Mets tie franchise record 11th straight win, look for team history in the Bronx

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports


I don't care what kind of optimism you carry as a Met fan, even you could not have predicted this kind of start to 2015.

After sweeping the second place Braves (8-7) and putting themselves up 4.5 games in the National League East, the New York Mets have won eleven straight ball games, ten straight at home, and own baseball's best record at 13-3. 

A Truly Amazin' Start

New York currently owns MLB's second best team ERA at 2.81. What's their secret? The Mets have allowed the second least amount of walks in baseball with 31 over 141.0 innings pitched. They are also tied with a league-leading 12 quality starts over 16 games played. 

Bartolo Colon, who tossed his fourth quality start and win in last night's 6-3 victory over the Braves, is now 4-0 with a 2.77 ERA and only one walk allowed over a team-leading 26 innings of work. Colon's dominance has been key to the Mets' success, but so have starters Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Jon Niese; all of whom are scheduled to start in the Bronx against the first place Yankees (9-7) this weekend. 

DeGrom, set to start in Game 1 of the Subway Series , has been flawless in his three outings this year. He's allowed two earned runs over 19.1 innings pitched, struck out 17 and walked just three. DeGrom threw seven scoreless frames against the Marlins in his last start, cutting his ERA to 0.93 (third lowest in MLB). He will oppose Michael Pineda (2-0, 5.00 ERA) Friday night. 

Matt Harvey has not been as effective, allowing seven earned runs over 18 innings, but has still showed signs of the dominant Harvey we saw two seasons ago. He has gone six innings in each of his three starts (3-0) with 24 strikeouts, one walk, and 1.00 WHIP. Harvey will oppose the struggling C.C Sabathia (0-3, 4.35 ERA) in Saturday's afternoon game. 

Jon Niese has been at the top of his game thus far, allowing three earned runs over 18 innings and pitching his way to a 2-0 record. Niese allowed one earned run in each of his last two starts, going 6.1 innings against Philadelphia and 6.2 innings against Atlanta while finding the W in both outings. Niese will oppose former Marlin Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 3.12 ERA) on Sunday evening. 

The Mets starting pitching has been their difference maker this early on the season. Despite losing Zack Wheeler, the assets of Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, and a stable bullpen have kept New York in close games late. That being said, the offense has done their part in getting on base and scoring when needed most and that can attest to why New York has won eleven straight. 

New York's offense ranks second in National League runs scored with 73, second in on-base percentage at .331, and first with Los Angeles with 63 base on balls. Duda, d'Arnaud, Murphy, Cuddyer, Lagares and Flores all have at least seven runs batted in and account for 44 of 73 total runs scored. 

Regarding the pen, New York holds MLB's seventh best bullpen ERA at 2.79. Juerys Familia has been a staple at the closer position, going 8-for-8 in save opportunities and giving the Mets confidence that they can hold on to leads late, something they did not have last season. 

If the starting pitching can continue its exceptional success on the mound and keep the scoring close, the Mets can take real advantage of the first place position they currently hold and can give the Nats and Braves a run for their money. 

Hopefully, we see Mets history made tonight in front of the Bronx crowd. That would be Amazin'. 

Let's Go Mets!


Streaky Mets look to defend undefeated record at home against Braves

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The streaky New York Mets (10-3) will kickoff a three game series against the Atlanta Braves (8-4) at Citi Field Tuesday night as they look to improve on a current eight game winning streak and an undefeated record (7-0) at Citi Field, their best home start in franchise history.

New York is coming off a four game sweep of the Miami Marlins at home this past weekend and are currently tied for third in baseball with only 41 total runs allowed, a big reason as to why they have been so successful this early. Starting pitching and timely hitting have been the recipe thus far.

While the Mets are tenth in the N.L in home runs with nine, they are third with a .326 on base percentage and fourth with 55 runs batted in. New York is also fourth in the N.L with a team ERA of 3.00. 

Atlanta is responsible for two of the Mets' three losses so far this season, but the Mets will look to continue their winning ways with Jon Niese (1-0, 1.59) , Dillon Gee (0-1, 7.59) , and Bartolo Colon (3-0, 2.25) set to start the next three versus the Braves. Of New York's five starting pitchers, four have ERAs under 3.50 and Mets starting pitchers have already thrown nine quality starts in 13 games. 

As for the Braves, Shelby Miller (2-0, 1.69) has been the most impressive starter to hit the mound this far into the season. Luckily for the Mets, they will miss Miller in the upcoming series. New York will oppose Trevor Cahill (0-1, 15.43) Tuesday night, who is coming off an outing of 2 1/3 innings where he allowed four runs against Miami in his season debut last Tuesday. Eric Stults (0-1, 6.30) and Julio Teheran (2-0, 3.71)  are scheduled to follow Cahill in games two and three. 

The Mets will be without catcher Travis d'Arnaud for three weeks after he suffered a hand fracture in Sunday's win against the Marlins after being hit by a pitch. D'Arnaud will wear a splint for the next three weeks while catching prospect Kevin Plawecki fills in for his replacement. 

Lefty bullpen specialist Jeremy Blevins also suffered a fractured hand on Sunday after being struck by a line drive from Dee Gordon in the seventh inning. Blevins is expected to miss six weeks with a splint on his left forearm. Vic Black looks to finish his rehab assignment but his return was put on a minimal one week hold and he is expected to be re-evaluated after the wait. 

Atlanta comes into Queens off a 2-1 series win in Toronto. Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis went a combined 12-20 in the series against Toronto, scoring a total of nine runs. Freeman has hit four home runs in his last eight games while Markakis is hitting .375 in 11 games played thus far. 




Mets injuries continue to pile up this Spring

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

WHEELS SET TO COME OFF

After finding out that Josh Edgin needed Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire 2015 season, the news got worse for the Mets as they determined Edgin would not be alone.


The Mets announced last week that Zack Wheeler has a torn ligament and that Tommy John surgery was very likely for the youngster. It is now confirmed that Wheeler will need surgery, and it could be as early as Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adam Rubin. 

How long can the Mets expect to miss Wheeler? A 2016 mid-season return is estimated. 

Dillion Gee is the most likely candidate for replacing Wheeler's spot in the starting rotation. Marc Carig of Newsday reports that Gee said "this is not how I wanted to be in the rotation." Gee also told Carig, "I hate this is the way I'm back in it." 

BLACK OUT

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

If things couldn't get any bleaker for the Mets, Terry Collins gave his concerns regarding another bullpen arm as well.


The Mets have shut down Black for at least another day after he said he felt pain in his arm during a throwing session on Tuesday. The hope is that Black can still be ready for Opening Day, but in case he isn't, Sandy Alderson hinted at the possibility of Rafael Montero claiming a spot in the bullpen to begin the season, according to Adam Rubin. 

It would be in the Mets' best interests to trade for a left-handed reliever before Opening Day. The bullpen has taken a massive blow after the Edgin news, and with the strong possibility of Black being out too, the depth of bullpen relief is in serious question. 

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The acquisition of Zach Thornton in last year's deal that sent Ike Davis to Pittsburgh could prove to be some help now that the concerns for Black are increasing.

Thornton has been labeled by Collins as a "ground ball machine" thus far in spring training, tossing five innings and allowing just one earned run. 

MURPH HURT

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Murphy joined the list of injured Mets after leaving yesterday's spring training game against the Cardinals with a right hamstring strain. He was sent back to Port St. Lucie to be examined by team trainers. Kristie Ackert of the Daily News reports that Murphy has not received an MRI and is listed as day to day.









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. 

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.