukee propelled the Mets to victory both times. Duda has found his stride of late, and that is a great sign for the Mets moving forward. 

The last ingredient for the Mets this road trip was their bullpen's efficiency. 

Jenrry Mejia's been perfect in his last seven save opportunities, while Juerys Familia has not allowed a run in eight straight innings of relief. The Mets bullpen, carried by the emerging Mejia-Familia duo, have become more consistent, more productive, and most importantly, more reliable.

The Mets are at the same spot they were to begin the second half. They are five games under .500 at 50-55 and sit 8.5 back in the N.L East and 7 games back in the Wild Card. 

New York's pitching has generally been strong and is the reason they went 5-5. However, the lack of hitting has come to hurt the Mets more than once and that needs to change if they expect to gain ground on Atlanta, Washington, and now Miami. 

New York faces Philadelphia (46-59) for three games starting Monday night at Citi Field. Tonight's probable starters are RHP Colon (9-8, 4.03) vs. RHP Burnett (6-9, 3.86) at 7:10 pm.