What to look for: Nationals vs. Mets, 8:08 PM

Citi Field 1 slice

The Mets will look for a series sweep of the Nationals tonight at Citi Field at 8:08 PM.

BaronHere is tonight’s starting lineup for New York:

Curtis Granderson – RF
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Juan Uribe – 3B
Kelly Johnson – LF
Kevin Plawecki – C
Noah Syndergaard – RHP
Ruben Tejada – SS

Here is tonight’s pitching matchup:

Noah Syndergaard (5-5, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Mets.

Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 3.36 ERA) will start for the Nationals.

Mets vs NationalsHere’s what I am looking for from the Mets tonight:

A sweep.

Winning tonight would secure the club’s first sweep of the Nationals at Citi Field since April, 2009. It would also secure a winning 6-4 homestand. It would also get the Mets into a virtual tie for first place with the Nationals, when just 48 hours before they were sitting three games behind them.

They’re going to have to do it against a tough pitcher in Zimmermann tonight. Of course, they had enough problems scoring runs against the Nationals over the last two nights, so facing a top caliber pitcher shouldn’t change much for them today.

Speaking of scoring runs…

It would be nice if the Mets put up a crooked number early against Zimmermann, and establish command of this game right from the beginning. The key to beating Zimmermann is doing just that, and not letting him get into any kind of groove. He is a strike throwing machine, so the Mets should expect more of the same and attack early in counts if they’re going to have any kind of success against the Nationals right-hander.

The end of a tough road.

The Mets have finally reached the end of their most difficult stretch of the season, and they’ve done pretty well under the circumstances, going 14-13 against the league’s best during that span. A win tonight would ensure a winning record during this stretch, which would say a lot for the Mets given they’ve been shorthanded with a fragmented roster for mostly the entire time.

Erik Goeddel begins rehab assignment with Single-A St. Lucie

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Erik Goeddel has been on the disabled list since June 12 with right elbow discomfort, and he has spent the better part of the last two months rehabbing at the team’s minor league complex in Port St. Lucie.

But on Sunday, Goeddel took his first step towards returning on Sunday, pitching 2/3 of an inning while allowing three hits and a run in the eighth inning of Single-A St. Lucie’s 7-2 win over Clearwater at Tradition Field.

It’s still not clear when Goeddel might return to the big leagues.

Mets prospect Blake Taylor undergoes Tommy John Surgery


Mets prospect LHP Blake Taylor had the beginning of his season delayed due to elbow problems during spring training.

After a brief rehab assignment with the GCL Mets, Taylor made three appearances and two starts for the Brooklyn Cyclones, allowing just a run in nine innings.

But, those will be the last pitches he throws quite possibly until 2017.

Taylor recently underwent Tommy John Surgery on his left elbow, and will be out at least a year as he begins the long recovery process back, according to Stuart Johnson of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Taylor was acquired from the Pirates for Ike Davis in April, 2014. He is the Mets 22nd best prospect, according to MLB.com.

Mets will return to a six-man rotation when Steven Matz returns

BaronSince the Mets lost Steven Matz to the disabled list in early July, the Mets have employed a steady five-man rotation with Matt Harvey Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon.

For now, the Mets will stick with their five-man formula, that is until Matz returns from the disabled list, at which point Terry Collins said on Sunday they will return to the six-man rotation.

Matz is not expected to return until sometime in September. He is expected to visit with team doctors early next week to determine th next step I the rehab process from his torn lay muscle.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis placed on the disabled list, Mets recall Michael Conforto

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Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been sidelined with a pinched nerve in his upper back for the last three games.

The Mets were contemplating putting him on the disabled list on Saturday, but left him active while demoting Michael Conforto to make room for Yoenis Cespedes on the active roster.

But on Sunday, the Mets decided to place Nieuwenhuis on the disabled list anyway, and recalled Conforto from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Because Conforto is an injury replacement, he does not need to wait ten days before being recalled from the minor leagues.

Nieuwenhuis is 13-for-41 with three home runs and ten RBI in 17 games since having his contract purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas on July 6.

Ahead of the biggest game in Citi Field to date, a look back at other notable games in the ballpark

Andrew HartsTonight is the 105th game of the 2015 season for the New York Mets.

It is arguably the biggest and most meaningful for the Mets in a very, very long time. ESPN flexed this game a few weeks ago to be the primetime premier game for today, which starts at 8:08 PM.

While the ballpark has been open since 2009, tonight marks one of the biggest games in its six-year history.

Until now, it’s been a rough six years in the new home of the Mets. And because of those poor and rebuilding seasons, there really haven’t been too many notable games for the Mets in their ballpark, not to mention any games with actual playoff predictions.

Finally, those games have arrived to Citi Field.

But it’s easy to forget some of the (very) few memorable big games which have been played at this truly beautiful ballpark in Flushing.

Here’s a look back at those games ahead of what could be the most impactful game of the year… (more…)

Watch #THIS video on Wilmer Flores’ game winning home run

MLB’s #THIS campaign is designed to showcase the personality of Major League Baseball, the game and all of it’s players, teams and fanbases.

#THIS is a hashtag meant to capture the essence of Major League Baseball.
Here, is a video of Wilmer Flores hitting his game winning home run on Friday night:

Noah Syndergaard talks about his favorite TV shows, karaoke music

Here, Andrew Harts of MLB.com talks with Noah Syndergaard about his favorite TV shows, and what he likes to sing karaoke to:

Lucas Duda was given a choice: produce or sit, and he chose to produce…

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Lucas Duda was stuck in such a slumber for most of the last two months, many onlookers wondered if his 2014 season had been nothing more than a fluke.

It was a fair question. In 45 games between May 31 and July 18, Duda had produced a .549 OPS with only three home runs and 56 strikeouts.

Even his manager began to question Duda’s viability in the lineup, to the point he essentially warned Duda to put up, or take a seat.

“I said, ‘Listen, we’ve got to start producing some runs, or we’ve got to find somebody else,’ Collins said he told Duda.

What was Duda’s answer to his manager?

“I got it,” Collins said Duda told him in response to the message.

Message received, and boy, did he get it.

Duda produced two more home runs and all three of the runs in the Mets come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday to secure the club’s first series win against Washington at Citi Field since April, 2013.

“I always thought he was going to have a good second half,” Collins explained about Duda. “But, he’s taken it to heart. He’s a tremendous worker and wants to be good. He’s showing everybody what he can be.”

His work ethic was never in question. during his deep malaise while in San Francisco, Duda was seen sitting with Kevin Long, watching three different videos of his at-bats immediately after he had gone 0-for-4.

He was dedicated to getting himself out of the funk, and he has done so in dramatic fashion.

With his recent seven game stretch, during which he’s produced eight home runs and a 1.861 OPS, he is now on pace for 31 home runs this season, or one more than he hit in 2014.

“I feel much better than I did a month ago,” Duda said.

Duda’s final RBI of the night came in the eighth inning, after Nationals manager decided to walk Yoenis Cespedes with Curtis Granderson on second base and one out. While facing left-hander Matt Thornton, Duda launched his 25th double of the season over left fielder Jayson Werth’s head to plate Granderson and give the Mets a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.

“I’ve been in [Matt Williams’] shoes, and that’s not a good feeling. You’ve got a guy we’ve brought in, and obviously one of the great hitters in the game. You’ve got to walk him to face a guy who is red hot. That’s a tough situation.”

“I wasn’t sure what [Williams] was going to do,” Duda said regarding the decision to walk Cespedes. “I really take the ego out of it. [Thornton is] tough on lefties, so I was just trying to put the ball in play and put a good swing on it.”

He did, and he drove home a badly needed win for the Mets on Saturday night.

Right there, that was the difference between the Mets of Friday, and the now retro-fitted Mets with a star hitter in the middle of the lineup. In the same situation on Friday, Williams doesn’t necessarily have to walk someone to face Duda. Instead, he might have been able avoid Duda and pitched to someone who isn’t remotely close to as capable as either he or Cespedes.

That’s why it’s better to have everyday players playing rather than part-time players.

There’s a difference, and it made a clear difference in Saturday’s game.

David Wright could begin a rehab assignment this week

BaronIn what could be his last attempt at a comeback in 2015, David Wright has yet to suffer any setbacks as he has ramped up his baseball activities, beginning in Los Angeles prior to this homestand, and now at Citi Field in front of Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, and the rest of the coaching staff.

Wright is expected to travel to Miami with the club tonight, and will workout at Marlins Park while continuing the rehab process with the team. If all goes well, Wright could head to Port St. Lucie following their series with the Marlins, and begin a rehab assignment, Collins said on Saturday.

The process won’t necessarily be quick for Wright to return. Collins said his star third baseman will be, “eased” into games when he begins his rehab assignment.

Wright could very well need the maximum number of days while on rehab assignment before returning, which is 20 for a position player. He has not played in a game since April 14, and it’s been suggested he could need the equivalent of the full slate of Spring Training at-bats and innings – without any setbacks – before returning to the big leagues.

Cesar Puello suffers a setback, shutdown from rehab assignment

Cesar Puello 1 slice


Cesar Puello began a rehab assignment with the GCL Mets last Monday in what was his first game action since being placed on the disabled list with a stress reaction in his back.

But Puello has not appeared in a game since, and according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Puello suffered a setback after that game, and has since been shutdown from the assignment.

The Mets originally designated Puello for assignment at the conclusion of Spring Training, and he had originally cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. But, because he sustained his injury in major league spring training, the Mets were forced to rescind their outright assignment, restore him back to the 40-man roster, and place him on the major league disabled list.

Puello is also accruing big league service time while on the 60-day disabled list.

When and if the Mets reinstate Puello, they will presumably designate him for assignment again with the hope he clears waivers again and can be outrighted to the minor leagues.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis has a pinched nerve in his back, but is active

BaronOn Saturday, the Mets delayed their roster move to accommodate Yoenis Cespedes on the active roster until around 6:00 PM.

The reason for the delay was because Kirk Nieuwenhuis was undergoing tests for a pinched nerve in his upper back, which explains his absence over the last couple of days.

The Mets were apparently waiting to see how Nieuwenhuis responded to tests before deciding to place him on the disabled list, or to keep him active.

For now, the Mets have kept Nieuwenhuis active, and optioned Michael Conforto to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Nieuwenhuis’ availability for Sunday’s series finale against the Nationals remains unclear.


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