Morning Briefing: Mets teeter at .500

May, 7, 2014
May 7
5:30
AM ET
MIAMI

FIRST PITCH: The Mets had moved a season-high four games over .500 after winning in Philly last Tuesday. Now, Zack Wheeler needs to help prevent the Mets from returning to Citi Field with a losing record to face the Phillies.

Wheeler (1-3, 5.13 ERA) opposes Miami Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler (3-2, 2.41) in Wednesday’s 12:40 p.m. road-trip finale.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Henderson Alvarez became the first Marlins pitcher to shut out the Mets since Dontrelle Willis in 2005 as Miami won, 3-0, Tuesday night at Marlins Park. Bartolo Colon allowed three runs in seven innings and dropped to 2-5 with a 5.36 ERA. Terry Collins nonetheless said the Mets, who are 16-16 on the season, are “doing all right.”

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

• Heavily used Carlos Torres has been dealing with a lat muscle issue. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Jeremy Hefner hopes to be throwing off the slope of a mound within three weeks and hopes to return to the majors by season’s end. Read more in the Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post surmises that the bullpen is the Mets’ Achilles heel yet again this season. Writes Davidoff:

Sandy Alderson, in his fourth year as the Mets’ general manager, has performed enough heavy lifting to make this beleaguered franchise relevant again. Except the launch to greater heights is in peril because he and his lieutenants haven’t been able to figure out the darn bullpen.

“We’re disappointed with where we are,” Alderson said, referring to his relief corps, in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It’s not a pen that has been consistently underperforming, but it has underperformed spectacularly in certain cases. Overall, it has been inconsistent.”

• Former Mets lefty reliever Royce Ring is back with the organization as pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League club.

Jenrry Mejia must demonstrate he can navigate the middle innings of games or he may soon be bounced to the bullpen, a team insider tells ESPNNewYork.com.

Jared Diamond in the Journal advocates the Mets using Mejia as closer. And Mejia -- despite previously expressing aversion to bullpen work -- says he would be OK with that, telling Diamond: “If they told me eighth-inning guy or ninth-inning guy, that’s going to be good to me.”

Writes Diamond:

Jenrry Mejia, who currently serves as the Mets' fifth starter, seems like a perfect candidate to close, a move that would instantly resolve a number of difficult questions surrounding the team's future. Transitioning Mejia to that role would alleviate an impending logjam in the rotation, repair the Mets' bullpen and, potentially, best leverage Mejia's skill set.

Unless the Mets' beleaguered relief corps suddenly improves, the debate about whether Mejia belongs in the bullpen will continue to burn.

"It's always in the conversation," manager Terry Collins said.

Read more on Mejia in the Star-Ledger.

• The amount the Wilpons owe as part of their Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme settlement is down to $80 million.

• Although the Mets are expected to soon expose Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero to bullpen work with Las Vegas in advance of a promotion to the big-league club for relief roles, the duo continues to be listed as starters with the 51s.

DeGrom is next scheduled to start Wednesday, with Montero starting on Friday. Alderson has said it’s “not a necessary step” that the duo first pitches in the minors in relief before coming to the majors for that role, but it may very well be the “first step.”

Of course, if Mejia flops, deGrom or Montero could end up in the big-league rotation, unless the Mets want to turn to Daisuke Matsuzaka.

“I think we are getting to the point where it’s probably weeks as opposed to months,” assistant GM John Ricco told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News for the timetable for deGrom and Montero to be contributing at the big-league level. “Ultimately that will be Sandy’s decision. But, I think we’re getting close.”

• Matsuzaka tells Mike Puma in the Post he will try a more streamlined warm-up routine. “I don’t think there are any short-term effects in throwing the amount I do,” Matsuzaka told Puma. “I don’t think it would affect me in that particular game, but the long-term effects are definitely going to take a toll on my body, so it’s something that I’ve thought about and I will definitely start making adjustments. With the weather getting warmer, my body probably doesn’t need as much to get warm, so I’m definitely going to try out a different routine.”

Mariano Rivera and Jon Stewart chatted about the Mets on “The Daily Show.”

• Darryl Strawberry’s son Jordan has committed to play college basketball at Mercer, TheRecruitScoop.com reported.

• Jayce Boyd homered and had two doubles as part of a four-hit game, but Binghamton lost to New Hampshire, 6-4. Read the full minor-league recap here.

From the bloggers … Mack’s Mets interviews Savannah outfielder Jared King.

BIRTHDAYS: Former catcher Brook Fordyce, who made his big-league debut as a Met, turns 44.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the bullpen issues have been foreseeable?
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187