Morning Briefing: Abreu era begins

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
5:35
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: With the Atlanta Braves having left town, the task gets no easier for the Mets.

The defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals now visit Citi Field for a four-game series beginning Monday.

Jenrry Mejia, confident a blister issue on his right middle finger is behind him, opposes left-hander Tyler Lyons in the 7:10 p.m. series opener. Lyons (2-0, 3.32 ERA at Triple-A Memphis) replaces Joe Kelly, who landed on the disabled list with a left-hamstring strain.

With the Mets facing a southpaw, Josh Satin figures to start at first base.

Sunday’s news reports:


Robert Rogers/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesBobby Abreu spent spring training with the Phillies, but was released in March.


Bobby Abreu is getting the call to the big leagues. Abreu, 40, is due to join the Mets on Monday and is expected to serve as a lefty bat for the bench. He last appeared in the majors in 2012 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Abreu did not play in 2013, but worked out and dropped weight. Abreu then played for Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens during winter ball in Venezuela, and the Mets courted him during the offseason as a free agent.

Abreu instead selected the Philadelphia Phillies, who ended up releasing him in March. Abreu at that point signed with the Mets and reported to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he hit .395 (15-for-38) with four doubles, one homer and nine RBIs. With the 51s, he appeared in four games as a designated hitter and four games in right field. He otherwise pinch hit.

The Mets did not announce a corresponding move. Since Abreu is a lefty hitter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis may be the most vulnerable. The alternative would appear to be demoting Andrew Brown, who repeatedly has staved off such reassignments because of issues such as Chris Young landing on the DL and Ike Davis getting traded.

Read more in the Daily News.

• With Jose Valverde having surrendered four homers in a three-appearance span, Terry Collins made a change at the back end of the bullpen. Kyle Farnsworth steps into the closer’s role. Farnsworth had been released by the Mets with a week to go in spring training. He was re-signed days later and assigned to Las Vegas, but never pitched there because Bobby Parnell’s injury created a vacancy in the big-league bullpen. Read more in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.

Curtis Granderson had a throwing error from right field Sunday that allowed a run to score. He also went 0-for-6, upping his hitless streak to 16 at-bats and dropping his average to .127. Still, Granderson ended up getting mobbed on the field by celebrating teammates after producing a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 14th. That allowed the Mets to salvage the series finale against the Braves with a 4-3 victory. The Mets (9-9) returned to .500.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, working on back-to-back days for the first time since 2004 in the Japan Series, tossed three no-hit relief innings. Valverde earned the win with a scoreless top of the 14th. Braves second baseman Dan Uggla helped by committing two errors, including failing to turn a would-be inning-ending double play on Lucas Duda in the sixth that allowed the tying run to score. The maligned bullpen tossed eight scoreless innings in relief of Zack Wheeler (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K).

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

Read more on Matsuzaka in Newsday.


Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesCurtis Granderson went 0-for-6 in the No. 2 hole Sunday, but is swarmed by teammates after delivering a walk-off sacrifice fly.


• The struggling Granderson has been bounced from the cleanup spot by Collins, but instead ended up in the No. 2 hole Sunday. That is the slot Granderson most frequently was assigned in 2011 and ’12 while with the Yankees.

Collins opted to place Daniel Murphy in the No. 4 hole over Duda. The manager cited Murphy’s .307 average in 60 career games in the cleanup spot entering Sunday. And Collins did not want to place too much pressure on Duda too soon, even though Davis has been traded and Duda should know he is unthreatened for the first-base job against right-handed pitching.

Columnist David Lennon in Newsday advocates placing Duda in the No. 4 hole now. Writes Lennon:

The Mets can't play the sensitive card with him any longer. They chose Duda over Ike Davis -- who, by the way, batted cleanup Sunday for the Pirates -- and that means trusting him to do the job.

And while we're on the subject of numbers, Duda's best offensive stats have come in the No. 4 spot. In 110 games there, Duda has a slash line of .276/.373/.453 with a home run every 25 plate appearances. So don't tell us Duda can't handle the pressure. As long as Granderson is slumping, Collins is going to have to scrape up offense from somewhere. And in this thin lineup, Duda has to become the hitter the Mets say he can be -- not look for shelter.

Read more in the Post.

• In the lone Easter Sunday minor-league game among Mets affiliates, Danny Muno, Allan Dykstra and Abreu homered and Jacob deGrom allowed three runs in five innings as Las Vegas beat El Paso, 11-4. Jeff Francoeur pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Chihuahuas. Reliever Zack Thornton, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates with a player to be named for Davis, made his organization debut. Thornton allowed a solo homer but no other damage in two innings. Read the minor-league recap here.

BIRTHDAYS: Jesse Orosco turns 57. ... Jeff Keppinger is 34. ... Ronny Paulino is 33.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Can Bobby Abreu help the Mets? Or would you rather see Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andrew Brown remain with the big-league club?

Series review: Mets net one win

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
10:19
PM ET
The New York Mets salvaged the series finale from the Atlanta Braves with their marathon win on Sunday.

Here are some of the statistical highlights from the weekend.

The Grandy Man Can … and Does
Curtis Granderson’s walk-off sacrifice fly marked his first walk-off RBI since the 2006 season.

Granderson is hitless in his past 16 at-bats and is hitting .127 this season. That’s the fifth-lowest batting average in the majors and explains why Eric Young Jr. was walked, even though David Wright (who had four hits in the game) was waiting to hit after Granderson.

It is the second-longest game the Mets have won by a walk-off sacrifice fly. They had a 15-inning win against the San Diego Padres in 1983, with the sacrifice fly coming from Brian Giles.

Daisuke’s stellar effort
Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched three hitless innings with five strikeouts on Sunday, one of the better relief efforts by a Mets pitcher in some time.

The last Mets reliever to throw at least three hitless innings with five strikeouts was Pat Mahomes against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999.

The new closer
Kyle Farnsworth becomes the third pitcher to be appointed Mets closer this season, following Bobby Parnell and Jose Valverde.

One thing to be wary of with Farnsworth: Even though he has a 1.08 ERA in nine appearances, he’s been hit hard.

Our video-tracking system has Farnsworth as having allowed seven hard-hit balls in 8⅓ innings already, or the same number as Jenrry Mejia in 7⅔ fewer innings.

As for the old closer, Valverde allowed a home run for the third straight game in the middle game of this series. That he was able to avoid allowing one in a fourth straight saved him from a historical distinction. Three Mets relievers have allowed a homer in four straight appearances -- Mark Bomback (1980), Randy Myers (1987) and Jonathan Hurst (1994).

Setting the pace
With the season one-ninth done (18 games), here are three paces that Mets players are on so far, with an observation on each:

1. Wright is on pace for 216 base hits (he has 24), which would be the most in his career, but only nine home runs, which would be the fewest in his career.

2. Lucas Duda is on pace for 27 home runs and 81 RBIs. Last season, the Mets got only 15 home runs and 59 RBIs from their first basemen.

3. Young is on pace for 90 steals (he has 10), which would break Jose Reyes’ single-season record by 12.

View from the other side: Harang’s awesome night
Aaron Harang became the second pitcher to throw at least seven no-hit innings against the Mets and not be credited with a no-hitter.

The other was Clay Kirby, who threw eight no-hit innings for the 1970 San Diego Padres but left trailing 1-0. The Mets would get two runs and three hits in the ninth inning to win the game, 3-0. The Padres have still never had a no-hitter.

Granderson grabs small victory in Mets' win

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
7:50
PM ET
video

NEW YORK -- Terry Collins keeps coming back to the idea that Curtis Granderson will be fine, that this three-week horror show at the start of his New York Mets career is not a sign that Granderson's $60 million contract will turn into another Mets disaster.

"We're going to all look up in July, and this is all going to be forgotten," Collins said Sunday.

Not all of it, Collins hopes. The Mets manager would like to think that we'll long remember the 14th inning Sunday as the moment when Granderson's Mets career turned positive.

For while the box score shows that Granderson went 0-for-6 to drop his Mets batting average to .127 -- even Jason Bay never hit .127! -- the smiles in the Mets' clubhouse showed that it was Granderson whose sacrifice fly gave the Mets their 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.

"Hopefully that gets him going, and he gets back to being his old self," said catcher Anthony Recker, who picked up Granderson and carried him in the Mets' celebration.

"I needed something positive," Granderson said.

Even that was a big admission for Granderson, who tries hard to never call anything a big deal.

At this point, though, it would have been disingenuous for Granderson to try to pretend that everything is going well and going to be just fine.

"I'm hoping a lot of things our manager is saying will turn out to be true," he said.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Granderson
AP Photo/Seth WenigCurtis Granderson went hitless in six tries but provided the decisive swing to help the Mets avoid a three-game sweep against the Braves.
Given the commitment the Mets made to Granderson, Collins has little choice but to publicly maintain the confidence that things will turn around. But he also had little choice but to try something new with Granderson, moving him out of the cleanup spot Sunday and putting him in the more familiar second spot in the lineup.

The Mets didn't pay Granderson all that money to be a No. 2 hitter. They paid him because they believed he was, as Collins said, "the perfect guy" to hit behind David Wright.

You can come up with reasons why Granderson really isn't perfect as a cleanup hitter, but none of them would really suggest that he would be as bad as he has been for the first three weeks of his Mets career. He may not be perfect, but he's not close to being this bad, either.

Collins, thrilled to avoid being swept by the Braves after an encouraging road trip, would have taken any win Sunday. But he understandably hoped that a win that ended with a big Granderson moment could be a turning point.

"We don't know what will happen, but you hope this is something to build on, to move on from here," Collins said.

Besides, in the life of a manager, especially a Mets manager, there's always another problem looming. Asked after the game about moving Granderson out of the cleanup spot, Collins noted that new cleanup hitter Daniel Murphy went 1-for-6.

"I may have to flip them back," he joked. "Murph didn't have a very good day, either."

There's always something. But perhaps for the Mets, Sunday is a sign that something won't always be Curtis Granderson.

Dice-K lasts 3 hitless in major-league first

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
7:46
PM ET
NEW YORK -- As anyone who has followed Daisuke Matsuzaka's career knows, it's not true that Sunday was the first time Matsuzaka has pitched on back-to-back days.

[+] EnlargeDaisuke Matsuzaka
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDaisuke Matsuzaka did double duty this weekend in Queens.
Not even close.

Matsuzaka's legend in Japan began to be written when he pitched a 17-inning complete game in the national high school tournament, then pitched an inning the next day for a save, then threw a nine-inning no-hitter the day after that.

Of course, that was 16 years ago. It still brings a smile to Matsuzaka's face, as it did when it was brought up after his three hitless innings in the New York Mets' 14-inning, 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves Sunday.

Matsuzaka's reaction was slightly different when he was asked what he thinks of his new role of pitching out of the bullpen. He looked, he thought, and he seemed to carefully consider his answer.

"I don't want to use not having done it before as an excuse," he said through an interpreter. "This is my role right now. I just want to go out there and do well."

Matsuzaka did very well Sunday, when he entered the game in the 11th inning. He walked the first batter he faced, but then retired the next nine in order, five of them on strikeouts.

And yes, it was the first time he had appeared on back-to-back days in a major-league game. But not the first time he had ever done it.

Minors 4.20.14: Abreu homers

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
7:30
PM ET
LAS VEGAS 11, EL PASO 4: Bobby Abreu made his last Triple-A appearance a good one, hitting his first home run of the season. The Mets announced after the game that Abreu will join the big-league team Monday. Abreu's home run was part of a six-run fifth inning for the 51s. Second baseman Danny Muno also homered in the fifth inning, one of his four hits on the day. Right-hander Jacob deGrom got credit for the win, pitching five innings and allowing three runs. DeGrom's consecutive scoreless innings streak ended at 14 2/3 when El Paso scored three times in the top of the fifth. Zack Thornton, acquired for Ike Davis, made his 51s debut. He allowed one run in two innings, on a homer by Kyle Blanks. Jeff Francoeur pitched the eighth inning for El Paso, tossing a no-hit frame. Box

Abreu to join Mets Monday vs. Cardinals

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
7:02
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Bobby Abreu is coming back to the major leagues with the New York Mets.

The Mets announced after Sunday's 4-3, 14-inning win over the Atlanta Braves that Abreu will join the team in time for Monday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets didn't immediately say whose place Abreu will take.

The 40-year-old Abreu hasn't played in the big leagues since 2012, when he played eight games for the Los Angeles Angels and then 92 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Abreu signed a minor-league contract with the Mets, and batted .395 in 15 games for Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Mets hope Abreu will provide them with an experienced bat off the bench.

The Mets needed to make a decision on Abreu, who could have asked out of his contract if he wasn't promoted by the end of this month.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Braves 3

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
6:02
PM ET
video

NEW YORK -- Finally, Curtis Granderson has a New York Mets moment.

Does it change everything?

No, of course not, but Granderson's sacrifice fly in the 14th inning did give the Mets a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. It gave Granderson something positive on his Mets ledger.

And it brought the Mets back to .500 after an eventful and mostly negative weekend.

One win doesn't change everything. Granderson, the Mets' $60 million free-agent signing, is still struggling, even after being moved out of the cleanup spot. The Mets are on their third closer of the season, after manager Terry Collins named Kyle Farnsworth to replace Jose Valverde.

And that home record, now 3-6, still isn't close to acceptable.

Even so, things could be worse. Around the Mets, things often seem worse.

Right now, .500 isn't that bad.

The new bullpen works, sort of: Before Saturday, Daisuke Matsuzaka had never really been a major league relief pitcher (his one bullpen appearance was in a long extra-inning game). Now he has pitched on back-to-back days, and he saved the Mets on Sunday with three hitless innings out of the pen.

Collins then turned to Valverde, who got through the 14th inning (despite allowing a hit to pitcher Gus Schlosser) and got credit for the win.

Another not-so-Grand day: Granderson's struggles continue, and Collins' decision to move him out of the cleanup spot didn't help, at least not right away. Granderson went 0-for-6 before the game-winning sacrifice fly in the 14th. He also committed an error on an amazingly bad throw that somehow ended up in the Braves' third-base dugout and cost the Mets a run.

Granderson is hitless in his last 16 at-bats, dropping his batting average to .127.

Not bad for Zack: Zack Wheeler had just one bad inning, but it cost him a chance for a win. Wheeler allowed the Braves six hits in six innings. Three of them, though, were back-to-back-to-back doubles in the fifth, giving the Braves three runs.

Wheeler departed with the game tied 3-3. He remains 1-2 on the season, with a 4.63 ERA.

Helpful Braves: It was a tough defensive day for the Braves, and their mistakes kept the Mets in the game. Justin Upton dropped a first-inning fly ball, leading to a run. Second baseman Dan Uggla committed two errors, one helping the Mets score a run in the second and the other on what should have been an inning-ending double play in the sixth. Instead, the Mets scored the game-tying run.

Abreu coming? The Mets have a decision upcoming on Bobby Abreu, and it would hardly be a surprise if they brought him to the big leagues soon. Joel Sherman of the Post said Sunday on Twitter that the Mets believe Abreu could provide a needed experienced bat off the bench, especially with Ike Davis now gone. Abreu entered play Sunday batting .412 at Triple-A Las Vegas, and Sunday he hit his first home run. His contract with the Mets allows him to become a free agent if they don't bring him to the big leagues by the end of this month.

What's next: The Mets open a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7:10 p.m. ET game Monday night at Citi Field. Jenrry Mejia, who left his last start with a blister, starts for the Mets. Left-hander Tyler Lyons, 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA at Triple-A Memphis, will be called up to start for the Cardinals.

Kyle Farnsworth is Mets' closer

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
11:30
AM ET
[+] EnlargeJose Valverde
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJose Valverde is out as the Mets' closer.

NEW YORK -- Jose Valverde, named the New York Mets closer when Bobby Parnell was lost for the year with an elbow injury, didn't even make it through April before losing the job.

Manager Terry Collins announced Sunday morning that veteran right-hander Kyle Farnsworth is his new closer, after Valverde allowed four home runs in his last three appearances. Farnsworth didn't make the team out of spring training, but has allowed just one run in his eight appearances since joining the Mets on April 2.

The 38-year-old Farnsworth has 54 career saves, including two last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Valverde has 288 career saves, including two this season and a major league-high 49 with the 2011 Detroit Tigers.

Valverde didn't seem upset by Collins' decision.

"I'm never disappointed," he said. "If I'm not doing my job, someone else has to do it. ... [I'm a] happy guy. I stay happy."


(Read full post)


Sunday's Mets-Braves lineups

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
11:00
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Here are the lineups for Sunday afternoon's 1:10 p.m. ET game at Citi Field, as the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves close out a three-game series:

Braves
Jason Heyward, rf
B.J. Upton, cf
Freddie Freeman, 1b
Justin Upton, lf
Chris Johnson, 3b
Dan Uggla, 2b
Andrelton Simmons, ss
Gerald Laird, c
David Hale, rhp

Mets
Eric Young Jr., lf
Curtis Granderson, rf
David Wright, 3b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Chris Young, cf
Lucas Duda, 1b
Anthony Recker, c
Omar Quintanilla, ss
Zack Wheeler, rhp

Manager Terry Collins moved struggling Curtis Granderson out of the cleanup spot, choosing to bat him second because Granderson has had more success there in his career. Collins decided against moving Lucas Duda to cleanup, saying that he didn't want to overwhelm Duda in the same week where the Mets cleared out first base for him by trading Ike Davis to the Pirates.

Morning Briefing: A new closer?

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
10:42
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Sunday could be an eventful day for the New York Mets, in the wake of Saturday night's 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Manager Terry Collins suggested after the game that he will remove Jose Valverde from the closer role, and also that he could take Curtis Granderson out of the cleanup spot in the batting order.

The Mets will play the final game of the weekend series with the Braves on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET, and with Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.67) scheduled to face Braves rookie David Hale (0-0, 2.89).

Sunday's news reports:

• The Mets had a chance in the ninth inning, and even knocked Braves closer Craig Kimbrel out of the game, but Andrelton Simmons made a great play on Travis d'Arnaud to end the game as a 7-5 Braves win. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.

• The Granderson situation is already getting difficult, and he is already drawing comparisons to Jason Bay, the last big free agent the Mets signed. Read more about Granderson in the Post, the Star Ledger and Newsday, where columnist David Lennon goes hard with the Bay comparison.

• Speaking of comparisons, don't you think everyone will be watching how Lucas Duda does with an eye on how Ike Davis fares in Pittsburgh? Davis doubled in his first at-bat for the Pirates. He reached base in each of his first three plate appearances in his Saturday night debut, and also shed some light on his feelings about the way things went for him with the Mets.

"It was pretty negative over there for me for a little while," Davis told reporters, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Columnist George Willis of the Post carried on the Ike-Luke comparison, with the headline writer noting a bit harshly that Duda didn't deliver in the eighth inning, when his fly ball was caught just in front of the right-field fence. Read more on Duda in the Daily News and MLB.com.

Freddie Freeman had another big game against the Mets, bringing up Chipper Jones comparisons. Read more in the Daily News.

• Not everyone was upset with the Mets Saturday. They did a nice thing for a Queens kid whose family lost their home in a Jan. 1 fire. The Post has the story.

• The Mets have a decision coming up on Bobby Abreu. Tim Rohan of the Times went to see Abreu and his Las Vegas 51s teammates in Reno.

• More replay issues Saturday night, as John Harper points out in the Daily News. More on replay in Newsday.

• Not the best timing for a in-depth Q and A with Valverde, is it? But Steve Serby has one in the Post.

• Is this a good time for a Steve Phillips update? If you're interested in what the ex-GM is doing, read more in the Daily News.

From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear is pretty sure it sat through Saturday night's game plenty of times at Shea.

BIRTHDAYS: Sean Green, the reliever, turns 35. ... Masato Yoshii is 49. ... Jason Roach turns 38.

TWEET OF THE DAY:


YOU'RE UP: With Bobby Parnell out for the year and Jose Valverde struggling, who would you use as Mets closer?

Minors 4.19.14: Syndergaard struggles

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
12:12
AM ET
EL PASO 8, LAS VEGAS 5: Noah Syndergaard made his fourth start of the season for the 51s, and it didn’t go well. Syndergaard allowed six runs on six hits and three walks (plus a wild pitch) in just four innings. Four of the six runs were earned, but Syndergaard's ERA rose to 4.95. Syndergaard gave up a three-run homer to Cody Decker. Wilmer Flores went 2-for-5, and Taylor Teagarden his his second home run in as many nights. Box

BINGHAMTON 3, NEW HAMPSHIRE 2: Shortstop Matt Reynolds had a career-high four hits and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Reynolds has a seven-game hitting streak and is now batting .383. Starter Rainy Lara pitched well for the B-Mets (six innings, two hits, one unearned run), but the Fisher Cats tied the score when Jack Murphy homered off John Church in the seventh. Reynolds led off the eighth inning with his fourth hit of the day, then scored all the way from first on Matt Clark's single. Chasen Bradford pitched the ninth for his third save. Box

FORT MYERS 4, ST. LUCIE 0: The Mets were blanked on four hits by three Miracle pitchers. Dilson Herrera had one of the Mets' hits, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Mets starter Domingo Tapia went four innings and gave up the first two Fort Myers runs. Box

SAVANNAH 3, GREENVILLE 3 (suspended): Jeff McNeil and Jeff Glenn had two hits apiece for the Sand Gnats, whose game with Greenville was suspended in the bottom of the sixth inning because of rain. It will be resumed May 14, before the next scheduled game between the two teams in Savannah. Starter John Gant allowed three runs in five innings. Box

Granderson, Valverde come up small, again

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
11:53
PM ET
NEW YORK -- It could have been one of the best wins of the season, a game that would have been replayed for years on SNY.

Instead, there's this: By Sunday morning, the New York Mets could have a new cleanup hitter and a new closer.

[+] EnlargeJose Valverde
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJose Valverde gave up a three-run homer to Justin Upton, which proved to be the difference in the game.
That's not good.

Saturday night's 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves wasn't even that bad a game for the Mets, who knocked Braves closer Craig Kimbrel out and nearly beat him in the ninth inning. But it was another terrible game for Curtis Granderson, the $60 million cleanup man, and for Jose Valverde, the fill-in closer.

Granderson went 0-for-5, left six runners on base, is now hitting .140 with just four RBIs on the season, and has Mets fans thinking this is Jason Bay revisited. Valverde gave up a long three-run homer that ended up being decisive, the fourth homer he has allowed in his past three appearances.

The Mets are only one game under .500, at 8-9. It's only the third week in April. But manager Terry Collins can't ignore what he sees.

Collins met with Granderson before Saturday's game, and basically admitted after the game that he plans to move Granderson out of the cleanup spot, if only to change things up. Collins also basically admitted that he's going to need a new closer, because he can't send Valverde out there in a big situation again.

"I'm going to address that [Sunday]," Collins said.

Collins also said he's been troubled by some of the pitches Valverde has made this week, describing them as being in the "nitro zone." That was certainly true of the ninth-inning fastball Valverde threw to Justin Upton, the one Upton launched over the center-field fence to give the Braves a 7-3 lead.

The fact that the Mets rallied against Kimbrel, even forcing Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez into the unusual move of removing his closer from the game with a lead, only made Valverde's most recent failure feel worse.

While Collins doesn't have great options to replace Valverde, the option of keeping him in the closer role looks even less appealing. So it will likely be Kyle Farnsworth who gets the next chance, or perhaps Carlos Torres or Gonzalez Germen.

Anybody but Valverde.

And what about Granderson? The Mets have much more invested in him than they do in Valverde, and his failures have been just as dramatic.

"He's not squaring balls up," Collins said.

Granderson told Collins on Saturday that he doesn't believe he's pressing because of the big contract, or because of the ice-cold start, or because he's hitting in a key spot in the order that he has rarely occupied before. Granderson basically repeated that when speaking to reporters after the game.

"No, not at all," Granderson said, in answer to both the pressing question and the cleanup question. "Stay focused, stay ready, stay aggressive and eventually things will turn."

Collins has little choice but to believe things will turn for Granderson. But he also has little choice in terms of what he can do to try to help things turn.

Maybe a move out of the cleanup spot won't work? But maybe it will?

At this point, it can't hurt to try.

Rapid Reaction: Braves 7, Mets 5

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
10:53
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Freddie Freeman is so good against the New York Mets, it hardly matters whether he hits the ball 40 feet or 400.

Or whether he hits it off his own foot.

The biggest play in the Mets' 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday did indeed deflect off Freeman's foot, or so it appeared on television replays. The ball ended up rolling down the third-base line, and when Mets starter Bartolo Colon threw it away down the right-field line, the Braves had two runs and a third-inning lead they would never give up.

Freeman had yet another hit against the Mets. He would finish the night with three of them, including an RBI double in the fifth inning that gave him 41 RBIs in his past 40 games against the Mets. Freeman is hitting .350 with 12 home runs in that span.

It's worth noting that Freeman hits well against everyone (his batting average this season is .413). Also worth noting is the fact that the Mets are now 2-6 at home this season, as opposed to 6-3 on the road.

To replay … or not: The new instant-replay system hasn't helped the Mets the past two nights. On Friday, it was a questionable call at first base that was followed by a "fourth out" at third base, which kept manager Terry Collins from putting in a challenge.

Then came the key play in Saturday night's game, the third-inning Freeman infield single. Television replays showed the ball might have hit Freeman's front foot, which would have made it a foul ball. Collins asked the umpires about it but was never able to put in an official challenge because the replay rules don't allow managers to challenge fair/foul calls when the ball doesn't leave the infield or was hit off the batter's foot. There was some disagreement on how conclusive the replays were, anyway.

Not so Grand: The boos at Citi Field are getting louder for Curtis Granderson, the $60 million cleanup hitter whose Mets career is off to a dreadful start. Granderson was hitless in five at-bats Saturday, dropping his average to .140 through 16 games. Worse yet, he has just four RBIs after leaving six more runners on base in this game.

More boos: Is Jose Valverde really still the Mets' closer? Valverde didn't pitch in a save situation Saturday, but the long three-run homer he allowed to Justin Upton deprived Braves closer Craig Kimbrel of a chance at a save. Valverde has allowed four home runs in his past three appearances, and the latest one looked bigger after the Mets scored two runs and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Luke vs. Ike: The first-base competition that never was essentially ended when the Mets traded Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. But minutes after Davis doubled in his first at-bat Saturday night in Pittsburgh, Lucas Duda doubled to lead off the second inning for the Mets. Davis reached base safely in his first three plate appearances for the Pirates and scored two runs. Duda ended the night 1-for-4 after just missing a go-ahead home run on an eighth-inning fly ball to the wall in right field.

Young firsts: Chris Young, who missed two weeks with a quadriceps injury, finally got his first Mets hit, a leadoff double off Ervin Santana in the fourth inning. Meanwhile, Eric Young Jr. was caught stealing for the first time this season after being successful on his first 10 tries (including one that led to the Mets' first-inning run Saturday).

The Colon show: Colon was neither as good as he was 10 days ago against the Braves (seven shutout innings) nor as bad as he was last Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels (nine runs allowed), but Colon (three earned runs in seven innings) was as entertaining as ever, especially when he came to the plate. He struck out in both at-bats Saturday, seeing six pitches and swinging violently at five of them.

On one swing in the second inning, Colon swung so hard his helmet came off. Perhaps not the best thing for a pitcher who complained last week of back spasms, but entertaining nonetheless.

What's next: The Mets and Braves close out this three-game series Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.67 ERA) starts for the Mets, while rookie right-hander David Hale (0-0, 2.89) pitches for the Braves.

Lannan headed to Vegas

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
7:14
PM ET
NEW YORK -- John Lannan will go to Las Vegas.

Lannan, the 29-year-old left-hander who was outrighted by the New York Mets on Wednesday, could have elected to become a free agent. Instead he will report to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51's.

Lannan pitched only four innings for the Mets after signing with the team as a free agent during the winter. He gave up seven runs on seven hits, including three home runs.

Time for Lucas Duda to prove he belongs

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
5:30
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda knows his job isn't really safe.

It’s a little safer than it was prior to Friday, when the New York Mets traded Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates and thus made it official that Duda is their chosen first baseman. But if the Mets thought the trade would take away any pressure Duda felt, well, it may not work.

"Maybe a little bit," Duda said Saturday afternoon, before the Mets played the Atlanta Braves. "But I still have to produce. If I don't produce, I won't play. If I don’t get the job done, someone else will."

He's right, of course -- even if the trade left the Mets without an obvious option sitting on the bench.

If Duda doesn't hit -- he's batting .256 through 15 games, with three home runs and a .798 OPS -- we'll all be asking when the Mets are going to find someone else.

"I'm not done [answering questions about first base]," manager Terry Collins said. "[Sometime, Duda] is going to be 0-for-15. Ike's going to have eight home runs [with the Pirates]. You're going to ask."

Collins isn't predicting failure for Duda. The Mets chose him over Davis because they think he has a better chance to succeed. The point is simply that the game is about production, especially for 28-year-old first basemen who aren't established, big league hitters yet.

The hope is that Duda can now become established. The hope, realistic or not, is that by trading Davis now, the Mets move that along.

"I'm hoping now Lucas doesn't have to worry that Ike's looking over his shoulder and that if he's 0-for-4, Ike's going to play," Collins said. "It's like, 'Hey look, Luke, it's yours.'

"I just think it should help."

Saturday's game will mark Duda's fourth start in the past five games, and his 10th in the Mets' first 17 games of the season. The Mets still have Josh Satin on the roster -- he has started against left-handed pitchers.

Mejia OK: Jenrry Mejia had no problems during his bullpen session Saturday and is set to start Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Mejia left his last start after just 77 pitches because of a blister.

Clearing things up: Collins and the Mets asked for a clarification Saturday on a disputed play in the second inning of Friday's loss to the Braves. Travis d'Arnaud was called out at first base on a close play, one that Collins considered challenging under the new instant replay rules.

The issue was that after d'Arnaud was called out at first, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman threw the ball to third base, where Duda (running from first) was tagged out by third baseman Chris Johnson. The umpires told Collins that even if the call at first base was reversed, the inning was probably over because Duda was out.

Collins then decided to save his challenge.

The Mets were told Saturday that if the call at first had been reversed, the replay umpires could have ruled Duda safe (either at second base or third), on the basis that he slowed down once he saw the out call at first. Duda confirmed Saturday that he did slow down, and said he thinks that if he had run full speed, "it would have been close" at third.

Harvey report: Matt Harvey still has a long way to go returning from Tommy John surgery, but he has gone from throwing from 75 feet to throwing from 90 feet.

Lannan decision? The Mets said they have yet to get a decision from John Lannan, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster and offered a spot at Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets told Lannan he could work as either a starter or a reliever -- his choice -- if he accepts the assignment.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
David Wright
BA HR RBI R
.316 1 11 9
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 3
RBID. Wright 11
RE. Young Jr. 15
OPSL. Duda .817
WC. Torres 2
ERAJ. Niese 2.84
SOZ. Wheeler 21

NEW YORK CALENDAR