New York Mets: New York Mets

Plawecki catching pens, 'feeling good'

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
1:14
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Adam RubinKevin Plawecki is nearing a return to games.


NEW YORK -- Catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, who has been dealing with vertigo, has resumed taking batting practice and catching bullpen sessions and "has been feeling good," Paul DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com.

Plawecki, 23, last appeared in a game with Las Vegas on July 17.

Plawecki represented the Mets in the Futures Game along with Noah Syndergaard. He is hitting .234 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 47 at-bats in the Pacific Coast League since a promotion from Double-A Binghamton.

Payroll would need big leap to support Tulo

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
1:07
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NEW YORK -- Let’s say the Mets pulled off the seemingly unlikely and landed Troy Tulowitzki in a trade this winter, which requires the Mets ponying up the winning package of prospects, starting with Noah Syndergaard.

What would the Mets’ payroll look like in 2015? And could the franchise support two players making $20 million a season?

Of course, the Mets could always try to deal Bartolo Colon and/or Daniel Murphy this winter to shed some money. But let’s look at existing commitments and see what type of payroll would be needed to support adding the Rockies shortstop even without any other notable retooling of the roster.

Tulowitzki is owed $20 million a season through 2019, then $14 million in 2020. He has a $15 million team option for 2021 that includes a $4 million buyout.

I haven’t done any calculations as to what the arbitration-eligible players’ raises would be, so below are crude estimates (with 2014 salaries in parentheses).

Guaranteed contracts

Tulowitzki $20M
David Wright $20M
Curtis Granderson $16M
Colon $11M
Jonathon Niese $7M

Subtotal: $74M

Arbitration-eligible players (including potential Super 2s)

Murphy $8M ($5.7M)
Dillon Gee $5M ($3.625M)
Lucas Duda $4M ($1.6375M)
Bobby Parnell $3.7M ($3.7M)
Jenrry Mejia $2.5M ($590,675)
Eric Young Jr. $1.95M ($1.85M)
Ruben Tejada $1.75M ($1.1M)
Anthony Recker $900k ($505,340)

Subtotal: $27.8M

That’s a total of 13 players making roughly $101.8 million.

There are 12 other players required to fill out a 25-man roster. Let’s say they all make close to the major league minimum in 2015, which will be adjusted upward modestly from this year’s $500,000 figure based on a cost of living calculation. That’s a total of at least $6 million.

Then, Mets officials previously have said another $4.5 million or so is always added into payroll estimates to account for things such as more than 25 players on the payroll at any given time (because of DL, etc.).

So let’s add $10.5 million to the $101.8 million.

So without any winter modifications other than letting expiring contracts lapse (like Chris Young's), adding Tulowitzki’s contract and otherwise returning the team intact means the Mets payroll would be about $112.3 million in 2015.

In fact, if you just had a $500,000 player instead of Tulo on the 2015 roster, the Mets’ payroll still would be up considerably from this year’s total before any modifications at all -- from roughly $85 million now to $92.8 million.

88 wins gets Mets into postseason?

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:39
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NEW YORK -- The Mets continue to portray themselves as in a postseason race. And with solid play of late, it's fun to believe.

The reality is the required win total would be a major uphill battle.

What record would the Mets need to post the remainder of the season to have a shot?

At a minimum, going 38-19 -- a .667 win percentage -- would seem to be required.

That would get the Mets to 88-74 for the season.

In terms of winning the NL East, the Mets (50-55) currently trail the first place Nationals (57-45) by 8 1/2 games. Washington's .559 win percentage is on pace for 91 wins for the season.

And 91 wins is a low figure for winning this division over the past decade. In 2013, the Braves captured the NL East with 96 wins. Going backward, the other NL East-winning totals from the past decade are 98, 102, 97, 93, 92, 89, 97, 90 and 96.

So what about the wild card?

The Braves and Giants have identical 57-48 records and would be the two wild-card teams if the season ended today. Their .543 win percentages translate to 88 wins.

So that's the bare minimum the Mets would likely have to achieve.

This is the third year of two wild-card teams in each league. In 2013, Cincinnati got the second wild card with 90 wins. In 2012, St. Louis got the second wild card at 88.

If you go back historically for the remainder of the past decade and pretend two wild-card teams got in, the second win total would be: 89, 90, 88, 89, 89, 85, 88, 91.

Sizing up deGrom's ROY competition

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:00
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USA TODAY SportsBilly Hamilton, Jacob deGrom and Gregory Polanco should be NL Rookie of the Year candidates.
NEW YORK -- The Mets have produced four NL Rookie of the Year winners: Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984).

Could a 30-year drought be coming to an end?

Jacob deGrom added to his résumé on Sunday by tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The 26-year-old deGrom has won four straight outings to improve to 5-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 starts. A former college shortstop, he also has a .250 batting average.

There are two months left in the season, so plenty of time exists for things to sort themselves out.

At the very least, deGrom can begin by getting consideration for NL Rookie of the Month for July. In five starts this month, deGrom went 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA. He produced 38 strikeouts and walked seven in 32 1/3 innings.

The July competition?

No other NL rookie starting pitcher has produced more than two wins this month. And that’s San Diego’s Jesse Hahn, who is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts so far in July. (Of course, Jeurys Familia has excelled out of the bullpen.)

So the July challenge may come on the position-player side, with Arizona’s David Peralta, St. Louis’ Kolten Wong, Atlanta’s Tommy La Stella, Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton and the Mets’ Travis d'Arnaud and all having sound months.

• Wong has hit .315 with five homers in 50 at-bats this month.

• La Stella is hitting .296 with nine RBIs in 81 at-bats.

• Peralta is hitting .347 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 72 at-bats.

• Hamilton has 12 RBIs and seven steals in July, albeit with a .256 average

So far, the NL Rookie of the Month winners have gone to Chris Owings in April, Wong in May and Hamilton in June.

Owings (.277, 6 HR, 21 RBIs, 238 ABs) has been out since June 25 with a left shoulder strain.

Meanwhile, Gregory Polanco got off to a torrid start with Pittsburgh. He currently is hitting .247 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 162 at-bats on the season.

One impediment to deGrom winning the annual award could be an innings cap. He even could be briefly reassigned to the bullpen at some point. Sandy Alderson has said deGrom should get about 185 innings this season, which leaves only 59 2/3 to go.

One positive: Unlike recent seasons (Jose Fernandez, Bryce Harper) and unlike the AL this year (Jose Abreu), there is no dominant NL candidate.

So deGrom at least has a fighting chance.

Series preview: Mets vs. Phillies

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
8:45
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Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick as they return home to play the Phillies.
METS (50-55, fourth place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (46-59, fifth place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Bartolo Colon (9-8, 4.03) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.86), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-3, 3.49) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (5-5, 2.72), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.64) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (5-10, 4.87), 12:10 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

Ryan Howard was benched for three straight games last week, with Darin Ruf -- who was promoted from Triple-A on Tuesday -- instead starting at first base. In the 21 games before the Wednesday-Friday sit-down, Howard was hitting .141 with one homer in 78 at-bats.

Howard is owed a combined $60 million in 2015 and 2016, including the buyout of the following season. He could get dealt before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline. The Phillies reportedly have contemplated releasing him during the offseason and eating the remaining contract if the 34-year-old Howard is not dealt by then, although GM Ruben Amaro has denied that is a consideration.


Gene J. Puskar/Associated PressRyan Howard has been at the center of recent drama in Philly.


Howard did produce a two-out, two-run first-inning homer against left-hander Vidal Nuno on Sunday as the Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-2. Despite struggles, Howard’s 62 RBIs rank fifth in the National League.

Howard is one of multiple Phillies who could be traded this week. Others include ex-Met Marlon Byrd, right-hander A.J. Burnett, left-hander Cliff Lee and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

However, two of Byrd’s potential suitors, the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, reportedly are on his no-trade list.

Byrd jumped on a two-year, $16 million contract with the Phillies early in the offseason. The deal includes an $8 million club and vesting option for 2016. Byrd’s 20 homers are tied for fourth in the NL, trailing only Anthony Rizzo (25), Giancarlo Stanton (23) and Troy Tulowitzki (21).

Papelbon has converted 25 saves in 28 chances, but did have a blown save and a loss in consecutive appearances against the San Francisco Giants last week.

Burnett tossed eight scoreless innings against San Francisco in his last outing.

Jimmy Rollins essentially triggered an $11 million vesting option for 2015 when he logged his 1,100th plate appearance of the 2013 and ’14 seasons over the weekend. Rollins still must avoid finishing the season on the disabled list for the option to formally kick in.

Grady Sizemore started in center field on Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox. He hit .216 with two homers in 185 at-bats with the club before being designated for assignment on June 17. He was released the following day.

Sizemore, who turns 32 on Friday, is hitting .319 (15-for-47) since joining the Phillies on July 11 after 11 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has started six games in center field and five games in left field with Philadelphia. A three-time All-Star, Sizemore missed the 2012 and ’13 seasons because of multiple surgeries on both knees.

Sizemore’s role could further increase if Byrd is traded and if Domonic Brown (.231, 7 HR, 49 RBIs, 341 ABs) continues to not produce. Sizemore notched his 1,000th career hit on Friday.

• Catcher Carlos Ruiz was activated from the concussion DL on Wednesday. He originally was hit in the head with a pitch from Miami’s A.J. Ramos on June 26.

• Rookie right-handed reliever Ken Giles tossed another scoreless inning Sunday. Giles, 23, has allowed two earned runs in 18 1/3 major league innings. He has struck out 26 during that span.

Morning Briefing: Sandy thrown under bus?

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
5:24
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Associated PressBartolo Colon makes his final start before the non-waiver trade deadline on Monday.
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Bartolo Colon makes his final start before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline when the Mets return home to face the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.

Colon (9-8, 4.03 ERA) enters the start off an outing in Seattle in which he retired the game’s first 20 batters. Robinson Cano broke up the perfect-game bid in the seventh with a line single.

Colon opposes right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.86) in the 7:10 p.m. series opener.

The Mets took four of five games in Philly when the teams last met, May 29-June 2.

Of course, the Mets won eight of 10 games on their last homestand and now have a 25-23 record at Citi Field this season. The Mets have not finished a season with a winning home record since 2010.

Colon, incidentally, likely will be eligible to be traded in August, too -- either by clearing waivers or via the Mets dealing with a team that puts in a claim. That is because he is owed $11 million in 2015, during a season in which he will turn 42 years old.

Monday’s news reports:

• After giving an interview to Willie Weinbaum at ESPN.com in which he advocated Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire getting voted into the Hall of Fame with asterisks, Tony La Russa went further during an interview published in the Daily News.


Mike Groll/Associated PressTony La Russa said he brought concerns about steroid use to Sandy Alderson during their days with the A's, but was rebuffed.


La Russa said he voiced concern to Oakland Athletics GM Sandy Alderson and the team’s ownership during that era about potential player steroid use, but nothing was done.

“I knew our programs in Oakland were 100 percent clean,” La Russa told the Daily News. “But we had our suspicions -- guys hitting stronger but not working out. I went to Sandy and ownership about this. And they told me flat off, ‘Right of privacy. It’s a collective bargaining issue.’”

Alderson told the newspaper: “I’m not going to comment on that until at least Monday” -- presumably so any comments would not detract from induction weekend.

Jacob deGrom tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his latest dominating performance and Lucas Duda slugged his fourth homer in six games as the Mets beat the Brewers, 2-0, Sunday at Miller Park to earn a split of the four-game series.

The Mets went 5-5 on their second-half-opening trip to San Diego, Seattle and Milwaukee. With 57 games remaining, the Mets trail the first-place Washington Nationals by 8˝ games and are seven games out in the wild card.


Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesJacob deGrom has a 0.66 ERA over his past four starts.


DeGrom has now limited opponents to two runs in 27 1/3 innings over his past four starts -- all wins -- to even his record at 5-5. He has not allowed a homer in his last 59 innings. That is four outs shy of matching the franchise’s rookie record, set by Mark Bomback in 1980.

Duda had four of the Mets’ five homers on the entire 10-game trip, with Curtis Granderson producing the other. Duda entered Sunday with an NL-leading 24.3 percent of his at-bats this season ending with a ball deemed “hard hit,” according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Jenrry Mejia wriggled free despite allowing two baserunners in the ninth. He has now recorded a save in each of his last seven appearances. That’s the longest string of appearances with a save by a Mets reliever since Billy Wagner had a save in nine straight appearances in 2007.

The Mets posted a 5-5 trip despite failing to exceed three runs in any of the final nine games. If the Mets fail to reach four runs on Monday against the Phillies, it will become the longest streak of games producing three or fewer runs since 1981 (11 straight).

In the second half, the Mets are hitting .186 (60-for-322) and averaging 2.2 runs per game. Only the Cincinnati Reds are worse in those categories in the National League.

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

• Read more on Duda in the Post and Newsday.

Tom Glavine made multiple references to the Mets during his 17-minute induction speech in Cooperstown on Sunday.


Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY SportsTom Glavine generously mentioned the Mets during Sunday's Hall of Fame induction speech.


“To all the folks associated with the Mets organization, thank you for treating me and my family the way you did,” Glavine said. “Thank you Fred and Jeff Wilpon for the opportunity to play in New York and for providing the resources so I could experience a postseason there. To the fans of New York, thank you so much for your support and for ultimately treating me and my family with so much respect.”

Glavine singled out former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson and trainer Mike Herbst for gratitude.

“Rick, you helped me to reinvent myself, make the changes I needed to make for the latter part of my career -- which, trust me, when you were doing something for 16, 17 years, it's not an easy thing to change,” Glavine said. “But you talked me into it, you convinced me of it, and you gave me confidence to do it.”

Joe Torre also paid homage to the Mets early in his induction speech.

Torre lauded Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who was in attendance in Cooperstown, then said during in speech: “I was with the Mets a couple of years before I became manager. And then once I became manager on May 31, 1977, my first bit of duty was to trade Tom Seaver two weeks later, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun. And the last time he pitched for me -- I don’t know if you remember, Tommy -- he pitched in Houston. And when I went out to take him out of the game, he patted me on the rear end.

“I did have one accomplishment with the Mets as a player. And, again, you can’t go through life alone. Certainly in baseball, you need all the help you can get. Well, on July 21, I hit into four double plays in one game. And I just want to make sure I share the credit, because I could not have done it unless Felix Millan had hit four singles right in front of me.

“In 1977 I became manager. I want to thank the New York Mets, at the age of 36, for trusting me with their ballclub -- M. Donald Grant, chairman of the board. It was a great opportunity for me. You talk about learning. As I said, we had to make some trades a couple of weeks after I took the job. And there was a lot of learning -- young players -- but [it was] a great experience. A great experience.”

Read more on Mets references in Glavine’s speech in Newsday.

• Matt Reynolds launched a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh as Las Vegas beat Salt Lake, 6-5. Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings. Jeremy Hefner allowed three runs in three innings in his fourth minor-league start since returning from Tommy John surgery as Daytona beat St. Lucie, 4-3, in Game 1 en route to a doubleheader sweep. St. Lucie has lost eight straight. Michael Bernal went 4-for-4 with four RBIs off the bench as Brooklyn beat Lowell, 9-3. Read the full minor-league recap here.

Troy Tulowitzki may love New York, but it looks like the Bronx would be his strong preference. Tulowitzki, on the DL with the Colorado Rockies and in the Northeast to visit a doctor in Philly, swung by Yankee Stadium on Sunday to watch Derek Jeter play.

“It’s a short drive from Philly,” Tulowitzki told The Denver Post. “I’m with my family. I wanted to see Jeter play one more time.”

• Terry Collins dismissed any apparent friction with Jonathon Niese, who was displeased with getting pulled after five innings Saturday.

“I love Jon and support everything he says,” Collins said. “I know he doesn’t want to come out. … Sandy Koufax told me many years ago, ‘Pitchers and managers never get along.’”

• Why did Juan Lagares slide headfirst into first base Sunday, against what his manager would prefer? “I was just trying to do something to get a hit because I don’t remember the last time I did,” Lagares told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear isn't so nervous during ninth innings these days.

BIRTHDAYS: No one to appear in a game for the Mets was born on this date, but Soulja Boy and Manu Ginobili celebrate birthdays on July 28.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Did Tony La Russa throw Sandy Alderson under the bus?

Minors 7.27.14: Reynolds homer lifts 51s

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
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LAS VEGAS 6, SALT LAKE 5: Matt Reynolds launched a three-run homer against Michael Kohn with one out in the seventh as the 51s overcame a 5-3 deficit. It marked only

lastname
Reynolds
Reynolds' third homer in 337 at-bats this season between Triple-A and Double-A. The Bees had scored three runs in the top half of the inning. The damage included a two-run double by ex-Met John Buck against Gonzalez Germen. Germen had inherited those runners from Miguel Socolovich. Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out eight in five innings. He threw 103 pitches (68 strikes). In his past two starts, Syndergaard has allowed one earned run in 11 1/3 innings. Chasen Bradford tossed a scoreless ninth for his second save despite allowing a leadoff single to Buck. After a sac bunt advanced pinch runner Zach Zaneski to second, Bradford struck out Roberto Lopez and John Hester. Pitching coach Frank Viola was ejected in the fifth inning by plate umpire Scott Mahoney. Box

TRENTON 7, BINGHAMTON 3: B-Mets starter Rainy Lara was tagged for seven runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The damage included a four-run sixth, capped by Jake Cave's two-run triple that staked the Thunder to a 7-2 lead. Jayce Boyd went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored in the loss. Binghamton had opened the scoring in the third inning against Manny Banuelos. Travis Taijeron walked and moved to second when Kai Gronauer reached on Banuelos' throwing error. Both runners then advanced on a wild pitch. Rylan Sandoval followed with an RBI groundout. Trenton answered in the bottom half against Lara on Cave's solo homer. The Thunder took a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Casey Stevenson produced a solo homer. Back-to-back singles by Ali Castillo and Cave then put runners on the corners with none out. Ben Gamel produced a sacrifice fly. Binghamton got a run back in the sixth against Danny Burawa. T.J. Rivera smacked a one-out single and moved to second on a passed ball. Boyd also singled to plate Rivera and cut the deficit to 3-2. Chase Huchingson and Adam Kolarek blanked Trenton over the final 2 1/3 innings. Banuelos went four innings and surrendered one unearned run. Box

DAYTONA 4, ST. LUCIE 3
DAYTONA 6, ST. LUCIE 5: After three Gulf Coast League appearances since returning from

lastname
Hefner
Tommy John surgery, Jeremy Hefner allowed three runs on three hits and four walks in three innings in Game 1 of a Florida State League doubleheader. All three runs against Hefner came in the first inning. St. Lucie evened the score with a three-run fifth that included consecutive RBI doubles by Gilbert Gomez and Eudy Pina. Wilfredo Tovar, who was just assigned to the FSL club as he returns from thumb-ligament surgery, added a game-tying RBI single. The Cubs broke the 3-all tie in the bottom half without the benefit of a hit. Jake Kuebler issued a leadoff walk to Marco Hernandez. Hernandez advanced to third on a wild pitch and passed ball and scored the decisive run on Kyle Schwarber's sacrifice fly. Kuebler (3-2) suffered the loss on the unearned run despite not yielding any other baserunners in three relief innings.

In Game 2, St. Lucie took a 5-4 lead with a three-run fifth inning that included Jared King's tiebreaking RBI double. However, T.J. Chism surrendered a two-run homer in the bottom half to Dan Vogelbach after inheriting a runner from Luis Cessa. Box 1, Box 2

LEXINGTON 5, SAVANNAH 2: Dario Alvarez uncorked a wild pitch in the seventh that allowed a runner inherited from Bret Mitchell to race home and even the score at 2. An inning later, Alvarez surrendered three more runs. He had a throwing error on a bunt attempt as the tiebreaking run scored. The Gnats had taken a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Matt Oberste tripled and scored on a passed ball. Starter John Gant allowed one run on seven hits and four walks in five innings in a no-decision. Box

KINGSPORT 11, BURLINGTON 3: Pedro Perez had a pair of doubles and drove in three runs as the K-Mets overcame an early 2-1 deficit. Starter Blake Taylor allowed three runs in six innings. Box

BROOKLYN 9, LOWELL 3: Michael Bernal went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs off

lastname
Bernal
the bench after replacing injured first baseman Michael Katz as the Cyclones overcame an early 3-1 deficit. First-round pick Michael Conforto went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and walk to lift his average to .412. Conforto has hit safely in all nine games since signing and joining Brooklyn. Starter Marcos Molina allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks in six innings. Katz was injured in the third inning when Danny Mars hit a groundball into the hole between Katz and second baseman Tyler Moore. Moore was able to get to the ball and tried to retire Mars at first base. As Katz tried to catch Moore’s throw he twisted a knee. Box

Compiled with team reports

DeGrom rolls through July

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
7:40
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MILWAUKEE -- July has been a blistering month for Jacob deGrom.

“He’s been very good,” manager Terry Collins said after deGrom helped the Mets split the four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers with a 2-0 victory on Sunday. “We keep talking about it. I guess he has to go out each time and prove it. He’s been very good. He was very good today.”

The rookie right-hander, pitching like a veteran hurler, has won his last four decisions dating back to July 8 against the Atlanta Braves. Over that stretch, he has a stellar 0.66 ERA, allowing two earned runs.

[+] EnlargedeGrom
Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesJacob deGrom notched his fourth straight win Sunday.
He stymied the Brewers’ offense, limiting them to two harmless hits scattered over six solid innings, and then two more in the seventh.

“Against a good lineup, you can’t make mistakes,” Collins said. “He stayed away from mistakes.”

He went out for the seventh having already thrown a season-high 109 pitches, a move that seemed surprising.

Collins explained that it had to do with the rest he’d be getting before his next start.

It was also a chance to stretch him out, according to the manager, who consulted with pitching coach Dan Warthen and deGrom.

“He’s got an extra day,” Collins said. “We’re off Thursday. He doesn’t pitch until Saturday. I told Dan let’s try to stretch him, 120 would be tops. He was keeping the ball down. He was keeping the ball in the ballpark. He had an easy inning the inning before.”

Added deGrom: “He asked me if I was all right. I wanted to go back out there. [It] means a lot that he had confidence in me to go back out there in the seventh inning with that many pitches.”

Keeping it in the park: In his last nine starts (59.0 innings), Jacob deGrom has not allowed a home run. This is the second-longest active streak among NL starters and sixth longest among major-league pitchers.

Firing blanks: This was the eighth time the Mets have shut out an opponent this season.

Duda supplies power, 'happy to contribute'

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
7:33
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MILWAUKEE -- Lucas Duda provided the winning hits in the New York Mets' two victories in the four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Both were two-run homers that Duda crushed over the right-field fence at Miller Park. Friday night, the big blow came in the top of the ninth when the Mets rallied for three runs and beat the Brewers 3-2.

[+] EnlargeLucas Duda
AP Photo/Jeffrey PhelpsLucas Duda powered the Mets to a win in Milwaukee Sunday.
Sunday, his career-high 18th home run, another two-run shot, produced a 2-0 lead that starter Jacob deGrom and relievers Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia made stand up for a victory that sent the Mets home with a .500 (5-5) road trip record.

Duda’s offensive punch definitely put a charge, actually the only electricity, in an anemic offense against Milwaukee. The Mets scored just eight runs, were 3-for-27 with runners in scoring position and stranded 24 batters over the four-game stretch.

“You can’t say enough about the way he’s hit the ball,” manager Terry Collins said. “Let’s just hope he remains hot because he’s going to put up some big numbers in the next couple of months.”

Asked if he expected this type of effort from himself, the introspective slugging first baseman said, “Yeah, I'm just happy to contribute.”

Duda hit three home runs in the series with Milwaukee and four in his last six games. He hit a solo shot in Thursday’s 9-1 loss.

“Any time you can contribute, it feels good,” he said. “I wouldn’t read too much into it. I’m just happy to contribute.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 2, Brewers 0

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
5:32
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MILWAUKEE -- Lucas Duda and Jacob deGrom made sure the New York Mets headed home for the first time since the All-Star break with a big 2-0 victory over Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The Mets finished their 10-game road trip at .500, going (1-2) in San Diego, (2-1) in Seattle and (2-2) in Milwaukee.

Duda’s team-leading and career-high 18th home run was just as majestic as Friday night’s game-winning, two-run shot in the top of the ninth. This two-run blast with Daniel Murphy aboard landed in the second tier of the right-field bleachers. He has now gone deep in four of his past six games.

The rookie right-hander did his part, too. He limited the Brewers to three hits through six solid innings. He went out for the seventh having already thrown a season-high 109 pitches. Khris Davis whacked deGrom’s second pitch for a single. When Jean Segura followed with a one-out single, manager Terry Collins took out deGrom (5-5), who finished with four strike outs and two walks, and turned to Vic Black to protect the 2-0 lead.

A scorching July would be describe deGrom. He came in 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA, three straight starts of seven innings or more and one earned run or fewer, and did not alter that successful pattern. The only hiccup came July 8 against the Braves when he allowed three runs in five innings of a 3-1 loss in Atlanta.

Jeurys Familia pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, extending his scoreless streak to eight innings. Jenrry Mejia had the ninth. He made it interesting when he allowed a one-out single to Davis and a two-out single to Segura before getting Lyle Overbay to ground out to second for his 15th save, giving him seven saves in his last seven appearances.

The Mets challenged their 22nd play of the season. Davis was originally ruled safe on a grounder to short with one out in the bottom of the ninth. After an estimated time of 1 minute, 46 seconds, the call was stood.

Duda, who has now driven in at least one run in four straight games, rescued the Mets. They had their chances in the first three innings against Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson (1-2), but ended each frame going 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. Duda’s mighty swing changed all that in a hurry.

The Mets came into Sunday’s finale of the four-game series in a scoring funk. For the first three games, they had scored six runs, left 17 on base and were 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
Chris Young, batting .162 (6-37) in his previous 18 games, made it four doubles in two games with his drive to the wall in left-center in the fourth. He took third when Juan Lagares grounded out, but as far too often in this series, he was left stranded when Anthony Recker went down swinging.

Nelson had the first hit off deGrom in the third. Shortstop Ruben Tejada charged after the sharply hit ball and almost got it off the outfield grass behind second. It was Nelson’s first hit in professional baseball, snapping an 0-for-66 streak, including 0-for-7 in the majors.

Hit the Roof: Mark Reynolds teed off on a pitch from deGroom and hit the support wires that stretch high over the third-base side of Miller Park’s retractable roof. The ball caromed back and landed in left field, an automatic dead ball.

Interesting Reading: Among the various magazines and books in the Mets’ clubhouse one interesting selection stood out: New York Yankees Championship Heart.

What’s next: Right-hander Bartolo Colon (9-8, 4.03 ERA) makes his first start since flirting with perfection in the 7:10 p.m. opener of a three-game series with Philadelphia. He faces Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.86).

Collins: .500 trip would be huge

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
12:53
PM ET
Collins
Collins
MILWAUKEE -- Although it would not help the Mets gain any ground, winning Sunday to make it a .500 trip to open the second half would be "a huge step," Terry Collins said before the series finale against the Brewers.

“It’d be great coming out of the break," Collins said. "I know it’s been two weeks since the last game we played in Citi Field. So it’s been a long trip, long trip. So to finish it on a high note would be great for us.”

The Mets went 1-2 in San Diego and 2-1 in Seattle. They have lost two of three so far in Milwaukee.

Niese
Niese
No worries: Jonathon Niese, who took the loss Saturday night, said he could have gone longer than just five innings. But Collins downplayed any tension.

“I’ve known Jon Niese long enough,” Collins said. “He never wants to come out. I love that about him.”

Collins pinch hit for Niese in the top of the sixth with two outs, the Mets trailing 3-2 and Chris Young in scoring position.

“There’s a time when you got to get your team back in the game,” Collins said. “You’ve got a runner at third base in the sixth inning. You’re only down a run and Jon’s got basically one more inning to go anyway. You just can’t give away that opportunity to tie the game up.”

So, Collins took no exception to Niese’s opinion.

“I love Jon and support everything he says,” Collins said. “I know he doesn’t want to come out.”

Then Collins shared a little nugget of advice he got from a Hall of Fame pitcher.

“Sandy Koufax told me many years ago, pitchers and managers never get along," Collins said.

deGrom having one heck of a month

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
11:13
AM ET
What’s the scary thing about Mets starter Jacob deGrom in July?

You could make a case that he should be even better than he’s been.

That seems hard to fathom considering how good deGrom has been this month -- 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA, three straight starts of seven innings or more and one earned run or fewer, with the only blip being his first start of the month, in which he allowed three runs in five innings to the Atlanta Braves.

deGrom’s 34-strikeout, five-walk, no homers allowed combo yields a 1.10 Fielding Independent Pitching (known as FIP in sabermetric terms). That’s an estimate on what deGrom’s ERA should have been had an average percentage of balls in play been converted into outs.

That’s the one odd thing among deGrom’s numbers- opponents have a .365 batting average on balls in play against him in July.

But deGrom has thrived regardless, to the point of being talked about as an NL Rookie of the Year candidate. His 1.6 Wins Above Replacement this season is the best among NL rookie pitchers, though it trails two position players -- Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton (2.5) and Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings (2.1)

The best thing about deGrom is that it seems like he’s getting better with each start. The biggest improvement has come in his walk rate, which was 4.0 per 9 innings entering the month. He’s cut that to 1.7 in July.

He’s also upped his ground-ball rate, which was 43 percent from April to June, to 50 percent this month, and done so by getting the ball to the bottom of the strike zone more often. His rate of throwing pitches to the lower-third of the strike zone or below, has gone from 48 percent (pre-July) to 57 percent (this month).

deGrom has had all four pitches working very effectively this month. The best jump in performance has come from his curveball, which has been a tantalizing pitch for hitters.

deGrom’s first 51 curveballs this season resulted in six hits allowed, six swings and misses, and two outs recorded. The 44 he’s thrown in July (an average of 11 per start) have resulted in only two hits allowed, 13 swings-and-misses, and seven outs recorded.

With better secondary stuff has come better fastball results. Opponents have missed on 27 percent of deGrom’s fastballs this month, the highest rate for any starting pitcher in the major leagues.

deGrom can put himself into some good company with another start of at least seven innings, with one run or fewer allowed. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that only two rookies have had a streak of four straight such starts in the last 30 seasons -- Roy Oswalt in 2001 and Matt Cain in 2006.

Sunday's Mets-Brewers lineups

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
11:04
AM ET
Here are the lineups for the New York Mets' 2:10 p.m. ET series finale Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

Mets
Curtis Granderson, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, 1b
Chris Young, lf
Juan Lagares, cf
Anthony Recker, c
Ruben Tejada, ss
Jacob deGrom, rhp

Brewers
Carlos Gomez, cf
Rickie Weeks, 2b
Ryan Braun, rf
Jonathan Lucroy, c
Khris Davis, lf
Mark Reynolds, 1b
Jean Segura, ss
Elian Herrera, 3b
Jimmy Nelson, rhp

Morning Briefing: End of the road

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
5:40
AM ET
FIRST PITCH: The Mets’ second-half-opening road trip concludes Sunday in Milwaukee, and the Amazin’s are a win away from a .500 record during the three-city excursion.

Jacob deGrom (4-5, 3.01 ERA) looks to continue his stellar rookie campaign. DeGrom has produced a 1.59 ERA over his past six starts. He has allowed only two runs in 21 innings over his past three starts.

DeGrom opposes right-hander Jimmy Nelson (1-1, 5.06) in the 2:10 p.m. ET finale.

The Mets are 4-5 on their trip to San Diego, Seattle and Milwaukee.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Milwaukee overcame a two-run deficit with three runs in the fifth against Jonathon Niese and ultimately beat the Mets, 5-2, on Saturday at Miller Park. A displeased Niese was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth.

Chris Young started over slumping Juan Lagares and had two doubles. However, Young also had Mark Reynolds' leadoff single drop in front of him in the fifth. If caught, Niese may have escaped that inning unscathed.

The Mets have scored three runs or fewer in eight straight games. If they fail to exceed three runs on Sunday, it will match the franchise’s longest streak since going nine straight games in August 2012.

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

Daisuke Matsuzaka landed on the disabled list Saturday with inflammation in his pitching elbow. Doctors will need for the inflammation to subside before making a proper diagnosis. Terry Collins expects more than a 15-day absence for Matsuzaka. Buddy Carlyle rejoined the Mets. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• How inefficient have the Mets been in spending money? Well, since 2000, only the Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles were less efficient, according to an analysis at fivethirtyeight.com. During the 15-year period, the Mets overpaid by $564.3 million for their win total, the study found. The Oakland Athletics set the standard, getting $1.376 billion in extra value compared to what the average MLB dollar buys in terms of wins.

• After being promoted to Triple-A to replace Darin Gorski (broken foot), Matt Bowman dominated Salt Lake on Saturday. Bowman took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning, although he ultimately was charged with three runs (two earned) after a pair of runners he turned over to the bullpen scored. Dilson Herrera had a three-run homer and drove in four runs as Binghamton beat Trenton, 10-7. Will Fulmer’s two-run single helped lift Brooklyn past Vermont, 3-2. After undergoing surgery on a thumb ligament, Wilfredo Tovar has returned to action in the Gulf Coast League. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Mike Gavin in Newsday unearths the origins of Mets and Yankees players’ walk-up music. Writes Gavin:

Zack Wheeler recently felt that it was time to change his warm-up music. So he tracked down a scoreboard employee and requested "Purple Haze" by Hendrix.

"I like something that pumps me up," he said. "Some guys, they like it to settle them down, but I like it to get me going."

Anthony Recker gives restaurant tips for NL cities to Jared Diamond in the Journal.

• Ex-Met (and ex-Brave) Tom Glavine will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Glavine went 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA in 164 starts over five seasons with the Mets. Also being inducted: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre. Torre produced a 286-420 record while managing the Mets from 1977 through 1981.

Anthony McCarron in the Daily News chats with Torre about how he became Mets manager.

• Mary Kay Linge in the Post has a first-person account of participating in the Citi Field sleepover.

John Lannan is due make his season debut with Las Vegas on Monday. Lannan had a 6.75 ERA in six starts with St. Lucie after rejoining the organization following a seven-week absence for a “personal reason.”

Troy Tulowitzki is headed to Philadelphia … for a visit with a doctor, writes Nick Groke in the Denver Post.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear delves into Mets fans’ intuition.

BIRTHDAYS: First base coach Tom Goodwin turns 46.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Chris Young start the series finale after producing two doubles on Saturday?

Need for offense ends Niese's night early

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
12:01
AM ET
Manager Terry Collins might have left his starter, Jonathon Niese, in the game longer. Certainly, Niese thought he had more to give. In the end, the hope for offense outweighed giving him a few more innings.

With a runner at third, two outs and a chance to tie the game, Collins elected to pinch hit Niese (5-6) in the sixth.

Collins sent Bobby Abreu up for his left-hander, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke pulled starter Wily Peralta (12-6) in favor of his left-handed reliever, Zach Duke. Collins called Abreu back and decided on right-handed hitter Eric Campbell. Duke struck out Campbell to protect a 3-2 lead for Peralta.

[+] EnlargeNiese
Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesJon Niese felt he could pitch more innings. But Terry Collins opted for offense.
“He certainly deserved to go back out, but we’ve been having a tough time scoring,” said Collins, who had Niese batting eighth in the lineup. “So I thought he had to hit for him in the sixth.”

Niese was diplomatic about being lifted, despite giving up three runs with two outs in the Brewers’ fifth.

“I thought I should have been out there anyway, whether I was up eighth or ninth,” he said. “Terry makes those decisions. Those are out of my control. I could’ve gone one or two more. I gave up three runs. That caused me to cut my game short.”

The Brewers’ comeback haunted Niese, who threw 89 pitches -- 59 of them strikes.

“Them getting those runs with two outs is frustrating,” he said. “They hit it where we weren’t. They just started attacking me early there [and we] made some mistakes. [We] paid for them again.”

And the call is reversed: The Mets challenged their 21st play of the season. Mark Reynolds was originally ruled safe on a grounder to third. After an estimated time of 1:03, the call was reversed.

A rare stolen base: When Jean Segura swiped second in the fifth, it was only the third steal, in 479 batters, that Niese had allowed this season.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
9 4.03 100 134
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .293
HRL. Duda 18
RBIL. Duda 56
RD. Murphy 59
OPSL. Duda .856
ERAJ. Niese 3.23
SOZ. Wheeler 121