By Steven Inmangiants-mets

After a rollercoaster year, the Mets 2016 season comes down to one game. As Met fans, it’s easy to complain that after 162 games  it’s unfair to be put in this position, to face off with the best postseason pitcher of this generation in a 1-game series but after all the injuries the Mets had, this 87 win team should consider themselves lucky to be here. If this was still 5 years ago with just the 1 Wild Card, the Mets would be in this spot anyway with the Giants, who finished with the same record as New York. They would have just played a 1-game tiebreaker at Citi Field anyway. While this Met team has made an incredible run, the statistics are not on their side. Madison Bumgarner is coming off the best regular season of his career in terms of ERA (2.74), innings pitched (226.2) and strikeouts (251). The Mets also badly struggle against lefties and that has gotten worse since Wilmer Flores slid head first into a catcher and was lost for the season. Flores had 11 homers against left-handers this season, the most by any Met.

With that said the Giants are not unbeatable. Other than a huge confidence boost to the San Francisco club, even-year magic is not a thing. If the Mets do the following things, they will be in Chicago on Friday.


  1. Get that Bumgarner pitch count up

This one seems fairly obvious but the Mets chances to advance would spike dramatically if Bumgarner doesn’t go long tonight. Bumgarner averaged just 15.8 pitches per inning in the regular season which would give him at least 7 innings tonight. That isn’t going to get it done for the Mets. Not only is Bumgarner efficient but he works deep in games. No National League pitcher averaged more pitches per game than the Giants ace (105 per game). Bumgarner throws a ton of strikes and the Mets are going to have to work good at-bats. The at-bats that end in 7 or 8 pitch outs will be considered small victories tonight for New York.

Keep in mind that the Giants will have two starters waiting in the pen should Mad Bum not give San Francisco the length they need or if this game goes extras like the American League Wild Card game did. While Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are no slouches, I would rather take my chances with them over a guy with a 0.25 ERA in 36 World Series innings and a 5-0 record with a 1.80 ERA against the Mets.


  1. Stick with the home run ball

While it’s not going to be easy to square up Bumgarner, he has been susceptible to the long ball this season. Bumgarner gave up 26 homers this year, a career high. When the Mets don’t homer they flat out don’t win a lot of ball games. It’s crucial that the Mets flex their muscles tonight whether against Bumgarner or the Giants bullpen. Both Jay Bruce and Rene Rivera have a home run against Bumgarner in limited at-bats. The Mets are going to need Yoenis Cespedes, who left the regular season in his biggest slump since becoming a Met, to wake up. Bumgarner doesn’t walk many so it’s unlikely he’ll pitch around Cespedes tonight.


  1. Noah Syndergaard, Rene Rivera slows down the Giants running game

It seems pretty obvious to the baseball world now that Noah Syndergaard can’t hold baserunners. The number of stolen bases he allowed led baseball by a wide margin. It looked like for most of the regular season if a player on first or second felt like padding his stolen base stats he could at any point in the game without contest. While Rene Rivera becoming the starting catcher has helped calm things down, Syndergaard and Rivera are still going to have to deal with that tonight. The Mets catch a huge break as Eduardo Nunez (hamstring), one of the Giants biggest stolen base threats, is not on the Wild Card roster. Syndergaard doesn’t have much of a pickoff move, allowing runners to get huge leads so he must change his times to the plate by holding the ball different amounts of times before going home. Or he can simply get everyone out tonight and not let the running game influence this critical matchup.


  1. Terry doesn’t pull a Buck Showalter

Jeurys Familia has had an incredible season, a year where he eclipsed the Mets save record by a wide margin but there was a better closer in the American League this year by the name Zach Britton. Britton was perfect in save chances on the year and watched his team’s season end from the bullpen. Now not using Familia or even Addison Reed has never been a Terry Collins issue but it is imperative that should the Mets have a lead in the 7th he skip the middle men and get the ball to Reed and Familia once Syndergaard’s day is done. The Mets may need the two dominant relievers to get 9 outs tonight.

If the Mets get Bumgarner’s pitch count up, hit a homer or two, limit the Giants running game and Terry Collins doesn’t do anything head scratching, the Mets will be set to face the 103-win Cubs Friday night. The Giants have a ton of experience in games like this but the experience that Noah and the team received in Game 5 of NLDS on the road last year should help prepare them for the pressure that come with surviving an elimination game tonight.

By Steven Inman

Despite playing some of their worst baseball of the season, the Mets have entered the most pivotal part of their schedule. If the Mets want to get back to the playoffs they have to make their run now. Join Rob DeLucia and myself as we break down the Mets chances of grabbing a Wild Card, the Michael Conforto situation, the Jay Bruce trade and we evaluate Terry Collins’ season as Mets manager.

By Steven InmanSandy

The Mets came out of the All-Star break thinking if they could just get a little more offense in the second half they could go on a run similar to the incredible fireworks of last summer. The Mets offense in the first half was embarrassing, headlined by poor at-bats with runners on base. Somehow this Mets lineup has gotten even worse over the last few weeks to the point where the Mets are on the brink of being swept at home by a Rockies pitching staff that entered this series with a 4.87 ERA as a team. Pitchers like Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Anderson who were badly scuffling, easily shut down the Mets hitters. The Mets have scored just 4 runs in the first 3 games of this series. It has gotten so bad this week for the Mets that they have the Rockies thinking they can compete for an NL Wild Card.

The Mets are batting .202/.279/.318 with men in scoring position on the season, one of the worst triple slash lines with RISP in the history of baseball. While a lot of that is probably just being unlucky, the players must know how bad they’ve been. Asdrubal Cabrera was able to recite his recent 0-30+ AB slump with RISP to reporters after a recent game. There’s a good chance the team’s offensive futility with men on base is in the player’s heads to some degree.

The Mets have been active in trying to resurrect this offense through trades but with a lack of impact bats available it is going to take the last of the Mets farm system to acquire such a hitter. Even a miracle trade for a Jonathan Lucroy won’t save this Met offense. Instead I suggest the Mets turn around and sell.

Now obviously this isn’t going to be the popular opinion coming off a World Series appearance but this team without a major offensive overhaul isn’t going anywhere. The Mets don’t have a true center fielder on the roster except for Justin Ruggiano who they signed Saturday. With Matt Harvey out for the year and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz clearly not the same dynamic players with their bone spurs, the Mets huge starting pitching advantage is no longer that big of an edge over other clubs.

Instead of trying to deal Zack Wheeler for Jay Bruce again (who doesn’t fit here as another corner outfielder) the Met should turn around and consider dealing free agents to be Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker and Bartolo Colon.

The Mets will get compensation picks for Walker and Cespedes if they depart since they are likely to offer the two arbitration but the Mets should be able to get more in a package in what has been an extreme sellers market.

The Mets really stripped down their farm system last season to acquire all the pieces that helped them reach the World Series. Trading Cespedes who will likely opt-out for a larger deal could bring you an elite prospect like Michael Fulmer who the Mets traded away at this time last year. Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts as a Tiger this season. While the Mets can’t get him back, they can get a good young piece who can really help next season with (hopefully) a healthy starting rotation. So far this month teams have shown they are willing to trade top prospects for rentals. The Yankees who are just a game back in the loss column to the Mets entering Sunday have transformed their farm system by trading elite relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller this week. Now instead of bringing back the same old team next season they will have blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier ready to make an impact in 2017.

While this will never happen as the Mets would never sell coming off a World Series appearance, the season continues to head in the wrong direction and if the Mets could retool here and acquire some assets that could help them in 2017, they could be looking at another trip to the World Series in the not so distant future.Selling off now could be the Mets best chance to extend their window to win a World Series.

By Steven InmanHellickson

For all the talk of the Mets acquiring a bat at the trade deadline, it appears now the team will be reversing course and looking at the scarce starting pitching market to help bolster the team. The Mets have been ravaged by injuries this season, and the latest hits have come to the Mets star-studded rotation. Zack Wheeler has had some setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery. With the season half way over it would be unfair to expect much out of Wheeler, if anything in 2016. He will need about a month to build his pitch count up in the minors which the Mets were hoping he would have started by now. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are dealing with bone spurs as well as general fatigue while Matt Harvey is now out for the season. It isn’t known if last year’s massive innings increase is the reason Harvey is injured but he deserves a ton of credit for putting everything on the line for the Mets in the 2015 postseason. Met fans including myself owe Harvey an apology as he really put the team over his own future last season. The Mets don’t get to the World Series without Harvey and if the Dark Knight doesn’t come back from this uncommon surgery at full strength, he could cost himself over $100 million as a free agent in a couple of years.

The Mets must now replace Harvey in the rotation, while Logan Verrett has been decent as a swingman it would behoove the Mets to go out and get another arm. With two Wild Cards in each league there aren’t too many teams that have thrown up the white flag yet but one of those teams looking to next year already is the Philadelphia Phillies. After a hot start, the Phils have had a miserable summer but one bright spot has been trade chip Jeremy Hellickson. The former AL Rookie of the Year is having a solid 2016 after coming over in a trade with Arizona last winter. While Hellickson is certainly more of a back of the rotation guy, he could help the Mets by eating innings and saving the Mets overworked bullpen.

Hellickson, 29, has a 3.39 ERA in his last 11 starts but perhaps most important is that he has thrown at least six innings in 10 of those 11 outings. Hellickson isn’t a huge strikeout guy but he could keep the ball in the ballpark at Citi Field and would be a nice fit for the Mets. Hellickson’s contract wouldn’t be a huge issue for Sandy Alderson and company as he is making just $7M in the final year of his deal. Having said this, due to the lack of starting pitching available, the Phillies are going to ask for a solid prospect or two in exchange for Hellickson’s services. It’s unlikely either the Mets or the Phillies would have a problem trading within the division.

Other than top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets don’t have a ton in their system that they shouldn’t be willing to deal. With the Nationals expanding their lead in the NL East, the Mets join a large group of teams after a National League Wild Card spot. It would be smart for the Mets to add talent in any way they can. The final Wild Card spot could come down to a game or two and adding a veteran arm like Hellickson could actually be the difference maker. Expect the Phillies to be heavy sellers over the next few weeks and Hellickson will likely be at the top of that list. He would be a nice get for the Mets.

By Steven Inman

When the Mets got swept by the Nationals last week, Met fans thought that this team was in major trouble due to a lack of offensive firepower. It seemed like no matter who Dusty Baker summoned to the mound for the Nats, they were going to put up a zero. Once the Mets returned home to face the Cubs everything changed. The Mets began clicking offensively and while middle of the order hitters Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker began playing the home run ball again, the key to the Mets recent turnaround is the re-emergence of Travis d’Arnaud.

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While the Mets called up their former spark plug Jose Reyes on Tuesday, the hitter that makes the Mets go now is actually d’Arnaud.

Last season when Travis d’Arnaud returned from the disabled list, the team took off. Yes obviously acquiring Yoenis Cespedes last year and then re-signing him this winter was crucial but this offense just seems to click when the Mets catcher is hitting. The Mets are 10-4 this season when Travis gets a hit, but just 4-7 when he doesn’t. He was 8-13 with a homer and 4 RBI during the Mets 5-game win streak.  Travis d’Arnaud put up 12 homers in just 239 at-bats last season. The backstop recently changed his stance to help him drive the ball better but for Travis it really comes down to him just staying on the field. It’s hard to get into a rhythm offensively when you miss a month or two every year.

Many thought the Mets were fine without d’Arnaud with Kevin Plawecki getting a real shot to be the everyday catcher. Plawecki badly struggled offensively and his throwing behind the plate wasn’t much better than d’Arnaud’s. Rene Rivera has been solid defensively in spot duty and Noah Syndergaard loves throwing to him but the Mets simply need Travis’ bat in the lineup. While d’Arnaud’s defense leaves much to be desired, his offensive potential could give the Mets a solid lineup the rest of the summer, even without making a trade. If #18 can stay healthy the Mets have a shot at catching the Nationals and winning their second straight National League East crown.

By Steven Inman

If you haven’t noticed, the Mets season is at a crossroads. The Mets offense is at a point where it’s hard to expect runs no matter who is on the mound for the opposing team. While losing Lucas Duda and David Wright has hurt, the rest of the team just hasn’t produced offensively. The Mets were counting on Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to carry the load like they did in the second half of last season. Cespedes has cooled off dramatically since a hot April and Conforto is in the minor leagues after not being able to adjust to pitchers strictly throwing him breaking balls. The Mets have really had no answers on how to fix this lineup internally. Since then the Mets have brought back Jose Reyes.01-terry-collins-080915-getty-ftrjpg_dduuxh7xyqfg1ckk33738rts9

No matter what you think of Reyes’ off the field issues, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the same Reyes that won a batting title in his last tour with the Amazins.  Reyes was never a gold glove caliber shortstop by any means, but his defense has dramatically regressed over the last few years with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Rockies. Now the Mets are relying on Reyes to be the dynamic spark plug he once was along with learning third base, a position he has never played in the big leagues. Reyes is a good enough athlete where he could adapt to third base or even the outfield but the Mets wouldn’t be asking this of Reyes if the guys in the lineup were producing. It seems pretty desperate to bring in Reyes and hope he can be the Reyes of old and not just an old Reyes. Expect him to be up at Citi Field next week.

Washington just swept the Mets and while there is still half a season still to be played, it’s hard to imagine the Mets offense being good enough to hang with Dusty Baker’s club down the stretch. The Nationals clearly look like the better team and the Mets starting pitching looks tired. It may be because of all the extra pitches the young starters endured in the postseason or perhaps some nagging injuries that we haven’t been made aware of but this rotation just isn’t the same as it was last year. That doesn’t mean the Mets should regret throwing their arms deep in the playoffs by any means but it’s clear that there’s some fatigue.

Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are both dealing with bone spurs in their elbows. While the Mets doctors have ensured the team that pitching through these injuries won’t make their elbows worse, you often see players develop new injuries trying to overcompensate from the pain they are dealing with.  Steven Matz has basically stopped throwing his slider in June, you have to wonder if that pitch was causing him pain. Matt Harvey hasn’t been the same elite pitcher this season and Jacob deGrom’s velocity has been down most of the season. Bartolo Colon at the ripe age of 43 is still pitching as strong as ever.

While there is still plenty of baseball to be played, the Mets are in a very dangerous part of their season as we head towards the All-Star Break…

By Steven Inman

As the Mets lone All-Star last season, Jacob deGrom impressed the baseball world with a strong inning of work at the 2015 All-Star game. The Mets have had just one All-Star each of the past two seasons.

Coming off of a World Series appearance and a strong start to the 2016 season, expect more Mets on the National League roster next month. With just 5 weeks until the annual midsummer classic, this year in San Diego, let’s take a look at who on the Mets has a chance at an All-Star appearance.

Noah Syndergaard: The mighty Thor has picked up right where he left off in the 2015 playoffs. Of this impressive Mets pitching staff, Syndergaard was the only pitcher for New York to win a game in the World Series last season. Syndergaard has dazzled with his 100 mph fastball and a low 90’s slider. If Clayton Kershaw wasn’t in the NL, there would be talk of Syndergaard as a NL Cy Young candidate. Barring an injury, it would be difficult to imagine Syndergaard not being invited to the All-Star game in what should be a great group of young stars on the NL staff.


Photo from Newsday

Yoenis Cespedes: After a breakout 2 month stretch with the Mets last summer, Yoenis hasn’t stepped off the gas pedal. The slugger has a team high 15 homers and to the surprise of many has played a decent center field through the first third of the season. Cespedes has a few nagging injuries which is the only thing that could slow down the MVP candidate in another walk year. It’s crazy to think what the struggling Met offense would look like without him. Cespedes could be elected as one of the three starting outfielders with the fan vote. He currently ranks 3rd in votes among NL outfielders. If he doesn’t get on that way, expect him to be an alternate in San Diego.

Jeurys Familia: The Mets closer has been perfect in save opportunities this season and is coming off one of the best seasons a Met reliever has ever had. While Familia hasn’t been as great this season as he was last year, he still has been very effective for one of the best bullpens in baseball statically. His 18 saves this season are tied for the most in baseball. Usually relief pitchers get All-Star recognition the year after their breakout season. With Terry Collins in charge of the final few NL roster spots, along with the replacement players, expect Familia and several other Mets to be heading to San Diego.

Steven Matz: The Mets lone rotation lefty has been brilliant after a blowup start against the Marlins in his first outing of the season. Matz has dealt with the injury bug throughout his young career but when he has been on the mound he has been a very pleasant surprise for the Mets. While pitcher wins isn’t the most noteworthy stat in 2016, Matz is 7-1 and has won 11 of his first 12 regular season decisions in his brief time with the Mets. Believe it or not Matz is still just a rookie having pitched less than 50 regular season innings last season. The National League is going to be stacked with pitchers and every club must be represented at the All-Star game but with pitchers bowing out with injuries, expect Matz with another strong month to find a way onto the club.

Neil Walker: While Daniel Murphy has taken his offensive game to a whole other level after departing New York, the Mets new second basemen has emerged as an All-Star caliber player as well. Despite moving to a pitchers park, Walker has found his power stroke, slugging 13 homers in just 53 games. Walker’s career high in homers is just 23 so barring a long slump he should shatter that. What is even more shocking about Walker’s home run total is his ability to hit homers off lefties. In Walker’s career entering this season, the switch-hitter had hit just 6 homers off lefties in 721 at-bats. He already has 5 this season in just 44 at-bats off southpaws. Walker has been streaky for the Mets but overall he is putting up career best numbers in what is a very weak class of candidates at second base for the National League. Only Daniel Murphy and Ben Zobrist are putting up All-Star caliber seasons at second in the NL. Walker has always been a dependable, solid player in Pittsburgh but he has never been an All-Star. Like Cespedes, Walker is also in a contract year.

Jacob deGrom: While everyone seems concerned with deGrom’s loss in velocity, the right-hander is still putting up top of the rotation numbers. Jacob’s strikeouts are down but he still has a strong 2.62 ERA in 9 starts. With all the talk about Matz and Syndergaard, deGrom has fallen under the radar. It seems unlikely the Mets would be able to get three starters on the NL Roster but deGrom can certainly make a case for himself with a strong month.

Addison Reed: With the number of quality closers in the National League this one seems unlikely but the Mets 8th inning guy has been fantastic this season. Reed, 27, has been stellar for the Mets since coming over in a trade last August from the Diamondbacks. With the number of shutdown innings, Reed is putting up, along with the fact that the pitching replacements are Terry Collins’ call, Addison has a shot at his first All-Star appearance. While Reed is unlikely for San Diego it cannot be ruled out.

Expect the Mets to have their most All-Star selections since 2006.

Who should represent the Mets at the All-Star Game?