FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey has every reason to be perturbed. He has tossed a career-high-matching 16 straight scoreless innings, yet has no-decisions in each of his past two starts. And now the New York Mets are expected to go to a six-man rotation, which will decrease his opportunities to pitch -- displeasing him.
Harvey (5-1, 1.98 ERA) faces Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett (3-1, 1.38) at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday.
Harvey has departed each of his last two outings with 1-0 leads, only to come away without a victory each time. He is the third pitcher in franchise history to have consecutive scoreless efforts, each of at least seven innings, and come away with two no-decisions. He joined Johan Santana in 2010 and Dwight Gooden in 1985.
SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
- Noah Syndergaard is not getting demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. And Dillon Gee is not losing his rotation spot now that he is ready to return from the disabled list. How so? The Mets intend to go to a six-man rotation. One motivation is to get regular extra rest for Harvey, to avoid him reaching an innings cap in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Another motivation is to decrease the workload on Jacob deGrom, who has recently dealt with shoulder and hip issues. Gee is due to rejoin the Mets on Saturday, although he would be unlikely to be activated immediately since he threw 93 pitches Thursday in a rehab start for Class A St. Lucie. Manager Terry Collins did not want to fully outline the six-man rotation plan until speaking with Gee. Read more in the Post and at MLB.com.
- Syndergaard was outdueled by Gerrit Cole and the Mets lost to the Pirates, 4-1, Friday night. With Washington beating Philadelphia, the Nationals opened a 1½-game lead on the Mets for first place in the NL East. Lucas Duda failed to field a second-inning grounder with two outs, paving the way for the first two runs against Syndergaard. Syndergaard was charged with four runs (three earned) in six innings -- although the Mets are likely to appeal to MLB for a scoring change on the Duda play, which would make two more of the runs unearned. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.
- David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud started taking batting practice in Port St. Lucie on Friday and should be in minor league rehab games sometime next week. Meanwhile, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell are headed to Double-A Binghamton to continue their rehab assignments. Parnell stranded a runner at third base in a scoreless inning for Class A St. Lucie on Friday. Read more at MLB.com.
- The Mets have convinced Harvey this season to rely less on strikeouts and to keep his pitch count down by instead inducing weak contact from batters early in the count. Read more on Harvey’s recent success in Newsday.
- Jayce Boyd delivered a tiebreaking homer and Binghamton beat Akron, 3-2. Rob Whalen earned the victory as St. Lucie beat Dunedin. 3-1. Savannah swept a doubleheader against Rome. Read the full minor league recap here.
- John DeMarzo in the Post profiles Triple-A shortstop Matt Reynolds.
- From the bloggers … Faith and Fear looks forward to the next Syndergaard-Cole matchup. … Mets Report suggests the six-man rotation will only work if Harvey buys in.
BIRTHDAYS: Black turns 27. ... Ricky Gutierrez is 45. ... Pepe Mangual was born on this date in 1952.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
— The 7 Line (@The7Line) May 23, 2015
YOU’RE UP: Is a six-man rotation the right decision?
OKLAHOMA CITY at LAS VEGAS: Box
BINGHAMTON 3, AKRON 2: Jayce Boyd’s first homer in 59 games broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth. Matt Koch and Paul Sewald combined to retire all 10 batters they faced out of the bullpen. Both Akron runs were unearned. Binghamton opened the scoring in the second inning on David Cooper's RBI double. Akron took a 2-1 lead in the third. Third baseman Dustin Lawley's error began the frame. Bryson Myles then produced an RBI double. After retiring the next two batters, Michael Fulmer surrendered a go-ahead RBI double to Erik Gonzalez. In the fifth, Eudy Pina singled with one out and stole second. Gilbert Gomez singled to drive him in and even the score at 2. It was Gomez’s seventh hit of the year, but his fifth RBI. In the sixth, Fulmer issued a one-out walk, then had to deal with Lawley's second error. Koch entered and needed just one pitch to induce an inning-ending double play from Myles. Boyd had the tiebreaking homer a half-inning later. It was his first long ball since Aug. 22, 2014, also against Akron. Koch (2-2) earned the win for his 2 2/3 perfect innings of relief. Box
ST. LUCIE 3, DUNEDIN 1: Rob Whalen earned his second straight victory after going winless in his first five starts. He combined with three relievers to limit Dunedin to three hits. Whalen tossed 98 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and surrendered one run. Robby Coles got the final out of the sixth in dramatic fashion. With Matt Dean at second base, Mitch Nay singled to left field. Michael Conforto gunned out Dean at the plate to preserve a 2-1 lead. In his seventh rehab appearance with St. Lucie, Bobby Parnell worked a scoreless inning. Parnell walked a batter but did not give up a hit in the seventh. He struck out Dickie Joe Thon, stranding Derrick Loveless on third base. Parnell’s rehab will now move to Binghamton, as will Vic Black's assignment. Josh Smoker, recently promoted for Savannah, retired all six batters he faced to earn his first Florida State League save. The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the third thanks to Jays starter Jairo Labourt's wildness. Labourt walked Adrian Abreu and Champ Stuart to start the inning. After Phillip Evans advanced the runners with a groundout, Abreu and Stuart scored on wild pitches. Thon led off the bottom half with a double. He ultimately scored on Roemon Fields’ groundout to make it 2-1. The Mets added an insurance run in the seventh. Back-to-back singles by Amed Rosario and Yeixon Ruiz put runners on the corners. Abreu then drove in Rosario with a groundout. Dominic Smith and Jhoan Urena both departed midgame. Box
SAVANNAH 4, ROME 2; SAVANNAH 5, ROME 2: Josh Prevost allowed two runs (one earned) in a seven-inning complete game in the doubleheader opener. John Mora tripled and drove in two runs. In the nightcap, David Roseboom recorded the final five outs to earn the victory. Box 1, Box 2
Compiled with team reports.
"I like him a lot," Collins said. "Right now, he's not going anywhere."
Syndergaard sidestepped questions about whether he knew he was remaining at the major league level even before taking the mound Friday -- only saying he found out "recently." Still, the rookie right-hander added, "I'm glad to stay here. I feel like I've had some pretty good success here, and I'm looking forward to making my next start."
Dillon Gee is due to rejoin the Mets on Saturday after making two rehab starts. He is expected to join what will become a six-man rotation.
In his third major league start, Syndergaard was charged with four runs (three earned) on seven hits and no walks in six innings. He departed with his pitch count at 99.
"We've got to see if we can get his pitch count under control a little bit," Collins said. "He threw the ball good. I thought he pitched a nice game. We didn't help him, that's for sure. ... He pitched better than what the game looked like."
Collins was at least partly alluding to first baseman Lucas Duda failing to field a ball on his backhand in the second inning. The two-out grounder off the bat of Gregory Polanco went past Duda and into right field, allowing the first of two runs to score in the inning. The official scorer generously awarded Polanco a hit. Otherwise, three of the four runs surrendered by Syndergaard on the night would have been unearned.
"That was definitely an error," Duda said. "That's a play I should make 10 out of 10 times. I just came a little bit up on it and it stayed down. That's an error. No doubt. That's my fault."
Syndergaard struck out the first four Pirates batters he faced. He was generally positive about his outing, despite a wild pitch and throwing error on a pickoff attempt.
"It's not necessarily the best results I was looking for," Syndergaard said. "I didn't have the best velocity on my fastball tonight, and I worked on throwing quite a bit of two-seamers. I feel like they induced a lot of weak contact tonight.
"I feel like there are some good positives to take out of it. I didn't have my best fastball, but I was able to throw quite a bit of pretty good changeups in the zone, and down in the zone, and got a few strikeouts. I was able to locate my curveball and throw it for a first-pitch strike and throw it in the dirt when needed."
Truth be told, Syndergaard on Friday continued to do little that would warrant him getting demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Syndergaard ultimately was charged with four runs (three earned) on seven hits and no walks in six innings. He tossed one wild pitch, struck out five and produced his first big league hit.
The Mets (24-19) mustered little at the plate against former first overall pick Gerrit Cole in his 8 1/3 innings. Trailing 2-0, they had two runners in scoring position with one out in the third after a sacrifice bunt by Syndergaard. Cole uncorked a wild pitch, which plated Juan Lagares as Kevin Plawecki advanced to third. However, Plawecki was stranded there when Curtis Granderson struck out and Eric Campbell flied out.
Three of the four runs charged to Syndergaard (1-2) easily could have been unearned.
Duda arguably should have fielded the ball on the backhand. Instead, the official scorer generously awarded a hit, meaning both runs in the inning were earned after a stolen base by Polanco, passed ball and double by Chris Stewart.
Syndergaard had a throwing error on a pickoff attempt in a two-run sixth, resulting in the lone unearned run.
What's next: Matt Harvey looks to extend his scoreless streak, which currently stands at a career-high-matching 16 innings. Of course, Harvey has a pair of no-decisions despite departing each of his past two outings with 1-0 lead. Harvey (5-1, 1.98 ERA) opposes right-hander A.J. Burnett (3-1, 1.38) at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday.
PITTSBURGH -- David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud took steps toward returning from the disabled list Friday when both began taking batting practice at the New York Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, manager Terry Collins said.
Collins added that Wright and d'Arnaud should be in minor league rehab games next week.
Wright has been on the DL since April 15. He initially landed there with a right hamstring strain. Lower-back pain then surfaced in recent weeks, stalling his return.
D'Arnaud suffered a fractured pinkie bone on his right hand when he was struck by a pitch from Miami Marlins right-hander A.J. Ramos on April 19. He shed a soft cast on May 11 and was cleared to resume swinging this week.
With Gee ready to return from the disabled list, the Mets plan to shift to a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future -- something they had been unwilling to consider earlier this season.
Manager Terry Collins said he did not want to divulge the specifics until Gee rejoins the Mets on Saturday in Pittsburgh and has a chance to be briefed, but Collins essentially laid out the nuts and bolts of the plan, which should be close to a formal six-man rotation.
Collins added that Syndergaard's performance on Friday night -- in his third turn in the rotation in place of Gee -- is largely immaterial since the plan already has been devised.
Gee tossed 93 pitches over 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Thursday night with Class A Dunedin in his second rehab start since landing on the DL with a right groin strain. The Mets logically would wait until his next start arrives next week before formally activating him from the DL.
However, the flip side is that Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard -- as well as other Mets starters -- could use that extra rest for assorted reasons.
Harvey enters Saturday's scheduled start with a 16-inning scoreless streak and 1.98 ERA, but also on pace to blow past 200 regular-season innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery unless the Mets slow him down. A six-man rotation will allow Harvey to get to the end of the season without reaching a team-imposed innings cap.
DeGrom dominated Thursday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals, retiring the final 23 batters he faced in eight scoreless innings. Still, Collins acknowledged that recent hip and shoulder issues had the Mets earlier in the week at least debating scratching deGrom from that start. So he could use extra rest between starts, too.
Syndergaard logged only 137 innings including a playoff appearance with Triple-A Las Vegas last season, so he may not be permitted to exceed 170 innings this year.
Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon turns 42 on Sunday. And although Colon previously has expressed a preference to pitch every fifth day, his recent swoon has convinced Mets staffers that extra rest may be warranted.
Collins said one hurdle to overcome will be pitchers losing sharpness when they are asked to pitch on two extra days of rest because of a team off-day between rotation turns. Harvey had faulted that extra rest in part for his struggles in Philadelphia on May 8. Collins said the Mets must do a better job keeping pitchers sharp with that extra rest. One possibility: a 20-pitch simulated game between starts in instances where a pitcher will go a week between outings.
How long will the Mets stick with Syndergaard and Gee as starters?
"We don't really know right now how long that could go," Collins said. "We've got a lot of managing to do of workloads. A lot of it. When you add Noah to deGrom to Harvey, there's a lot of maneuvering to be done. ... We're trying to do the best we can to keep from having to shut guys down. That's kind of where we're at right now."
Eric Campbell, 3B
Lucas Duda, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, LF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Wilmer Flores, SS
Juan Lagares, CF
Noah Syndergaard, RHP
Josh Harrison, 3B
Neil Walker, 2B
Andrew McCutchen, CF
Starling Marte, LF
Jung Ho Kang, SS
Pedro Alvarez, 1B
Gregory Polanco, RF
Gerrit Cole, RHP
For the third straight year, we're doing a comprehensive audit of every organization in baseball leading up to the MLB draft.
By examining where each team's strengths and weaknesses lie -- and with a working knowledge of its typical draft strategy and tendencies -- we can get a great sense of whom it will select when the draft begins June 8.
Note: The top 10 prospects listed with each club are from Keith Law's preseason rankings.
Division-by-division draft outlook
AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West
NEW YORK --
Dillon Gee tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his second and final rehab start for Class A St. Lucie on Thursday night at Dunedin and is ready to return from the DL. So the Mets seemingly are left with two choices: Return Syndergaard to Triple-A Las Vegas or convert Gee to a reliever … this time for real.
A team official insisted on Thursday that the Mets were not making any premature decisions and wanted to continue to evaluate.
Syndergaard will be pitching for the first time since beaning Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez in the left earflap with a 96-mph fastball on Sunday.
Read the Mets-Pirates series preview here.
FRIDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
- Jacob deGrom retired the final 23 batters he faced in eight scoreless innings and the Mets earned a split of their four-game series against the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals with a 5-0 win Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. The only baserunner to reach against deGrom came on a one-out single in the first inning by Matt Carpenter. Manager Terry Collins pulled deGrom from the one-hit shutout bid with the reigning NL Rookie of the Year’s pitch count at 104. Collins cited recent hip and shoulder issues with deGrom that had not previously been disclosed. The manager subsequently told the Daily News that he participated in a meeting on Tuesday to consider skipping deGrom from the start, although deGrom said the injuries were not inhibiting him while pitching in recent weeks.
Lucas Duda belted two home runs, both against left-handers, in Thursday’s victory. Duda is now hitting .409 against southpaws this season. Collins said a session with Keith Hernandez before spring training helped Duda’s approach against left-handers.
- General manager Sandy Alderson had a “private chat” with Hernandez last season to explain the Mets’ hitting philosophy to the SNY analyst and “get Mex on board,” columnist Anthony Rieber writes in Newsday. Read more on Hernandez’s role in assisting Duda in the Post, Newsday and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
- Read more on Syndergaard in the Daily News and Newsday.
- Rafael Montero, on the DL with rotator cuff inflammation, continues to refrain from throwing, Mike Puma writes in the Post.
- Alderson was on hand in Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday as owner Hardball Capital announced it was relocating the Mets’ low-A affiliate to a new ballpark in the city for the 2016 season. The team has been playing in Savannah, Georgia.
- Steven Matz allowed a pair of first-inning homers and ultimately was charged with six runs (four earned) in 6 1/3 innings for Las Vegas, which went on to beat Oklahoma City, 11-6. Luis Cessa allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings and Binghamton committed four errors in a 9-2 loss to Harrisburg. Mike Hepple failed to protect a one-run lead in the ninth and Dunedin produced a 3-2 walk-off win against St. Lucie. Rehabbing Vic Black allowed a pair of doubles and a run while recording two outs in that loss. A day shy of his 20th birthday, Casey Meisner tossed seven scoreless innings and Savannah beat Rome, 2-0. Read the full minor league recap here.
- St. John’s balked at having new men’s basketball coach Chris Mullin toss a ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field when the Mets insisted the university buy 5,000 tickets to the game, CBS New York reports.
- Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post describes Matt Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard as “a buffet table to hungry Mets fans.”
- Analyst Mike Lowell advocates to Justin Terranova in the Post that the Mets acquire Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies.
- Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-3 with a walk Thursday to lift his average to .253. Read more in the Post.
- Black maintains he is having a positive rehab experience on his personal blog. Collins said Thursday morning that Black and Bobby Parnell were due to move to Binghamton after appearing Thursday night, but Parnell did not pitch.
- From the bloggers … Faith and Fear recalls an encounter with David Letterman. … Mets Report supports Collins’ decision to pull deGrom after 104 pitches.
BIRTHDAYS: Collin Cowgill turns 29. ... Meisner is 20.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
— Steve (@JerseySteve89) May 21, 2015
YOU’RE UP: What role should Gee serve now that he is ready to return once he recuperates from Thursday’s 93 pitches?
1. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants. Bumgarner helped the Giants complete a three-game sweep -- with three shutouts -- of the Dodgers. And he hit a 415-foot homer off Clayton Kershaw. Then he cooked up a five-course postgame meal, did the team laundry and cleaned up all the remnants of spilled garlic fries in the upper deck.
2. Tampa Bay Rays. Who's in first place in the AL East? OK, you figured that out. The Rays blanked the A's 3-0 to climb a half-game ahead of the Yankees. How are they doing it without Alex Cobb, without Matt Moore, with Drew Smyly on the disabled list having made just three starts? It's still been about run prevention, with an AL-best 3.43 runs per game. Manager Kevin Cash has employed an interesting strategy. While Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi have been terrific, both with ERAs under 2.50, for the other slots in the rotation he hasn't asked much. Get five innings and get them out of the game.
That's what happened on Thursday. Alex Colome had pitched five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk. At 86 pitches, Cash could have tried to squeeze another inning out of him, but with a slim 1-0 lead, he went to a bullpen that has been outstanding so far (the Rays haven't lost a game they led after seven innings). Meanwhile, Bob Melvin, afraid to go to his terrible pen, tried to squeeze a seventh inning out of Jesse Chavez, and the Rays scored twice to take a 3-0 lead. Closer Brad Boxberger -- who has quietly become one of the game's top relievers -- finished it off, his 12th save in 12 chances.
Can this usage pattern keep up? Tampa Bay relievers are second in the majors in innings. But no individual reliever is on pace for more than 73 innings, and the pen just got Jake McGee back this week. The Rays probably aren't a 90-win team with their offense, but it may not take 90 wins in the AL East.
3. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets. It's hard to get attention with Matt Harvey, the ever popular Bartolo Colon and now rookie phenom Noah "Thor" Syndergaard in the rotation, but DeGrom is pretty special. He retired 23 Cardinals in a row as he allowed just one hit with 11 K's in eight dominant innings. Lucas Duda added two home runs in the 5-0 shutout.
5. Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs. Hey, a pitcher who was actually allowed to finish a shutout! Hendricks threw 108 pitches -- allowing five hits -- in a 3-0 win over the Padres, Kris Bryant's two-run homer in the first the big blow. Hendricks had entered the game with a 5.15 ERA and had managed to go six innings just once all season, back in his second start (also against the Padres). Hendricks' game is all about command of his two-seam sinker as he's not overpowering with an upper-80s fastball. He's a guy I liked before the season as a nice back-of-the-rotation option. While he hasn't walked many batters (just nine in eight starts), he hadn't been very pitch efficient until this game and he's a guy manager Joe Maddon appears will limit to 90-100 pitches as much as possible. Maybe he just owns the Padres, but this outing could be a great sign for the Cubs.
LAS VEGAS 11, OKLAHOMA CITY 6: Steven Matz tossed his first clunker in nine career Triple-A appearances. Matz surrendered a pair of first-inning homers and ultimately was charged with six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings. His ERA rose to 2.24. Matz struck out seven in a 92-pitch effort. Brooks Conrad had a three-run homer and Danny Muno produced a two-run shot for the 51s. Box
HARRISBURG 9, BINGHAMTON 2: Luis Cessa (3-3) allowed five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings and Harrisburg cashed in on four Binghamton errors. Tony Renda led the charge with a four-hit game, while three Senators no-hit the B-Mets over the final five innings. The Senators used a misplay to open the scoring in the first inning. With the bases loaded, Matt Skole sent a potential inning-ending double-play grounder to second baseman Josh Rodriguez. He made a clean toss to second, but Gavin Cecchini’s relay to first sailed over David Cooper, allowing two runs to score. Cecchini was charged with his 10th error this season. Binghamton evened the score at 2 in the fourth against Harrisburg starter Dakota Bacus. Cooper walked and Dustin Lawley doubled. Xorge Carrillo plated both with a single. Binghamton’s sloppy defense burned it again in the fifth. With two aboard, the Senators executed a double-steal. Carrillo’s throw to second skipped into center, allowing Derrick Robinson to come home. Center fielder Gilbert Gomez attempted to nab Renda as he scampered to third, but the throw bounced past Lawley, allowing Renda to come home. Shawn Pleffner capped the inning with an RBI groundout. Adam Kolarek surrendered a three-run homer to Renda in the sixth -- Renda's first long ball since August 2013. The blast snapped Kolarek’s scoreless streak at 15 innings. Carrillo’s RBI single proved to be the B-Mets' final hit. They were 0-for-17 the remainder of the game. Box
DUNEDIN 3, ST. LUCIE 2: Mike Hepple failed to hold a one-run lead in the ninth and St. Lucie suffered a walk-off loss. Derrick Loveless tied the score at 2 with a leadoff homer. Matt Dean followed with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Dawel Lugo's infield single placed runners on the corners with one out. The Mets intentionally walked L.B. Dantzler to load the bases. Boomer Collins came to the plate and eventually took a borderline 3-1 fastball that was ruled ball four by plate umpire Derek Gonzales. The walk forced in Dean with the winning run. Dillon Gee went 6 1/3 innings and allowed three singles while striking out five. He faced two over the minimum and at one point retired 10 straight Blue Jays. Gee struck out Loveless on his 93rd pitch for the first out of the seventh to end his night. Vic Black, also making a rehab appearance, took over and got a flyout to the warning track for the second out of the sixth. Mitch Nay then doubled. Lugo also doubled -- this one high off the wall in center, scoring Nay to cut the Mets' lead to 2-1. Yeixon Ruiz had opened the game with a walk and scored on Matt Oberste’s one-out single. Phillip Evans tripled home Amed Rosario in the fourth to make it 2-0. Box
SAVANNAH 2, ROME 0: Casey Meisner allowed one hit and walked three in seven scoreless innings. He combined with Ben Griset and David Roseboom on the shutout. Jonathan Johnson tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth. Jon Leroux walked and scored on Luis Guillorme's groundout later in the inning for a 2-0 lead. The lone hit against Meisner (3-1, 1.93 ERA) came on a two-out single in the third. The Gnats announced earlier in the day that they would be relocating to Columbia, South Carolina, next season. Box
Compiled with team reports.