Time to Get Warthen Some Help
The Mets hired Kevin Long as their hitting coach to help a team that wasn’t hitting. Subsequently, they hired Pat Roessler as the assistant hitting coach. Roessler was hired because of his previous relationship with Long. So far, they’ve worked extremely well together.
Long and Roessler work hand-in-hand to help the Mets batters. For example, they worked in tandem to help Lucas Duda hit lefties last year. It’s helpful to have another voice to bounce ideas of of when trying to help a hitter. When your message isn’t getting through, it’s helpful to have another voice to help deliver the same message. Having both coaches this allows Long to watch video between innings to see both his pitcher’s mechanics and how the Mets’ batters are getting pitched. It also allows Long to delegate Roessler to work with the pitchers on their hitting.
Perhaps it’s time the Mets add an assistant pitching coach to the staff.
This is no slight against Dan Warthen. He is in charge of what is the best pitching staff in baseball. He has not shown anything to lead you to believe his message isn’t getting through or that he should be replaced. With that said, wouldn’t it be beneficial for Warthen to have an assistant coach he trusts and feels comfortable working with help with the pitching staff?
Let’s take Matt Harvey‘s start on Saturday. For the first 4.1 innings, he dominated. Then the wheels came off. For his part, Harvey believes he’s struggled with his command since the season began. As reported by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Warthen believes it was as simple as Harvey falling into bad habits in a pressure filled inning:
“You get into a pressure situation, you do fall back into bad habits,” Warthen said. “Essentially, that’s what happened today. This has been Matt’s biggest bugaboo since I’ve had him.”
There are two important things to note here. First, Warthen knows the problem and the solution. Second, Warthen doesn’t know quite how to get Harvey to stop falling into the trap. Quite possibly, this is where a second voice could come into play.
One thing that can’t be discounted is perhaps Harvey was just lucky for the first 4.1 innings. For a player who averages 96+ MPH with his fastball, he was sitting at 94 MPH against the Indians. This is a player who averaged 9.5 strikeouts per nine coming into the season. This year he’s at 4.7, and his season high was the four he had against the Indians. It’s possible the mechanical quirk might’ve been perceptible to an assistant coach watching video in the clubhouse as opposed to a pitching coach watching from the dugout.
Now, the Mets do have a bullpen coach in Ricky Bones. However, he can only help so much. The bullpen coach primarily works with relievers and spends the game in the bullpen. Before and after games, he can be a sounding board for Warthen and/or another voice to help a struggling pitcher if needed. With that said, Bones job as the bullpen coach prevents him from running into the clubhouse to watch video of a pitcher’s last half inning to see the pitcher’s mechanics and his batters are approaching their at bats.
That job would best be done by an assistant pitching coach.
There’s another factor to keep in mind. Warthen is a 63 year old pitching coach with bad hips. He missed some time last year after being brought to the hospital with an accelerated heartbeat. No one knows how much longer he will want to or be able to stay on as the Mets pitching coach. As the organization clearly thinks very highly of Warthen, wouldn’t it make sense for him to groom his successor?
It’s time for the Mets to add an assistant pitching coach.