The Matt Harvey Replacement Isn’t Here Anymore
Steven Matz has bone spurs in his pitching elbow, and the Mets talked him out if having inseason surgery to remove them. Noah Syndergaard also has bone spurs in his pitching elbow, but it appears like it’s nowhere near as serious as Matz’s. Zack Wheeler has had a number of setbacks in his Tommy John rehab, and the best case scenario has him returning to the Mets mid to late August. Now, worst of all, Matt Harvey may have thoracic outlet syndrome.
Anyone one of these pitchers may miss an extended period of time, and the Mets replacements are less than inspiring.
First up as always is spot starter Logan Verrett who has a 5.32 ERA in his five starts this year. Sean Gilmartin has a 7.00 ERA in his limited appearances with the Mets this year. Seth Lugo had an electrifying one inning appearance before bring sent back down to AAA where he has a 6.55 ERA. Rafael Montero hasn’t been much better with his 6.31 AAA ERA and his 11.57 major league ERA. Finally, there’s 23 year old Gabriel Ynoa who may not be ready for the majors.
For a team that is built on pitching, these are not viable options. These pitchers are not carrying these Mets back to the World Series like the pitching did in 2015.
No, the Mets need a pitcher like Michael Fulmer. Fulmer has made 13 starts this year going 9-2 with a 2.11 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP. He’s throwing a 96 MPH fastball and an 89 MPH Warthen slider. If he was in the Mets rotation right now, he would arguably be the best pitcher in their rotation. At the very least, he’s top three. There’s one problem.
Fulmer’s a Tiger. Fulmer was one of 12 pitchers the Mets have traded away since the 2015 offseason. Make no mistake. Fulmer was the best of the lot.
Many have justified his departure as he was traded away to acquire Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes would go off in August and September with an offensive display Mets fans haven’t seen since Mike Piazza was leading the Mets to back-to-back postseason appearances. The Mets would fall just short of the ultimate goal as they lost the World Series in five games.
Arguably, the Mets needed Cespedes to reach that point. However, in acquiring him, the Mets gave up Fulmer’s entire career. They gave up the very player they may need this year just to get back to the World Series. The Mets may have sacrificed their chances in 2016 and beyond for the run they made last year.
The reason is because pitching is fragile. No matter how good you think you have it there’s a bone spur, a torn collateral ligament, or a shoulder condition that can take an ace pitcher away. It’s why an organization needs as much high end pitching depth as it can get their hands on. Yesterday’s surplus becomes today’s necessity.
Fulmer was seen as surplus last year, and he was moved for Cespedes. With Harvey’s, Wheeler’s, and Matz’s medical issues, he’s now a necessity that is pitching for the Detroit Tigers.