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."
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
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.
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?
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
Instead, there's this: By Sunday morning, the New York Mets could have a new cleanup hitter and a new closer.
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.
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, 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.
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.
Jason Heyward, rf
B.J. Upton, cf
Freddie Freeman, 1b
Justin Upton, lf
Evan Gattis, c
Dan Uggla, 2b
Chris Johnson, 3b
Andrelton Simmons, ss
Ervin Santana, rhp
Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Curtis Granderson, rf
Chris Young, cf
Lucas Duda, 1b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Ruben Tejada, ss
Bartolo Colon, rhp
The Mets believe that Colon will be good to go, despite the back spasms he complained about after his last start in Anaheim. But manager Terry Collins said they'll have Daisuke Matsuzaka ready, in case there's a last-minute issue with Colon.
FIRST PITCH: The 10-game homestand is only one game old, but already the New York Mets have traded Ike Davis and nearly got no-hit. Now they face a pitcher who held them to three hits in eight scoreless innings just 10 days ago in Atlanta.
Ervin Santana (1-0, 0.64), outstanding so far after signing with the Braves during spring training, starts against the Mets on Saturday night at Citi Field. Bartolo Colon (1-2, 6.00), who threw seven shutout innings in Atlanta but allowed nine runs in five innings last Sunday in Anaheim, is the scheduled starter for the Mets.
Colon has been dealing with back spasms this week, but the word Friday was that he was good to go to face the Braves. Even so, Mets manager Terry Collins said he would have newly-promoted Daisuke Matsuzaka ready to start if Colon has a last-minute setback.
In any case, Saturday has a long way to go to be as busy as Friday. The Mets finally dealt with their first-base logjam by dealing Davis to the Pirates. Then they got only one hit -- a two-out David Wright single in the eighth inning -- in a 6-0 loss to the Braves.
Saturday's news reports:
• Almost four years to the day after he made his Mets debut, Davis went to the Pirates for minor-league reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named later.
It was hardly surprising to see Davis dealt, since the Mets had already decided to give most of the playing time at first base to Lucas Duda. How the trade is eventually viewed will depend on whether Davis can resurrect his career with the Pirates, and also on the identity of the player to be named. There were suggestions Friday night that the second player could be significant. ESPNNY.com's Adam Rubin points out that it could be someone who was drafted last June, since those players can't officially be traded until 12 months have passed.
Read more about Ike and the trade in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• The Post quotes a "Pirates insider" as saying that Thornton is "not much of a prospect." That's hardly a surprising assessment, considering he's a 25-year-old middle reliever in his second year in Triple-A and his fifth year in the minor leagues, and was left unprotected in last December's Rule 5 draft. Post columnist Kevin Kernan says Davis is the true winner of the trade. Daily News columnist John Harper says the Mets should have traded Davis earlier.
• The Mets did not get a hit in seven innings against Aaron Harang, who made four starts for them last September. Wright's single off Luis Avilan at least kept them from getting no-hit for the first time since 1993 (and the first time at home since 1969).
Read game reports in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear considers the inevitability of Ike Davis's departure.
BIRTHDAYS: Frank "Sweet Music" Viola, who is recovering from open-heart surgery, turns 54. ... Former reliever Ambiorix Burgos is 30.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
NEW HAMPSHIRE 6, BINGHAMTON 3: The Fisher Cats broke open a 3-3 tie with three runs in the top of the ninth off B-Mets relief pitcher Jon Velasquez, who took the loss. Darin Gorski started for Binghamton and went six innings, giving up three runs on six hits (including three home runs), with six strikeouts and one walk. Kevin Plawecki had a team-high two hits for the B-Mets. Box
ST. LUCIE 15, FORT MYERS 9: Brandon Nimmo and T.J. Rivera had four hits apiece for St. Lucie, and Maikis De La Cruz hit a home run. Starting pitcher Michael Fulmer lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits. Seth Lugo, who came in and gave up just one run on three hits in five innings of work, picked up the win. Box
GREENVILLE at SAVANNAH (ppd.): The game will be made up as part of a May 15 doubleheader.
NEW YORK -- Aaron Harang nearly stole the headlines on Ike Davis' last day as a member of the New York Mets.
Harang pitched seven no-hit innings against the Amazin's on Friday night at Citi Field before exiting the game due to a high pitch count.
The Atlanta Braves bullpen couldn't finish it off, however. Reliever Luis Avilan gave up a two-out single to David Wright in the bottom of the eighth inning. That was the only hit of the night for New York in a 6-0 Atlanta victory.
"His [stuff] was moving everywhere," Wright said. "He brought any pitch in any count -- throwing two-seamers, cutters, sliders, curveballs, changeups -- you name it, he was throwing it and felt comfortable in any count."
The 35-year-old Harang needed 121 pitches to get through seven frames, making Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's decision pretty easy. At that pace, he would have needed to throw 156 pitches to complete the game.
Harang walked six batters, including two in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh, but he didn't make any big mistakes.
"The one thing about Aaron, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes on the plate," Mets manager Terry Collins said afterward. "He misses off the sides, and that’s why he’s pitched so well so far. When he started getting fatigued, he wasn’t making mistakes on the dish."
Collins & Co. are very familiar with Harang. After all, he made four starts for the Mets last September, following his release by the Seattle Mariners.
He did a good job in New York despite not having a lot to show for it, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA. But the job he is doing with Atlanta this season is off the charts.
The Braves signed him for $1 million near the end of spring training after he was released by the Cleveland Indians, and he's now 3-1 with a 0.70 earned run average -- the best ERA in the major leagues.
"You could just tell how confident he was in his stuff," Wright said. "And we know that he can pitch. We saw that he can pitch and the way that he prepares. He finds a hitter's weakness and really attacks it."
The Mets have not been no-hit since the Houston Astros pulled it off on Sept. 8, 1993, thanks to the late Darryl Kile. This was the closest call since, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Twenty-five MLB teams have been no-hit at least once since that day. The only other teams that haven't are the Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs.
Friday was the 35th time the Mets have been held to just one hit. That most recently happened just last season, on Sept. 9, when Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez went the distance in a 9-0 victory by the Nationals.
Just a few minutes prior to first pitch, the Mets announced they had traded first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Over the next three hours, they were nearly no-hit by the Atlanta Braves.
Braves starter Aaron Harang, who was with the Mets last September, held them without a hit for seven innings. But Harang walked six batters and needed 121 pitches just to get that far, leading Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez to go to his bullpen.
Reliever Luis Avilan retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the eighth, but then David Wright laced a 1-1 74 mph curveball into left field for a single, ending the Braves' no-hit bid.
That was New York's only hit of the night. The first-place Braves improve to 11-5, while the third-place Mets fall to 8-8.
What a bargain! The Braves signed Harang at the end of spring training for $1 million after he was cut by the Cleveland Indians, who had signed him to a minor league deal in February.
The 35-year-old improved to 3-1 on the season with a 0.70 ERA.
Hard luck: Jonathon Niese pitched well for the Mets, giving up just one run on four hits in six innings with seven strikeouts and three walks. Nevertheless, Niese dropped to 0-2 on the season despite an ERA of 2.84.
Pen implosion: The Braves were still clinging to a 1-0 lead entering the eighth inning, after the Mets' Carlos Torres pitched a scoreless seventh in relief of Niese.
But then Gonzalez Germen and Scott Rice combined to give up four runs in the eighth.
Germen had pitched 9⅓ scoreless innings in a row and retired 31 of the past 34 batters he had faced, but he was charged with all four runs, including a two-run homer by the Freddie Freeman. Rice also surrendered an RBI double in the inning.
Jeurys Familia gave up one more Atlanta run in the ninth.
Streak over: Catcher Travis d'Arnaud committed a throwing error in the eighth inning, which allowed a run to score. The Mets had not made an error in their past eight games and boasted the best fielding percentage in the National League at .991.
What's next: The second game of this three-game series. It'll be Bartolo Colon (1-2, 6.00 ERA) for the Mets, opposed by Ervin Santana (1-0, 0.64). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
NEW YORK -- The Ike Davis saga is over in New York.
The deal was announced just a few minutes prior to the Mets' game against the Atlanta Braves. Davis was made available to reporters outside the Mets clubhouse as the game got underway.
"Honestly, it's a little weird," Davis said. "I've been with the Mets organization for a long time, and made some really good friendships and stuff like that. That's the toughest part, I think.
"I really had a blast in New York. I made my dreams come true, childhood dreams come true, playing in the big leagues here. But it's just a stepping-stone. It happens to a lot of people, getting traded. Now [I'll] go help my team in Pittsburgh."
Thornton, 25, was pitching for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. He will report to the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.