Jerry Koosman

Matz-terful Performance 

When Steven Matz first cracked into the majors with his grandfather jumping up and down, we expected him to do the Jerry Koosman each start. For the uninitiated, Koosman said his job as a pitcher was to shut them out and hit one out. Essentially, a pitcher should be a threat on the mound and at the plate. By the way, Koosman might’ve said that, but he was a terrible hitter. 

Tonight, Matz had one of those Koosman dictated games. Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing nine hits, two earned, two walks, and eight strikeouts.   He got touched up was the third when noted Mets killer, Freddie Freeman, hit an RBI double. In the seventh, he ran out of gas, but Hansel Robles came in and got out of the jam. At the plate, Matz went 1-2. Terrible Braves team or not, Matz had a terrific night. 

At the plate, the Mets had some firsts. In the first inning, Lucas Duda hit the Mets first sacrifice fly of the year scoring Curtis Granderson, who led off the game with a single and moved to third on a Michael Conforto single. Speaking of Conforto, he would have his first career stolen base in the third inning. After Duda hit his sacrifice fly, Neil Walker walked for the first time this year. Don’t worry, he would add a homerun in the eighth. The second run scored in the first would later score on an error. Sarcastic Mets fans would tell you this is the first time all year the Mets manufactured a run. 

In any event, this game was what you would expect, or rather, what we should expect from Braves-Mets games this year. The Mets pitching and offense dominated. Every Mets starter, including Matz, reached base at least once. The Third Baseman Formerly Known as David Wright (RIP Prince) hit two doubles. He was 2-5 with one run, two RBI, and two strikeouts. Once again tales of his demise were greatly exaggerated. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Juan Lagares got the start in center for an ailing Yoenis Cespedes. It was surprising because Jhoulys Chacin, who is a right handed pitcher. Before Cespedes was signed, it was presumed there was going to be a centerfield platoon with Alejandro De Aza facing the eighties. 

Other than the Lagares -De Aza decision, nothing about tonight was surprising was the Mets domination. Once all was said and done, the Mets won 8-2. They need to dominate teams like this.  They need to sweep teams like this. The Mets are in the process of doing that. They’re getting back on track. 

Mets Have Momentum

The late, great, Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver used to say, “Momentum?  Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.”  With that said, the Mets should have momentum all throughout 2016. 

With a 2-4 start, it hasn’t always worked out that way, but tonight Mets fans get to see Noah Syndergaard take the mound. Last time we saw him, he was doing things like this:

He’s become unhittable. He makes you want to jump out of your chair and scream:

Fact is, whenever you have Thor on the mound, your team has momentum. They can go out there and beat the ’27 Yankees. They can go out there and beat the Big Red Machine just like Tom SeaverJerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack did. When any member of a power triumvirate of Mets pitchers takes the mound, you have to like your chances of winning. You’ve got momentum. 

Tonight, momentum, thy name is Thor. 

Thor Trying to Avoid Tommy John Surgery

Going into the 2016 season, there is one fear each and every Mets fan has. We dare not speak its name, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still present. That fear is that a pitcher will get seriously injured. 

Looking at this year’s list of pitchers who could befall the dreaded “Verducci Effect,” Noah Syndergaard headlines that list. If Syndergaard was to suffer a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery? it would greatly hinder the Mets chances of winning not only the World Series, but also making it to the postseason. It’s something that not just Mets fans fear, but as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports, Syndergaard fears it also:

I’ve thought about it quite a bit. But I trust myself to put my body in the right situations to be able to perform at a healthy level. 

The fear is justified. Syndergaard threw 65.2 innings more last year. He throws over 95 MPH more than anyone in the game. He’s working to add the fabled Warthen Slider to his already dominant repertoire. Name a risk factor for UCL years requiring Tommy John surgery. Syndergaard meets most if not all of them. 

One risk factor not readily discussed is the team he plays for. Look at the projected Mets rotation when healthy: Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler. Put aside Syndergaard for a moment. What do the other four have in common?  They are all hard throwing pitchers under the age of 30 who have already had Tommy John surgery. 

Go outside this group. Since Warthen took over as the Mets pitching coach, the following homegrown Mets have sustained arm injuries: Jon Niese (shoulder), Dillon Gee (shoulder), Jeremy Hefner (two Tommy John surgeries), Rafael Montero (shoulder), Bobby Parnell (Tommy John), Josh Edgin (Tommy John), Jack Leathersich (Tommy John). There are more, but you get the point. 

Now, is this an organizational problem since Warthen took over, or is it just bad luck?  Could this all have been avoided?  Back in the 60’s and 70’s the Mets developed pitchers like Tom SeaverJerry KoosmanNolan Ryan, and Jon Matlack. These pitchers threw more innings than the pitchers today, and yet, Matlack was the only one of this group that suffered an arm injury. 

In the 80’s, the Mets had Dwight GoodenRon DarlingSid Fernandez, Rick AguileraRandy Myers and David Cone. Of this group, only Doc and Cone had arm issues. It should be noted that Doc had many other issues as well, and Cone’s problem was an aneurysm later in his career. 

In the 90’s, Generation K was a bust, and the Mets haven’t developed the caliber of starting pitchers like they have in the past until now. However, this generation seems to befall injuries far more often than their predecessors. Is it organizational?  Is it bad luck?  Is it preparation?  For his part, Harvey wonders what if:

I think now, there are things I could have done better in high school or in college to maybe prevent it. But I don’t know. I’m not saying [Syndergaard] works that much harder than everybody else, because we all work hard. I think as time progresses, guys pay more attention to stretching the shoulder, strengthening the shoulder. If I could go back — I don’t know if this would’ve prevented me from having [surgery], but if I could go back and really do 20 extra minutes of stretching and arm care, you never know what could happen. 

That’s the thing. We really don’t know why one guy suffers elbow and shoulder injuries while others don’t. Is it preparation?  Is it good genes?  Is it just good luck?  Much time, energy, and money has been spent on this issue, and yet pitchers still get injured. Pitchers get injured despite teams doing everything in their power to try to prevent it. 

It will help Syndergaard being in a clubhouse with players who have had Tommy John surgery. They each will have advice for him on why they suffered the injury and what they could’ve done differently. More importantly, Syndergaard appears to be a hard worker who takes the health of his arm very seriously.  There is no doubt he is doing everything he can do to avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery. 

Based on what we’ve seen, if anyone can avoid it, it’s him. 

Editor’s Note: this article was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

Baseball Never Passes You By

Terry Collins grew up watching baseball in an era when you had batting average, homeruns, and RBI to judge hitters. There was W-L record, ERA, and strikeouts to judge pitchers. Back then, utilizing the eye test was justifiable as there was no way to really quantify all you are seeing. 

It’s important to keep this in mind when analyzing Terry Collins’ opinions on advanced statistics:

It’s become a young man’s game, especially with all of the technology stuff you’ve got to be involved in. I’m not very good at it. I don’t enjoy it like other people do. I’m not going to sit here and look at all of these [expletive] numbers and try to predict this guy is going to be a great player. OPS this. OPS that. GPS. LCSs. DSDs. You know who has good numbers?  Good [expletive] players. 

This quote reminds me of when I talk baseball with my Dad. He’s actually two years older than Terry Collins. 

Whenever I talk to my Dad about baseball, I sometimes refer to advanced statistics. I will refer to WAR, FIP, UZR, etc. When I refer to them, he looks at me incredulously. He doesn’t know what they are. He doesn’t understand them. He asks me how to calculate them. I will give him a cursory explanation, but I can’t give him the exact formula. He can’t sit down and calculate it with his calculator. He’d rather talk about the statistics in which he’s more conversant. 

The strange thing is I became interested in part due to my Dad. Growing up, he always told me to take W-L record with a grain of salt. He told me OBP was more important than batting average. He told me this in the 80’s!  Back then merely suggesting that was heresy. 

Now, we’re well beyond OBP and ERA being the advanced statistics to analyze. In many ways, Terry Collins is right. The game of baseball has passed them by. These newfangled statistics really are for a younger generation. Yet, we can all still enjoy baseball in our own way. 

We don’t really need advanced statistics to tell us Matt Harvey is a really good pitcher. Yes, advanced statistics will support that conclusion. I love sitting there and watching games with my Dad. I remember in 2013 when he said that he expected Matt Harvey to throw a no-hitter every time he goes out to pitch. One night, we were there when it almost happened. 

I love hearing my Dad tell me about how impossibly great Tom Seaver was. I love hearing him tell me that despite that he wanted Jerry Koosman on the mound for a big game. 

So yes, how we analyze the game has changed since my Dad was a kid. It still doesn’t mean he doesn’t know a great player when he sees one. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game of baseball. It  doesn’t mean I don’t love talking baseball with him. 

There will come a time when there are new statistics I won’t understand. I’ll be too old and set in my ways to learn the new ones. My son will roll his eyes at me when I refer to someone’s WAR or UZR. There’s going to be new statistics that will make all I think I know obsolete. That’s fine as long as we’re talking baseball (hopefully about his career). That’s all that matters. 

No matter what happens, no matter what new statistics arise, the game never passes you by. As long as there are fathers and sons talking baseball, the game will belong to each and every generation. It will be a shared experience. 

With that said, hopefully one day, my son will be able to explain to me what LCS and DSD is before I begin ignoring all thess newfangled statistics. 

Moving from Anger to Hope, Not Bargaining

We’ve all heard of the five stages of grief: (1) Denial; (2) Anger; (3) Bargaining; (4) Depression; and (5) Acceptance. Last night, after Daniel Murphy‘s error, I was in denial. I thought they would come back and win the game. Judging from my posts today, I’m at anger. Justifiable anger, but anger nevertheless. 

Guess what?  I’ve moved on from anger. I’ve processed everything. I looked at how it’s all happened. There are some things I’ve come to realize:

  1. This is a resilient baseball team that has answered every call when their backs were against the wall;
  2. The Mets have had a lead in every game; and
  3. The Mets still have the three best starting pitchers in this series. 

It gives me hope.  I’m not in the five stages of grief. There’s nothing to grieve. The Mets can still win this World Series starting with Matt Harvey tonight. 

Think about it. When has it ever been easy for the Mets?  Even in their easiest title run, 1969, they had to deal with Tom Seaver losing Game 1. The Mets got a brilliantly pitched game from Jerry Koosman in Game 2, but they had to deal with a blown 1-0 lead and were facing going down 2-0 to the heavily favored Orioles. The Mets pulled it out and the series.

In 1986, the Mets clearly had their best best ever. They won 108 games. Seriously, they do not get discussed enough as one of the best teams ever. Despite being a historically great team, they were on the verge of losing the World Series until an impossible rally. They trailed 3-0 in Game 7 until a sixth inning rally. 

Now, they are down 3-1 in the series. They can still win, but it won’t be easy. However, there is still hope, and where there is hope, there’s a chance. I have hope they can do it. I mean c’mon we’re a Mets fans. We have no choice.

Ya Gotta Believe!

Goal: Split in KC

Just like the NLDS, all the Mets have to do is split on the road. After the first two games, the Mets will have Noah Syndergaard for Game 3 in Citi Field. 

This is a tremendous advantage for the Mets. Thor is 7-2 with a 2.43 ERA, 0.821 WHIP, and a 9.2 K/9 at home. In the playoffs, he’s 1-1 with a one hold, a 2.77 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, and a 13.8 K/9. In his one postseason start at home, in three days rest, he pitched 5.2 innings allowing 3 hits, 1 earned, 1 walk, and 9 K. I don’t care if the Royals feel Yordano Ventura is their ace. Thor is better. 

Ventura in four starts this postseason is 0-1 this postseason with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. How am I to believe he will shut down a Mets team that is raking this postseason. Then after this, you can call Game Four a coin flip between Steven Matz and old friend Chris Young. After this, the rotations flip, and the Mets continue their strong starting pitching advantage

Overall, the more I think about it, this is like 1969. The Mets weren’t supposed to be there. They were underdogs. They started the franchise, Tom Seaver, in Game One. He was the Cy Young Award winner. The Mets superstar and best chance of winning. The Mets lost Game One, and it seemed the sweep was on. 

  
The Mets had a strong young pitching staff that went beyond just Seaver. Jerry Koosman flipped the script with a dominant Game Two performance. The Mets then took care of the Orioles in five. 

The moral of the story is the Mets just need to split in Kansas City, and they are in great shape to win this World Series. I think they will win

LETS GO METS!