Morning Briefing: Happy deGrom day!

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
5:24
AM ET

Adam RubinJacob deGrom makes what's expected to be his second-to-last start of the season Sunday.
ATLANTA

FIRST PITCH: Jacob deGrom gets another chance to solidify his credentials for the NL Rookie of the Year Award as the Mets bid for a sweep of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. at Turner Field.

DeGrom tied the modern-day MLB record by striking out the first eight batters he faced against the Miami Marlins in his most recent start. It matched a feat first performed by Jim Deshaies in 1986 with the Houston Astros. DeGrom ultimately struck out a career-high 13 in the game. He enters his 22nd career start with an 8-6 record and 2.68 ERA.

DeGrom recently produced a streak of 28 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. It was the longest such streak by a rookie in the majors since Matt Cain went 30 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run in 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

In his last 14 starts, deGrom is 8-2 with a 1.93 ERA.

DeGrom opposes Braves right-hander Ervin Santana (14-9, 3.74 ERA) in the series finale. The Mets have not swept a three-game series at Turner Field since 2007.

Sunday’s news reports:

Jonathon Niese took a scoreless effort into the eighth inning and Dilson Herrera and Curtis Granderson homered as the Mets beat the Braves, 4-2, Saturday at Turner Field. The Mets moved into third place in the NL East, leapfrogging the Miami Marlins. The Amazin’s are only 1 games behind second-place Atlanta.

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

• Herrera suffered a strained right quadriceps muscle legging out an infield single in the sixth inning Saturday, potentially ending his season. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Broadcaster Howie Rose speaks with Justin Tasch in the Daily News about the first baseball game back in New York after 9/11, which took place on Sept. 21, 2001 -- 13 years ago today. “Forty, maybe fifty-thousand people here, and the wound was so open,” Rose told Tasch. “The bleeding hadn’t stopped. It hadn’t even begun to scab. Who the hell knew what was gonna happen when 40-something-thousand people got together in one place? That was scary. That was intimidating.”

Jeurys Familia, who already has matched a franchise rookie record with 73 relief appearances, will not play winter ball, according to Kristie Ackert in the Daily News.

• The Mets tentatively plan for Rafael Montero to get a start during the final series of the season, against the Houston Astros at Citi Field.

From the bloggers …John Delcos at NY Mets Report wonders if Niese will ever reach the next level.

BIRTHDAYS: Scott Rice turns 33. ... Former Mets reliever Greg Burke, who recently underwent hip surgery after pitching in Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies, is 32. ... Former infielder Joaquin Arias is 30.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will Daniel Murphy or Dilson Herrera be the Opening Day second baseman for the Mets next season?

Dilson Herrera's season might be over

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
10:57
PM ET

Adam RubinDilson Herrera suffered a right quadriceps strain that might have ended his season Saturday.
ATLANTA -- If Dilson Herrera's season is over, and it might well be after he suffered a strained right quadriceps Saturday at Turner Field, Terry Collins came away impressed with the 20-year-old infielder’s showing at the major league level.

“I like a lot about Dilson Herrera,” Collins said after Herrera departed in the sixth inning of a 4-2 win against the Atlanta Braves. “Like all the people have told me about him: He’s going to be a very good player. It’s just a matter of getting some games under his belt at 20 years old and getting some experience at the higher levels. But I like him a lot. I like the way he swings the bat. He’s gotten better defensively. And I’ve told [infield coach Tim] Teuf[el], with a little, brief time on Field 3 [in spring training], he’ll be a lot better.”

Herrera said the muscle had not been bugging him before he felt it pull while running full throttle to first base on an infield single in the sixth.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but I felt something, so that’s what I told the trainers,” Herrera said through an interpreter.

Still, with only seven games left, and given the nature of leg injuries, it is entirely conceivable Herrera is done for the season.

He has hit .220 (13-for-59) with three homers and 11 RBIs since he joined the club from Double-A Binghamton. He went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer Saturday before departing.

“We’ll see how he is in a couple of days, but certainly you’ve got to be very careful with those -- any of those leg injuries,” Collins said. “It’s too bad.”

In Herrera’s absence, and with David Wright already done for the season with a left rotator-cuff injury, Collins intends to leave Daniel Murphy at third base and deploy Wilmer Flores at second base and Ruben Tejada at shortstop -- the least disruption from recent lineups.

One alternative would have been using Murphy back at second base, Flores at third base and Tejada at shortstop. Another option: Murphy at second base, Eric Campbell at third base and Flores at shortstop.

“I’m probably going to leave well enough the way they are,” Collins said. “You’re asking now Wilmer to go to third base, and he hasn’t played third base in who knows how long. And Dan has been going out there, and he’s the one who raised his hand and said, ‘I’ll go to third base.’ Now all of a sudden, you’re jerking him around and putting him back at second. So I’m not going to do that.”

Rapid Reaction: Mets 4, Braves 2

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
10:03
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Dilson Herrera's first big league season looks like it is ending a week early.

Herrera departed Saturday’s game after beating out an infield single in the sixth inning. He officially was diagnosed with a right quadriceps strain.

Herrera, who limped off the field, earlier had delivered a two-run homer against reliever David Hale in the second inning. That shot, along with a scoreless effort into the eighth inning from Jonathon Niese, helped lift the New York Mets to a 4-2 win against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

If his season is over, the 20-year-old Herrera hit .220 (13-for-59) with three homers and 11 RBIs.

The Mets improved to 75-80, surpassing their win total for each of the past two seasons and leapfrogging the Marlins for third place.

The second-place Braves dropped to 76-78. It marks their first time at two-plus games under .500 in September since finishing the 2008 season at 72-90.

Niese carried a shutout bid into the eighth, when he allowed three straight one-out singles as the Braves loaded the bases. Freddie Freeman then greeted Josh Edgin with a two-run single as Atlanta pulled within 4-2. Carlos Torres replaced Edgin and coaxed a groundout from Justin Upton as the runners advanced. With two in scoring position, Chris Johnson then grounded out to first base.

Toned down: Jenrry Mejia allowed a one-out single but recorded the save. He had a sedate celebration afterward -- merely pointing to the sky.

Ouch 2: Braves starter Mike Minor surrendered a first-inning sacrifice fly to Lucas Duda and departed after the frame with left shoulder discomfort.

What’s next: The Mets complete their season series with the Braves on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. as Jacob deGrom's Rookie of the Year campaign continues. DeGrom (8-6, 2.68 ERA) opposes right-hander Ervin Santana (14-9, 3.74). DeGrom matched a major league record by striking out the first eight batters he faced against the Miami Marlins in his most recent start. The Mets are 9-9 against the Braves this season entering the finale.

Montero expected to get final-week start

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
5:16
PM ET
ATLANTA -- The Mets tentatively plan for Rafael Montero to get a start during the final series of the season against the Houston Astros at Citi Field.

Montero last started Sept. 10, when he tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies.

He since has made one relief appearance.

Saturday's Mets-Braves lineups

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
3:44
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Here are the lineups as the Mets face the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. at Turner Field.

Mets
Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 3b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Lucas Duda, 1b
Wilmer Flores, ss
Curtis Granderson, cf
Eric Campbell, rf
Dilson Herrera, 2b
Jonathon Niese, lhp

Braves
Emilio Bonifacio, rf
Phil Gosselin, 2b
Freddie Freeman, 1b
Justin Upton, lf
Chris Johnson, 3b
Andrelton Simmons, ss
Gerald Laird, c
B.J. Upton, cf
Mike Minor, lhp

Morning Briefing: Play on

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
8:14
AM ET
ATLANTA

FIRST PITCH: Wait until next year!

The Mets officially were eliminated from postseason contention on Friday night, despite producing a win.

Still, they play on.

At 74-80, the Amazin’s occupy fourth place in the NL East. Still, they are only a half-game behind the Miami Marlins (74-79) for third place and only 2 games behind the Atlanta Braves (76-77) for second place.

The Mets need to go 7-1 the rest of the way to reach .500. Otherwise, they will produce their sixth straight losing season, which would match the Houston Astros for the longest active streak of sub-.500 seasons in the majors.

On Saturday at Turner Field, Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74) at 7:10 p.m.

Saturday’s news reports:

Lucas Duda opened the scoring with a two-run homer and the Mets tacked on three ninth-inning runs en route to a 5-0 win against Atlanta in Friday’s series opener. Albeit requiring 105 pitches, Zack Wheeler tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 11-10 with a 3.49 ERA with one start remaining.

“His stuff was very, very good,” Terry Collins said, while adding: “As we’ve seen lately, he uses a lot of pitches to get outs.”

Collins was pleased that Wheeler has maintained his velocity this deep into the season. He has now logged 180 1/3 innings. Last year, he logged 174 1/3 innings. Wheeler has continued to average more than 96 mph with his fastball in September.

“That’s what you work hard for during the offseason, so you can last this long and stay powerful throughout the season,” Wheeler said. “It’s a good sign.”

As for turning a 3-8 record entering July into an above-.500 mark, Wheeler added: “It was a rough first few months, but I got past that. I kept my nose down and kept going.”

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

• Read more on Wheeler in the Record.

• Triple-A manager Wally Backman joined the major league staff Friday for the final nine games of the season. He offered candid assessments of Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Matt Bowman, Jacob deGrom and Wilmer Flores. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Juan Lagares is skipping the trip to Atlanta and D.C. because of his right elbow sprain. Lagares may appear during the season’s final series, against the Astros at Citi Field. Or he may already have played his final 2014 game.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was given Friday off after passing a kidney stone.

• Broadcaster Ron Darling tells Neil Best in Newsday this was an “enjoyable” year watching the Mets.

• If deGrom wins the Rookie of the Year Award, he would have logged the second-fewest innings ever among recipients, ahead of only Dave Righetti, writes Jared Diamond in the Journal. DeGrom is at 134 1/3 innings with two remaining starts. Righetti had only 105 1/3 with the Yankees while winning the AL award in 1981.

• A fan caught Duda’s homer in a popcorn bucket. Watch the video at MLB.com.

• The Mets hosted a wheelchair softball tournament in the parking lot at Citi Field, writes Lisa L. Colangelo in the Daily News.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear has mentally pushed its calendar ahead to 2015.

BIRTHDAYS: Jason Bay turns 36. ... Dave Gallagher was born on this date in 1960.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets make the postseason in 2015?

Mets won't quit despite elimination

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
11:26
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Terry Collins does not expect the Mets to let up now that they mathematically have been eliminated from postseason contention.

“We’ve just got to play the game right,” Collins said after the Mets’ 5-0 win against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, in Game No. 154. “As I said earlier today, I know we’ve only got a few games left, but you know what? We signed up to play 162 and play them hard. Just finish it off strong, play strong, go out and do the right things, execute like we’re supposed to, and the wins will take care of themselves. You know, I still believe people come to the ballpark to see the game played right.”

Collins said the fact that the Mets are playing a ton of young players with things to prove ensures a high level of energy.

“Well, we’ve got some young guys,” Collins said. “If they pack it in, you won’t see them again. That’s why it’s nice this time of year to bring those young guys up, because they add a lot of energy to the team. And our veteran guys, they’re great guys. There’s never been a question of how hard they’re going to play. We’ll finish it up. We’ll finish it up strong.”

Asked if there was any sting about being mathematically eliminated, Collins said: “Well, yeah, but the sting has been we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to. We certainly came out of spring training with high hopes of putting together a nice run. We just never seemed to get it going. That’s been the biggest disappointing thing, because if you can’t get it going, playoff runs are going to end. You’re not going to be in them.

“As I told the guys walking around the outfield during batting practice, ‘We’ve got eight games to go. We’re still in the hunt. That says a lot.’ That says that they hung in there when times were tough. Some of our guys are gone, they’re down right now, and they just keep playing.”

The Mets, despite a 74-80 record, actually can finish as high as second place in the NL East. The free-falling Braves occupy that slot now, with a 76-77 record.

“We aren’t done playing,” said Zack Wheeler, who tossed six scoreless innings Friday despite a high pitch count. “Obviously we can’t get first anymore, but we’re going for the second spot. It’s good to bear down right here and finish out the season strong going into next season.”

Mets Shut Out Braves

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
10:50
PM ET


video

Zack Wheeler struck out seven in the Mets' 5-0 win over the Braves.

Reaction: Mets 5, Braves 0; still eliminated

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
10:40
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Over and out!

Lucas Duda broke a scoreless tie with a two-run homer against Julio Teheran in the sixth, and the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 5-0 Friday at Turner Field.

Still, before completing their 154th game of the season, the Mets (74-80) were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Russell Martin had a three-run homer in a four-run eighth to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win against the Milwaukee Brewers. Pittsburgh notched its 83rd win -- more than the Mets can achieve even if they win out.

The Mets need to go 7-1 the rest of the way to reach .500 and snap their streak of consecutive losing seasons at five straight.

"We thought we had the pieces, but we had to have a lot of things go right because we had a lot of question marks,” Terry Collins said pregame, with the Mets on the brink elimination. “I don’t call them, ‘holes.’ I call them ‘question marks,’ because I think if you’re a major league player you’re talented. There were certain things guys had to do that we talked about in spring training that, ‘Hey if we get this out of this guy, this out of that guy, we’re going to be in the hunt.’ We didn’t do that.

"We’ve competed. We’ve competed very well. And now it’s a matter of next year trying to go in with a realization that, ‘Hey, look, we are going to be good enough.’”

Zack Wheeler contributed six scoreless innings despite requiring 105 pitches.

Wheeler’s final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

Duda now has 28 homers and 85 RBIs, both team highs by sizable margins. The long ball total ranks third in the National League, trailing only idle Giancarlo Stanton (37) as well as the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo (31).

Duda’s homer plated Daniel Murphy, who finished 4-for-5. Murphy matched his career high with the four hits.

The Mets tacked on three ninth-inning runs.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74) at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.

Backman breaks down high-level prospects

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
6:06
PM ET

Adam RubinWally Backman joined the Mets on Friday for the final nine games of the season.
ATLANTA -- Wally Backman tactfully indicated Friday that he hopes to get a chance at the major league level.

“I think that’s why the players play and I think that’s why coaches coach,” Backman said inside the visitors’ dugout at Turner Field, after joining the staff as a September call-up for the final nine games of the season.

Still, Backman said he has had no discussions about his role for next year. ESPNNewYork.com reported Thursday the Mets are internally discussing adding Backman to the coaching staff for 2015.

“I don’t know if I’ll be hunting all year or not,” Backman said. “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Before Friday’s series opener against the Atlanta Braves, Backman broke down several of the top prospects he managed at Triple-A Las Vegas this season. Here’s a rundown …

NOAH SYNDERGAARD, rhp

“I’ll say what you’ve probably heard a million times: He’s still very, very young. He just turned

lastname
Syndergaard
22 the last week of the season. Stuff-wise he’s probably second to nobody, but he has a lot to learn mentally. If he has the right guy behind the plate, he’s going to be pretty good, because the catcher really runs the game for him right now. He needs to learn to be able to call his own pitches in certain situations at the minor-league level, for sure, and trust the stuff that he has. For me, it’s all about consistency for him and really being able to command the fastball.”

Backman agreed with reports Syndergaard can become too reliant on his fastball.

“That’s very accurate. There was one point where he got hit hard this year where he threw 27 or 28 fastballs in a row. You call them ‘AAAA’ guys -- the guys that have been in the big leagues, the up-and-down guys. They all want to go to the Pacific Coast League because they can put up big numbers. And those ‘AAAA’ guys, so to speak, they don’t miss that fastball when they know it’s coming. That happened to Noah quite a bit.”

Backman added that Syndergaard’s other pitches are quality.

“He’s got a very good changeup. And his breaking ball is very good. All the pitches are there. It’s just learning how to use those pitches in the right situations. He may be better when he gets to the big leagues, just like [Matt] Harvey was when I had him.”

Harvey, of course, may have been bored in Triple-A and underperformed? Backman did not say that was the case with Syndergaard.

“Matt’s a smart kid. He’s a college graduate. Noah is a younger kid that’s still learning. For me, mentally, he’s got to get a little bit tougher. Trust me, I would never let him go, because of his stuff. He’s going to be a quality major league starter. There’s no question in my mind that’s going to happen. When that happens? The timetable has slowed down a little bit on him because everybody expected him in July.”

Backman added that Syndergaard needs to work on his pace while pitching.

“That’s pretty accurate. The tempo of the game, he needs to speed it up. And at times he’ll show good tempo. But, again, it all boils down to consistency. And he’s not consistent enough. Just way too much time in between pitches. Slow to the plate with base stealers on at times. So there’s room for improvement in all facets of the game for him. But, again, the stuff is there. When he learns to speed the game up a little bit for himself with guys on base, base stealers, he’ll be pretty good.”

KEVIN PLAWECKI, c

lastname
Plawecki
“Kevin is a very smart individual and works very hard. In my opinion, he still needs time. He’s slides forward a little bit. He lunges a little bit. I think the hard stuff can give him trouble at times. But he’s another guy that’s got great hand-eye coordination and makes up for it. Down the road, when he’s ready, he’s probably going to be pretty good.”

And Plawecki’s defensive skills?

“He’s more of an offensive player, but very smart in the sense of calling a game -- reading hitters’ swings, seeing the swings and misses and those type of things. He’s very good at that. Throwing-wise he’s just average. But he really does, from what I’ve seen in the short time I had him -- a half-year or whatever it was -- running a pitching staff he did a nice job.”

MATT REYNOLDS, ss

lastname
Reynolds
“This was the first real good year that he had, I think, offensively. I know he was a high pick, but he really showed he can handle the bat. He’s not a home run guy. He’s a guy that slaps the ball around. He’s a gap-to-gap guy. I was impressed with the way he played shortstop. At the start he was just kind of an ordinary guy. But he kind of grew on you as time went on. Very solid defensively.

“But he’s another kid that probably needs a little bit of seasoning. You know, one good year doesn’t make you an All-Star. So this was really his first good year. And I think the developmental part of it for this kid, with the way his work ethic is, he’s going to be a pretty good player someday.”

MATT BOWMAN, rhp

lastname
Bowman
“He’s a guy that has a four-pitch mix. He throws everything for strikes at any time. I think he went to Princeton. A smart kid. He kind of has the [Tim] Lincecum look. That’s the way his delivery is. He competes. He doesn’t throw 95 mph, but he’s still 91-93 mph with the four pitches that he commands very well. You can call him a sleeper. I won’t, because I think he’s going to pitch in the big leagues.”

JACOB DeGROM, rhp

“I’m not surprised with deGrom. I really believed that he was a guy that was going to be a dominant type of pitcher -- the way he competes, his stuff. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff. I didn’t want to lose him as fast as I lost him. I knew that it was the right move. He’s probably pitched better than a lot of people expected, but I’ve seen a lot of the things in him that were going to make him good. For him to make that transition as fast as he did, it probably surprised a lot of people.”

WILMER FLORES, ss

“When he’s played on a regular basis when he’s been up here, he’s done very well, from what I’ve seen. The two years that I had him he hit in the middle of the order. He played every day. He was a run producer. Where he played was shortstop, second, some third, some first. But Wilmer is a guy that has got to produce with his bat. And if he can do that on a consistent basis, then he can help Terry [Collins].”

Lagares skips trip with balky elbow

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
5:23
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Juan Lagares did not travel with the Mets to Turner Field for the series with the Atlanta Braves. He is not due to rejoin the club for the next stop in D.C., either.

So Lagares may be done for the season with a sprained right elbow.

Terry Collins said there is a chance Lagares may appear during the season-ending three-game series back at Citi Field against the Houston Astros, but team doctors would need to sign off. Lagares is due to be reexamined after the weekend.

He departed Tuesday's game after the elbow worsened on a throw from the outfield to second base.

Kirk gets day off after passing stone

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
5:15
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis volunteered to play in Friday's series opener against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, but Terry Collins opted to give the outfielder the day off after Nieuwenhuis passed a kidney stone.

Matt den Dekker moves to center field, with Eric Young Jr. starting in left field.

Friday's Mets-Braves lineups

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
4:10
PM ET
ATLANTA -- Here are the lineups as the Mets face the Atlanta Braves on Friday at 7:35 p.m. at Turner Field.

Mets
Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 3b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Lucas Duda, 1b
Wilmer Flores, ss
Curtis Granderson, rf
Matt den Dekker, cf
Dilson Herrera, 2b
Zack Wheeler, rhp

Braves
Phil Gosselin, 3b
Andrelton Simmons, ss
Freddie Freeman, 1b
Justin Upton, lf
Christian Bethancourt, c
Ryan Doumit, rf
Tommy La Stella, 2b
B.J. Upton, cf
Julio Teheran, rhp

Morning Briefing: Happy Backman Day!

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
5:30
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: It’s Wally Backman Day!

Backman, who guided Las Vegas into the Triple-A playoffs for the second straight season, joins the Mets staff on Friday at Turner Field for the final nine games. Backman also was a September call-up in 2012.

A source told ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets are mulling having Backman on the major league staff to open next season.

It’s unclear which current major league coach might be out in that scenario.

Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are due to meet in Atlanta this weekend to plan for 2015. Both are expected to remain in their posts, with an announcement coming after the season.

In Friday’s series opener, Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61 ERA) opposes Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89) at 7:35 p.m.

The Mets’ tragic number for postseason elimination has been sliced to one with Pittsburgh’s win on Thursday night.

Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.

Friday’s news reports:

• The Mets plan to scout Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas, 23, during a workout on Sunday in the Dominican Republic, although the power-hitting outfielder’s price tag figures to exceed the organization’s appetite.

• Paul DePodesta tells Mike Puma in the Post that the organization’s next top-10 prospects list should have more position players than pitchers, including Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Dilson Herrera.

As for why the Mets are not more active with signing Cuban defectors, DePodesta said: “The dollars to this point have been beyond our reach or beyond our appetite. But we’re going to continue to do what we’ve done, which is sort of be prepared proactively and when these guys do become available we’ll be there and see whether or not it’s something that makes sense for us.”

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests the Mets don't need to spend this offseason. Writes Madden:

So the case can be made for Alderson not raising payroll and the Mets, off their strong pitching and increased improvement and development from their young core position players, still emerging as legitimate contenders next year. For that to happen, though, they’re still going to need to (1) avoid major injuries, especially the season-ending type to their pitchers, and (2) assure the payroll remains flexible enough for Alderson to increase it by at least $10 million if that big bat suddenly does become available. And, oh yes, one other thing: They need to find a way to start beating Washington.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger reviews the blossoming of Wheeler into a frontline starter.

• Mets fans have it the worst of any MLB team, according to ESPN polling.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News assesses the possibility of Wilmer Flores as the No. 1 shortstop next season. Marc Carig in Newsday tackles that subject as well.

• Emma Span at SI.com calls out Bud Selig for his treatment of the Mets.

• Here’s footage shot from an interesting angle at Citi Field at MLB.com.

• PIX11 extended its agreement with the Mets and SNY through 2017. The network will air 25 regular-season games a season on free TV.

• Lloyd Carroll at the Queens Chronicle weighs in on the civil lawsuit filed against the Mets.

• Howard Megdal at USA Today tags along with Kevin Burkhardt.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear examines why a logo and a TV field reporter mean so much to Mets fans. … John Delcos at NY Mets Report suggests the Mets would be far more competitive in NL East if they improved their division performance in one- and two-run games. … Blogging Mets tackles the difficult task of naming the 2014 Mets MVP.

BIRTHDAYS: Randall K. Myers turns 52. ... The late Hall of Famer Duke Snider was born on this date in 1926. ... Jon Leroux, a Northeastern product who appeared in 28 games for Savannah this season, is 24.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe the Mets are deep in position-player prospects?

Series preview: Mets at Braves

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
9:42
PM ET

Associated Press/Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Ervin Santana this weekend at Turner Field.
METS (73-80, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (76-76, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89), 7:35 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55) vs. LHP Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jacob deGrom (8-6, 2.68) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (14-9, 3.74), 1:35 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Catcher Evan Gattis has been sidelined for nine games with strep throat and a kidney stone, but may be close to returning. Christian Bethancourt has started the past eight games behind the plate.

Right fielder Jason Heyward departed Wednesday’s game in the eighth, two innings after getting hit by a pitch in the left thumb. X-rays were negative. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons earlier left the game with a sore left ankle.

The Washington Nationals clinched the NL East title at Turner Field on Tuesday. The Nats and Braves were even in the standings as recently as July 20. That defeat was Atlanta’s 11th in 14 games. It temporarily knocked the Braves under .500 for the first time since losing on Opening Day.

The Braves broke ground on a new ballpark in Cobb County this week that will open in 2017. It will be called SunTrust Park. The Braves have played at Turner Field since the 1997 season -- the year after it hosted the Olympics.

Closer Craig Kimbrel is the first pitcher to begin his career with four consecutive 40-save seasons. Overall, he is only the third pitcher to have four straight seasons reaching that save plateau. Trevor Hoffman achieved it from 1998 through 2001 and from 2004 through ’07. Francisco Rodriguez did so from 2005 through ’08.

Justin Upton's 27 homers are tied with Lucas Duda's total for third in the National League. Idle Marlin Giancarlo Stanton has 37. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo has 31. Upton also ranks third in RBIs with 97.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
14 4.02 143 190
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .298
HRL. Duda 28
RBIL. Duda 86
RD. Murphy 76
OPSL. Duda .827
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 180