Morning Briefing: Now don't stumble!

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
5:37
AM ET

Marc Serota/Getty ImagesMiami's Jose Fernandez (left) is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Marlins have won the last 10 games started by Henderson Alvarez (right).
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: The Mets portray themselves as still part of the NL East race.

If they want to validate a series win against the Atlanta Braves, then they better head into the All-Star break strongly by taking care of business against the Miami Marlins, too.

Zack Wheeler (4-8, 4.07 ERA) opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez (6-3, 2.27) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener. The Marlins have won Alvarez’s past 10 starts. He is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA since May 22.

Friday’s news reports:

Bartolo Colon allowed a pair of first-inning runs and that proved enough as the Atlanta Braves snapped the Mets’ season-high four-game winning streak with a 3-1 win Thursday at Citi Field. The Mets fell short of claiming their first four-game sweep against Atlanta in 25 years.

Colon has allowed 18 first-inning runs, trailing only Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick (23) in the majors this season. The total matches the most allowed by a Mets pitcher before the All-Star break in the past 40 years, according to STATS. Dwight Gooden in 1993 and Paul Wilson in 1996 also surrendered 18 first-inning runs.

Opponents are hitting .363 against Colon in the first inning this season, compared with .246 the remainder of his outings.

After limiting the Mets to one run in seven innings Thursday, Aaron Harang -- who finished last season with the Amazin’s -- now has held his former club to two runs and six hits in 20 innings this season.

With 70 games remaining, the Mets (42-50) trail the co-division-leading Braves and Nationals by eight games.

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

• Columnist George Willis in the Post takes the position that it is best to trade Colon this month. Writes Willis:

Trading Colon and what’s left on his two-year contract worth $20 million should be a no-brainer, but now that the Mets fancy themselves as a contender, general manager Sandy Alderson might decide to wait until they have no chance of making the postseason or wait until a team becomes desperate enough to make him an offer for Colon that he can’t refuse.

Clearly, Collins seems reluctant to move one of his more dependable starters, especially now that Jon Niese is on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. Collins is not only battling to get into a pennant race, but also is trying to keep his job and probably isn’t concerned about the young prospects a Colon trade might bring in return.


Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY SportsFirst-round pick Michael Conforto appears headed to Brooklyn, pending a physical.


• First-round pick Michael Conforto’s long-awaited deal with the Mets is complete pending a physical, a source told ESPNNewYork.com. Conforto, who receives a $2.97 million signing bonus, is expected to be assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones. The outfielder was a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year at Oregon State.

• The heavy dependence on a handful of core relievers may be using up all of their bullets and leave the Mets in trouble down the stretch. This week, Jeurys Familia's velocity sagged in one outing. Then he had trouble loosening up for his next appearance, although the fastball zip returned. Writes Jared Diamond in the Journal about the relief workload:

Entering Thursday's series finale against the Atlanta Braves, Familia had appeared in 35 games since May 1, the most of any pitcher during that span. He worked more than one inning in 10 of those outings, giving him 46 total innings on the year -- fourth-most among National League relievers. (Famila threw 19 2/3 innings between the majors and minors in 2013 as he recovered from elbow surgery.)

Even more alarming, the leader in that category also plays for the Mets: Carlos Torres, the 31-year-old righty who entered Thursday with 57 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, the most of any reliever in baseball.

David Wright’s jersey is the eighth-most popular in the majors in terms of sales via MLB.com since Opening Day.

• Lloyd Carroll at Latino Sports reviews Sandy Alderson’s press conference from earlier this homestand.

• The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka has a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow, but will try to rehab rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. That should sound familiar to Mets fans, who watched Matt Harvey deliberate for two months before ultimately undergoing the procedure. Of course, all partial ligament tears are not created equal, and Tanaka’s tear reportedly is considered small. Read about Harvey’s advice for Tanaka in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.

• Although Terry Collins pinch-hit for Ruben Tejada in the eighth inning -- leading Eric Campbell to play his first major league inning at shortstop in the ninth -- Tejada has been producing, Michael J. Fensom writes in the Star-Ledger.

• Colon batted eighth for the first time in his career, Mike Puma noted in the Post. Colon ended up coming to the plate, and striking out, with two runners aboard to end the second inning. Previously, Collins had only used pitchers Jacob deGrom and Jonathon Niese in the No. 8 slot (three times apiece).

• Starter Tyler Pill allowed four runs in the fifth inning in his Triple-A debut on Thursday, but Las Vegas already had staked him to a seven-run lead by that point en route to a 9-4 win against Reno. Brandon Allen homered and produced five RBIs in the 51s win. Travis Taijeron had a three-run homer and Darrell Ceciliani and Xorge Carrillo each had two hits and two RBIs as Binghamton beat Portland, 13-3.

John Lannan allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings, but St. Lucie lost at Bradenton, 4-1. Ricky Knapp was credited with a rain-shortened, seven-inning complete game as Savannah beat Charleston, 4-1. Starter Yoan Gonzalez allowed three runs (two earned) in four innings as Kingsport lost to Elizabethton, 4-2.

Casey Meisner allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings as Brooklyn lost at State College, 4-1. Kevin Canelon allowed two runs in the 12th inning as the GCL Mets lost to the GCL Nats, 7-5. Dash Winningham had two extra-base hits and two RBIs in the defeat.

Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Citi Field is hosting the “Bacon and Beer Classic” on July 26, while the Mets are on the road. Read more here.

• Evan Drellich in the Houston Chronicle writes that the Houston Astros and Nationals are making progress toward becoming spring-training neighbors of the Mets in a shared complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., come 2017.

• Right-hander Kevin McGowan, the Mets’ 13th-round pick in 2013 out of Franklin Pierce University, is featured in The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets says the Mets must find a way to keep Campbell in the lineup.

BIRTHDAYS: Blaine Boyer turns 33 today. … Minor-league right-hander Greg Peavey is 26. … 11th-round pick Connor Buchmann is 21. ... Donne Wall was born on this date in 1967.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Can the Mets actually make a run in the NL East?
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

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.301 9 53 73
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 26
RBIL. Duda 76
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .845
WB. Colon 12
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.44
SOZ. Wheeler 155