Mets manager Terry Collins: “If we play up to expectations… we’ll be playing in October.”

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It’s been a while since the Mets were in a position to hurl pre-season smack talk. Carlos Beltran was the last to fire a volley before the 2008 season to then-Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who had the previous season declared the Phillies the “team to beat”. Beltran said, “So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.” Obviously, things didn’t go as planned. The Mets haven’t been to the post-season since losing the 2006 NLCS to the Cardinals.

Mets manager Terry Collins delivered the closest thing to pre-season smack talk as the Mets have had in a while, saying that if the Mets play up to expectations, “we’ll be playing in October.” Via ESPN’s Adam Rubin:

Regardless, he indicated Saturday that he believes the Mets are a playoff team.

“Absolutely,” Collins said. “We’ve got to go play. But when you look at the back of the baseball cards on the 25 guys or 27 guys we think have legitimate chances, they’re pretty impressive. The addition of Michael Cuddyer, the addition of John Mayberry on that bench, the rotation — just because we haven’t been a playoff team in the past doesn’t mean we don’t have good pitching. We have very, very good pitching. So we should match up against a lot of teams.

“Now we’ve just got to go play. It’s all about execution. As we’ve seen in the past, there are teams that were world champs and the next year they’re in last place. And there are teams that were in last place that the next year they’re in the playoffs. If we play up to expectations and what we think are the caliber of players we have, we’ll be playing in October.”

Though the Nationals have gotten better with the additions of Max Scherzer, Yunel Escobar, and Casey Janssen, the NL East isn’t exactly strong, so an argument can be made that the Mets are the second-best team in the division going into spring training. During the off-season, the Mets brought in Michael Cuddyer, one of few transactions made to bolster a roster that went 79-83 in 2014.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.