Gabriel Ynoa

There’s No Getting Rid of Rafael Montero

Perhaps no one in the history of the New York Mets has gotten more chances to prove themselves than Rafael Montero.  The fact that is true has continued to baffle and irritate Mets fans who have watched him pitch to a 5.38 ERA and 1.705 WHIP in his Major League career.

But it’s more than that.  The Mets have questioned his competitiveness and his toughness.  They have even had him suffer the indignity to being demoted to Double-A.  Nothing seems to work, and yet he remains on the Mets roster.  Worse yet, he remains while talented pitchers who have produced are sent packing.

If we are being fair, we should pinpoint the 2016 season as the breaking point.  In 2014, Montero acquitted himself well in his limited time, and in 2015, Montero suffered an injury, albeit one the Mets doubted truly existed.  Montero would get a chance again in 2016.  There’s no sugar coating just how poorly he pitched.  About the only place he pitched well was Binghamton, and he wasn’t exactly stellar there going 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA.

And yet, Montero remained a Met.

After the 2016 season, the Mets traded both Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations to help clear up space on the 40 man roster.  The team would lose Matthew Bowman in the Rule 5 Draft. An injured Sean Gilmartinwas designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Because of these moves and because of all the injuries, Montero got another chance in 2017.  He would reward the Mets faith and patience by going 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA, 1.748 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.

In an effort to be as fair as possible to Montero, he did get his first real extended chance to prove he belongs in the majors.  From June 15th until the end of the season, he was on the Major League roster, and he would make 21 appearances and 16 starts.  In that stretch, he was 5-7 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.591 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9.

Certainly, that was better, but it was not significantly different than his career numbers, which just have not been the caliber of a Major League starting pitcher.  While you may not feel as if the Mets lost much of value in the aforementioned pitchers lost, the healthy pitchers in the group undoubtedly pitched better than Montero last year.

Now, the Mets are repeating their same mistakes.  After the conclusion of the 2017 season, the team drafted Burch Smithin the Rule 5 Draft and sold him to the Kansas City Royals.  To make room for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez on the 40 man roster, Kevin McGowan and Chasen Bradford were designated for assignment.

While McGowan struggled in his time in the majors last year, Bradford certainly did not.  In fact, Bradford was one of the few pleasant surprises last season.  In 28 major league appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 7.2 K/9.  Montero would have to significantly improve to match those numbers, and yet, he is the one that remains on the 40 man roster.

At some point, push is finally going to come to shove, and Montero will no longer be a part of the Mets organization.  With Montero being out of options, maybe this year is the year.  Maybe not.  After all, the Mets do have spots open for competition in the Opening Day bullpen, and by now I’m sure the Mets have talked themselves into believing Mickey Callawayand Dave Eiland will turn Montero into the next Dennis Eckersley.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO

Montero Figured Out At Least One Thing . . . The Giants

The Mets have given Rafael Montero enough chances that he was bound to finally figure it out.  Still, it seemed like he never was.  Each and every year, Montero was getting worse . . . not better.  He stuck around while useful and promising pitchers like Gabriel Ynoa were sent away for a mere pittance.  Finally, in his ninth major league call-up, Montero seems to have figured it out.

Montero only got this last chance due to injuries.  Unlike the other eight times Montero got a chance, Montero finally took advantage.

With the Mets needing some innings out of the bullpen, Terry Collins twice turned to Montero.  In those two appearances, Montero pitched 6.2 innings allowing just one earned on three hits.  He only walked two while striking out eight.  If nothing else, he helped save the bullpen in those games.  More than that, he finally earned a start, which he got on Sunday.

On Sunday, Montero looked like the guy the Mets have been waiting for all these years.  He was throwing strikes and attacking the zone.  He was mixing up his pitches and using his change-up as a weapon and not as a panic pitch because he didn’t trust his other stuff to get outs.

Things were going smooth for Montero until the third inning.  After allowing a pair of one out singles, he walked Hunter Pence to load the bases with Buster Posey heading to the plate.  In the past, this is the exact point where Montero would fall apart.  He didn’t.  Montero bore down, and he got Posey to hit a sacrifice fly.  He then battled Brandon Belt when the Giants bailed him out.  Pence tried to steal a base, and Rene Rivera gunned him down to get out of the inning.

That wasn’t the only way Rivera helped his pitcher.  Rivera went 2-5 with two homers and three RBI.  Overall, he helped his pitcher behind the plate and at the plate.

But it was Montero who was great.  In 5.2 innings pitched, Montero allowed just one run on five hits while walking just two and striking out seven.  You could argue this was just the Giants terrible offense, but it should be remembered his last two appearances were against the Nationals and Dodgers, who are two of the best offenses in baseball.

Montero would get the win because of his terrific pitching and because the Mets offense continued to roll.

Again, it was Curtis Granderson who got things started drawing a lead-off walk against Matt Moore.  He’d eventually come around to score on a Jay Bruce RBI groundout.  Bruce’s next RBI came in the eighth when he hit a two run homer to put the game away.  The homer was Bruce’s 20th home run of the season.  At his current pace, Bruce will have his first 40 HR season and just his second 100 RBI season.

Throw in a Lucas Duda fifth inning RBI double and a Granderson ninth inning solo shot, and you have a Mets 8-2 victory.  More than that, the Mets have swept just their second sweep of an opponent this season.  If only the Mets had played like this earlier in the season.  We could have been talking about the Mets being about to go on a push to make the postseason.  Instead, it is probably too little too late.

Game Notes: After moving to second for the first two games in the series, Asdrubal Cabrera was back at shortstop with Jose Reyes getting the day off.

Should The Mets Give Montero A Chance Now?

Stop it.  The notion is insane.  In fact, it is completely preposterous.  No self respecting Mets fan should even broach the topic.  Before even pursuing further, we should all stop while we are ahead.

Except the Mets aren’t ahead.  They’re way down in the standings.  They are eight games under .500 trailing the Nationals by 11.5 games in the division.  Things are worse for the Wild Card.  They are behind the Diamondbacks for the second Wild Card by 12.5 games with five other teams ahead of them.  Seriously, at this point what is there to lose?

And that right there is the Mets best rationale to finally seeing what they have with Rafael Montero.

Let’s dispense with what we all know.  Montero has been absolutely terrible in his time with the Mets.  In his major league career, he has pitched in 39 games going 1-9 with a 5.51 ERA, 1.756 WHIP, and a 5.7 BB/9.  Each year he pitches in the majors, he has arguably gotten worse.  What makes that all the more frustrating is when he gets sent down to the minors, he dominates.  This has led the Mets to keeping him on the 40 man roster while getting rid of valuable pitchers like Gabriel Ynoa when it had come time to clear space on the 40 man roster.

It has been a frustrating four years.  However, in that time frame, the Mets still see something in him that leads to them keeping him on the roster.  They have given him chance after chance after chance.  About the only thing they haven’t given him was an extended shot. Maybe it’s time they give him one.

For the first time, Montero has earned the shot.  Due to Matt Harvey‘s injury, Montero was recalled, and he has pitched well.

On Thursday, after Robert Gsellman was only able to pitch five innings against the Nationals, Montero came in and pitched surprisingly well.  In three shutout innings, he didn’t allow a hit, and in a complete shock, he didn’t walk a batter while striking out three.

On Monday, when Zack Wheeler couldn’t get out of the second inning, Montero came in, and he pitched well again.  Over 3.2 innings, Montero allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out five.  The only run against him was a Justin Turner home run in what was the last batter Montero would face in the game.

In those two combined outings, Montero has pitched 6.2 innings allowing three hits, one run, one earned, and two walks while striking out eight batters.  If that was one start, it would be an outstanding start.

It at least seems like Montero is a different pitcher over those past two appearances.  He has been throwing more strikes, and he has been trusting his stuff.  These are exactly the things people have been waiting for him to do for years.  It appears now he’s finally doing it, and in this ever so brief sample size, he appears that he could be an effective major league pitcher.

Fact is, we don’t know if this is for real or not.  This could be another one of his mirages.  It could also be him FINALLY figuring things out.  If he has figured it out, the Mets owe it to themselves to finally see the fruit of their patience.  With the Mets being so far out, now is the time to give him that chance.  With the Mets going nowhere, you need to find out who can be piece of the future.  That is especially important with Montero being out of options.  Next year, he has to be on the roster or exposed to another team on waivers.

At this point, the Mets need to use the rest of the season to find out who is a part of the future.  For the longest time, the Mets assumed that would include Montero.  It’s time to find out if he is.

 

Sandy Alderson Miscalculated

Yet again, the Mets have had to turn to Rafael Montero to make a start because there weren’t better options for the Mets.  There weren’t better options because Sandy Alderson believed the Mets had enough starting pitching to never need to sign a veteran signing pitcher.  As we have seen, this was a miscalculation.

Lost in the excitement of the Mets having seven starting pitchers was the fact that pitchers break down.  This pitching staff exemplifies this axiom.  Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz were coming off season ending surgeries.  For his part, Matz is seemingly never healthy.  Zack Wheeler hadn’t pitched in over two years due to his having Tommy John surgery and the ensuing complications therefrom.  Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo were terrific in September of last year, but it was against some fairly weak competition.  Also, it is likely both were going to be on some form of an innings limit.  Finally, there was Noah Syndergaard, who seemed indestructible.

Now, we could have anticipated Matz doing down, but the other manner in which the Mets have turned to Montero and Adam Wilk has been a surprise.  No one expected Lugo to suffer a torn UCL.  Syndergaard tearing his lat never could have been reasonably anticipated, nor was the Mets needing to suspend Harvey.  Still, given the relative injury histories, it was certainly plausible the Mets would be down three plus pitchers at any point of the season.  It was also plausible because pitchers break.

Despite this, Alderson moved both Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa to the Orioles in separate deals.  Both moves were defensible because the Mets needed space on the 40 man roster to accommodate free agent signings.  Still, those arms needed to be replaced by cheap veterans who could be stashed in Triple-A, or the Mets could have signed a swingman who could have served in long relief and be available to make a spot start.

Now, we know players like Doug Fister and Colby Lewis likely weren’t signing unless they got minor league deals.  Still, there were pitchers like Jon Niese and Dillon Gee available.  Mets fans may not love them, but they are certainly better than Montero.  There was also Scott Feldman who has served in both relief and long man roles, and he signed with the Reds for just $2.3 million.  There are several other names like Jake Peavy who at least has the veteran guile to gut through five innings.  Instead, the Mets stuck with Sean Gilmartin, who they won’t even trust to make a start, and they signed Wilk who is not a viable major league pitcher.

And now, the once vaunted Mets starting pitching is a mess, and it is up to Alderson to fix it.  This is the same Alderson who has been very cavalier in moving pitching the past few seasons to help fix the weaknesses in teams he has built.  So far, his answer has been Milone who has a 6.43 ERA in six starts this season.  That’s hardly an answer.

Likely, Alderson’s real answer is to hope for some health with presumably both Matz and Lugo will be ready by the end of the month.  Maybe this time the health plan with work.

Rain Out Is Better Than Montero

If the Mets were smart, they would use the window they have right now and call tonight’s game. They certainly have their excuse to do so. No, I’m not referring to the fact that it is supposed to rain all day into tomorrow. No, I’m referring to the fact that somehow we are back at the point where the Mets are once again in a position where they must give Rafael Montero a start.

This is the same Montero who made six appearances this year going 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA, 3.600 WHIP, and a 10.8 BB/9. This follows the pattern of Montero’s career where his ERA, WHIP, and BB/9 have continuously gone up in each of the last three seasons. While the narrative has been that Montero just needs to trust his stuff and pound the strike zone, the simple fact is he doesn’t. Furthermore, no one should trust that he can anymore.

Sure, he has gone down to Vegas, and he is pitching well again. In his two starts, he has a 1.74 ERA, 0.677 WHIP, and he has only walked three batters in 10.1 innings. That’s what he does. Montero pitches well against inferior competition. Last year, he was 4-3 with a 2.20 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, and a 3.5 BB/9 in nine starts. Due to his having a good stretch in Double-A and a rash of injuries, the Mets turned to Montero. The result was him making three starts pitching just 11 innings. Over those 11 innings, he walked 14 batters. This led to his 7.36 ERA and a 2.182 WHIP. From there, he was demoted to the bullpen.

The Mets were tricked again by him coming out of Spring Training when he pounded the strike zone. The Mets relied upon those outings and the Jeurys Familia suspension to give Montero another chance. As discussed above, he squandered that chance as well. In reality, there is no indication whatsoever that Montero will justify the chance he was once again given.

In fact, with every outing of his all you can think about is the other players the Mets passed on to let Montero keep getting chances. Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa were traded for cash to the Orioles. Matthew Bowman was lost in the Rule 5 Draft, and he has since carved out a role in their bullpen. There are pitchers still in the Mets farm system like Ricky Knapp and P.J. Conlon, who despite their struggles to start the year, are certainly more deserving of a chance.

Instead, the Mets will once again give Montero yet another chance. That is unless it rains tonight, and they can skip his spot in the rotation. Hopefully, the rain beats Montero tonight. It wouldn’t be a surprise since everyone else beats him.  Yet somehow, even if it does rain, we know this won’t be the last we see of Montero.

 

Letting Bartolo Colon Walk Still Isn’t The Problem

With Noah Syndergaard‘s torn lat, it is once again time to revisit the Mets decision to allow Bartolo Colon to depart in free agency. It is a moment that has been revisited on multiple occasions. It was first addressed when the Mets allowed him to go to the Braves without so much as an offer. It was addressed when Steven Matz and Seth Lugo suffered injuries. Its been addressed with every struggle Robert Gsellman has had on this young season. So why not just get it out of the way for good and for all.

The Mets were correct in their decision not to re-sign Bartolo Colon.

For those clamoring for the popular player, do you know what his stats are this season? They’re not good. Through five starts, Colon is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. He’s averaging 5.2 innings per start. The only intradivision team he has handled well was the Mets. Against the Marlins, he pitched four innings allowing six runs on seven hits. Against the Phillies, he allowed four runs on 11 hits. For a Mets team that needs a stabilizing force in the rotation the can eat up innings and get some quality starts, Colon has shown that so far he is not really the answer.

If you want to argue, he certainly is a better pitcher than that, you may have an argument. However, his 77 ERA+ and his 4.40 FIP suggest you don’t have much of an argument. You could say that it’s early, but is it ever early for a 44 year old pitcher?

But this overlooks what was the real issue at the time Colon hit free agency. The Mets could not guarantee him a rotation spot. Last year, Gsellman was 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 169 ERA+, and a 2.63 FIP. Lugo was 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 152 ERA+, and a 4.33 FIP. On top of that, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Matz had successful surgeries and looked to be ready on Opening Day. Furthermore, Zack Wheeler was on track to be ready to be on the Opening Day roster. If everyone is healthy and in peak form, Colon was realistically the seventh or eighth best pitcher on the staff. Simply put, there was no spot for him.

Colon knew that too. That’s why he took the Braves one year $12.5 million deal. He took the deal because the Braves were guaranteeing him a rotation spot that would permit him to chase down Juan Marichal and Dennis Martinez to become the winningest Latin born pitcher in major league history. Colon chose the path with the best contract and the clearest path to the record over returning to the Mets or going to another contender.

This is no shot at him. Last year, Colon took less money and risked getting demoted to the bullpen in order to chase that elusive World Series. He just wasn’t as eager to do that this time. The Mets also weren’t eager to bring him back with their pitching depth.

Instead, the Mets used that $12.5 million this offseason. That money helped the Mets to build a bullpen. Jerry Blevins was signed for $5.5 million. Fernando Salas was signed for $3 million. Addison Reed received a $2.55 million raise, and Jeurys Familia received a $3.325 million raise. As much as the bullpen has struggled to start the season, imagine it right now without Blevins. So overall, it is not as if that $12.5 million wasn’t spent on pitching this offseason. It was. It was just spent on a bullpen that Colon was not willing to pitch in to start the season.

So no, the Mets shouldn’t be second guessed for letting Colon go to the Braves. Rather, the Mets should be questioned as to why the choice for fifth starter is between Rafael Montero or Sean Gilmartin. Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa were traded to the Orioles for cash considerations in separate deals this offseason. Scott Feldman signed with the Reds for $2.3 million. There are a number of pitchers available who could have provided a little extra depth including the player everyone loves to hate, Jon Niese. Say what you want about him, but he’s much better than Montero.

There’s also the matter that the Mets knew this could happen. Once the Mets opened the season with Lugo and Matz hurt, the team’s depth was gone. As reported by Kristie Ackert in the New York Daily News, Sandy Alderson backed off signing a pitcher like Doug Fister because he was willing to wait until late May or June for them to be healthy. Alderson willing took a gamble with the pitching depth, and he lost.

Overall, the Mets aren’t in trouble because they didn’t re-sign Colon. They are in trouble because the team purged the non-Montero options they had in the organization, and they were willing to wait almost two months to have quality major league pitching depth.

Get Rid Of Rafael Montero Now

Last night, the score was tied 2-2 entering the 10th inning. With the heavy bullpen use of his key relievers, Terry Collins was certainly justified in pulling Addison Reed after one inning. However, for some reason, Collins decided the move that best helped the Mets win that game last night was to bring in Rafael Montero. It was the latest incident in what has been a bizarre fascination with him.

There was a time back in 2014 where Montero was regarded as the Mets best pitching prospect. In fact, he was better regarded than Jacob deGrom. Believe it or not, the belief was justifiable. Back then, Montero was a three pitch pitcher that had a fastball he could get into the mid 90s. With that, he had a pretty good change-up and slider. In fact, he still does. However, what set Montero apart back then was he had exceptional control. That control has escaped him, and as a result, he’s not even a shadow of the highly touted prospect.

During his time with the Mets, we have seen Montero get chance after chance after chance. It’s a mixture of his talent, injuries, and just pure stubbornness to move on from him. Last season, Montero was the first player cut from Major League camp in Spring Training. He struggled so much in Triple-A, he was actually demoted to Double-A. However, due to the Mets pitching staff becoming a M*A*S*H* unit, he was called up to the majors. He rewarded their faith by pitching to an 8.05 ERA and a 2.053 WHIP in nine appearances, and somehow, he probably wasn’t even that good.

After that season, he is still somehow with the organization. In the offseason, the Mets had to make multiple 40 man moves to accommodate free agent signings. The Mets would DFA Ty Kelly. In separate deals, they traded both Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa for cash. Each one of these players has either had some measure of major league success, had some value to the team, or had some level of promise.

It’s just not the Mets front office. It’s also Collins. Last night, he had a well rested Sean Gilmartin, and instead he went with Montero. Keep in mind, Gilmartin has had success with the Mets as a long reliever. In 2015, Gilmartin made 50 appearances going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.186 WHIP. That season is better than anything Montero has ever done in the majors.

Arguably, Gilmartin on his worst day is better than what you can expect from Montero. Montero entered the game and did what you expected him to do . . . he lost it. In 0.1 innings, he allowed three hits and four runs. The only out he recorded was on a sacrifice fly hit to the right field wall.

Including last night’s game, Montero has made 30 appearances and 12 starts going 1-7 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP. On the season, Montero is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA and a 3.600 WHIP. His BB/9 is an almost impossibly high 10 .8. It is all part of Montero not being the same pitcher the MEts thought he was. It continues the trens of Montero getting worse each and every season.

The Mets shouldn’t even wait for Jeurys Familia to be available on Thursday to send Montero to Triple-A. Send him on the first plane back. Bring up Paul Sewald for a day if you want an extra bullpen arm. If you want to lengthen what is a short bench, call up Matt Reynolds, which as an aside, may not be a bad move considering the poor defensive options the Mets have at third base. Seriously, the Mets should do anything . . . literally anything because anything is better than having to see Montero pitch in another game.

Good Luck Gabriel Ynoa

Well somehow, someway, Rafael Montero has survived three years of uninspired pitching and two rounds of cuts from the 40 man roster to remain a New York Met.  He survived the second time because the Mets traded Gabriel Ynoa yesterday to the Orioles for cash considerations.  In Baltimore, Ynoa could conceivably join Logan Verrett in the Orioles starting rotation.  That’s right, Verrett, make that three rounds of cuts from the 40 man roster.

Ultimately, Verrett and Ynoa were traded because the Mets had a team, namely the Orioles, who was interested in their services.  When it comes to Ynoa, it is easy to ascertain why.

Ynoa has a mid to high 90s fastball, a good change-up, and an emerging slider.  For most of his minor league career, he showed good control and an ability to locate his pitches.  You could argue what he was as a pitcher.  To some, he was a back-end of the rotation guy.  To many, he had a promising career in the bullpen.  For those that truly believed in his talent, they could make a justifiable case he could emerge as a front of the rotation starter.  No matter what the opinion, the consensus was this guy was a major league talent.

Unfortunately, we did not get to see that in his limited time in a Mets uniform.  Having never been in a major league bullpen before, Ynoa struggled when thrust into the role.  After having been effectively shut down for the season, at least from the perspective of being a starting pitcher, Ynoa struggled in his few starts with the Mets.  Call it making excuses for the player, but he was a rookie put in an unenviable task.  Who knows?  Maybe if he was put in a real position to succeed, his stats would have been much better, and maybe the Mets move someone other than him.

And that is the real shame.  We never did get to see what Ynoa could truly be in a major league uniform.  Maybe he would have been a solid bullpen arm.  Maybe he was that guy who surprised you in the rotation.  Now, he can still be those things, but he will be those things in a Baltimore Orioles uniform.

And hopefully he will achieve all he is capable of with the Orioles.  It would be good for the Mets to show the prospects they are willing to move are capable of succeeding when it comes to future trade talks.  It is better for Ynoa who left his home at the age of 17 with the dreams of becoming a major leaguer.

Mets May Have Enough Internal Bullpen Options

With Baseball America‘s Adam Rubin reporting the Mets are considering using low A starter P.J. Conlon out of the bullpen, the Mets are really giving the impression that they may not sign any relief pitchers this offseason. This would coincide with earlier reports the Mets may not have the budget to acquire another player unless the team is able to trade an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce. When considering the difficulties the Mets have in trading Bruce, it’s becoming increasingly more likely the Mets will use internal options to build their bullpen.

The Mets should have varying degrees of confidence in returning relief pitchers Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Last season, Reed and Familia combined to be the best 8-9 combination in baseball. Robles has shown versatility whether it was his bailing Jim Henderson out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitching 3.2 innings because Bartolo Colon left a game in the first inning with an injury.

While the Mets should have confidence in these three pitchers, they still need at least four other arms to complete their bullpen. Here are the leading options:

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS

RHP Seth Lugo – While he should get the opportunity to compete with Robert Gsellman for a spot in the rotation, indications are Lugo will land in the bullpen. In limited bullpen duty last year, Lugo was terrific. In his nine relief appearances, he had a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Pitching out of the bullpen should also permit Lugo to ramp his fastball up to 95 MPH and throw his curveball, which has the best spin rate in the majors, making him an even more dominant pitcher.

RHP Zack Wheeler – Like Lugo, Wheeler may get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, but early indications are he will start the year in the bullpen. Wheeler’s fastball-slider combination should play well out of the bullpen, and it should lead to him recording a high number of strikeouts. Conversely, he may have a high amount of walks as well. Unfortunately, Wheeler may not be able to sustain the same workload of a relief pitcher as the Mets will likely want to ease him back after Wheeler missed two years due to Tommy John surgery.

RHP Paul Sewald – With a high 80s to low 90s fastball with a slider in the low 90s with a low 80s slider, Sewald doesn’t have the dominating stuff you would typically look for in a major league reliever. However, despite having “lesser” stuff, Sewald has succeeded at every level of the minor leagues including his being an effective closer for the 51s last year. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, Sewald had 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA, 0.945 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 in the second half of the season.

RHP Erik Goeddel – If Goeddel can return to his 2014 – 2015 form, the Mets have a reliever they can rely upon. During that time, he was on the New York – Las Vegas shuttle making 41 major league appearances. Over that stretch, he had a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. For many, it was believed Goeddel did it with smoke and mirrors, an impression that was given credence with his 4.54 ERA and 1.318 WHIP in 2016. With Goeddel able to strike out 9.1 batters per nine last year, he has at least shown he can get batters out, and as a result, should get another chance. His success in 2017 is going to depend on his ability to regain some of his fastball velocity or his ability to adapt to pitching without it.

RHP Chase Bradford – Like Sewald, Bradford has fringy stuff with a low 90s fastball and a low to mid 80s slider. However, unlike Sewald, Bradford has struggled in AAA. Over the past three years, Bradford has pitched to a 4.88 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. It should be noted many pitchers, like Lugo, struggle in Las Vegas, only to have success in the majors.

RHP Ben Rowen – The submarine style Rowen was brought in on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The hope is that Rowen can be a modern version of Chad Bradford in what was an excellent 2006 Mets bullpen. However, given his low 80s fastball, and with both right-handed batters and left-handed batters hitting him hard in his brief 12 major league appearances, this seems more hope than reality.

RHP Rafael Montero – Despite being terrible for the Mets, he somehow remains a part of the Mets organization. As if his presence on the roster wasn’t baffling enough, Sandy Alderson even mentioned him as a possibility for the bullpen. (ESPN). It figures that this year is the year push comes to shove with Montero. Either he is finally going to trust his stuff and throw strikes at the major league level, or the Mets are going to designate him for assignment for someone who can.

RHP Gabriel Ynoa – Ynoa struggled with the Mets last year, but those struggles could have been the result of him being asked to pitch out of the bullpen when he’s never done that before and the team shifting him between the bullpen and rotation late in the year. Fact is Ynoa has real talent. He has a low to mid 90s fastball that he may be able to consistently get in the mid 90s if he was airing it out in the bullpen. His slider is also effective in generating a number of groundballs. With him in the bullpen as opposed to the rotation, he can primarily utilize his two best pitches to get batters out.

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS

LHP Josh Smoker – There are three things we learned about Smoker last year: (1) he strikes out a lot of batters; (2) left-handed batters absolutely crush him; and (3) he is not effective for more than one inning. Now, if Smoker is able to work with Dan Warthen to develop a slider to get help him get left-handed batters out, he’s got closer potential. If not, he’s still an effective arm out of the bullpen so long as Terry Collins acknowledges his limitations.

LHP Josh Edgin – Even with his reduced velocity, Edgin still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out. Until such time he re-gains his velocity, if it ever were to happen, he should primarily be used as a LOOGY. Now, with Familia, Reed, and Robles each being extremely effective against left-handed batters, the Mets are not in dire need of a LOOGY. Still, in a division with Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper the Mets could benefit from having more than one pitcher who can get left-handed batters out.

LHP Sean Gilmartin – In 2015, Gilmartin was an important part of the Mets bullpen as the team’s long man. That season, he made 50 appearance pitching 57.1 innings going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Surprisingly, Gilmartin had reverse splits allowing a .216 batting average to right-handed batters and a .260 batting average to left-handed batters. Last, year, Gilmartin began the year in Las Vegas as a starting pitcher. Due to some bullpen issues at the major league level, the Mets had him fly on a red eye and pitch on short rest. Eventually, he would suffer a minor shoulder injury, and his promising season would tail off. Ultimately, the Mets will need a long man in 2017, and there is enough evidence here to suggest Gilmartin can competently fill that roll.

LHP David Roseboom – It’s not common for pitchers to go from AA to the Opening Day roster the next year, but Roseboom may just be capable of doing it. While a closer by trade, who is coming off a season with a 1.87 ERA, he is extremely effective against left-handed batters. Last season, he limited left-handed batters to a .141 batting average. Primarily, Roseboom is a sinker/slider pitcher who also has a change that allows him to remain effective against right-handed batters. While Roseboom primarily sits in the high 80s to the low 90s, he remains effective because he is able to effectively locate his pitches, and he induces a high rate of ground balls.

LHP P.J. Conlon – As touched on above, considering Conlon for the Opening Day roster was a surprise given he has not pitched in AA, he consistently throws in the mid to high 80s, and he was used as a starter last season. Another reason this was a surprise is the Conlon is better against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. The main reason for that is while Conlon is a four pitch pitcher, his out pitch is his change-up. Like with most left-handed pitchers, Conlon’s change-up is more effective against right-handed batters than left. Overall, it is highly unlikely he will make the Opening Day roster, but he should still benefit from the opportunity to further develop his slider.

PREDICTION

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheeler seems assured of being in the Opening Day bullpen with Familia, Reed, and Robles. Considering the Mets probably want to add another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and the fact that he is out of options, Edgin seems to be the next best guess as to a pitcher who will make the r0ster. Based upon their performance in the bullpen last year, it is likely the next two spots go to Lugo and Smoker. Right there, the Mets have a seven man bullpen with an interesting array of arms that can both register strike outs and induce ground balls to try to get a double play to get out of the inning.

If there is an injury, suspension, or someone proves to be ineffective, the Mets have interesting options behind this group in Rowen, Sewald, and Roseboom. There is also Gilmartin and Ynoa who can provide either a spot start or be able to serve in the bullpen if needed.

Ultimately, while you would feel much better with the Mets having at least one more veteran arm in the bullpen like a Jerry Blevins or a Fernando Salas, there is at least enough quality arms in the Mets system that can conceivably build a good bullpen.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

We are headed for another season of Mets baseball where we hope that once again these Mets can make it all the way back to the World Series.  Since 2015, we have seen a definite pattern emerge with the Mets, and I think as Mets fans, we should all try better this year to not react, some would say overreact, when one of the following things we know will happen, happens:

  • The Mets are not going to sign another big name free agent this offseason.  It’s not going to happen, and it just may happen that Jose Bautista winds up in the division and on a fairly discounted deal;
  • Jerry Blevins will sign an extremely reasonable two year deal . . . with another team;
  • Instead of fortifying the bench, the Mets are going to go with this year’s version of Eric Campbell -> Ty Kelly;
  • Terry Collins is going to use and abuse Addison Reed to the point where his arm may actually fall off.  This will go double if Jeurys Familia gets suspended;
  • Hansel Robles is going to go through a stretch in one week where he pitches five innings, 1/3 of an inning, two innings, and three innings, and everyone is going to wonder why his production has fallen off;
  • The infield of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and Asdrubal Cabrera will be ridden hard despite their injury histories and capable backups like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes on the bench;
  • Just pick a random player on the roster – he’s going to be on the DL for over two months with a back injury;
  • There will be a game with Reyes in center and Juan Lagares in right;
  • Travis d’Arnaud is going to get injured, and Kevin Plawecki is not going to be able to replace his bat in the lineup;
  • Matt Harvey will complain about the six man rotation that will be implemented at some point during the season;
  • Robert Gsellman will make an appearance throwing well over 100 pitches in five innings or less;
  • Rene Rivera will hit under the Mendoza Line;
  • T.J. Rivera will be raking in AAA and not get called up despite the Mets needing some offense;
  • Michael Conforto will not face one left-handed pitcher all season;
  • Yoenis Cespedes will not dive for a ball, run out a pop up, or run hard to first on a dropped strike three;
  • Curtis Granderson will have a better OBP than Reyes, but Collins will continue to lead off Reyes and his sub .330 OBP;
  • Collins will not know if Brandon Nimmo is faster than Flores and it will cost them a game;
  • No matter where he winds up this offseason, and no matter how poor his year is going, Chase Utley will hit two home runs in a game he faces the Mets;
  • Sandy Alderson will mortgage a part of the Mets future because he didn’t make a move in the offseason that he should have made;
  • Paul Sewald will pitch well in AAA, but the Mets won’t call him up because they would rather rip Sean Gilmartin or Gabriel Ynoa from the Vegas rotation to make a relief appearance on 2-3 days of rest;
  • Both Josh Smoker and Robles will be fully warmed up, and Collins will go to Smoker to pitch to the lefty;
  • For reasons the Mets themselves can’t quite explain, Rafael Montero will spend the full season on the 40 man roster;
  • d’Arnaud will come off the disabled list, play well for a stretch, and the Mets will lose him and Steven Matz in the same game;
  • Matz will have appendicitis, but the Mets will talk him out of the surgery because they need him to start against the Reds;
  • Dilson Herrera will tear it up every time he plays the Mets;
  • Wherever he lands, Jay Bruce is going to hit 30 homers and 100 RBI;
  • Collins will show up in the dugout without wearing pants, and the Mets still won’t fire him;
  • Noah Syndergaard will get ejected from a game for throwing inside.  A player who takes a bat to one of the Mets infielders in retaliation won’t;
  • Fans will clamor for Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to get called up all season long;
  • Seth Lugo will bounce between the bullpen and rotation so much, MLB is actually going to test him to see if his arm is actually made out of rubber;
  • Bartolo Colon will pitch so poorly against the Mets, fans will wonder why they wanted a bum like him back;
  • R.A. Dickey will not only beat the Mets, but he will throw the team into a week  long offensive funk causing some fans to decry the trade;
  • One or more pitchers will get hurt, and fans that even question if the Warthen Slider could be an issue will be mocked mercilessly;
  • Some way some how Jon Niese will pitch for this team;
  • Rather than build Tom Seaver a statue, the Mets will issue #41 to Niese upon his return to the team;
  • Daniel Murphy will have another terrific year for the Nationals, and some Mets fans will still defend the decision to let him go;
  • Ricky Knapp will make a solid spot start for the Mets causing fans to think he is the second coming;
  • Mets will trade a good prospect for Kelly Johnson; and
  • Despite all of this the Mets will make it to the postseason

Honestly, I give it until April 9th when Collins declares the last game in a three game set against the Marlins is a must-win game.