This is not meant to be critical of players or their patriotism. It isn’t. Players, especially pitchers, have a certain shelf life, and no one should tell them to risk everything for a one month international competition. Perhaps Noah Syndergaard put it best when he said, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.” (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).
If you go down the line, you will probably hear similar responses from the other players that did not play. The problem is most of them are American.
The reigning Cy Young Award winners are Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. Neither are pitching, but to be fair Scherzer was slated to pitch before he suffered an injury. The runner-ups were Jon Lester in the NL and Justin Verlander in the AL. They aren’t pitching either. Third place? Kyle Hendricks and Corey Kluber respectively. The two pitchers who started Game 7 of the 2016 World Series aren’t on the USA roster. Dig deeper. The best pitcher in baseball right now is Clayton Kershaw. He’s not on the roster. The best clutch pitcher in all of baseball right now, if not all time, is Madison Bumgarner. He’s not on the roster.
This speaks to the absolute depth of the starting pitching among Team USA. Arguably, the crop of starting pitchers on the USA roster right now is their 7th best option. Maybe even worse. And yet, they pitched brilliantly. Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, and Danny Duffy went out there and pitched as good as or better than any of the aforementioned pitchers would have pitched in that spot.
But then comes the bullpen. As loaded as the USA is in the rotation, they should be just as loaded in the bullpen. Zach Britton is coming off a historically great season, but much like the AL Wild Card Game, you are not going to see him pitching against a foreign opponent. Addison Reed, a pitcher coming off a season with a 1.97 ERA isn’t on the roster. It could be argued Wade Davis is the best closer in all of baseball, and yet, he isn’t on the roster. The closest USA comes to having a terrific closer on the roster is Mark Melancon, who is on the provisional roster.
I kept thinking about all the aforementioned pitchers while Tanner Roark, a pitcher who wouldn’t make a squad of the best American born pitcher in the National League East, was getting tattooed by the Dominican Republic. Oddly enough, it was the one pitcher for USA you trusted the most, Andrew Miller, the one who definitively belonged on the roster, was the one that ultimately blew the save.
Sure, you could have hoped USA scored more runs after jumping out to a 5-0 lead. You could argue that the best young players in the game Mike Trout and Bryce Harper went to Spring Training instead of competing in this event. You also wonder how much of an impact USA not bringing their best players had an impact on American born Manny Machado playing for the Dominican Republic. You wondered a little more as he hit a Tanner Roark ball nearly out of the gigantic Marlins Park.
Personally, I was wondering what the heck Jim Leyland was doing with his lineup. Two of the better hitters on the team, Andrew McCutchen and Daniel Murphy, were stapled to the bench while Eric Hosmer was batting fifth. Mind you, Hosmer could very well be the worst hitter in that lineup. He’s certainly the bottom two or three on the roster. These are the things that happen when you name Leyland manager instead of giving the chance to Willie Randolph, a man who has had success at the major league level and in international play.
Seriously, aside from Buster Posey and perhaps Nolan Arenado and Ian Kinsler, you could argue the best USA players and coaching staff stayed home. This is why USA has not won a WBC to date, let alone appear in a final. And yet, in some strange way, it speaks about how much better USA is than the world in baseball.
In Olympic basketball, USA brings its best players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and yet, the team has to sweat it out to win Olympic Gold. In hockey, Canada is absolutely stocked top to bottom. Arguably, the team it leaves home would win Olympic Gold, and yet each Olympics teams constantly push Canada. In the WBC, USA isn’t sending near its best, and they are having to play tougher games than expected.
Teams like Colombia try to keep their hopes alive with a gutsy performance from Nabil Crismatt. Puerto Rico’s ace is Seth Lugo, a pitcher who can’t even find his way onto an All-American Mets starting rotation. Israel has transformed Josh Zeid, a pitcher the Mets would not re-sign to a minor league deal, into their version of Andrew Miller.
USA may not have their best, but they have players like Adam Jones who well up with pride putting on the uniform and representing their county. This is a roster full of players that are easy to root for and are good enough to win the WBC. As an American and as a baseball fan, I’m happy these players chose to play, and they deserve to win it all because even though they might not be the best American players, they are the best team in the WBC.
After last season, Mets fans became aware of who Gavin Cecchini, Ty Kelly, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and T.J. Rivera were. While we may have been aware of who they were, Mets fans got to see Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas up close and personal for the first time. Naturally, you are well aware of who Jeurys Familia and Jose Reyes are. Still, there are some other Mets participating in this edition of the World Baseball Classic that most Mets fans are going to see for the first time. Here’s a a look at those players and what we may expect to see
2016 Level: Binghamton & Las Vegas
2016 Stats: 85 G, 327 PA, 290 AB, 28 R, 79 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, CS, .272/.347/.362
The 27 year old Carrillo is a catcher’s catcher. He is a good receiver behind the plate, and he has a good, not great, throwing arm that allows him to control the running game. For his defensive skills, he was recently given a Gold Glove in the Mexican Pacific Winter Leagues.
At the plate, Carrillo shows a good eye at the plate, but not much pop. While you can argue his glove is major league ready, his bat probably isn’t. Still, Carrillo is a hard worker that has shown the willingness to do whatever is necessary to improve his game. Considering Mets fans once saw the likes of Mike Nickeas serve as a back-up catcher at the major league level, it is not impossible that Carrillo could one day get a chance in the major leagues.
RHP Nabil Crismatt
2016 Level: Brooklyn, Columbia, Binghamton
2016 Stats: 1-4, 2.47 ERA, 13 G, 7 GS, SV, 65.2 IP, 74 K, 0.883 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
The 22 year old Crismatt has been an interesting pitching prospect since the Mets signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Columbia in 2011. Crismatt has never had dominating stuff with his fastball typically sitting between the high 80s to the low 90s. With that said, he’s able to get batters out because he knows how to pitch. He has clean, easily repeatable mechanics. While he does not have a blazing fastball, he is able to locate the pitch well. He gets the most out of his fastball because he has a terrific change-up. He gets the most out of both pitches because he knows how to attack hitters to not only get a high number of strike outs, but also get a good number of ground balls.
The Mets did not protect Crismatt from the Rule 5 Draft last year, and he wasn’t selected. The Mets may not be so lucky the next time around. Crismatt has shown he can thrive as a starter and as a reliever. At the moment, he projects as a major league reliever. With that said if he can develop a third pitch to be on the level of his fastball and change-up, he may very well be able to thrive in a major league rotation.
Certainly, aside from these prospects, I’m sure the player most Mets fans have the most interest in seeing play during the World Baseball Classic is Yoenis Cespedes‘ 19 year old brother Yoelkis. Unsurprisingly, Yoelkis has been dubbed a five tool player.
Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are at the All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league pitcher named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:
Class A Full Season – Columbia Fireflies
- Wins: P.J. Conlon (8)
- Saves: Alex Palsha (14)
- Strikeouts: Joe Shaw (88)
- ERA: P.J. Conlon (1.84 – League Leader)
- WHIP: P.J. Conlon (1.00)
- Games: Alex Palsha (28)
- Starts: Kevin Canelon, Chase Ingram (16)
- Innings: Kevin Canelon (97.2)
- Holds : Tyler Bashlor (4)
- All-Stars: P.J. Conlon, Alex Palsha
- Promotions: P.J. Conlon, Alex Palsha
Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets
- Wins: Ricky Knapp (8)
- Saves: Corey Taylor (13)
- Strikeouts: Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt (63)
- ERA: Ricky Knapp (2.01)
- WHIP: Ricky Knapp (1.08)
- Games: Corey Taylor (28)
- Starts: Chris Flexen (17)
- Innings: Chris Flexen (95.1)
- Holds: Robert Coles (5)
- All-Stars: Alberto Baldonado (DNP – promoted)
- Promotions: Alberto Baldonado, Casey Delgado, Kevin McGowan, Tim Peterson
Double-A – Binghamton Mets
- Wins: Tyler Pill (6)
- Saves: Beck Wheeler (6)
- Strikeouts: Tyler Pill (88)
- ERA: Rainy Lara (3.98)
- WHIP: Tyler Pill (1.21)
- Games: Beck Wheeler (28)
- Starts: Tyler Pill (17)
- Innings: Tyler Pill (107.2)
- Holds: Tim Peterson (5)
- All Stars: Logan Taylor, Tyler Pill
- Promotions: Robert Gsellman, Beck Wheeler, Josh Zeid
Triple-A – Las Vegas 51s
- Wins: Sean Gilmartin, Gabriel Ynoa (9)
- Saves: Paul Sewald (9)
- Strikeouts: Sean Gilmartin (77)
- ERA: Gabriel Ynoa (4.19)
- WHIP: Sean Gilmartin (1.32)
- Games: Chasen Bradford, Josh Smoker (38)
- Starts: Gabriel Ynoa (18 – League Leader)
- Innings: Gabriel Ynoa (109.2)
- Holds: Josh Smoker (9)
- All-Stars: Gabriel Ynoa
- Promotions: Seth Lugo
- Wins: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (10)
- Saves: Alex Palsha COL (14)
- Strikeouts: Joe Shaw COL, Tyler Pill BNG (88)
- ERA: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (1.97)
- WHIP: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (1.03)
- Games: Chasen Bradford LV, Josh Smoker LV (38)
- Starts – Gabriel Ynoa LV (18)
- Innings – Gabriel Ynoa (109.2)
- Holds – Josh Smoker LV (9)
* stats are updated through July 13, 2016
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net