5/31/2014 2:11 A.M. ET
Black latest reliever to show impressive velocity
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Vic Black's daily routine at Triple-A Las Vegas always began normally enough, with a game of catch out on the field. Gradually, Black would move back, until he was standing on the first-base foul line. Finally he would take aim at the left-field scoreboard, making a few throws of over 300 feet.
Like many pitchers, Black swears by his long-toss routine, calling it a significant reason he has averaged more than 96 mph on his fastball since returning to the Mets this week.
That velocity, in turn, is what has transformed the Mets relief corps from one of baseball's worst groups to one of its best. With Black, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia now regularly manning the back end of games, Mets relievers entered Friday's play leading the Majors over the last week with an average fastball velocity of 94.0 miles per hour.
"If guys come in and they're just throwing hard, it's such a pain for hitters," Black said. "It just changes the whole complex of the way they approach their ABs. There's a lot to be said for velocity. A lot of guys are successful without it, but it gives them an extra variable to worry about."
The transformation has been striking. It was just last year that Mets relievers ranked 27th in the Majors in fastball velocity, as well as dead last in strikeouts and strikeout rate. This year they are in the middle of the pack in those categories, rapidly rising toward the top. In Thursday's win over the Phillies, Black and Mejia combined to strike out six of the final seven batters they faced.
"Everybody realizes it doesn't matter how hard you throw as long as you're locating," manager Terry Collins. "But when it's 95 and 98, it's hard to hit."
The key, for the Mets, has been youth. Relying on veterans Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth early this year, the Mets copied a blueprint they had used with little success in previous seasons. They have now scrapped that plan entirely, leaning on Black, Mejia and Familia for critical outs on a nightly basis.
"I know it's certainly been exciting for everybody to watch," Collins said. "Word spreads fast in this league. Certainly other teams are going to be anxious to see these arms, because everybody is."
Mets to call on Carlyle to help in bullpen
PHILADELPHIA -- In desperate need of pitching after emptying their bullpen in Friday's 14-inning loss to the Phillies, the Mets flew right-hander Buddy Carlyle to Philadelphia from El Paso, Texas, where he was wrapping up a series with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Mets did not officially activate Carlyle after Friday's game, and have not announced a corresponding move. With no obvious candidates in the bullpen deserving a demotion, the Mets could either option starter Rafael Montero back to Las Vegas, temporarily inserting Daisuke Matsuzaka into their rotation, or play with a short bench for a game.
Carlyle, 36, was 1-1 with one save and a 1.33 ERA in 17 appearances for Las Vegas. He last pitched in the Majors for the Yankees in 2011, also appearing for the Padres, Dodgers and Braves over parts of seven big league seasons.
The Mets used all seven of their relievers in Friday's loss, leaning on all but one of them for more than an inning.
Abreu makes return to lineup, right field
PHILADELPHIA -- Forty-year-old Bobby Abreu made his return to the lineup Friday after a brief respite, starting in the outfield for the fourth time in six games. Abreu started in three consecutive games earlier this week, collecting five hits and a walk.
More and more, that playing time is coming at the expense of Chris Young, who has slumped all season despite a two-run homer Thursday. Manager Terry Collins said the decision to bench Young the day after his homer was "tough," but noted that Abreu had earned the playing time.
"It's very tough," Collins said, referencing Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. "This guy's really tough against right-handed hitting. His breaking ball is really, really good, along with some other stuff."
Young's homer Thursday was his fourth of the season, improving his overall slash line to .205/.290/.368. Only 35 players in baseball have accumulated as many plate appearances as Young with an on-base percentage of .290 or lower.
• Reliever Gonzalez Germen, who has been on the disabled list since May 12 due to a virus and an infection, has resumed a throwing program. There is still no timetable for his return, but manager Terry Collins said that "the infection is starting to get cleaned up."
• Collins said that he will look to give third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy each a day off on the team's current 11-game road trip. Outfielders Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson will each receive a day of rest this weekend.
• The Mets have diagnosed Class A Savannah outfielder Brandon Nimmo with conjunctivitis in his eye. Nimmo will stay away from the ballpark for the next three days.