NEW YORK -- First-year SNY analyst Nelson Figueroa, a former New York Mets pitcher, will be doing the pregame and postgame shows live from Citi Field on Monday along with sidekicks Jim Duquette, Gary Apple and Bobby Valentine.
Here's a Q&A with Figueroa with one week of Mets baseball in the books.
What have you liked about the Mets' play so far?
"They've had some really good at-bats. [Curtis] Granderson's at-bats have been six or seven pitches per at-bat in the leadoff spot. While he hasn't had many hits, he has had a lot of walks and forced the pitcher to throw a lot of pitches, which kind of sets the tone. And later on in the game it starts to wear out some starting pitchers earlier. I love the starting pitching. [Jonathon] Niese didn't throw as bad as the line reads. He only gave up one earned over five. [Jacob] deGrom made one bad pitch in the first and was great after that. And [Matt] Harvey is self-explanatory with what he was able to do. Bartolo [Colon] made Terry [Collins] look like a genius by doing what he did Opening Day. So I've really been impressed with the starting staff. The bullpen is going to have to do some things. We talk about the youth and the upside, but they're going to have to learn from some of these failed experiences early in the season and get better."
Has Harvey's instant success surprised you?
"Everybody thought he was going to ease his way back in during spring training, and the first day he's 99 mph and breaks out a brand-new curveball, or a version of his curveball that he had in 2013. It was my first time being around him and I was so impressed with his demeanor and how he went about his business. The most impressive thing from his first outing was that even though he knew he was at his last batter, his last few pitches with Clint Robinson, he finished him off with back-to-back changeups. ... Normally a guy who feels he's almost done is going to air it out and see how hard he can throw. He's still working on stuff and struck out a batter with changeups who isn't on the level with a Bryce Harper."
Are you alarmed by Wilmer Flores' three early errors?
"Can Ian Desmond play shortstop in the major leagues? He made three errors in that [Nationals] series and it cost them big in those games. I think Wilmer had so much pressure on him to win this job. And with the organization not going out --- or feeling like they didn't have to go out and get someone -- they showed him that confidence. I think he's pressing. And when you press, things tend to move a little faster than they actually are. All his errors are throwing errors. It's the footwork that he needs to pay attention to, to make his life a little easier -- stop trying to wait as long as he can and throw the ball as hard as he can each time. You've got to take some of those easy, routine plays and make them routine and he'll get back into a good groove. Early on he looked great. He made a ton of plays in the first game and in the second game."
"None of the three are shutdown closers. I'm talking about a Craig Kimbrel here. So I feel until someone steps up and runs away with the role, I don't mind having three guys that I can turn to. It gives you options. It gives you not having to abuse one player. Each one of them has a different skill set, different strengths."
"When Rafael Montero becomes the better pitcher then we can have that discussion. Dillon Gee has done it for a number of years now. Loyalty is a big thing -- that chemistry that you have not only within the clubhouse from player to player, but from coach to player, or between player and front office. It wasn't like they got rid of him and tried to get something better. They had him around. They had Jon Niese. And those two guys are now veteran major league starters in this rotation. They may no longer be front-end options. But I'll take my veteran guy for a No. 5. If he can't do it, then Montero's kind of learning on the fly that it's not as easy as spring training."