Well, that was disappointing.
Last night, Matt Harvey pitched like an ace for five innings, but left after 77 pitches under the usage limit compromise the Mets negotiated with Harvey and his agent. Nine pitches later, the Mets’ 1-0 lead was gone. Before it was over, the bullpen managed to surrender a total of 11 runs.
The Mets still have a six game lead over the Washington Nationals with 13 left to play, so it’s not time to panic yet.
But I’m certainly beginning to feel uneasy.
There’s no escaping the Harvey question.
“More than anything, I want to be out there,” Harvey said after Sunday’s game. “I want to be out there more than anything. I know where I want to be, and that’s on a mound, pitching for the Mets.”
And yet Harvey was sitting in the dugout watching someone else pitch for the Mets in the sixth inning last night.
And ok, fine… maybe it’s a good idea to save those pitches for games that mean more. But when Harvey starts against the Dodgers in the NLDS next month, he’s gotta have a chance to pitch seven, eight or maybe even nine innings, right? I certainly hope so… but there’s no guarantee that we won’t see a repeat of Sunday night’s early exit.
But that’s only one source of concern.
- Jacob deGrom pitched like a Cy Young candidate in the first half, but since the All-Star Break he’s looked… ordinary. Every team would take a pitcher who posted a 3.48 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .239 batting average, but the overall trend is worrying. In April, batters hit .278 off of deGrom. In May, he lowered that to a miniscule .195. In June and July, he got even better: .157 and .151. But in August, that opponents’ batting average stat climbed to .228 and in September it soared to .343. It’s no wonder the Mets are skipping his turn in the rotation tomorrow… we can only hope that rest solves deGrom’s problems.
- Noah Syndergaard has been impressive in his rookie season, posting an 8-7 record and 3.39 ERA while limiting hitters to a .233 average. But over his last seven starts, he’s gone 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA. Syndergaard’s home and road splits are even more stark. At home, he’s looked like an All-Star: 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. Away from Citi Field, Syndergaard is 1-5 with a 4.47 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Good luck trying to figure out what to do with those numbers when setting up a post-season pitching plan.
- Steven Matz has a sparkling 4-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in five starts, but his entire major league career consists of 30 innings. I like what I’ve seen so far, but the biggest game Matz has pitched as a pro to date was a Double-A playoff game for the Binghamton Mets.
- Bartolo Colon has played like he’s discovered the Fountain of Youth. No one could have asked for more than he’s given the Mets this season. And yet at age 42, how much can you trust what Colon has left? Is he part of your playoff rotation? Your long reliever in the bullpen? A reserve in case someone on the playoff roster gets hurt? It’s a fascinating question that I’m glad I don’t have to answer.
- Ideally, you’d be auditioning Jon Niese as a potential playoff reliever over the season’s last two weeks. But innings limits and extra rest needed by other starters precludes the Mets from doing this. I could even envision circumstances where Niese is a part of the Mets’ playoff rotation despite having the worst numbers of any starter on the roster.
- And then there’s the offense. Yoenies Cespedes had a ridiculous hot streak that pretty much carried the Mets for most of August and early September, but he’s returned to earth. The Mets managed to score seven runs in 27 innings against the Yankees this weekend. I can tip my cap to Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and even CC Sabathia, but the Yankees’ bullpen is filled with guys who probably still have to pinch themselves to make sure they aren’t dreaming that they’re in the major leagues.The Mets hitters are going to have to figure out how to deal with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke in a couple of weeks. Does that worry anyone else?
I hope that these worries are things that we can laugh about in a few weeks… hiccups and challenges on the road to a World Series title. But right now, I’ve definitely got that uneasy feeling.