Bullpen Giving Me a Headache

We all knew the Mets needed to make a roster move to make room for David Wright. We all believed it was going to be Logan Verrett, who was terrific yesterday

Nope. We were all wrong. Apparently, the Mets enjoy shortchanging the bullpen. Verrett is going to stay and Dario Alvarez is going down. The Mets got away with it last week. With the Phillies and Red Sox coming up, you can tell the Mets think they can get away with it again. The problem is they’re tempting fate in more ways than one now. 

Not only are they shorting the bullpen for two days, but they may also have a rotation problem. We don’t know the severity of Bartolo Colon‘s wrist. He’s due to pitch Wednesday against the Phillies, which is also Verrett’s throw day. As we saw in Baltimore, that means Verrett will only be good for an inning. That means Colon better be alright to pitch. 

If he’s not the Mets could have Matt Harvey start on Wednesday instead of Friday. I don’t think they’ll do that because it would defeat the purpose of them skipping Harvey’s start. There’s also no one on the 40 man roster who’s ready to get called up to make a spot start. 

That means Colon has to start and all hands need to be on deck . . . like they needed to be on Friday. Hopefully, Verrett’s inability to go more than one inning won’t be a major problem. Hopefully, multiple innings of Sean Gilmartin and Carlos Torres won’t harm the Mets chances of winning a game in bandbox like Citizens Bank Ballpark. 

No matter what’s going on, I’m starting to get a headache just trying to figure out what the Mets are doing in the bullpen. 

Selecting the Wright Lineup

Today is the day David Wright comes off the DL. We know he will play 3B. We don’t know much more than that. 

Actually that’s not entirely true. We know Curtis Granderson will hit leadoff except when there’s a lefty in the mound. Then Juan Lagares will hit leadoff. We also know Terry Collins wants Wright batting second. We know there’s a platoon system. I also assume we know the pitcher is batting ninth. I also assume Collins will try to alternate lefties and righties in the lineup. We’ll see later today, but I presume the lineup against righties would look like this:

  1. Granderson RF
  2. Wright 3B
  3. Murphy 1B
  4. Cespedes CF
  5. Johnson 2B
  6. d’Arnaud C
  7. Conforto LF
  8. Tejada SS
  9. Pitcher 

Against lefties, the lineup may look like this:

  1. Lagares CF
  2. Wright 3B
  3. Murphy 2B
  4. Cespedes LF
  5. Granderdon RF
  6. Cuddyer 1B
  7. d’Arnaud C
  8. Tejada SS 
  9. Pitcher

Of course, Collins likes to tweak it here and there to get Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] some ABs. I can also see him batting Granderson second against lefties with Wright third and Murphy fifth. I also assume Anthony Recker bats eighth when he plays. 
Anyway, with the rough time Collins has been having, it’s hard to completely judge how he’ll map up the lineup. This is especially evident with him batting Juan Uribe cleanup. With Wright only playing four games in a row, there will be plenty of chances to do that. Overall, the challenge is not just setting the lineup, but it’s also keeping everyone engaged. Furthermore, it’s about keeping Wright healthy. 

When Lucas Duda comes BACK, there will be some real challenges getting ABs for Uribe and Johnson. If argue the real challenge them would be making sure Collins doesn’t give them regular ABs and let the best players play. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, Wilmer Flores!

Verrett Had a Humber-dinger of a Game

Eight years ago, the Mets were falling apart at the seams. We saw the team trying to restrict Pedro Martinez’s innings. They had no choice but to use Phillip Humber. Five years later, he would go on and throw a perfect game, but on that September night, he was terrible. The Mets lost the game. They would miss the playoffs that year too. 

Logan Verrett pitched under similar, but not the same, circumstances. The Mets ├╗determined there was an innings limit problem and they skipped Matt Harvey‘s start. Verrett was terrific. He went eight innings allowing one run on four hits with eight strikeouts. He gave a worn out bullpen a rest. Surprisingly, Hansel Robles shut the door in the ninth securing the 5-1 win. 

The Mets scored all five runs in the first three innings. Most notably, the Mets scored two runs in the second inning that set baseball back about a 100 years. Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] was hit by a pitch, and then Michael Conforto singled. With Flores going first to third, Carlos Gonzalez made a throwing error. The ball didn’t get far away enough for Flores to score, but it permitted Conforto to go to second. I still can’t believe what happened next. 

With every Mets fan hoping Anthony Recker would luck into an RBI, David Hale made sure Recker wouldn’t be a factor. On back-to-back pitches, he threw a wild pitch allowing Flores and Conforto to score. I was dumbfounded.  After the baseball we saw this weekend, so was Keith Hernandez. He was actively calling for no more expansion because the plays and players he saw this weekend was terrible. 

He wasn’t wrong. I’m glad the Mets are out of Colorado, and I’m glad they got the sweep. This weekend was like making sausage. You enjoyed the results, but you didn’t necessarily enjoy watching how it got done. 

There’s a lot more baseball left. I plan on enjoying the remaining games during a pennant race. 

The Mets Are Officially Tempting Fate

As the numbers suggest, the Mets have a good chance to win the division. However, that is predicated on the Mets maintaining the status quo. That officially goes out the door when the Mets skip Matt Harvey‘s start today. 

We all know with Harvey, and Harvey alone, there is an innings limits issue. As per my estimates, Harvey was going to throw approximately 208 innings. Skipping one start will bring him down to 201.1. It seems like this will be the only start the Mets skip because they intend on using a six man rotation when Steven Matz returns. It appears that Matz’s first start back with the Mets will be September 1st or soon thereafter. 

If that’s the case, here is when Harvey will pitch for the rest of the year (assuming a six man rotation from September 1st until the end of the year):

  1. 8/28 vs. Red Sox
  2. 9/4 at Marlins
  3. 9/10 at Braves
  4. 9/16 vs. Marlins
  5. 9/23 vs. Braves
  6. 9/30 vs. Phillies

If the Mets didn’t switch to a six man rotation, guess how many starts Harvey had left?  Seven. Therefore, Harvey will only pitch in one less game. He’s still going to go over his innings limit as he will finish around 195 innings. He’s pitching against much weaker opponents in the stretch drive than he would have in a five man rotation. Speaking of which, this is the stretch drive. The time to do this has passed. 

The other problem is that pitchers pitch worse in a six man rotation than in a five man rotation.  Furthermore, if the Mets make the playoffs, they’ll likely only go with four starters. This means you want to go from giving your pitchers a month of extra rest and changing their routines to quickly shifting back and getting them less rest than normal. 

I don’t have a study that supports this, but I would assume this type of treatment is also dangerous to a pitcher’s arm health. It would then appear the Mets are tempting fate with their pitchers’ health. I hope my assumption is wrong and this won’t be the case. 

For the life of me, I don’t know why the Mets are doing this now and not earlier in the year. I just hope this won’t give the Nationals an opportunity to win the division. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, Wilmer Flores!

It’s Just a Flesh Wound

The Mets have a terrific team doctor whom they trust. They allowed him to kill the very important Carlos Gomez deal that initially left them with egg all over their face

It’s because of this that I don’t believe the Mets consult with their team physician when a player has complaints. Matt Harvey was the most important part of the otlrganization in 2013. They let him pitch through forearm tightness, and he would subsequently need Tommy John surgery. 

Never ones to learn their lessons, the Mets permitted Zack Wheeler to pitch with ligament damage while Harvey was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He needed Tommy John surgery. 

Now, after losing two major pitching prospects to injury two of the past three seasons, they repeated the same mistake with Steven Matz. After telling the team of pains in his side in his first major league start, Dan Warthen declared him fit to pitch after watching a bullpen session. Matz was shut down for three weeks and only recently began his rehab outing. 

It’s an epidemic. You need look no further than Friday’s gameBartolo Colon was not fit to pitch. His wrist was swelling up more and more. The Mets answer?  Ray Ramirez sat there rubbing some ice on it and then sent Colon back out there. I guess we should be happy it wasn’t leeches. 

You see that’s the problem. Injuries aren’t taken seriously. They’re not properly addressed. Players are not placed on the DL and their conditions get worse. 

This became evident again with Lucas Duda‘s back. The Mets saw with David Wright the severity of back injuries and how long they take to heal. Similar to Harvey/Wheeler, the Mets showed an inability to learn their lesson. 

Arguably, Duda is the Mets most important offensive player. You need to take care of him. Despite his back pain, they never bothered to send him for an MRI. That’s right they didn’t order a necessary test despite having gone through what they did with Wright. Only now are they conferring with Wright’s back specialist, Dr. Watkins. 

For some reason the information isn’t going from the player to the right people. Maybe it is, and I dint know it. Maybe the Mets are ignoring the advice. Maybe they don’t know to to properly gauge when a doctor needs to be consulted. Whatever the case may be, there is something wrong here.  

The Mets need to change something and fast. Not everything is a flesh wound. Sometimes an important player gets hurt and is out longer because of the team’s actions. It just happened again with Duda. 

This Isn’t Baseball

Keith Hernandez was right when he asked how you can sell this. I love that he lost his patience with this game. He voiced that quite well tonight. High scoring games can be fun. When it is in Coors Field, it feels tedious. It feels like a gimmic. 

It’s why I can’t pass judgment on Jon Niese for allowing 11 hits and seven earned in 5.1 innings. I don’t care that he had an 11-3 lead. It’s like calling someone terrible at golf because they can’t get the ball past the windmill on the mini golf course. It’s a gimmic version of golf, which does not truly measure someone’s true golf skills. That’s what it’s like pitching in Coors Field. 

It’s also why I didn’t get all excited over the top of the third which I’m not entirely sure ever ended. Sure, at the end of the inning, the Mets scored  eight runs to go up 11-3. It’s also true the final score was 14-9. Another reason I wasn’t excited over the inning was all the tired Oprah jokes on Twitter:

  

I thought with the Dark Knight there would be more creativity. Since these were big hits, I was hoping to see some old Batman references like:  

  
and   

  
and, of course

  
Well, anyway, we all sat through pretty bad baseball and tired, recycled jokes. 

As much as we complain about Terry Collins, Walt Weiss is so much worse. After blowing a game against the Mets for pulling his starter too early, he cost his team a chance to win by leaving his starters in too long the past few nights. I did like that even without a save situation, Collins threw the book away and pitched Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia. This showed an understanding of how these games have gone and the nature of Coors Field. Good work by Collins. 

I got bored with the video game scoring. However, I won’t get bored of is wins. I won’t get bored of a pennant race. Let’s hope for the sweep tomorrow in the last game without David Wright because the only thing worse than watching a game at Coors Field is watching your team lose there. 

EY’s Back, Back Again

As I’ve said a number of times, one of the biggest mistakes the Sandy Alderson regime made was acquiring Eric Young, Jr.  Well, he’s back again

My first reaction was: not again. In his two years with the Mets, he slashed a .242/.310/.321. Despite these poor numbers, Terry Collins always batted him leadoff because he is fast and can steal bases. In fact, he lead the league in stolen bases as a Met in 2013.  It was always my impression, Collins always played EY more than he should. 

We always seem to like certain guys and not others. For example, if you really want to hear me go off, ask me about Ramon Castro. Collins likes EY. He also loves batting Juan Lagares in the leadoff spot. You see my problem was never with EY. He seems like a nice guy. He always hustled. He has positive attributes as a baseball player. My problem is with how Collins used EY. 

I hope it won’t be a problem this time around. There’s enough of a glut in the OF for Collins to try to shoehorn EY in there. There’s too many 2B options to try to force EY in there. So naturally, the question is: why bother acquiring him?

The answer may surprise you. He’s a realistic option for the postseason roster. You read that right. Keep in mind, he won’t be anything more than the last man on the bench, but he’s still a viable option. 

For starters, EY can play multiple positions. As per UZR, he’s an average 2B, great in LF, and slightly below average in CF and RF. That pretty much makes him their best defensive 2B and their second best defensive LF. He would be the defensive answer to what the Mets envision Kelly Johnson is offensively. 

Next, let’s not discount the speed. As I already noted, EY has won a stolen base title. He’s successful 81% of the time on SB attempts. This is impressive when you consider an acceptable percentage is 75%. Also, we all remember that it was Dave Roberts who helped propel the Red Sox to overcome the 0-3 deficit with this SB:

So even though I don’t fully trust Collins with EY, I have to admit adding EY this time was a good move. Let’s just get him on the 40 man roster to make him postseason eligible. 

Mets Should Bring a Rockie Home with Them

I promise you this is not another trading for Jose Reyes post, even if I still think the Mets need a SS. Instead, this post is about John Axford. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but this one comes from Dan O’Dowd. It’s a good idea. 

First and foremost, the Mets bullpen needs help, and the Mets aren’t utilizing their internal candidates. This leaves external candidates. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I know the Mets would have to make a move with the 40 man roster, but there is enough fat to cut away there. 

More importantly, the question is of all the players that clear waivers, why Axford?  I would argue he pitches better in a pennant race for good teams.

In 2013, he started the year with the sub .500 Brewers. He wasn’t good. His FIP was 4.77.  His K/9 was a good 8.9. On August 30, 2013, Axford was traded to the Cardinals, and he got much better, like everyone who’s traded to the Cardinals. His FIP improved to 2.08. His good 8.9 K/9 improved to 10.4. 

In 2014, the Cardinals didn’t bring him back. With the Indians, Axford had an FIP of 4.71, but he did have a 10.5 K/9. On August 14, 2014, Axford was traded to the Pirates. Again, he pitched better. His FIP improved to 2.86 even if his K/9 dipped to 9.8. 

It should be mentioned neither the Cardinals or Pirates needed bullpen help. Despite this, they bit traded for Axford. Axford then became a big piece of each of those bullpens. This time the Mets need a bullpen piece. Axford has shown the ability to raise his game, but how is he pitching now?

Now, there is the caveat that he pitches for the Rockies. However, that is why I picked FIP because that takes Axford pitching in Colorado into account. With that said, his FIP is 4.09 with a 9.3 K/9. There is concern about his steady K/9 drop. However, his fastball velocity has remained steady around 95.5 MPH.  Therefore, part of the decreased K/9 could be attributable to the Coors Field effect on breaking pitches. Basically, like the prior two years, Axford appears fixable again. 

Axford is a strong arm who has shown he’s dependable in a pennant race. Better yet, he’s good in the postseason as well. He’s 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a 12.8 K/9. If the goal is to make the postseason and succeed, Axford is your man.