Perhaps, the New York Mets just heard the worst possible news they could’ve heard. Seth Lugo needed elbow surgery, and he may not be able to pitch again until May, which is probably the optimistic view .
Guys ……… it's at least six weeks until Lugo can *throw*. And then probably six or so weeks of "spring" training. That puts him at mid-May. That's a quarter of the season. That is a big chunk of the season.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 13, 2021
Make no mistake here. The Mets need Lugo back as soon as he can get back to being Lugo. That Lugo is the best and most versatile reliever in baseball. That reliever was desperately needed to stabilize this Mets bullpen.
Edwin Diaz is coming off a tremendous bounce-back year. That said, it was still just 26 appearances, and he still managed to blow 40% of his save opportunities. Moreover, he’s developed an every other year pattern with 2021 projected to be the down year.
Jeurys Familia has not been good since returning to the Mets, and based on his FIP, it’ll be difficult to imagine him turning it around in 2021.
Miguel Castro may have a live arm, but he’s yet to harness it. He’s got a very poor career 4.7 BB/9, and even with the strikeout numbers, he only has a 1.59 K/BB, and batters hit .244 against him.
Aaron Loup has traditionally pitched well against left-handed batters, but he’s historically struggled against right-handed batters.
When you break it all down, the only pitcher you can truly have confidence in the Mets bullpen is Trevor May. Part and parcel of that is how the aforementioned relievers will be deployed has now been altered by Lugo’s injury.
Now, this is an opportunity for another pitcher, but they have to grab it.
Drew Smith has tremendous velocity and spin. The same holds true for Yennsy Diaz and Sean Reid-Foley. None of these three have been able to establish themselves yet with the later two having significant control issues. This also applies to Franklyn Kilome.
Robert Gsellman could return to the form we saw of him when he first landed in the bullpen. One of Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto could find themselves there pending the results of the fifth starter spot.
There’s also the free agent and trade market as well. Even at this point in the offseason, there are still quality options remaining.
No matter where the Mets look, they’re not finding anyone nearly as good as Lugo. If they can’t, it throws the entire bullpen and pitching staff in disarray. As we’ve seen in years past, bad bullpens can ruin good teams.
These Mets are a good team. They might be a great team. However, with the loss of Lugo, their chances of hitting that ceiling took a massive hit. At the end of the day, there’s just no replacing the best reliever in baseball.
Instead, the Mets have to just hope they have enough quality depth. They need to hope 1-2 pitchers really step up. Mostly, they just need to hope Lugo is able to be Lugo at some point in 2021.
One of the things the New York Mets said they were prioritizing depth. That included starting pitching depth. When the Mets traded Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays, they undid some of that.
Yes, we all know Matz had a maddening Mets career. While many expected a breakout in 2020 following a very good second half in 2019, it didn’t materialize. Honestly, we’ll never quite know how much of that was related to the truly bizarre nature of that season.
Regardless, Matz was needed depth. He also has shown himself to be better than the Mets other SP options.
As noted, Joey Lucchesi is really a two pitch pitcher who may belong in the bullpen. Also, David Peterson had extremely suspect peripherals indicating he needs more development time before he can truly be counted on as a fifth starter.
This shouldn’t be read to mean Matz was absolutely reliable or a sure thing. We know that’s not true. However, that’s double true for Lucchesi and Peterson. In these instances, there’s strength in numbers. It’s better to look for 1-2 of three to emerge than need two questionable pieces to pitch well.
That also moves pitchers like Franklyn Kilome, Corey Oswalt, and Jerad Eickhoff up the depth chart and much closer to pitching games for the Mets. The Mets didn’t want them starting games for the Mets in 2021, and now, they’re closer to doing so.
Obviously, the Mets could sign someone to ameliorate this. The problem on that front is it’s difficult to imagine getting a better pitcher with more upside for less than Matz’s $5.2 million. This is also contingent on the Mets actually getting that pitcher or pitchers.
If this was a move to clear payroll for a Trevor Bauer, you should question why Matz’s contract NEEDED to be moved. You also have to question if Bauer is really worth losing at least one of Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Marcus Stroman, or Noah Syndergaard.
If this was about depth, it makes less sense as the Mets acquired what are really three right-handed relief prospects. Drawing your attention back to the summer of 2017, identifying right-handed relief prospects really isn’t Sandy Alderson’s strong suit.
Love or hate Matz, he was real depth. His work with Phil Regan could’ve paid off, and he could’ve been good. He might’ve emerged as a left-handed reliever in the bullpen.
Instead, the Mets opted to eschew starting pitching depth, put more reliance on unproven pitchers, and rely on Alderson to do what he does worst (trading for RHP relief prospects). Maybe this works out, but looking at the complete picture, this trade was a mistake.
When you look at David Peterson‘s Rollie season, there is plenty of reason to be excited for 2021. The 24 year old rookie posted a 123 ERA+ in nine starts and one relief appearance, and he finished the season very strong.
Over his final three starts, he was 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA while striking out 16 batters. Over that stretch, you understand why Marcus Stroman said Peterson “is going to be one of the best in the league for years to come.”
Despite all that, Peterson should begin the season playing for Triple-A Syracuse instead of looking to build off his impressive rookie campaign.
First and foremost is Peterson could benefit from additional time to develop. Remember, prior to pitching in this haywire 2020 season, he had never pitched above Double-A.
As a result, while we saw he had talent, we also saw he was still raw. When looking at his Baseball Savant page, you see some real issues with his performance.
Peterson had a very poor walk rate and low spin on most of his pitches. He also had low fastball velocity and didn’t generate many swings and misses.
Again, we saw glimpses of what Peterson could be like when he struck out 10 Braves over six innings. Of course, he also had 2+ walks in all but two appearances.
His 10.2 HR/FB% was below average. There should also be expectation for a significant regression from his .233 BABIP against. All told, he may be much closer to his 4.52 FIP than his 123 ERA+.
That 4.52 FIP is quite poor and is really indicative of a pitcher who should really be moving to the bullpen. However, that doesn’t really apply to Peterson who is still a developing pitcher with a lot of promise.
It’s better to let Peterson learn from 2020 and continue working to improve as a pitcher in the minors in 2021.
Aside from the need to permit Peterson to continue his development, there’s another and perhaps more important reason for him to start the season in the minors.
As an organization, the Mets are severely lacking in pitching depth at the upper levels of their organization. As a result, they’re going to have to manufacture starting pitching depth.
Arguably, we saw the first move in that direction when the Mets tendered Robert Gsellman a contract. Starting Peterson in the minors would be a second very strong move in that direction.
Right now, Gsellman and Franklyn Kilome is the extent of their MLB ready pitching depth. Given their performances last year, that’s not quality depth. They need to do better, but that’s extraordinarily difficult to do in free agency.
With Steven Matz, the Mets only need to sign two more mid-tier starters. The Mets can afford to do that now with Steve Cohen in charge.
If you have no faith in Matz, it’s understandable. However, if he falters, you can go to Peterson. If Peterson opens the season in the rotation and falters, the Mets are picking between Gsellman or Kilome which is a much steeper drop-off.
Fact is, whether it’s the ineffectiveness of one starter or an injury, the Mets are going to have to dip into the minors for a number of starts. If they’re reaching back for Peterson, they’re giving their team a good opportunity to win. If it’s another option, they’re just rolling the dice.
Ultimately, if you want to build depth to help fix what Brodie Van Wagenen destroyed, the Mets need to put themselves in a position to have Peterson start the year in the minors. It’ll help them over the course of the 162 game season, and it will also help Peterson be an even better pitcher when he is needed to start again.
It was a mild surprise the Mets tendered Robert Gsellman a contract. The expectation was after his having a horrendous 2020, the Mets would part ways with the pitcher.
In 2020, Gsellman was injured again. When he did pitch, he had a 9.64 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances. That was good for a 45 ERA+ and 7.55 FIP.
That was the low point for Gsellman’s career. That said, he hasn’t been a very good pitcher. Since his electric MLB debut in 2016, he has been well below average. In fact, from 2017 – 2019, he had a 84 ERA+ and a 4.42 FIP.
While this isn’t all that good, it should be noted this was mostly when Gsellman was a reliever. As a starter, he showed more promise. Seeing if Gsellman can be a full time starter is good reason to keep him.
That goes double when you realize the Mets farm system is bereft of MLB ready starters in their farm system.
Corey Oswalt was arguably that, but he’s out of options. Franklyn Kilome completely failed in his audition, and in all likelihood, he didn’t project to stick as a starter anyway. As such, the Mets were really stuck trying to find Triple-A starters to give the team real depth.
With Gsellman having two options remaining, he is perfectly suited to provide that to the team.
Gsellman can be Syracuse’s Opening Day starter, and he can show the Mets how he may be better suited to the rotation. If he does prove that, he can be called up to make some starts when the Mets inevitably need a starter next year.
If he falters, he is still capable bullpen depth for the Mets. With his being stretched out, he could prove to be a long man in the pen at some point.
What Gsellman provides is depth and options. This front office was smart to see it, and at a price around $1.5 million, it’s a no brainer.
Keeping Gsellman is one of those moves that is unheralded. However, it is one of those moves which can truly make a difference over the course of a season. Make no mistake, any pitcher the Mets would sign to take Gsellman’s current role would likely not have anywhere near the success Gsellman can have.
That can help save the pitching staff here or there, and it can help the Mets pick up a win or two. These things matter, and to that end, Gsellman can still provide an important role next year and make a real difference.
Lloyd Christmas may want to say there’s still a chance here, but there isn’t. Any realistic shot the Mets had faded when they lost this series to the Atlanta Braves:
2. People rightfully focus on the starting pitching and pitching staff as a whole when examining what a terrible job Brodie Van Wagenen has done. Looking at it Wilson Ramos‘ production against d’Arnaud, and his other moves, he might’ve bungled the catching position even worse.
3. Yes, we saw d’Arnaud be this player in a Mets uniform previously. Yes, it was fair to believe he’d return to his 2015 form post Tommy John. Yes, he has always been a very good catcher. Anyone saying otherwise is lying to you, pushing an agenda, or just doesn’t know that much about catching.
4. You’ll notice with the Wilpons selling Gary Cohen and Brandon Nimmo were quite vocal in their support for d’Arnaud and wishing he didn’t leave the Mets.
5. Nimmo has every right to talk as he’s come back from injury and proven himself to be a terrific ballplayer. He’s just not a center fielder.
6. On the note of people who have performed well, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Jeff McNeil are part of the still young core who have had good seasons and are very much a part of the Mets future.
7. Seeing that young core, we should all celebrate Steve Cohen bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets organization. Hopefully, Cohen will right some other wrongs in due time.
8. David Peterson stepped up big time in what was the biggest start of his career. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his figuring things out and raising his ceiling.
9. Rick Porcello stepped up and was phenomenal yesterday. If the Mets truly invest in infield defense this offseason, he can be a part of the 2021 equation.
11. Sending down Luis Guillorme was stupidity. He did everything to earn not just the role he had but a much bigger one at that.
12. Amed Rosario lost his starting job, and he needed a recent hot streak to improve to a .266./283/.379 hitter. He should’ve been sent down.
13. J.D. Davis is hitting .248/.376/.383 since August 1, and he’s incapable of playing a defensive position. He should’ve been sent down.
14. Instead, it was Guillorme so Franklyn Kilome could allow six earned over 1.1 innings giving the Mets zero chance to win a game at a time when they can ill afford to punt games. Another great decision by Brodie Van Wagenen.
16. The Mets are in a precarious spot with Steven Matz. After last year and in Spring Training, he appeared poised for a breakout. Since the return, he looks like a non-tender candidate. These are critical franchise and season altering decisions.
17. Alex Rodriguez confirming he’d have Jeff Wilpon in the front office in a prominent role shows just how much the Mets dodged a bullet when A-Rod failed to beat out Cohen in the bidding.
18. Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon thinking they’re smarter than everyone and watching their team failing to make an expanded postseason is the perfect way for them to leave this organization.
19. Normally, we’d be saying it was time to tear it down and rebuild. Thanks to Cohen and competent baseball people in charge, we know the Mets can build off this strong core.
20. This season has been a massive disappointment, but on the bright side, we got 60 games of Mets baseball. That’s a real positive.
The Mets made that option despite Guillorme having a 0.7 WAR, 143 wRC+, and having a 2 OAA. He’s been a good hitter and an even better fielder. He’s also been a good pinch hitter on his career with a .364 OBP.
It should be noted J.D. Davis continues to be the worst fielder in baseball. Since August 1, he’s hitting .262/.374/.404. Overall, he’s at a 0.0 WAR.
Put another way, Guillorme was optioned despite there being worse players with options remaining staying on the roster. That means the Mets didn’t put their best roster out there at a time when they’re supposedly trying to make the postseason.
With a rusty and possibly not quite fully healthy yet Steven Matz starting and imploding, the Mets were in a 6-0 hole through three. Seeing the Mets overcame bug deficits against the Phillies, there was some hope the Mets could come back.
Kilome took care of that hope allowing six runs over 1.1 innings putting the Mets in a 12-0 hole. Seeing Kilome pitch, you need to remember the Mets optioned their best bench player quite possibly losing him for the rest of the season for this performance.
Adding insult to injury, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a run, homer, two RBI, and two walks. The player Van Wagenen didn’t think was good enough for his team is batting cleanup for one of the best teams in baseball, and he’s killing the Mets.
All told, this was an embarrassing and demoralizing 15-2 loss. Make no mistake, this was a direct reflection of just how inept Van Wagenen has been as the Mets GM.
Game Notes: Todd Frazier pitched a scoreless inning.
Because of the state Brodie Van Wagenen left the Mets starting pitching depth, the debate was whether the Mets should start Ariel Jurado or Franklyn Kilome. For those who wanted to settle the debate, both would pitch in the game.
It turns out everyone was wrong.
Jurado allowed five runs over four, and Kilome allowed four runs over three. Kilome would take the loss.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 2, 2020
Really, the less said about this game the better. This was an Orioles team a postseason bound team should beat. Then again, it’s hard to say the Mets are a postseason caliber team.
Rubbing salt in the would is the Orioles were sellers at the trade deadline, and they sold Miguel Castro to the Mets. The Orioles have a better record than the Mets, and they’re just as many games out of the postseason as the Mets are.
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!
For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.
Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.
Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.
Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.
As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.
In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.
Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.
Time and again, we’ve seen Seth Lugo come up huge. That’s both in the starting rotation, where he wants to be, and the bullpen, where he has established himself as the best reliever in baseball.
When it comes to Lugo, it’s never really been a question of whether he could pitch in the rotation. The question is what is his best role on this Mets team.
As this Mets bullpen and pitching staff as a whole is constituted, they lean on Lugo’s ability to not just go multiple innings, but to also get the biggest outs in the game. With the current state of the rotation, you could argue Lugo’s ability to eat those innings in pressure spots makes him all the more needed in the bullpen.
With injuries and opt outs, Jacob deGrom is the only Mets starter guaranteed to give you at least five innings. That’s it. As a result, there’s an onus and strain on the bullpen.
The real value with Lugo is his versatility. He’s a one inning closer. He’s a long man. He’s there to bail you out of the inning. No one else can do what he does.
The aforementioned long men can give you innings, but they cannot be relied upon in a crucial spot. Right now, Justin Wilson and maybe Jared Hughes can be relied upon in a crucial spot, but they can’t give you more than three outs in a consistent fashion.
As we saw last night, the Mets bullpen is still very suspect in those late innings when Lugo is unavailable. Part of the reason is Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, and Jeurys Familia are occasionally prone to fits of wildness.
With respect to Diaz and Familia, they’ve made significant strides from their disastrous 2019 season. As previously explained, Diaz can likely be relied upon to close again. However, like most closers, he’s not as good or as reliable when being brought into a jam.
With respect to Betances, he’s not the same reliever he once was. His velocity is down, and he’s more hittable. As a result, he’s no longer the guy you can just plug into the seventh or eighth.
Now, you may want to argue Steven Matz may be able to be that guy. If that is the case, why remove him from the rotation and disrupt the status quo.
Taking Matz out of the rotation implicitly means the Mets don’t trust him. That goes double when the Mets won’t start him against a Martins team with the fifth wurst wRC+ in the National League.
Digging deeper, the Marlins are the worst offensive team the Mets face all year. This is the team you let Matz get right against. That is all the more the case when the Marlins have a 69 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
All told, the Mets bullpen is already getting taxed. It’s going to get worse with every Gsellman and Oswalt start. Now, it’s going to get worse with each Lugo 2-3 inning start.
Removing Matz from the rotation now is a short-sighted panic move. The team simply doesn’t have the arms for three bullpen games through each turn through the rotation. They’re even less equipped without Lugo.
In the end, Lugo will be a good starter. It’s just that the entire team is not built to have Lugo in the rotation. The Mets should be aware of this, but as usual, Brodie Van Wagenen thinks he knows better than everyone. Each and every time he thinks that, the decision blows up in the Mets faces.
Chances are, this decision will too.
The Mets fell down 1-0 when Robert Gsellman struggled in the top of the first. When Dominic Smith hit a bases loaded double off Jordan Yamamoto in the second, the Mets took a 2-1 lead. After that, the Mets offense exploded with nearly everyone destroying the baseball:
- Brandon Nimmo 1-4, R, 3B, 2 BB
- Jeff McNeil 1-4, R, BB, K
- J.D. Davis 0-3, 2 R, 2 BB, K, HBP
- Michael Conforto 1-3, R, 2B, BB, K, HBP
- Robinson Cano 3-4, 3 R, 4 RBI, K, 2 HR
- Pete Alonso 3-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 HR
- Dominic Smith 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B, HBP
- Wilson Ramos 1-5, K, 2B
- Amed Rosario 2-5, R, RBI, 2 K, 2B
The story of the night was Cano and Alonso. For Cano, he continues his great hitting in 2020. For Alonso, that’s eluded him this year, and he’s struggled to the point he was dropped in the lineup to the sixth for the first time in his career. He responded with a two home run game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2020
If you are looking for a negative from this game, it was Gsellman who struggled. Even staked to a 3-1 lead, he couldn’t get through the second. He was a bit wild leading Luis Rojas to lift him earlier than he would’ve wanted.
While there was some disappointment in Gsellman not taking a step forward after being reinserted into the rotation, there should be genuine excitement in Chasen Shreve, who was again excellent.
Shreve struck out five while pitching 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings. He led the charge of a bullpen which allowed one run over the final 7.1 innings.
Of note, Franklyn Kilome came in to pitch the final three innings picking up his first career save. He was wild walking five allowing two runs, but he was also lighting up the gun at 96 MPH. He struck out four.
Ultimately, Kilome didn’t do much to make a case for him to replace Gsellman. Still, he helped the bullpen while showing he’s still not ready to pitch at this level.
Things got so bad for the Marlins in their 11-4 loss, Logan Forsythe was the sacrificial lamb. He was the position player who pitched the ninth.
Overall, the Mets outclassed the Marlins. This is what we expect from this Mets team. Hopefully, this will prove to be a turning point of the season.
Game Notes: Jacob deGrom threw a bullpen and showed no ill effects. He’s in line to make his next start.