New York Mets: Chris Young

Morning Briefing: Colon Day!

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
6:22
AM ET
SEATTLE

FIRST PITCH: The Mets look for a rubber-game win Wednesday when Bartolo Colon opposes Seattle Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker in the 3:40 p.m. ET series finale at Safeco Field.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Jacob deGrom continued to put up NL Rookie of the Year-type numbers. DeGrom limited the Mariners to one run in seven innings as the Mets won, 3-1, Tuesday. The Amazin’s snapped a three-game losing streak. Read game recaps in the Seattle Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

Ruben Tejada's left hand was swollen, but the shortstop indicated he did not need X-rays after getting struck with a fifth-inning pitch on the left hand.

Curtis Granderson was held out of Tuesday’s lineup because of illness and Chris Young's left calf, which forced him to depart the series opener, continued to limit him. Read more in the Daily News.

• Noah Syndergaard tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 1 and Wilmer Flores lost a 22-game hitting streak as Las Vegas split a doubleheader at Tacoma. Left-hander Blake Taylor, the player to be named in the Ike Davis trade, tossed six scoreless innings as Kingsport blanked Greeneville, 5-0.

"For the most part, I attacked hitters," Syndergaard told milb.com. "I was trying to be a little unpredictable. I threw quite a bit of my curveball. I threw some pretty good curveballs, and some ended up out of the strike zone. Even though it wasn't for a strike, it showed the hitter I wasn't afraid to throw a breaking pitch in certain counts."

Read the full minor-league recap here.

Jeremy Hefner tossed three innings in his third Gulf Coast League appearance since returning from Tommy John surgery.

• Left-handed reliever Scott Rice is due to undergo surgery on Wednesday to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow and also to relocate a troublesome nerve. Read more in the Record and at MLB.com.

• Triple-A catching prospect Kevin Plawecki has been diagnosed with vertigo. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Citing a source close to Colon, ESPNDeportes.com’s Marly Rivera reported the San Francisco Giants have interest in the 41-year-old right-hander.

Executives from other teams tell columnist Joel Sherman in the Post that the $11 million owed to Colon in 2015 will make it very difficult to trade him. Writes Sherman:

Though there are multiple teams -- including the Yankees -- looking for rotation help, the case against Colon was described by several personnel men as significant. One put it this way: “His old team [the A’s] didn’t want to sign him for two years. The only team willing to sign him for two years already has him and that second year is a killer for the Mets to move him even if they don’t want any prospects back.”

Colon has a 4.12 ERA. But when you adjust that for the league and his big ballpark, Colon’s ERA is actually 15 percent worse than the league average. He already has surrendered 14 homers -- the same number as all of last season. There is always worry about his weight and his steroid past. All of that might be possible to overlook -- to some extent -- as one NL scout said, “if his contract were expiring.”

Read more in Newsday.

• ESPN’s Keith Law ranks the Mets’ farm system No. 4 in the majors. Writes Law:

The Mets have graduated a few prospects to the majors -- Travis d'Arnaud (No. 2 in the system coming into the year) and Jacob deGrom (No. 13) in particular -- but nearly all of the guys still in the system have taken steps forward. Noah Syndergaard (No. 1) has had an excellent year in the pitchers' hell of Las Vegas. Brandon Nimmo (No. 5) is hitting for power now that he's out of Savannah, a terrible park for left-handed power hitters. Catcher Kevin Plawecki (No. 6) continues to receive well, as expected, but he also has hit well enough to push himself up to Triple-A in his second full season.

ESPN Insiders can read the full entry here.

• The Mets will play the AL East in interleague play in 2015. In those years, the Mets and Yankees will meet six times, up from the now-customary four Subway Series games. The Boston Red Sox are tentatively due to visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30, Gordon Edes writes at ESPNBoston.com.

• Read more on Walker’s call-up to face the Mets in the Seattle Times.

• Marc Carig in Newsday and Sherman in the Post revisit the R.A. Dickey deal and ask if the Mets took the right pitching prospect in Syndergaard over Aaron Sanchez.

Eric Young Jr. cheered up a couple of boys he had a close call with in the left-field stands by giving them his wrist band after the half-inning, Carig writes in Newsday.

• Tim Rohan in the Times writes about the Mets’ second-half stumble.

BIRTHDAYS: Savannah left-hander John Mincone, a product of Half Hollow Hills East High School on Long Island, turns 25.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe Jacob deGrom can win NL Rookie of the Year?

C.Y. calf still cranky

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
7:26
PM ET
SEATTLE -- Chris Young would not have been in the starting lineup Tuesday anyway, but the outfielder likely is unavailable because of a left calf issue.

Young pulled himself from Monday's game against the Seattle Mariners in the eighth inning with what the team announced as cramping.

Terry Collins said the training staff has recommended Young not attempt to run Tuesday.

Morning Briefing: Who'll stop the swoon?

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
5:27
AM ET
SEATTLE

FIRST PITCH: The Mets have stumbled out of the gate since the All-Star break, and now have lost three straight. They are back in fourth place and nine games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals.

Rookie Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.18 ERA) looks to right the ship Tuesday. He opposes right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.58) at 10:10 p.m. ET at Safeco Field.

Bobby Abreu is due to DH the final two games of the series.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Jonathon Niese's streak of 21 straight starts allowing three earned runs or fewer was snapped in his return from the disabled list as the Mets lost to the Mariners, 5-2, Monday.


Adam RubinMariners hitting coach Howard Johnson watches Seattle's early batting practice Monday.


Travis d'Arnaud was robbed of a solo homer by left fielder Dustin Ackley, a converted infielder. D’Arnaud said he immediately thought about his brother Chase d'Arnaud taking away a homer Sunday while playing a Triple-A game for the Indianapolis Indians.

The Mariners, meanwhile, maintained a 2½-game wild-card lead over the Yankees and Blue Jays, although starter Roenis Elias was forced to leave the game in the sixth inning with left forearm cramping.

Read game recaps in the Seattle Times, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and at MLB.com.

• Left fielder Chris Young departed the game in the eighth inning with a left calf cramp. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

David Wright went 2-for-5 and drove in the Mets’ opening run on the 10th anniversary of his major league debut. Wright’s teammates surprised him by taking him to dinner on Sunday night in Seattle to celebrate the occasion. Read more in the Times, Journal, Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and at MLB.com.

Wilmer Flores extended his hitting streak to 22 games and rehabbing Taylor Teagarden homered, but Las Vegas lost at Tacoma, 11-8. Zach Mathieu had a walk-off two-run homer and drove in all three runs as Kingsport beat Princeton, 3-1. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Teagarden is not expected to join the Mets when his rehab assignment ends.

• The Mariners adjusted their rotation. Prospect Taijuan Walker may start against the Mets in Wednesday’s series finale. Hisashi Iwakuma, originally listed for that day, instead will get an extra day of rest and miss the Amazin’s.

• Seattle optioned first baseman Justin Smoak to Triple-A after Monday’s game to clear the roster spot for Ramirez’s promotion to start against the Mets on Tuesday. Read more in the Seattle Times and at MLB.com.

Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Daily News weighs in on Masahiro Tanaka's injury.

From the bloggers …Faith and Fear thinks about the strange ways the Mets have lost ballgames in recent years.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets catcher Rob Johnson, who also has a franchise-record 0.00 ERA, turns 32.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you bereave?

Chris Young leaves game with cramp

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
1:46
AM ET
SEATTLE -- Left fielder Chris Young departed Monday's 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners in the eighth inning after experiencing cramping in his left calf.

"I felt it a few steps out of the box and tried to kind of push through it and it seemed like it went away," said Young, who grounded out to end the top half of the inning. "And a few steps before the bag it seemed like it came back. I feel like it was just a cramp. I never had anything in my calf before, so I'm not sure. But just what I felt when I was running down the line, I just felt like it was a cramp.

"Right now it feels normal. I iced it as soon as I came in. I think I made the right decision coming out of the game, for sure, just to try to catch it before anything went wrong. So hopefully with the ice and some rest tonight I show up tomorrow and it feels normal."

Mets have room to improve in 2nd half

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
12:14
PM ET
Travis d'Arnaud, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Chris YoungAP Images, Getty ImagesAt 45-50, the Mets have room for improvement. We break down some of the weaker links.
If the Mets are going to make a post All-Star break push, it stands to reason they could improve in a number of areas.

Here are a few that seem both noticeable and significant to us.

Zack Wheeler's efficiency
Wheeler closed out the first half with four good starts in five outings, but he got through seven innings in just one of them.

Wheeler still seems to be a work in progress in some regards, one of which is controlling his pitch count. In each of his three starts prior to the break, he threw at least as many pitches (111) as he did in his three-hit shutout June 19, resulting in his being pulled mid-inning by manager Terry Collins.

Wheeler averages 4.14 pitches per plate appearance to opposing hitters, the third-highest among any starter currently qualified for the ERA title. Bringing this number down a little would benefit both Wheeler, who would be able to go deeper into games, and an overused bullpen that would have fewer outs to get.

Travis d'Arnaud's pitch-blocking
Now that d’Arnaud has figured out what was troubling him on the offensive side, he seems in need of fixing on the defensive side.

D'Arnaud currently ranks last among catchers in Defensive Runs Saved, a stat based on his ability to deter base stealers, handle bunts, keep his pitching staff’s ERA low and catch tough-to-catch pitches.

The latter seems to be a significant concern, based on what the numbers show.

Video tracking has credited d’Arnaud with 207 blocks on pitches in the dirt (or way out of the strike zone) in situations in which there was a man on base. D’Arnaud has been behind the plate for 23 wild pitches and committed six passed balls.

From that you can formulate a “block percentage” stat, which is the number of blocks divided by the number of opportunities (blocks plus wild pitches plus passed balls).

D’Arnaud’s block rate is 87.7 percent, which rates 47th among the 50 players who have caught the most innings this season. By comparison, backup Anthony Recker rates 17th (93.5 percent). The top 10 all are at 94.3 percent or better.

Baserunning
After reading an article about some of the Yankees' baserunning issues this season, I ran a checkup on the Mets, and as it turns out, they have similar woes.

Last season, the Mets ranked first in Fangraphs’ advanced baserunning metric, which measured the ability to take extra bases on hits (go first to third or second to home on singles), base-stealing efficiency and avoiding baserunning mistakes, such as getting doubled off or picked off. This season, they rank 24th.

Among the culprits -- a 73 percent stolen-base rate (down from 77 percent a year ago), a 41 percent extra-base advancement rate (down from 46 percent) and 11 outs made at home plate, the same total they made for all of 2013.

Chris Young's hitting
Young may have played himself out of getting many opportunities other than as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement, given his .202 batting average this season.

But in fairness to Young, he probably deserves at least a little better outcome based on what he’s done at the plate.

Young’s rates of chasing bad pitches and missing on his swings are both near his career levels, so it’s not like there’s anything worthy of concern there.

Young is 17-for-33 (.515 batting average) this season when registering what video tracking credits as a hard-hit ball (batted balls are grouped into being hard-hit, soft-hit or medium-hit based on velocity and sweet-spot contact).

That’s both below the major league average (usually around .700) and Young’s established success rate in the previous four seasons (.664). Had Young hit at that rate on his hard-hit balls, he’d be hitting .226 instead of .202, which is not necessarily a great improvement, but it might have saved him from a few boos.

Young may actually be best served to continue doing what he’s doing and hope that some rewards come in the second half. And that may apply to the Mets' offense as a whole. They currently rank last in the sport in batting average when hitting the ball hard.

Morning Briefing: Back to work!

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:04
AM ET
SAN DIEGO

FIRST PITCH: Play ball!

After a four-day All-Star break, the Mets get back to business, trying to build on their 8-2 homestand that closed the first half.

The Amazin’s resume play against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park at 10:10 p.m. ET Friday. Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99 ERA) opposes right-hander Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47).


USA TODAY SportsThe Mets open the second half facing Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Odrisamer Despaigne in San Diego.


That kicks off a 10-game trip that also includes stops in Seattle and Milwaukee.

The Padres rank last in the majors in runs (279), average (.214), OBP (.273) and slugging percentage (.334). They lost consecutive 1-0 games to the Los Angeles Dodgers to close the first half. However, San Diego’s staff has a 2.08 ERA in 24 games since June 18.

Read the Mets-Padres series preview here.

Friday’s news reports:

Daniel Murphy tells Marc Carig in Newsday that his agents have not had any extension talks with the Mets. Murphy, making $5.7 million this season, is eligible for arbitration a final time this winter. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

"I think that anybody would be willing to listen to an extension," Murphy told the newspaper. "They're not just passing out at-bats in this league. I don't know what the years or anything would look like. But at the point you come and say, 'Hey, we trust you with 600 at-bats [in each] of the next three to five years,' you're like, 'Yeah, I would like that.'”

• Former Mets GM Omar Minaya tells Mike Puma in the Post that the contribution of holdovers from his regime -- including Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Murphy, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia -- does not feel like vindication.

“I don’t think that way,” said Minaya, who is currently helping oversee the Padres in an interim capacity after the firing of Josh Byrnes as general manager. “You do your job. And when teams don’t win in [New York], people’s opinions are a product of it. We felt very comfortable and believed we had a plan in place to get athletes, to get good players to the major leagues. And it’s an organization, not just one person. Part of it has been Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson. They are part of bringing these guys along. It’s not an individual thing.”

• In a lengthy ESPNNewYork.com article by Andrew Marchand on Mets fandom, Jonathon Niese said: “We are not filling the stadium. Where are the Mets fans when we are down-and-out? They were here in '06 and '07 when we were really good, but we have struggled and they are not coming to the stadium."

• Puma in the Post chats with Terry Collins on the eve of the second half.

On the Mets’ postseason potential, Collins said: “We’ve got 67 games to go and we’ve got 39 in our division. If we end up having a good record against our division, I think we’re going to be in the mix at the end.”

On whether key bullpen pieces are overworked, the manager said: “Hell, I won’t know that until the end of August. That last month of the season is when those guys who are in the big leagues for that first full season, some of that stuff starts to show up. The fatigue, the pressure of 145 games at that time, and you can start to see it … because their minor-league seasons would have been over and they’re still playing. So how they handle that situation will determine how that last month will go.”

Carlos Torres leads all major league relievers with 59 1/3 innings. Familia’s 45 relief appearances trail MLB co-leaders Brad Ziegler (Arizona) and Will Smith (Milwaukee) by four.

• Back from the Futures Game, Noah Syndergaard allowed seven runs in five innings as Las Vegas lost to Salt Lake, 7-6. Dustin Lawley had a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs as Binghamton beat Trenton, 8-4. Michael Fulmer tossed six scoreless innings in the nightcap as St. Lucie split a doubleheader with Brevard County. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Ron Darling is “extremely optimistic” about the Mets, he tells Bob Raissman in the Daily News.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal asks three questions: Can the Mets continue to produce at the plate? Will the Mets wheel and deal before July 31? And will Syndergaard debut this season?

• Diamond in the Journal also revisits signing Chris Young over Nelson Cruz.

• Justin Terranova in the Post writes that the Mets can become deadline buyers.

• Matt Ehalt in the Record lists five people under scrutiny in the second half: Collins, Alderson, Travis d'Arnaud, Ruben Tejada and deGrom.

• Tim Healey at MLB.com revisits last August’s trade of Marlon Byrd, which yielded Vic Black and Dilson Herrera.

Jeremy Hefner tossed two innings in the Gulf Coast League on Thursday, in his second game since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Zack Wheeler is one of nine candidates in MLB who could demonstrate significant second-half improvement, Baseball Prospectus suggests. The site writes:

Wheeler has walked more than two batters just twice in past 11 starts (after cracking that threshold five times in his first eight games), and he entered the All-Star break with a string of three consecutive starts in which he pitched six or more innings and surrendered just a single run. He has also honed his stuff since last season, adding 0.5 mph to his fastball (which is now averaging 95.9 mph) and diversifying his pitch mix. He has doubled the frequency of his changeup, and though it is still the weakest offering in a repertoire that features a pair of plus breaking pitches, Wheeler has the potential to be dominant if he can refine el cambio. He has also kept the ball on the ground this season, upping his ground-ball rate by 10 percentage points while surrendering just seven bombs across 108.3 innings (only two homers have come since he turned 24 on May 30th), while his component stats have all trended in positive directions.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger looks at the value of catchers framing pitches.

• Mets first-round pick Michael Conforto was in L.A. on Thursday as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top collegiate player. The honor went to the University of Kentucky product A.J. Reed. Conforto is due to rejoin Brooklyn on Friday and make his professional debut shortly thereafter.

• Keith Law placed four Mets prospects in his top 50 in MLB: Syndergaard at No. 16, Conforto at No. 32, Brandon Nimmo at No. 34 and Dominic Smith at No. 49. ESPN Insiders can read the commentary here.

• Friday is the MLB deadline to sign players from June’s draft. The Mets do not plan to sign any more of their remaining picks, DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com. Eleven college-bound prep players went unsigned: Luke Bonfield (21st round), Richard Moesker (23rd), Tommy Pincin (26th), Keaton McKinney (28th), Chris Glover (32nd), Brady Puckett (33rd), Jordan Hand (34th), Jonathan Teaney (35th), Garett King (36th), Tristan Gray (37th) and Kyle Dunster (38th). Bonfield and McKinney are headed to the University of Arkansas.

• The Padres have narrowed their GM search to four finalists, Scott Miller tweets: Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, MLB senior VP Kim Ng and Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller.

BIRTHDAYS: Hall of Famer Joe Torre, who finished his playing career with the Mets, turns 74. ... Minor-league pitcher Robert Gsellman is 21.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which Mets player will take the biggest leap forward in the second half?

Morning Briefing: And now we pause

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
5:40
AM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets open the second half with Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler facing the Padres.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets headed into the All-Star break with an Amazin’ finish to the first half.

They completed their homestand with eight wins in 10 games. It marked the second-most wins on a homestand in Citi Field history. The Amazin’s went 9-1 from April 18-28, 2010.

“We came off the road and, actually, I was talking to the coaches the first day,” Terry Collins said. “I said, ‘If we go 7-3, that’s going to be a tremendous homestand for us.’ These guys just stepped it up -- got the offense and pitching going at the same time. And that’s how you put streaks together.”

The Mets are still 45-50 on the season and seven games behind the co-division-leading Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.

Those teams are on pace for 89 wins. So it may require that magical 90 wins for the Mets to capture the division. And that would mean a 45-22 record the rest of the way.

The Mets reconvene Friday in San Diego. Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler face the Padres that series.

“What we’ve shown the last 10 days is, yes, we can compete,” Collins said. “Now, we’ve got 67 more games. We’ve got to go out and do it. We can’t just talk about it. We’ve got to go do it. If we continue to play like this, September is going to be a fun month.”

Monday’s news reports:

• The Mets closed the first half with a 9-1 win against the Marlins as Jacob deGrom limited Miami to one run in seven innings and also drove in the tiebreaking run for his first career RBI.

The Mets leapfrogged Miami and moved into sole possession of third place for the first time since May 4.

After the victory, David Wright suggested the Nationals and Braves are within striking distance of the Mets.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

• Wright still is playing through shoulder discomfort. He planned to receive a cortisone injection after Sunday’s game to try to address swelling and his bruised left rotator cuff. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Despite Collins floating Saturday that deGrom may have to open the second half in the bullpen for a week or two to conserve innings, the manager confirmed postgame Sunday that deGrom would remain uninterrupted in the rotation. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Jonathon Niese returned to the mound for a bullpen session Sunday and declared himself fit to return from the disabled list next Monday in Seattle. With deGrom remaining in the rotation, that signals Daisuke Matsuzaka is reverting to relief work. Read more in the Post.

• Noah Syndergaard, sporting a Mohawk, produced the save for the U.S. team and Kevin Plawecki started at catcher and drove in the opening run as the Mets prospects were on the winning side of a 3-2 victory in the Futures Game on Sunday in Minneapolis.


Jeff Roberson/Associated PressNoah Syndergaard confessed he was affected by lofty expectations while struggling in Triple-A.


Syndergaard told the Daily News’ John Haper afterward about closing: “It’s a different mentality. My heart is still racing. I’ll leave that to someone else.”

He said about a 5.31 Triple-A ERA in 16 starts with Las Vegas this season: “I feel like the expectations got to me a little bit.” On rearing back and firing fastballs with men on base, he added: “I have to become more of a pitcher than a thrower.”

Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

• Collins offered no indication Wilmer Flores is returning to the majors soon, despite a 17-game hitting streak with Las Vegas. The manager expects the Mets to remain with an outfield-heavy bench at the major league level.

• Dilson Herrera had a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh and Binghamton overcame four errors from third baseman Dustin Lawley in a 5-4 win against Erie. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Tim Rohan in the Times addresses Jenrry Mejia’s demonstrative post-save antics. Writes Rohan:

As Mejia progressed, so did the celebrations. For weeks he appeared to tinker with that dance, and finally, against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, he executed it smoothly and confidently. Tommy La Stella, the batter Mejia struck out to end the game, and Jason Heyward, a young Braves star, said they hardly noticed it.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If stuff like that bothered you, you’d be fighting every day. Whatever he’s got to do. I’m glad that my closer and my team, when we win games, we just walk off the field. Like we’ve done it.”

The Mets did not appear to have a clear opinion, either. Manager Terry Collins said that times had changed and that closers’ celebrations were more acceptable than they once were. He cited a conversation he once had with the former manager Jim Leyland, who put up with Jose Valverde's antics for years in Detroit. If Leyland could do it, Collins could, too.

Travis d'Arnaud says amateur lip readers on Twitter are incorrect if they think he was cursing the Marlins postgame Saturday. Read more in Newsday.

• Columnist George Willis in the Post lists reasons to be bullish about the Mets.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal labels All-Star Daniel Murphy the Mets’ MVP, Chris Young the biggest letdown and Lucas Duda the biggest surprise.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets third baseman Robin Ventura turns 47. ... Minor-league flamethrower Jack Leathersich, who is averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his pro career, turns 24.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe?

Rapid Reaction: Mets 9, Marlins 1

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
4:29
PM ET
NEW YORK -- There may have been scoffing and eye rolls when Terry Collins built this up as a make-or-break homestand, considering the Mets entered the stretch 10 games under .500 and 10 games back in the NL East.

Well, say this for the Amazin’s: They enter the All-Star break on fire … and still relevant.

The Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins with a 9-1 win Sunday at Citi Field.

With an 8-2 homestand, the Mets (45-50) have moved into sole possession of third place in the NL East for the first time since May 4. They still are five games under .500 and likely will be seven games out of first place in the division with co-leaders Atlanta and Washington enjoying large late-game leads Sunday, but the mathematics take a backseat to the emotional high for the moment. Sixty-seven games remain.

Jacob deGrom, the third-most ballyhooed prospect in his prospect peer group with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, continued to produce at a level that will make it difficult to entertain assigning him to the bullpen even for a week or two out of the break.

DeGrom limited the Marlins to one run in seven innings to win his second straight start and slice his ERA to 3.18. The lone run against him came in the fourth after Eric Campbell, in his first major league action at second base, retreated into right field calling for Garrett Jones' pop fly but lost the baseball. It dropped between Campbell and deferring right fielder Curtis Granderson for a two-out double. Marcell Ozuna followed by legging out a run-scoring infield single.

Heck, the Mets cannot afford to deprive themselves of deGrom’s bat, either. A half-inning after the defensive bungle evened the score at 1, deGrom followed an intentional walk to No. 8 hitter Ruben Tejada and restored a lead with a two-out RBI single. It was deGrom’s first career RBI.

DeGrom clearly is entrenched in the rotation for the long haul. Collins even acknowledged pregame Sunday that he arranged his second-half rotation to separate the similar-throwing Zack Wheeler and deGrom. Still, Collins had floated Saturday that deGrom might spend a week or two in the bullpen out of the break to conserve innings if Sandy Alderson deems it necessary -- temporarily sparing Daisuke Matsuzaka a bullpen assignment with Jonathon Niese due to return from the DL.

Yet it is hard to conceive that a hard-charging team that fancies itself in the race intentionally would deprive itself of a wildly successful rookie’s starts, no? So deGrom ought to be starting in Seattle in the second series after the break.

He currently is at 112 innings for the season between the majors and minors. Alderson has said 185 innings is the rough cap.

The Mets opened Sunday’s scoring with a Lucas Duda double and Chris Young sacrifice fly in the second inning. Following deGrom’s two-out RBI single, the lead swelled to 3-1 later in the fourth on Granderson’s run-scoring bloop double. Marlins starter Brad Hand departed after that inning with a bruised right shin, which he suffered getting struck with a comebacker.

Granderson scored in the sixth for a 5-1 lead when second-base ump Will Little trumped an out call at the plate by ruling Granderson was interfered with by Ed Lucas while rounding second base. The Mets loaded the bases with none out in the ninth and produced four runs.

What’s next: The Mets reconvene Friday in San Diego for a trip that also takes them to Seattle and Milwaukee. Bartolo Colon handles Game 1, followed by Dillon Gee and then Wheeler. The Padres will throw Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Odrisamer Despaigne in the series.

Morning Briefing: Third place at break?

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
5:55
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Don’t look now, but a win on the final day of the first half would leapfrog the Mets over the Miami Marlins and put the Amazin’s in sole possession of third place for the first time since May 4.

Jacob deGrom (2-5, 3.38 ERA) opposes left-hander Brad Hand (0-1, 5.09) in Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. series finale as the Mets aim to sweep Miami.

Terry Collins plans to give Daniel Murphy off Sunday ahead of his busy All-Star break, with Eric Campbell likely to appear at second base for the first time in his major league career.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, right-hander Noah Syndergaard and catcher Kevin Plawecki will compete in the Futures Game at 5 p.m. ET at Target Field.

Sunday’s news reports:

Chris Young had a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh and Campbell had a tiebreaking pinch-hit RBI single an inning later as the Mets twice overcame two-run deficits to beat the Marlins, 5-4, Saturday at Citi Field. Murphy had a leaping two-out catch in the eighth to prevent the Marlins from taking a lead. Daisuke Matsuzaka had a career-high-matching 10 strikeouts.

Collins said the victory may be the biggest for the Mets so far this season.

The Mets have won seven of nine of their current homestand. With wins by division co-leaders Atlanta and Washington on Saturday, the Mets remained seven games back in the NL East.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and at MLB.com.

• Although Matsuzaka is expected to shift to the bullpen with Jonathon Niese poised to return from the disabled list, Collins said he needs to discuss with Sandy Alderson on Sunday whether there ought to be the intermediate step of putting deGrom in the bullpen for a week or two to conserve the rookie’s innings. Alderson has said deGrom should have 185 innings in 2014. Read more in Newsday.

• Although it has not been fully announced, a source tells ESPNNewYork.com that the second-half-opening series in San Diego should be Bartolo Colon on Friday, Dillon Gee on Saturday and Zack Wheeler in the finale. That pushes Niese to the opener in Seattle, where he can deal with lefty-hitting slugger Robinson Cano.

Niese is scheduled to throw at Citi Field before Sunday’s game against the Marlins to demonstrate he is fine to return from the DL in Seattle.

Matt Harvey continues to be more and more resigned to the fact he will not pitch in the majors in 2014. Read more in the Post.

Jeremy Hefner had a perfect inning in the Gulf Coast League in his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last Aug. 28. Taylor Teagarden (hamstring) also began a rehab assignment in that game. He only had two plate appearances as a DH before departing for a pinch runner.

• Marc Carig in Newsday profiles the All-Star-bound Murphy. Writes Carig:

Daniel Murphy is the antithesis of a star.

There is no grace in his game. There is no flash. There is no sense of ease. His value stems entirely from function, not aesthetics, and because of this, he knew long ago that his only way to the major leagues involved walking a fine line.

"I've always felt that at the point that I don't play the game with my hair on fire, I'm just not physically gifted enough to continue playing at this level," Murphy said. "So that's how I've always approached it."

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Murphy.

• Jayce Boyd homered and had three RBIs as Binghamton beat Erie, 9-3. L.J. Mazzilli doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th as St. Lucie beat Lakeland, 5-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post compares LeBron James’ departure and return to Cleveland with the Mets’ trade and reacquisition of Tom Seaver.

• Laura Albanese in Newsday profiles Triple-A All-Star Allan Dykstra, who is not related to Lenny Dykstra.

• Stony Brook University product and new dad Tom Koehler discusses his no-decision Saturday with Mike Gavin in Newsday.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear revels in what it believes is the most scintillating Mets win of the year.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets catcher Mike Fitzgerald was born on this date in 1960.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Can Jeremy Hefner be useful for the Mets later this season?

Chris Young not writing off season

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
9:17
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Chris Young had been 1-for-his-last-19. He had been relegated to starting only against left-handed pitching. And he had become a fan piñata, deservedly so, given his $7.25 million contract and paltry production.

Young did shine in a big moment Saturday, though.

He launched a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer in the seventh inning against reliever Bryan Morris and the Mets went on to beat the Miami Marlins, 5-4, at Citi Field.

“Nobody cares about the past at that moment, especially myself,” Young said. “I don’t care about the game before, the at-bat before. It’s always about living in the moment and playing in the moment. If you’re able to do that for an entire season, normally at the end of the road that pot of gold is there and you’re able to look back and see yourself push through the downs and come back on top by the time the end of the year comes around.”

Even with Saturday’s homer, Young is still hitting .199 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 206 at-bats.

“By the time it’s all said and done, I know that the belief in myself and what I feel like I bring to the table will show,” Young maintained. “I’ll be happy at the end of the season knowing that I put everything I had into this season and things turned around and got positive. And, next thing you know, you’re the guy that people want to go to in the big situation, hopefully. That’s always the goal.

“My philosophy has always been: When you’re going through some struggles, nobody wants to hear you pouting. Nobody wants to hear you be bitter. In the grand scheme of things, a bad attitude is not going to change your numbers. Whatever situation you’re in, if you come with a negative mindset, it’s not helping the situation. If anything, it’s hurting the situation.

“So you try to make the best out of every opportunity you’re given. You try to be a positive influence on the people that you’re surrounded with and continue to rub people the right way. It’s not just for baseball. It’s just for life as far as what makes a person’s character. That’s something I take very seriously and try to hold to.”

TC: Saturday win may be season's biggest

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
8:28
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Terry Collins had a strong label for Saturday’s 5-4 come-from-behind win against the Miami Marlins.

“We’ve had some big wins,” the manager said. “That might be the biggest win of the year for us -- for a lot of reasons. No. 1, we talked coming into the homestand about having a good homestand. And then Chris Young has really had a rough first half. To come through in a big way, it’s great for him. You know he’s a tremendous teammate. The guys only want him to have success. There were a lot of pieces to that win today. That’s why it’s big.”

Young’s pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh pulled the Mets even at 4. Eric Campbell had a pinch-hit RBI single the following inning, to the delight of an atypically large crowd announced at 35,283.

The Mets withheld the attendance count until determining how many people came late for the Huey Lewis and The News postgame concert.

The Amazin’s are now 24-23 at home. They last had been above .500 at Citi Field on April 26, 2013 (7-6). They have won seven of nine on this homestand and remained seven games out of first place with Atlanta’s win at Wrigley Field.

“That’s what this town could be like if you’re having success,” Collins said about Saturday’s atmosphere at Citi Field. “And that’s what we’re hoping for when we come out of the break, that we’re playing well and people want to buy tickets to come see us, because we have not quit all year long. It’s a fun team to be around. It’s a fun team to watch play.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 5, Marlins 4

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
7:05
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The undercard to the Huey Lewis and the News concert did not disappoint.

Eric Campbell produced a two-out, pinch-hit single in the eighth against Mike Dunn that plated Travis d'Arnaud and the Mets beat the Miami Marlins, 5-4, on Saturday at Citi Field.

The Mets (44-50) twice overcame two-run deficits en route to their seventh win in nine games on the homestand. They climbed to six games under .500 for the first time since June 25.

In a pinch: Chris Young delivered a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh on the first pitch of reliever Bryan Morris' appearance as the Mets evened the score at 4. Morris had just inherited a two-run lead and a baserunner from starter Tom Koehler.

It was Young’s second career pinch-hit homer. The other came June 27, 2012 with Arizona at Atlanta against Jonny Venters.

The Mets’ last pinch-hit homer this season was produced by Lucas Duda on June 25 against Oakland.

All-Star leap: Daniel Murphy preserved a 4-all score in the eighth. The second baseman leaped and snared Adeiny Hechavarria's two-out liner against Vic Black to strand the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

Pen-ultimately: Assuming Jonathon Niese successfully returns from the disabled list for the series opener in Seattle on July 21, which is the plan, this likely was Daisuke Matsuzaka's final start for a while.

In a 120-pitch effort, Matsuzaka had a better outing than his final line indicated (6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER). He had a career-high-matching 10 strikeouts -- a total he last had achieved three times in 2007 with Boston, back in his inaugural major league season.

Garrett Jones and Marcell Ozuna produced consecutive RBI doubles in the sixth against Matsuzaka as Miami took a 4-2 lead. Ozuna’s double was a line drive misread by Curtis Granderson, which resulted in it traveling over the right fielder’s head.

Déjà vu: The Mets pulled off their second suicide squeeze of the season … and second against the Marlins in three weeks. Ruben Tejada delivered a one-out bunt that plated hard-charging Kirk Nieuwenhuis and evened the score at 2 in the fifth.

The Mets also had successfully pulled off a suicide squeeze on June 22 at Miami, with Niese’s bunt plating Nieuwenhuis to open the scoring in the second inning of an eventual 11-5 win.

T.K. Oh! Koehler, a Stony Brook University product, held the Mets hitless until d’Arnaud’s leadoff single in the fifth. He ultimately allowed two runs that inning. He received a hard-luck no-decision despite limiting the Mets to two hits and departing with a 4-2 lead in the seventh.

Christian Yelich, who had raced to the wall to corral David Wright's fly ball in the fourth, had a misadventure on Nieuwenhuis’ fifth-inning fly ball to left field that carried well. Yelich drifted back, but the ball eluded him on the warning track.

After the catchable ball dropped for a double, the Mets had two in scoring position and none out. Juan Lagares followed with a run-scoring groundout. Tejada’s suicide squeeze then evened the score at 2.

Koehler departed after a one-out walk to Tejada in the seventh and Morris gave up the two-run lead.

What’s next: Jacob deGrom (2-5, 3.38 ERA) opposes left-hander Brad Hand (0-1, 5.09) at 1:10 p.m. Sunday in the final game before the All-Star break. Murphy is due for a day off, with Campbell playing second base.

Morning Briefing: Safe (from ax) at home

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
5:30
AM ET
ATLANTA

FIRST PITCH: The fan base may be calling for blood, but they are unlikely to receive it before the Mets reconvene this weekend.

Although the Mets enter Thursday’s team off-day 11 games under .500 and 10 games out of first place -- both season worsts -- no firings or releases are imminently expected, a team insider told ESPNNewYork.com.

That means Terry Collins, the coaching staff and even Chris Young should be able to exhale for a day.

After completing a stretch in which they played 25 of 33 games on the road, the Mets will host the injury-decimated Texas Rangers this weekend. Jonathon Niese (5-4, 2.88 ERA) opposes right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-3, 3.65) in the Fourth of July series opener.


Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesTerry Collins expects David Wright back in the lineup Friday.


The Mets will have a moment of silence before Friday’s game to remember the late Frank Cashen, who served as the team’s GM from 1980 through 1991.

Collins reiterated postgame Wednesday that he expects David Wright to reenter the lineup Friday. That would come a full week after the captain was scratched from a game in Pittsburgh with what subsequently was diagnosed as a bruised left rotator cuff.

Incidentally, online voting for the All-Star Game concludes at 11:59 p.m. Thursday. In the final intermediate tally released Tuesday, Wright trailed Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez by 235,060 votes for the starting nod for the National League at the hot corner. Daniel Murphy was nowhere to be found among the second-base leaders.

Thursday’s news reports:

Chris Johnson delivered a three-run double past third baseman Eric Campbell’s backhand with two outs in the first inning and the Braves completed a three-game sweep with a 3-1 victory Wednesday. Collins said postgame that the Mets sorely missed Wright for the past week.

The Amazin’s went 1-6 on a trip to Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Only a six-game losing streak by the Philadelphia Phillies has kept the Mets out of last place.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Journal and at MLB.com.

• Citing the team’s run differential being close to even, Sandy Alderson suggested the Mets are better than their record indicates. Alderson added that he is uninterested in trading Jonathon Niese. Overall, the direction the Mets take at the trade deadline will be dictated by how the team plays in the next 10 to 12 days, the GM added. Read more at CBSSports.com and in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Beginning Friday, the Mets will wear a patch for the remainder of the season honoring Cashen on their right sleeves, below a patch recognizing Ralph Kiner. Cashen died Monday at age 88.

• Will the Mets trade Murphy before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline?


Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesAssistant GM John Ricco indicated the Mets have not had serious recent dialogue about trading Daniel Murphy.


“We haven’t specifically talked about Dan recently,” assistant GM John Ricco told Tim Rohan in the Times. “He is one of the more valuable guys we have. He leads the league in hits. He’s settled in as one of the best second basemen in the game, certainly offensively, and is a leader on our team.”

Asked about the optics of trading Murphy, Ricco added to the newspaper: “It depends what the return is.”

• The Mets signed 11 players on the day international 16-year-olds are eligible to ink contracts: shortstops Yoel Romero and Edgardo Fermin, outfielder Yordin Araujo, right-handers Jhoander Chourio and Jurgen Jimenez and left-hander Daniel Guzman from Venezuela and right-handers Agustin Casilla and Jose Moreno, outfielder Claudio Geraldo, shortstop Hansel Moreno and catcher Luis Lebron from the Dominican Republic.

None ranked in the top 30 in Baseball America’s rankings.

On Romero, who turned 16 in April and received a reported $300,000 signing bonus, Paul DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com: “He’s a very solid defender at shortstop -- definitely stays at the position.”

Baseball America also forecasts the Mets will sign Venezuelan shortstop Kenny Hernandez, who is not eligible to sign until turning 16 on Aug. 13. The magazine ranks Hernandez the 13th-best international prospect and writes:

He fits better at third base or possibly second than he does at shortstop, but he stands out most at the plate with one of the sweetest swings in the class. Two of the Mets’ top signings last year -- Dominican outfielder Ricardo Cespedes and Venezuelan shortstop Luis Carpios -- were also two of the youngest players in their class. It looks like they’re ready to go that route again.

• Although the Mets have agreed to the financial terms with first-round pick Michael Conforto at the recommended $2,970,800 slot figure, the Oregon State outfielder is not yet officially on board. A source familiar with the negotiations recently told ESPNNewYork.com that no snags are expected and Conforto just wants some time to relax after the college baseball season.

Alderson told Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com about Conforto: “There are three or four [mostly] non-financial clauses that we are talking about. … I certainly expect this deal to get done.”

• Left-hander Scott Rice, on the Triple-A disabled list with an elbow injury, is traveling to New York for an MRI. He has been dealing with a nerve issue, SNY correspondent Robert Brender tweeted.

• St. Lucie rallied in the ninth to beat Charlotte, 7-6, as Gilbert Gomez doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball. Jon Leroux doubled and scored the tiebreaking run as Savannah beat Charleston, 7-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• The bullpen has become sturdy with Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia at the back end, Jared Diamond writes in the Journal.

• Collins said he did not believe Julio Teheran’s pickoff move, which caught Eric Young Jr. on Wednesday, is legal. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

BIRTHDAYS: Moises Alou turns 48. ... Frank Tanana is 61.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who should represent the Mets at the All-Star Game?
ATLANTA

FIRST PITCH: How low will they go?

Jacob deGrom takes the mound on Wednesday at Turner Field trying to help the Mets avoid getting swept in the three-game series.

The Mets enter his start 10 games under .500 and nine games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves, both season worsts.

DeGrom (1-4, 3.62 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (7-5, 2.34) in the 7:10 p.m. finale.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed five runs in five innings, including a costly two-out RBI single to opposing pitcher Mike Minor, and the Mets stranded the potential tying run at third base in the fifth when Chris Young and Travis d’Arnaud were retired en route to a 5-4 loss to the Braves on Tuesday. Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy homered in the defeat.

The Mets dropped to 10-20 in one-run games.

They struck out 13 times and now have 712 Ks this season, on pace for 1,373. That would fall 11 shy of matching the franchise record, set last season.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

• With online voting set to conclude at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, David Wright trails leader Aramis Ramirez of the Milwaukee Brewers by 235,060 votes for the starting nod for the National League at third base in the July 15 All-Star Game at Minnesota.

Dillon Gee’s next and potentially last minor-league rehab start will be Friday for the Brooklyn Cyclones at 6 p.m. at Coney Island. The Mets figure to bring back Gee before the All-Star break, especially given Matsuzaka’s performance Tuesday, although Terry Collins suggested the organization would at least consider waiting until afterward to activate Gee to minimize his idle time. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Noah Syndergaard allowed five runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings Tuesday with Las Vegas. Dustin Lawley had two homers in Binghamton’s 9-6 loss at New Britain. St. Lucie scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Charlotte, 6-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Even before Syndergaard’s Tuesday outing in Triple-A, Collins indicated there had been no discussion of a promotion date for the top prospect. The manager suggested there may not be a call-up at all in 2014. Read more in Newsday.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear considers Frank Cashen's accomplishments in the context of the Roman Empire. … NY Mets Life gives credit to Mets fans and The 7 Line Army.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets outfielder Angel Pagan, who just had a setback in his return from a back injury, turns 33. ... Hal Reniff, who finished his career with the Mets, was born on this date in 1938.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What will be the Mets’ final record this season?

Rapid Reaction: Braves 5, Mets 4

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
10:30
PM ET
ATLANTA -- The hole keeps getting deeper for the New York Mets.

The Atlanta Braves beat the Mets, 5-4, Tuesday at Turner Field, dropping the Amazin’s 10 games under .500 for the first time this season. The Mets (37-47) also fell a season-high nine games off the division lead.

No Dice: Daisuke Matsuzaka should have one more start in the rotation. After that, Dillon Gee could be activated from the disabled list and displace him.

For the second straight start, Matsuzaka allowed five runs.

This time, with the score tied at 2 in the fourth, Matsuzaka surrendered a two-out RBI single to opposing pitcher Mike Minor. Andrelton Simmons followed with a two-run single as the Braves took a 5-2 lead.

Matsuzaka’s line: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. His season ERA now stands at 3.72.

Gee makes what potentially is his final rehab start Friday, with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Deep thoughts: Curtis Granderson homered for the second straight day, while Daniel Murphy also went deep. Murphy’s two-run shot against Minor in the fifth pulled the Mets within 5-4.

Eric Campbell and Lucas Duda followed with singles to place runners on the corners with one out. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez then summoned right-hander Shae Simmons. He coaxed a flyout from Chris Young and struck out Travis d'Arnaud to strand the potential tying run at third base.

Since his three-homer series against Oakland, C.Y. is 1-for-15 on the road trip. His average has dropped to .199. D’Arnaud actually has hit safely in all seven games since returning from Las Vegas.

Heavy lifting: Aided by one hustling catch by Juan Lagares, Carlos Torres contributed three no-hit innings in relief of Matsuzaka to keep the Mets within a run entering the ninth. The only baserunner came on a two-out throwing error by Torres to first base in the eighth.

Ouch: Jersey native Tommy La Stella departed the game with a right foot bruise, which he suffered getting hit by a pitch from Matsuzaka in the second inning.

What’s next: Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.62 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (7-5, 2.34) in Wednesday’s 7:10 p.m. series finale.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.284 7 38 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 16
RBIL. Duda 51
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .850
WB. Colon 9
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112