By Ernie Palladino
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Life is all about perspective, and there is nothing that presents more differing viewpoints than the case of the Yanks and Mets.
The Yanks went into Tuesday’s rainout in Baltimore seven games behind the AL East-leading Orioles. The Mets went into their Citi Field contest against the NL East-leading Nationals 7 1/2 games behind.
In other words, as far as standings go, the Mets’ mathematical plight was only a half-game worse than the Yanks’. On paper, the Mets and Yanks had almost an equal shot at winning their divisions, and it wouldn’t take a “Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” surge over the final month and a half for either team to accomplish the goal.
Yet, the feeling around Citi Field is that the Mets’ season is over. Has been for quite a while. No playoffs. Maybe .500 if they rip off a genuine hot streak. Tuesday’s loss to drop them 8 1/2 games back didn’t help.
The Yanks? Everything is rosy. Well, sort of. While few really believe they’ll take aim at Baltimore for the division title, the three games that separates them from the one-game playoff with probable No. 1 wildcard Anaheim has all those executive office types adjusting and planning. There are still hopes aplenty that the playoff miss in 2013 will become a one-year occurrence.
That’s why Michael Pineda has been scheduled to pitch Wednesday night’s game. By rights, he should have been kept in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a third rehab start. But the Yanks deemed their current situation grave enough, given their intense desire to make the postseason, that they’ll bring back Pineda prematurely from his three-month stay on the DL with a shoulder strain. Even though he never got near the desired 90-pitch plateau in his first two starts, the Yanks will bring him back and hope for the best.
He needs only to throw as hard as he can for as long as he can, and then hope the bullpen does its job. If Joe Girardi is lucky and Pineda leaves home his stash of pine tar, super glue, extra virgin olive oil, or whatever else he uses to enhance his pitches, he gets five innings out of his right-hander. The fans will probably get a show, too, as Buck Showalter undoubtedly will have the umpires all but undress the kid at some strategic point in the game.
The Yanks did this in part because David Phelps went on the DL a week ago with a bad elbow. But they also did it because they perceive themselves as perched for a run to the playoffs. If they didn’t believe it, there would be no reason to rush a valuable, front-line pitcher off the DL.
The Mets obviously don’t feel that way. Otherwise, Noah Syndergaard, who sits in Triple-A Las Vegas just itching to make his major league debut, would have been up here for Tuesday night’s start in place of the DL-ed Jacob deGrom instead of Rafael Montero.
Not that Montero doesn’t deserve the slot. He’s still one of the team’s top pitching prospects. But the whole world wants to see what Syndergaard is all about.
They could have, too, perhaps for two starts while deGrom rested his strained shoulder. But the Mets are not inclined to do the up-and-back thing with him. When they bring him up, they want him to stay up. And that won’t happen until next year.
In other words, there’s no urgency to do that now. Though no such thought is actually uttered in the organization, they must all know that this year is out the window. Even with Lucas Duda adding the home-run power they expected long ago, the lineup will never offer consistent support for the pitching.
So, no rush. At six games under .500, all perceptions point to April 2015, not October 2014.
No doubt, the won-loss records play heavy into this. The Yanks were four games over .500. But the Mets’ placement in the worst division in baseball should logically give rise to hope that a September hot streak and a little help from their division mates could put them in shooting distance of the NL-East lead.
That’s not the perspective, though. Far from it.
The Yanks still have hope, and thus risk an individual disaster from rushing a pitcher back from the DL.
The Mets, as usual, think about next year with a prize prospect, saying “No rush” to him and the fans.
It’s like night and day.
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