Jacob deGrom

We’re Running out of Innings

In late June, the Mets called up Steven Matz, in part, because the team felt they needed to switch to a six man rotation. The theory was that if the Mets didn’t do this, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard would hit their innings limits in September. The Mets were being proactive to avoid a repeat of the Stephen Strasberg incident. 

After Matz was misdiagnosed by Dr. Warthen, he went in the DL with a torn lat. Matz had to completely shut down all baseball activity for three weeks. We do not yet know if: 1) he can come back this season; and 2) what his role would be. 

With Matz down, the Mets now face a ticking clock on the innings limits of their three “stud muffins.”  Due to Matz’s injury, the Mets have abandoned the six man rotation for the second time this year. 

There are different theories to limiting innings from the Verducci Effect (20-30 innings more than year before) to Tampa Bay’s 20% philosophy (20% more innings than prior year). These limitations would apply to deGrom and Thor. 

deGrom pitched 178.1 innings last year between AAA and the majors. Accordingly, his innings would be limited somewhere between 208.1 – 214.0 innings. Right now deGrom is at 127.1 innings (not including his one inning in the All Star Game), and he has averaged approximately 6.2 innings per start. deGrom has approximately 12 starts remaining. If he continues averaging 6.2 innings per start, he would pitch 80 more innings giving him a season total of 207.1, which is right at the lower end of the limitation spectrum. At best, he could have one postseason start for 6.2 innings to stay within his innings limits. 

Last year, Thor pitched 133.0 innings. So far this year, he had pitched 108.1 innings between AAA and the majors. He has averaged 6.0 innings in his major league starts. Using the aforementioned parameters, Thor’s innings limit would be between 159.3 – 163.0 innings. Like deGrom, he has approximately 12 starts left if he pitched every fifth day. At six innings per start, he would finish the year with 180.1 innings. Therefore, Thor really has nine starts left to stay within his innings limitations. This leaves him unable to pitch in the postseason. 

Harvey is a different case as he did not pitch last year due to Tommy John surgery. In 2012, the Nationals estimated that Strasburg should be limited between 160.0 – 180.0 innings. For their part, the Mets estimated they would hold Harvey to 190.0 innings. While I think Harvey is the ultimate competitor, he is represented by Scott Boras, who also represents Strasburg. Boras championed limiting Strasburg’s innings. 

Right now, Harvey is at 125.1 innings, leaving him with only 64.2 innings left in the season. Assuming he has 12 starts remaining, he can only pitch approximately 5.1 innings per start. He’s currently averaging 6.2 innings per start. Like Thor, he would also be unavailable for the playoffs. 

I can’t imagine the Mets intend to heavily rely on Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese in the postseason because of the aforementioned innings limits. If they get to October, they must ride their stud muffins. The Mets know this, and yet, they still made a win-now trade for Tyler Clippard. I believe this is a sign they are ready to disregard innings limits and make a real run for it. 

That’s fine because recent studies have shown innings limits do not prevent pitcher injuries. This is something Seaver knew intuitively. I’m sure he will be happy when the Mets do away with the innings limits this year. Mets fans should as well because it means the Mets are not relying on unsupported science and are playing meaningful games in September

Jacob cyGrom

Even after the trades and last night’s increased run production, pitching is the main focus of the team. Front and center has been Jacob deGrom. Last year the question was if he had been up long enough to win Rookie of the Year (he was). This year it is whether the voters will vote for him for Cy Young over the other pitchers who have previously won the Cy Young award. 

On Sunday, he arguably made his strongest statement to date that he should be the Cy Young Award winner in the National League. He went 7.2 scoreless with eight strikeouts to lower his ERA to 2.05. He beat Zack Greinke, whose had a ridiculous 45.2 scoreless inning streak was ended by the Mets of all teams. 

deGrom left to a standing ovation in the eighth and handed the ball to Jeurys Familia for the four out save. It was exactly how you would draw it up . . . only Familia (who should not have pitched last night) blew the save. Luckily, he would be bailed out by Jenrry Mejia, who navigated the 10th inning, Curtis Granderson, who hit a leadoff double in the 10th, and Juan Uribe, who rocketed a game winning RBI double scoring Granderson. For how good Familia has been this year, it was good the team bailed him out. 

On offense, you can’t complain when you end a lengthy scoring streak to a pitcher the caliber of Greinke. Both runs off Greinke may have been a gift with a Joc Pederson error setting up the first run and Greinke hitting Conforto with the bases loaded for the second run, but the Mets took advantage of the opportunities. 

Plus, when it really counted, Granderson and Uribe came through in the 10th. It was nice to see the Mets come through despite Ruben Tejada’s awful bunt failing to move up Granderson. You have to give it to Sandy, his two acquisitions came through in their first two games. 

As I suspected, Collins used a platoon with his left-handed bats to start the game: Johnson, Murphy, and Nieuwenhuis. Uribe came in late for defense and made a nice play in the ninth that Murphy would not have made. Collins may still yet eschew this platoon system, but he kept his promise that players who produce will play. Those three produced yesterday, and they played today. 

The Mets now move on to a softer part of the schedule. Even if the Mets don’t make another move, they now seem ready to compete in this pennant race. Lets Go Mets. 

Collins with the Right Mix

In his heart of hearts, Terry Collins is an old school manager. You reward players with playing time. If you don’t do your job, take a seat on the bench. This team, while imperfect, is perfect for Collins. 

Now, players will have to earn playing time. Before, Collins was throwing just praying that whatever buttons he hit would produce a run. This is not to disparage Collins. While I sometimes question his in game moves (like using Familia in the ninth tonight instead of Logan Verrette or Alex Torres) nothing that has happened with the offense thus far is his fault. 

However, the pressure is all on him now.  This team has interchangeable parts with limitations. He really only has three good defensive players: Juan LagaresJuan Uribe, and Lucas Duda. There are only four players with an OPS over .700: Duda, Granderson, Johnson, and Uribe (even if there are problems with OPS calculation). For most of the season, the problem was how to get blood from a stone. Now, it is don’t screw it up. Saturday night was a great start to say the least. The Mets only scored the most amount of runs they scored in Citi Field. 

I’d argue the most important development was Duda’s two HR game. For most people, present company included, Duda’s problems were lack of lineup protection and the weight of carrying this team.  If Saturday night is any measure, the pressure is off, and he’s back to being the middle of the order threat the Mets need. 

A very close second was Comforto’s night. Remember the old adage: sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make?  Well, if the Mets got Parra, Conforto is still in AA. Conforto looks ready  this is confirmed by his 4-4 game with 4 runs scored and an RBI. On a night like tonight, I’ll give the Mets the benefit of the doubt that Conforto needed those minor league ABs. 

The third important development was Kelly Johnson and Daniel Murphy getting the start and taking advantage of the opportunity. Both players homered and gave Collins no reason to take them out of the lineup. It was also a smart move for Collins to get Uribe in the game. It was also good to see Uribe get a hit. 

The rest was gravy. Matt Harvey was Matt Harvey. Apparently now, he’s a real threat at the plate with three consecutive multiple RBI games. Nieuwenhuis seems to be hitting again. The Mets finally beat up on weak pitching. There seemed to be a different energy to this club and to the ballpark. There was a lot to like. 

However, we need to reserve judgment until tomorrow when Zack Greinke takes the mound. If the Mets get some runs off of him tomorrow, they really do have something. The Mets have a chance tomorrow not only because they’re throwing deGrom, but also because they have eight legitimate bats (sorry nine tomorrow) in the lineup. Lets Go Mets!

Collins Doesn’t Get Burned by Soup

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say Terry Collins made his biggest managerial decision of the year . . . and the entire planet disagreed with him. Collins pinch hit Eric Campbell for Jacob deGrom in the top of the seventh. We all know that deGrom has better hitting statistics than Campbell, and deGrom was pitching well. No one would have second guessed Collins if he left in deGrom. 

Instead, he went with Campbell seeking to capitalize on a missed call leading to a gift double to Nieuwenhuis. The gutsy move paid off as Campbell hit a two run single turning a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead. What was even more surprising was Collins used Campbell over Cuddyer, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth. Good for Collins, who has been a gentleman all year. He’s never publicly complained about this offense and/or roster. Also, good for Campbell. He’s been a punching bag this year. However, he has earned Mets fans respect as he always hustles and really is doing everything he can do to be on the big league roster. 

Also, good for deGrom and the Mets pitchers. deGrom pitched well enough to win, and he got that win. This post very well could’ve been about how deGrom handed a lead back and how the Mets pitchers can’t do that with this offense. Hopefully, the explosion in the ninth inning is a sign of things to come. Maybe Campbell’s single allowed everyone to take a deep breath and relax. Maybe it was just one game. I’m choosing to be optimistic. 

A hat tip is also due to Matt Harvey. He had a rough start yesterday, but he settled down and powered through 7 innings. It allowed a tired bullpen to rest after an 18 inning game, and it allowed Collins to gamble knowing he had a rested Mejia, Parnell, and Familia.   

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!

deGrominant

Wow, that certainly was something wasn’t it? Reigning Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom, struck out the only three batters he faced on 10 pitches in his first All Star Game; just a great day to be a Mets fan. That was as fun as it gets, and it was the All Star Game at its best.

At its core, the All Star Game is a showcase for the best players in the game. Much like the very first All Star Game at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, this game featured the best players of our time: Mike Trout, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and yes, Jacob deGrom.

How was the game? Not that great really. Does it matter? No, because the All Star Game is about moments and not the game itself. Most people couldn’t tell you who won the All Star Game 25 years ago, but here are just a few of the classic moments that are still talked about to this day:

  1. Carl Hubbell striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession;
  2. Ted Williams’ walk off homerun in the 1941 All Star Game;
  3. Pedro striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced in Fenway;
  4. Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse; and
  5. A-Rod giving his spot at SS to Cal Ripken, Jr. at his last All Star Game.

If Jacob deGrom continues to be deGrominant, we will tell our children and grandchildren about him. Part of that story will be his performance in the 2015 All Star Game. It will be known as the day as Jacob deGrom went from a potential ace to a superstar, and that my friend is the beauty of the All Star Game.