Bartolo Colon

Charting the Mets Rotation

Coming out of the All Star Break, the Mets wisely set their rotation to allow their stud muffins to face the Nationals twice. Initially, the move was a bust.  However, after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the Met took off and swept the Nationals.  Now, it seems like the Mets want to go back to the six man rotation, or at a minimum have some spot starts.  If the Mets did not go to the six man rotation or have any spot starts, here’s how the rotation would shake out:

Jacob deGrom:

8/7 @ Rays
8/12 vs. Rockies
8/18 @ Orioles
8/24 @ Phillies
8/29 vs. Red Sox
9/4 @ Marlins
9/9 @ Nationals
9/14 vs. Marlins
9/20 vs. Yankees
9/25 @ Reds
10/1 @ Phillies

Noah Syndergaard:

8/8 @ Rays
8/13 vs. Rockies
8/19 @ Orioles
8/25 @ Phillies
8/30 vs. Red Sox
9/5 @ Marlins
9/10 @ Braves
9/15 vs. Marlins
9/21 vs. Braves
9/26 @ Reds
10/2 vs. Nationals

Bartolo Colon:

8/9 @ Rays
8/14 vs. Pirates
8/21 @ Rockies
8/26 @ Phillies
8/31 vs. Phillies
9/6 @ Marlins
9/11 @ Braves
9/16 vs. Marlins
9/22 vs. Braves
9/27 @ Reds
10/3 vs. Nationals

Jon Niese:

8/10 vs. Rockies
8/15 vs. Pirates
8/22 @ Rockies
8/27 @ Phillies
9/1 vs. Phillies
9/7 @ Nationals
9/12 @ Braves
9/18 vs. Yankees
9/23 vs. Braves
9/29 @ Phillies
10/4 vs. Nationals

Matt Harvey:

8/11 vs. Rockies
8/16 vs. Pirates
8/23 @ Rockies
8/28 vs. Red Sox
9/2 vs. Phillies
9/8 @ Nationals
9/13 @ Braves
9/19 vs. Yankees
9/24 @ Reds
9/30 @ Phillies

Now, we are all aware of the rumblings of the Mets using a spot starter or returning to the six man rotation.  What we also know is the Mets are going to rip past the innings limits anyway.  So in this somewhat academic analysis, just go back and take a look again at how the rotation will work out.  For starters, it’s great that Colon only pitches one game against a team over .500 until the last week of the season.  Additionally, if everything works out according to plan, you don’t have to finagle the rotation to start the postseason with Harvey, Matz, and Syndergrom.  Isn’t that your goal?  Now, if things get hectic towards the end, remember the Mets don’t have a huge lead right now, they can shift starts around in September so you can have the stud muffins going against the Nationals in the last series of the season.

Overall, if you are going to rip through the innings limits, why not do it properly and set the team up for success in September and October?  My belief is that if you don’t change the rotation as it stands right now, the Mets look to be in good shape for the rest of the season, and they will have their stud muffins front and center entering the postseason.  Let’s not overthink things and keep it the way it is.

 

 

Mets Shouldn’t Matz with the Rotation

The Mets have a real problem with their rotation right now . . . and I don’t just mean Bartolo Colon.  No, I’m referring to the innings limit problem

I was naively hoping the Mets were going to ignore the limitations while being smart about how they use their pitchers. For example, if any of the stud muffins are having a rough start, they would pull them a little early. If there is a large run differential, the pitcher could sit down earlier. 

I was wrong. It appears the Mets still intend to manage the innings of the stud muffins by having spot starters during the rest of the season. In fact, Terry Collins stated the Mets will soon use a spot starter

However, the Mets still ultimately want to go with a six man rotation. The most likely candidate is Steven Matz, who was reported to have begun throwing yesterday.  If all goes according to plan, Matz will rejoin the rotation for the September stretch run. While we all enjoyed his first two starts, I’m not anxious for his return. 

It is too late in the season to mess around with the pitching rotation, which has carried the team thus far. Furthermore, the statistics are not kind to six man rotations. In fact, pitchers’ ERA increases with the extra day of rest. 

This begs the question: why would you mess with your biggest strength?  We all know it’s pitching that will carry the Mets into the playoffs. The new offense is performing well, but it’s pitching that will help the Mets win now, and we know pitching wins in October. 

I already know your answer: we want to protect the young arms. Mets fans have scars from Generation K.  Younger fans may remember Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. I think everyone knows the story of Stephen Strasburg sitting out the 2012 postseason

The end result?  The Nationals lost in the NLDS to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals three games to two. Strasburg’s replacement in the rotation was the immortal Edwin Jackson.  Now Strasburg is injured again (not the elbow) and many question his mental makeup, fairly or unfairly.  Thankfully, Terry Collins has assured us we will not see a repeat of the Strasburg incident  as the stud muffins will pitch in the playoffs

However, I’m still troubled by the innings limits. The main reason is because it is based upon the disproven “Verducci Effect.”  I’m not willing to risk a whole season on faulty logic.  Furthermore, I think the six man rotation overtures are disingenuous. 

If the Mets were truly serious about the six man rotation, Dillon Gee would be in the rotation now. Over his last five starts, he’s 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and two consecutive complete games. He’s doing this in an extreme hitter’s league. I know he was not good this year while he was being jerked around regarding his role with the team and the organization. However, I must ask, if the Mets are truly concerned with results, why is Colon in the rotation?

I’m not going to belabor the point, but he’s been awful this year. I’m not going to turn in the blinders because he had a good start against the worst offensive team in baseball, who is without Giancarlo Stanton. Overall, Colon has the fifth worst ERA in the NL. Even with a revived offense, is this the guy you want to run out there every fifth day?  If you tell me you want to replace Colon with Matz, I’d say it would be a great move. 

Furthermore, if you want to protect the arms, it’s simple. The Mets need to fire Dan Warthen.  First, in 2013, Harvey was permitted to make multiple starts with forearm tightness. Harvey had Tommy John surgery. Second, Zack Wheeler pitched with ligament damage last season. Zack Wheeler had Tommy John surgery. Finally, Warthen, himself, declared Steven Matz fit to pitch. Matz then went on the DL. 

If it’s not Warthen’s fault, fine. Who is it?  The Mets need to root out the cause for the ignored aches and pains of their prime young pitchers. These problems became major injuries. If the Mets are really concerned with their young pitchers, they should start looking there instead of instituting another version of the six man rotation. 

FIRST PLACE!

This is season is becoming magical. In another year, this would’ve been a major let down loss . . . especially against the Marlins. I still have the scars from 2007 and 2008. 

This is a different team. The Mets came in rolling from the sweep of the Nationals and treated the Marlins’ arms like they were batting practice pitchers. Even Bartolo Colon got a hit. 

Michael Comforto hit his first major league homerun. Yoenis Cespedes hit three doubles that would’ve been homeruns in any ballpark other than the originally designed Citi Field.  Everything was so great, the Mets didn’t even need a Lucas Duda homerun. The Marlins offense was so bad, they barely scored a run off Bartolo Colon. Overall, their offense was so bad the Mets got away with starting Wilmer Flores [insert obligatory standing ovation] without incident. 

Side note: can you imagine how unwatchable this game would’ve been had Sandy Alderson not made those trades?  

With the Nationals losing to the Diamondbacks, the Mets are in first place by themselves. I have a feeling that they’re pulling away from the Nationals. It’s incredible!  It’s great!  

IT’S AMAZIN’

Plawecki Catching On?

Yesterday, the Mets activated Travis d’Arnaud from the DL, and they surprisingly optioned Anthony Recker to the minors (I guess Bartolo Colon has an excuse again for his poor performance). I was surprised about this because it means Kevin Plawecki is staying on the Mets roster.

I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised because this is what happened the last time d’Arnaud was activated off of the DL. Look I understand the Mets’ reasoning in wanting to ease d’Arnaud back.  He’s an important part of the lineup.  However, if he needs to be eased back, why are they rushing him to the majors?  We know the answer is his bat, but if his elbow is not healthy, he’s not going to hit.  If this isn’t a case of rushing his bat back to the majors, then why did the Mets pick Plawecki over Recker or Monell?

The reason is simple. None of the Mets catchers are hitting. Plawecki is hitting .212/.257/.212 over the past two weeks. Anthony Recker is hitting .123/.254/.228. Al Leiter hit better than that as a 36 year old pitcher.  I know I’m cherry picking there, but I should not be able to pick out any of Leiter’s offensive seasons and compare them to a major league hitter. The last option is Johnny Monell, who is hitting .178/.245/.222. So you could argue, the Mets are going with the option that gives them a chance to win now. However, we should really be asking ourselves if this is the best option for the team.

Kevin Plawecki is a 24 year old catching prospect, who should be playing everyday. While d’Arnaud has been on the DL, Plawecki has been playing everyday. However, now that d’Arnaud is back, I do not see how sitting on the bench is going to help him. Plawecki has been up in the majors for 59 games worth of action. This is more than a cup of coffee. Normally, I would agree that sitting on a major league bench is good exposure for a rookie. However, he’s already done that. Whatever benefit that may have for his has or at least should have sunk in already.

Furthermore, last year when d’Arnaud wasn’t hitting, he was sent down to the minors. Plawecki is in the same situation d’Arnaud was in last year.  When d’Arnaud went down to AAA, he found his stroke. This season he’s hitting .296/.338/.535, albeit in very limited action.  With Plawecki currently struggling at the plate, shouldn’t the Mets consider sending Plawecki down to get him right? Seriously, at this point what’s the difference between Plawecki’s bat and Monell’s bat? If you want to sit d’Arnaud a little, let Colon have Recker as his personal catcher for now. You can always recall Plawecki in September when the rosters expand. God willing, you can have him on the postseason roster over Recker or Monell.

Overall, the Mets’ three priorities right now are: 1) make the postseaon; 2) build a team that can win in October; and 3) don’t do anything that can harm the future of the team. With respect to making the postseason, I don’t see a Plawecki being a difference maker over Recker or Monell in the limited action he’s going to see with d’Arnaud up. With respect to winning in October, I’d rather see Plawecki in the minors getting his swing right and being an option off the bench in September and October. Lastly, having him in the majors right now prevents him from really working to get better.

While I appreciate the Mets are trying to do everything they can to win, I think they are being extremely short sighted with Plawecki right now. He needs to be sent down to the minors to improve for the stretch drive and for seasons to come.

Put Me in Coach . . .

“Look at me, I can be Centerfield.”  That is about as fun as the baseball songs get. Another one of my favorites is “Talkin’ Baseball” with it’s famous refrain of “Willie, Mickey, the Duke.” As you can see, Centerfield is an important position with much history in New York City.  You always hear about those good old days of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke playing CF in New York City at the same time. That doesn’t seem fair or possible. The Yankees have had an absurd tradition with their centerfielders with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. The Mets tradition hasn’t been as good, but then again whose has? However, we’ve had some fun names and good players come through and man centerfield in Flushing.

In 1969, the Mets had Tommie Agee, who for at least the 1969 World Series, was the best defensive CF to ever play the game: 

Unfortunately, the Mets did try Willie Mays out in CF in the last two years of his career. From what I’ve been told, it did not end well. Then there was fan favorite Lee Mazzilli, who played for some truly awful Mets teams. However, he was the star, if not the MVP, of of the 1979 All Star Game (back when the ASG meant something). Lee Mazzilli then gave way to Ron Darling. They would both win a World Series together with the Mets in 1986.

Speaking of 1986, the Mets had two other fan favorites who played CF: Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. Both contributed to the 1986 World Series victory immensely between Dykstra’s leadoff homerun against Oil Can Boyd, and well, we know about Wilson:

After that, we saw a bit of a dry spell with highlights like Lance Johnson, the late Darryl Hamilton, Jay Payton, and Mike Cameron. Then, we were blessed with Carlos Beltran. Say what you will about the Wainwright strikeout, in my opinion, he’s even money on making it into the Hall of Fame, and there’s a significant chance he goes in as a New York Met. Although with the way he was treated here by the fans, and mostly by the Wilpons, he’s probably going in as a Royal.

Now after Juan Lagares’ 2014 Gold Glove season and reasonable contract extension, we’re back to who should play CF. This is important because Lagares has a triple slash line of .254/.280/.333. Even if he was what he was defensively last year, this is unacceptable. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with his injured elbow. Regardless, CF is now a problem.

It should be noted his splits against LHP are .279/.338/.412. That is much better especially when you consider his defense. Add to the fact that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit .333/.400/.444 over the past two weeks (mostly against RHP), there is a real platoon here. Niewenhuis is a very capable CF, but he’s not in Lagares’ league defensively . . . then again who is?

With the Yoenis Cespedes acquisition, there have been some overtures that Curtis Granderson move to CF, a position he hasn’t played since 2012. This is dangerous because the Mets starting pitchers get more outs in the air than on the ground this year. Here are their respective ground ball percentages:

Matt Harvey 44.4%

Jacob deGrom 43.2%

Noah Syndergaard 45.9%

Jon Niese 54.6%

Bartolo Colon 39.9%

According, with the exception of maybe Niese, the Mets need their best defensive outfield out there are all times. This means Lagares must play as much as possible. Granderson and his good OF defense should stay in a corner OF spot where it will remain good defense. While Lagares isn’t hitting and Nieuwenhuis is, the platoon should remain in place.

While we all agree the Mets need to ride their pitching to the postseason, we should also agree that they need to put their best defense out there to help the pitching. Remember helping a pitcher is more than just scoring runs . . . it’s also about preventing runs with good defense. The only effect the Cespedes acquisition should have on the outfield configuration is to demote Michael Conforto to AAA and put Cespedes in LF, where he has played all year. I think that outfield alignment is the best there is that is ready to go out there and play.

What Just Happened?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bartolo Colon is done. His 2.1 innings six earned run game is unacceptable. He pitches in a pitcher’s park, and his ERA is now 4.96. If MLB wants to improve scoring just make sure he pitches every five games. 

The Mets entered today one game back (two in the loss column), and Colon gave them no chance to make up ground or keep pace. In fact, the Mets lost ground. He even had his super secret weapon, Anthony Recker, and his .130 batting average. 

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the Mets don’t tell Wilmer Flores or Terry Collins about the Carlos Gomez trade. However because this isn’t 1925, he heard about the trade anyway (probably from someone in the clubhouse). Better yet, no one told Terry Collins. So he sends Flores out there crying at SS. Flores did get one last AB and a standing ovation. Collins finally pulled him off the field. After a big loss, Collins had a testy press conference. 

Wouldn’t you?  The man is facing the brunt of the blame for putting Flores in a tough spot. However, Collins had no idea about the trade. It’s insanity. 

Speaking of insanity – THERE WAS NO TRADE!   Let me say that again to let that sink in, THERE WAS NO TRADE!  Unbelievable. Only the Mets. There’s no one to blame, at least not now. I’m sure we’ll soon find out what happened. At the moment, we all feel like Collins watching his SS crying in the field: baffled, upset, out of the loop, and . . .

  

In other news, Lucas Duda is objectively awesome, and Collins is still using the platoon system. Colon is terrible and is possibly costing the Mets a playoff spot. Today was Flores’ last game for the Mets until it wasn’t. A lot of people, including me, wasted time with an analysis of a non-trade. 

It’s late. I’m confused. I’m going to bed. Maybe there will be some sanity tomorrow. 

Reunited and it Feels so Good

Since, I’ve started this blog, I’ve written a lot about trade rumors. I’ve written how trading Wheeler for an OF who’ll be with the Mets is s good idea. I’ve written how the Mets should pursue Carlos Gomez over Justin Upton. Finally, I’ve written about how the Mets were done making impact trades. 

So, here we are with Carlos Gomez, who is the perfect fit on this team. The Mets obtained him for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flored. 

First and foremost, with Juan Lagares’ suspect health and offense this year, he can play CF (he won a Gold Glove two years ago). He’s got a triple slash line of .266/.332/.409 and an OPS+ of 108. This all means he’s been very average at the plate this year. 

However, he’s coming off two fantastic seasons that has been him with a .284 average and 24 homers. As you can see, Gomez’s main problem this year has been the power. It’s a gamble, but I’ll take the gamble. 

Speaking of gambles, Carlos Gomez was previously traded away from the Mets. At the time, Omar Minaya “gambled” that Lastings Milledge was the better player.  As a result, the Mets traded Gomez instead of Milledge for Johan Santana. 

It’s funny, the Mets traded away Gomez to try to win the World Series. In 2015, they trade for him to try to win the World Series. I pray for better results. Unlike 2008, there may be some asking if the Mets gave up too much. I’ll admit the trade hurts, but you have to give away value to get value. 

Before Zack Wheeler was injured, he seemed to turn the corner in the second half of 2014. Other than that, he was just an average pitcher with real promise. It’s a shame he needed Tommy John surgery. Now, he won’t be available to pitch until around the All Star Break next season.  Judging by Matt Harvey’s season, Wheeler won’t be right until 2017, which is the season he’s arbitration eligible. He’s under team control until 2020. 

There’s a lot to say about Wilmer Flores. Unfortunately, most of those things are about how he hasn’t been very good with the Mets this year offensively or defensively. However, he’s only 23, and he’s shown promise. He deserved his standing ovation. 

I will write more about Wheeler and Flores later. I think they each need and deserve their own separate deeper analysis. Also, it’s fair to say they will be missed. 

However, this deal is about Gomez and Sandy Alderson going for it responsibly. Gomez is under contract next season for $9 million. I’m not going to get snarky and say they still haven’t really took on money because that $9 million will be offset by Bartolo Colon’s $11 million coming off the books. 

This is a major move involving a very good player. The Mets still need a SS and a LOOGY. They kept pieces to go get them. They’re a better team now with Gomez. It’s a good day to be a Mets fan. 

Time to Throw Down

After watching the Mets-Cardinal series, it’s easy to be negative . . . I know I was. The Mets got blew a great Thor game, we saw the fork sticking out of Colon, and then watched them take 18 innings to score three runs. However, it’s the beginning of a new week, so let’s start that week off with some optimism.

Going into the All Star Break, the Mets were 2 games behind the Nationals (3 in the loss) with 12 games yet to play against them. After an awful weekend in St. Louis (and really is there any other kind there), the Mets are still in the same position. Now, the Mets come storming into Washington with Harvey, deGrom, and Thor. The Mets are ready to throw down (yes, the pun is intended).

This was Sandy’s rebuilding plan come to fruition. No matter how bad the offense is or how much it is struggling, good luck trying to score.  Harvey has a 16 inning scoreless streak, deGrom has given up 12 runs in his past 10 starts (not including the All Star Game), and Thor’s last four starts have seen him allow 2 ER or less.

The Mets have been brutal on the road, but their three best pitchers are going out there. This is a pennant race. Through everything that has happened thus far this season, I’m still excited. Lets Go Mets!

GEE I Wonder Why COLON Remains in the Rotation

The Mets lost to the Cardinals again. Going into the second half of the season, the conversation has been about the Mets’ great rotation. Truth be told, this rotation has three pitchers pitching like aces right now, an improving Niese, and a failing Colon.

I don’t know how many people realize just how bad Colon has been this year. He has a 4.86 ERA. That’s terrible. Seriously, why is he in the rotation?  Is it because he eats up innings?  Well not exactly. His last five games here are his innings pitched total: 4.1, 6.0, 7.0, 6.0, and 4.1. Is it for his entertainment value?


I doubt it. Is it because with the Matz injury, there are no better options?  The only other realistic option right now is Dillon Gee, who is 0-3 with a 5.90 ERA. I think we need a take a deeper look into Gee.

Most of the damage came from his last two starts; starts he made after being jerked around by the Mets. He came off the DL and had a bad start. Then he gets sent to the bullpen and only gets one appearance for 1.2 innings giving up one run. Then out of nowhere the Mets decide he needs to make a spot start, and it was horrendous.

After spending time in limbo after being outrighted, he had a rough start in Las Vegas. When you look at Gee’s numbers, you have to keep in mind the PCL is about a hitter friendly league as it gets. Despite the struggles, he seems to have found himself and turned things around. Here are the numbers from his last few starts: 7.0 innings 2 ER; 6.0 innings 4 ER; 6.1 innings 1 ER.  The numbers aren’t amazing. Rather these are the numbers of a capable major league pitcher. For those watching the game Saturday, did Colon look like that?

Despite the Mets mismanagement of Gee, he’s improving. Colon is getting worse. It seems like the Mets want more for the $11 million going to Colon than the $5.3 million going to Gee. These penny wise pound foolish decisions are hurting a team with no margin of error. The sooner the Mets admit Colon is done, the sooner they can help themselves.