Perhaps, it should not have come as a surprise. After all, Matt Harvey wasn’t Matt Harvey anymore. There was a long suspension looming, and there was the stain of the Tyler Skaggs trial, but you just hoped there would be just one more act in Matt Harvey’s career.
Sadly, there will not be as Harvey announced his retirement on Instagram. With that ends a career which meant a lot to Mets fans.
People forget what it was like to be a Mets fan in 2012. The Wilpons were broke, and the last player they signed before they were officially tied up in the Madoff Scandal was Jason Bay.
Citi Field back then was a massive disappointment. There was no honoring Mets history. The depth of the outfield walls were a joke. It seemed like the Wilpons wanted it to be more Brooklyn Dodger than New York Mets. In fact, it was so bad they eliminated Dwight Gooden‘s improptu signature from inside the stadium.
Then, late in 2012, Harvey pitched in Arizona. He set a Mets record striking out 11 in his Major League debut. He gave us a glimpse of how good he could be. He started to give Mets fans hope.
Then, 2013 happened. It was a season that rarely comes along. From his first start of the season, you could tell this was going to be something special. While it didn’t culminate in a Cy Young, it was one of the more special seasons in Mets history.
There was the “Harvey’s Better!” chants when he pitched against Stephen Strasburg. He almost had the perfect game against the Chicago White Sox. There was the blood coming from his nose. The Cholula hot sauce meter with Harvey topping 100 MPH with his fastball.
Matt Harvey on the "Harvey's Better" chants from April 19, 2013:
"That day will forever stay in my dreams. I know I pitched well and we were on our way to a win, and as I'm sitting in the dugout, all I hear is the chants overtaking Citi Field…I never wanted it to end." pic.twitter.com/Skx6wMj6HU
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 5, 2023
He started the All-Star Game over Clayton Kershaw, who might’ve been at the peak of his abilities. The Mets were hosting the All-Star Game, and Harvey, our ace, was starting. This was almost unfathomable.
Sure, we were going overboard with the Tom Seaver comparisons, but could you blame us? We could tell greatness when we saw it, and Harvey was great. Sadly, he would be more Gooden than Seaver.
Because it’s the Mets, Harvey torn his UCL that magical 2013 season, and he was shut down until 2015. Little did we know then, but that 2015 season would effectively be the end of Harvey’s career.
Harvey started out great, and the Mets were trying to ease the workload because the team was better than they anticipated. Harvey hated the six man rotation, and Scott Boras hated the innings on Harvey’s arm. Harvey was caught in the middle.
The Mets definitively reneged on their promises. Mets created some theater with David Wright sitting down and talking to him all game long (because that’s how players really handle things – talking in the dugout and not in the clubhouse or away from the field). Harvey was a deer in the headlights who did mishandle things a bit.
In the end, Harvey pitched, and he would throw more innings post Tommy John than anyone before him. He won a pivotal Game 3 against the Dodgers in the NLDS. He was GREAT in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs setting the tone for the would be sweep.
It was the great Harvey game we don’t talk about as much. He really set a tone for a Mets team who was surging. Of course, we know why it was overlooked. It was overlooked because of Game 5 of the World Series.
While the Mets were down 3-1, you could still believe they had a chance. After all, momentum in baseball was your next day’s starting pitcher. For the Mets that was Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. First, there was Harvey, and he was everything the Mets needed him to be that night.
He shut out the Kansas City Royals over eight innings striking out nine. That’s where your head and your heart come into conflict. Your head said go to Jeurys Familia. Terry Collins followed his heart and sent Harvey back out there. After all, he was pitching like an ace, and he sent his ace to finish what he started.
It’s September 27th. Matt Harvey is through eight scoreless and begs Brandon Hyde to finish the game. Camden Yards erupts as he takes the mound. This time he gets it done. Orioles win 1-0 thanks to a Ryan Mountcastle homer. Baltimore takes 4th place pic.twitter.com/WH8EjoW9cP https://t.co/fzHdA4Ym7O
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) February 13, 2021
Citi Field was raucous after he took the mound. It’s about as loud as that ballpark ever got. We know it didn’t end well for him, and part of that was Collins not knowing when to pull him. Sadly, in many ways, that game was a microcosm of Harvey’s career.
Greatness was there for the taking for Harvey, but he could never complete it. There were rumblings back then, especially when Harvey didn’t show up for workouts. As we discovered, Harvey had a drug problem.
We finally knew that for sure with the Skaggs trial. It’s why the Mets had to begrudgingly designate him for assignment and trade him. It’s why he was bad with the Los Angeles Angels. It’s part of the reason his career is over.
That didn’t cause the TOS. In the end, the TOS was why he could never get it back. However, in the end, it was the looming suspension and the after effects of the trial that precipitated this retirement.
Fortunately, Harvey did have one last hurrah pitching for Italy int he World Baseball Classic. He was the ace for the surprise team of the tournament. He was the most pleasant surprise for sure. You had hoped it would lead to one last chance for him.
We now know it won’t come. He won’t have the redemption story Gooden and Darryl Strawberry had, at least not in the majors. However, that doesn’t change how great he was or his impact on the Mets.
Harvey is forever a part of Mets lore. He was an important figure who gave us hope when there was no reason to have any. He helped bring the Mets back to relevance. Mets fans know that and loved him for that, and that’s why he got a standing ovation the last time he pitched at Citi Field.
Hopefully, Harvey is at peace with his decision. Hopefully, there is more for him to do in baseball. Hopefully, he understands how much Mets fans will forever love him and how appreciative we are for what he did.
It’s a sad moment for Mets fans. The hope is that it’s not a sad moment for Harvey. The hope is that it’s a new beginning for him.
After a disappointing loss in the Wild Card Series, the New York Mets remade their rotation and re-shaped their bench. Are they better? Well, we’re about to find out:
1. The Mets are going to miss Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, and Dominic Smith. With Lugo and Smith, they are getting the opportunities they always wanted, and for deGrom, well, let’s hope he can be the AL Cy Young. Best of luck to all of them.
2. The Mets having Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander lead their rotation is a fever dream. Last time the Mets had this much greatness atop their rotation was 2015 when deGrom and Matt Harvey pitched the Mets to a pennant.
3. With the shift ban and other rule changes, Jeff McNeil may hit .400. If he does, you know he will be the NL MVP, so starting right now, we are accepting all passengers on the McNeil MVP Hype Train.
4. Kodai Senga looks like the real deal, and his ghost sinker will likely be a bigger sensation than Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s gyroball or Hideo Nomo‘s wind-up and splitter. Look for him to be an All-Star and have a big year.
5. The best news to come out of spring training was José Quintana‘s tumor being benign. Whenever he comes back, he comes back.
6. It was not the way you wanted to see it happen, but David Peterson got the rotation spot he should have received. He should have a good year, and with the age in the Mets rotation, he may just make more starts than any other Mets pitcher.
7. Obviously, the Mets are going to miss Edwin Díaz immensely. It appears he is gone for the season, but you never know, especially if the Mets go deep into October.
8. One thing the Díaz injury highlighted was the importance of signing David Robertson. With him, the Mets have a closer in their bullpen who has thrived in New York. This was just a good signing.
9. The other thing the Díaz injury highlights is the Mets could have done more to build the bullpen. Obviously, you understood the team not spending or pursuing free agents after the Carlos Correa deal fell through, but when it was clear that money wasn’t going to be spent, Michael Fulmer and Andrew Chafin were still free agents. Not pivoting to them was a mistake Billy Eppler cannot justify.
10. There is absolutely no justification for Brett Baty not being on the Opening Day roster. Put aside the fact he won the job in spring training (if there was a competition). Everyone says he’s better than Eduardo Escobar right now, and more to the point, the Mets gave him the job in August.
11. The Mets were right to designate Darin Ruf for assignment. His wrist was holding him back, and the team needed to find someone else for the job. Now, that job should have gone to Escobar or Mark Canha, but that is a fight for another day.
12. With the shift rules and pitch clock, there will be more emphasis on contact and defense. While we know these rules are perfect for McNeil, it is another reason why Luis Guillorme should be playing everyday.
13. Again, the Mets ideal lineup is with McNeil in left, Guillorme at second, and Baty at third. We may need to see that sooner rather than later because Canha finished the year miserably and was non-competitive in the postseason. It may just be he will be far more effective as a part-time or semi-regular player.
14. The Mets bench is flat out bad. Tommy Pham really is just another version of Ruf, and Tim Locastro may just be a worse version of Travis Jankowski. Hopefully, when the Mets finally call up Baty, it will move Escobar and/or Canha to the bench. At that point, this will be a deep and dangerous roster.
15. Francisco Lindor is a great player in his prime. We are very lucky he is a member of the New York Mets, and we can look forward to the day he wears a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque and sees his 12 retired.
16. Aaron Judge broke the rookie home run record in 2017. Two years later, Pete Alonso broke the record. Last year, Judge hit 62. Lets just say this year will be a stepping stone for Alonso’s epic 2024 season.
17. Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido are going to be such a good tandem behind that plate that it is unfortunately going to keep Francisco Álvarez in Triple-A most of the year. Of course, if there is an injury, and Álvarez goes on a tear, the Mets might just be forced to keep him in the majors.
18. The fans clamoring for Álvarez, Baty, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos is a sign of just how good each of those prospects are and just how bright the Mets future is. As good as 2023 will be, 2024 will be better when they take on bigger roles.
19. Brandon Nimmo is a Met for life poised to break many team records. It’s sad that he couldn’t be joined by Michael Conforto (who the Mets needed), but we should celebrate Nimmo’s path to being one of the true Mets greats.
20. During the regular season, the Mets may be the third best team in the division. The early schedule is tough. The bench is bad. The older roster will have some nicks. However, in the end, when it matters most, this is a postseason team who will be set up well to win the World Series. Repeat, the Mets will win the 2024 World Series.
For the New York Mets 60th season, I made 60 bold predictions heading into the season. The concept is to really go for it instead of being meek and saying Francisco Lindor will play the most games at short, or Pete Alonso will lead the team in homers. It was to be daring. Some hit, and some did not. In any event, here are 61 for this year as this is the 61st season:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2023 World Series.
2. The Mets will be the third best team in the division during the regular season.
3. David Peterson will have more starts this season than any other Mets starter.
4. Kodai Senga will be an All-Star.
5. Jeff McNeil will make a run at .400 and will finish with a batting average north of .370.
6. By the middle of June, Brett Baty will be called up, and he will overtake the Mets third base job for the next decade.
7. The Mets will have more blown saves by the All-Star Break than Edwin Díaz had all of last season.
8. The Mets are going to find a way to get Alexis Díaz this season. When they get him, Steve Cohen will speak about just how important family is and how that was a motivating factor in getting Díaz.
9. Part of the Díaz deal will be Joey Votto going to the Mets. The lifelong Red will be excited because he is getting a chance to win, and the Reds will be excited because it clears a massive chunk of payroll. Votto will take over as the Mets DH.
10. Ronny Mauricio is going to be moved this year as the big prospect to get a big piece or two at the trade deadline.
11. The Mets are not going to come to terms on an extension with Pete Alonso, but they will surprise us with one for Baty or Francisco Álvarez.
12. We will see Álvarez get called up multiple times, but he is not going to stick on the roster until September.
13. The Mets will not need a closer at the trade deadline, but they will need an outfielder. They will still get at least one reliever at the deadline.
14. Mark Canha will regress and lose his starting job forcing Jeff McNeil to left field.
15. Jacob deGrom will have a better season than Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. All three pitchers will finish in the top five in Cy Young voting.
16. The Mets will announce a date where they are going to retire Carlos Beltrán‘s number 15.
17. The pitch clock is going to be a hit with the fans, but we are going to see multiple issues early in the season where games are swung on its implementation leading to player and that fanbase’s frustration.
18. We are going to see Luis Guillorme make more starts on the infield than anyone not named Alonso or Francisco Lindor.
19. The Mets are going to have a tough first half with many wondering if the team was too old or if this is a reincarnation of the 1992 Worst Team Money Could Buy. The Mets will shut everyone up with a great second half.
20. The rule changes will rejuvenate Keith Hernandez, who will come to enjoy the modern game more than any particular fan.
21. Brandon Nimmo will be a first time All-Star. He will be joined there by Lindor, McNeil, Senga, and Verlander.
22. Pete Alonso returns to the Home Run Derby, and he wins it again.
23. Tommy Pham and Tim Locastro are not going to last the full season on the Mets roster as the team learns they need to radically overhaul their bench.
24. Eduardo Escobar loses his starting third base job, but he will still serve as an important semi-regular on the roster.
25. Lindor will be the only Mets player to win a Gold Glove this season. Guillorme and McNeil will be finalists.
26. Starling Marte will play fewer than 100 games, but he will be healthy for the postseason and will be one of the best Mets in the postseason.
27. Dylan Bundy will be added to the Major League roster at some point during the season, and he will stick in the bullpen at some point.
28. McNeil and Lindor will each finish in the top five in MVP voting with McNeil winning the award.
29. J.D. Davis will get out to a good start leading for Mets fans to further complain about the Darin Ruf trade, but Davis will cool off considerably thereafter with no one saying much of anything past May.
30. This will be Eric Chávez‘s last season as a coach with the Mets as he will be the hot candidate for managerial jobs in the offseason.
31. Meet Joey Meneses, who will be the newest Mets killer.
32. Scherzer is going to have a better season than Verlander.
33. Verlander will have zero issues adjusting to New York.
34. Lindor is going to play in every single Mets game this season.
35. The Mets will aggressively pursue David Bednar and Bryan Reynolds, but the stingy Pittsburgh Pirates owner will not make a deal with Steve Cohen on principle based on this spending the last offseason.
36. When he returns from the IL, Mets fans are going to fall in love with Bryce Montes de Oca, and we will see him get at least a down ballot Rookie of the Year vote.
37. Shohei Ohtani will not be traded this year no matter how hard the Mets try to get him. Part of the reason will be the Los Angeles Angels contending for the last Wild Card spot.
38. Noah Syndergaard will actually start against the Mets when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field in April. He will get a loud ovation as he takes the mound.
39. Tylor Megill will make more starts for the Mets this season than Carlos Carrasco.
40. Alonso will appear in more games at DH than any other right-handed batter as Buck Showalter tries to keep him fresher than he did last season.
41. While there will be calls for a closer-by-committee approach, Showalter is going to go with David Robertson as the closer to begin the season, and he will carry the role at least through the All-Star Break.
42. Buck Showalter will not be the NL Manager of the Year, and he will not finish in the top five in voting.
43. There will be more of a time share at catcher between Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido than anyone will expect.
44. Jose Butto will be up-and-down a few times this season being designated at that prospect who comes up one week for a spot start and another week to hang out in the bullpen. He is going to struggle, and there will be more people calling him a non-prospect.
45. While it will be an exhausting story line, Verlander will win a World Series start, and he will be dominant.
46. Despite his World Baseball Classic success, no team will sign Matt Harvey this season with his pending suspension being part of the reason.
47. Brooks Raley will have a similar transition from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Mets that Aaron Loup once did.
48. Pride Night is scheduled for June 16. The Mets will force Raley to wear whatever gear is mandated that day by Major League Baseball.
49. Lindor is and will continue to be the best shortstop in baseball. Yes, that means he will have a better season than Trea Turner.
50. We will see Mark Vientos at some point this season but only for a limited time as the Mets are going to struggle to find spots for him even with Vientos having a monster year with Syracuse.
51. This will be the last season the 1962 Mets have the record for most losses in a season. The bottom feeders of baseball are just that bad this season.
52. Nimmo wins his first Silver Slugger this season.
53. The Mets will have a day honoring the New York Rangers after the Rangers win the Stanley Cup with Mets fan Adam Fox throwing out the first pitch.
54. While Adam Ottavino will have another good year, Drew Smith will be the Mets best set-up reliever this season.
55. Kevin Parada will play in Double-A this season, and we will start to hear some wonder if it is him or Álvarez as the Mets catcher of the future.
56. Nimmo is going to steal 20+ bases this season.
57. Escobar will continue his streak of 20+ home run seasons.
58. One development from the pitch clock is Citi Field will begin to have all of their concession stands handle pre-order and pick up as fans are not going to have as many delays and will not want to miss game action.
59. There will be some celebration at Citi Field this season for the 40th anniversary of the 1973 pennant winning team. It will likely be tied into Old Timers’ Day.
60. The Mets will have multiple events throughout the year giving rewards to Mets fans for wearing their caps out in public as a continued attempt to get them more attention than the Yankees.
61. This will be the first time New York holds a Stanley Cup and World Series title since 1928.
Back in 2015, it seemed like the New York Mets were about to become perennial contenders. It seemed like Matt Harvey was going to be the guy who got the ball in big postseason games, and it was Mike Piazza‘s duty to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
So much has happened since then.
Harvey had TOS as well as his own personal demons. he would be designated for assignment and traded to the Cincinnati Reds. At the moment, after his suspension stemming from the Tyler Skaggs death and subsequent investigation, he seems like he will soon be out of baseball.
With that, we thought we saw the end of Harvey and Piazza being united on the same team and on the same field. That was until the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Piazza represented Italy in the first WBC, and he has worked his way up to become their manager. Due to the relative paucity of options for his team, he found himself turning to Harvey to not only join the team, but also be their ace.
Matt Harvey's return to the mound went about as well as anyone could have hoped, as the 33-year-old threw three scoreless innings this morning for Team Italy vs. Cuba in the WBC.
That included a groundout of former teammate Yoenis Céspedes in their only meeting. pic.twitter.com/8QOnVcom2i
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 9, 2023
Harvey pitched three scoreless innings, and he had a moment with former Mets teammate Yoenis Céspedes. They gave each other a nod, and Harvey would get Céspedes to ground out.
The game went extra innings with Italy pulling out the surprising win. It would also prove to effectively eliminate Cuba from the World Baseball Classic. This isn’t Italy’s biggest or more surprising win in the WBC, but it was an important first step to make noise in this year’s classic.
Credit for this win deserves to go to Piazza for leading Italy the way he did. Credit should also go to Harvey who stepped up and pitching three scoreless.
Seeing Harvey and Piazza out there for big games and coming away with a victory was part of the dream in 2015. We hoped it would continue for the next decade, but it didn’t.
Now, we have this one final glimpse. As Mets fans, we should relish this run for as long as it lasts because in reality, the next time we see these two together will be at an Old Timer’s Day at Citi Field.
When the New York Mets played the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series, it was the first time the Mets were in the postseason since they were in the postseason in 2016. In fact, that marked just the second time in team history the Mets went to the postseason in consecutive seasons.
While just seven years ago, none of the players from those 2015-2016 Mets teams are around anymore. Actually, that’s not entirely true with Jerry Blevins working on the SNY postgame and occasionally filling in for Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.
Blevins isn’t the only player who is retired. Look back at their starting lineup in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Almost all of those players are retired:
- Curtis Granderson – retired
- David Wright – retired
- Daniel Murphy – retired
- Yoenis Cespedes – attempting a comeback after retiring
- Lucas Duda – retired
- Travis d’Arnaud – Atlanta Braves
- Michael Conforto – San Francisco Giants
- Wilmer Flores – San Francisco Giants
- Kelly Johnson – retired
That is five retired and one more effectively retired. Notably, with Johnson, we saw Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis pinch hit in that DH spot, and both are now retired. If anything, it would seem the San Francisco Giants is the official team of the 2015 Mets.
As we see with Conforto and Flores, there are still some of those Mets players still in the majors, Matt Harvey notwithstanding. However, when Jacob deGrom signing with the Texas Rangers, there are currently no players from that team still with the Mets organization.
When Seth Lugo signed with the San Diego Padres, that left the Mets with absolutely no pitchers from that two year run. When Conforto signed with the Giants, that meant Brandon Nimmo was the only Mets player from that two year stretch to remain with the Mets, and he only played in 32 games.
When deGrom signed with the Rangers, we obviously lamented the second greatest Met ever leaving the organization. However, it was Conforto and Lugo leaving which officially turned the page on those teams with so much promise which ultimately fell apart due to the Wilpons malfeasance and cheapness.
In a sense, we should welcome this chapter forever being closed. Now, it is all about Steve Cohen and how he runs the Mets. So far this offseason, that means Nimmo is a Met for life in addition to adding Justin Verlander, Koudai Senga, Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Omar Narvaez and hopefully, Carlos Correa. Oh, and by the way, the Mets brought back Edwin Diaz and Adam Ottavino.
So yes, it is sad to see a part of Mets history gone, but we will have those memories. More than that, we have an exciting new era and owner. Now, it is time to just wait for Correa to sign, and the Mets to win a World Series.
Billy Eppler joined Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman on a New York Post podcast to discuss the New York Mets offseason plans. In reviewing the podcast, Eppler didn’t say anything really all the surprising, which we should expect from a seasoned front office executive.
The Mets want Edwin Diaz to return. They also want Brandon Nimmo, but if they can’t keep him they will consider Starling Marte in center. They want and can keep Jacob deGrom. Basically, everything you expect is in there inclusive of Eppler saying he is in charge of the baseball operations.
That’s where things get a little dicey based on past performance.
In 2014, Jerry Dipoto built a Los Angeles Angels team which finished atop the American League West division before they were swept in the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately for him, he clashed with Mike Scioscia, and he lost leading to him resigning the following season. That led to Billy Eppler’s hiring.
When Eppler took over, he had Mike Trout, but he already had that albatross Albert Pujols contract. It was a roster that was somewhat flawed, but it had a good, young, and emerging starting staff with Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Andrew Heaney. They also had a very good bullpen with Huston Street, Joe Smith, and Fernando Salas.
In many ways, this was a great job to have. There were pieces in place to make the Angels a winner and a deep pocketed owner. There is the caveat the farm system was not great, but overall, this was a good job to have. Well, while it looked like it was a good job to have, things would completely unravel.
The Andrelton Simmons trade did not pan out as he had hoped. That would become a habit for him with the same happening in future years with Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa, and Ian Kinsler. His signings never really panned out with Justin Upton never working out for the team. He began dabbling on the fringes of the pitching markets getting players like Matt Harvey for far too much while eschewing the higher priced and more established starters.
Making matters worse was the Angels farm system never really improved under Eppler. They were bad when he took over, and when he left, they were still bad. During his tenure, he never really had a player he drafted come up to the majors and be an impact player for him.
All told, Eppler only had three real accomplishments. First, he signed Trout to an extension. Second, he landed Shohei Ohtani. Finally, he did what Dipoto wasn’t able to do by outlasting Scioscia. Despite all that, his tenure was largely a disappointment and failure.
With the Mets, the good news is he built a very strong roster in his first season. He added Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer. His peripheral moves to address the bullpen like Adam Ottavino worked. All told, it was a 101 win team that tied atop the NL East (still losing the division due to Rob Manfred’s gimmick rules and postseason).
In year one, we saw Eppler have a stronger offseason than he ever had in any year with the Angels. Part of that was Cohen having the checkbook to add players like Marte and Scherzer. With Joely Rodriguez, Tyler Naquin, and Darin Ruf, you saw he still has a lot of work left to do in terms of trades, we should give him a lot of credit for Bassitt.
Overall, it is still difficult to ascertain if Eppler has learned from his previous mistakes and errors as the Angels GM. What we do know is Cohen is a better owner with more money than Arte Moreno. We also know the Mets have a far better farm system with Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos nearly ready to be Major League contributors.
Put another way, we are going to learn a lot about Eppler this offseason. We will see how he handles players like deGrom, Diaz, and Nimmo. We will see how he address the Mets need for power while having contracts like Canha and Daniel Vogelbach seemingly standing in the way of doing that.
This is a critical offseason for the Mets and Eppler. This offseason will go a long way to determining if the Mets can contend in 2023 and beyond until the farm is fully up to speed to provide depth to the Major League roster. It will also go a long way in determining just how good of a GM Eppler truly can be.
The 2022 World Series will be quite telling for New York Mets fans. This World Series will truly confirm once and for all the baseball gods hate us, and that Mets fans cannot have nice things.
After all, how else are we going to explain what is happening in the world of baseball.
Really, since Citi Field was opened there has been little more than torture for Mets fans. There was the Madoff Scandal and all the austerity measures. When the Mets finally got good in 2015, we effectively lost David Wright forever, and it was the beginning of the end for Matt Harvey, who would have a troubled injury plagued career mirroring his troubled life.
The Mets made a big run to get back into the 2016 postseason only to lose in the Wild Card Game. From there, nearly every single one of the Mets beloved starters would go down with injury. That included Noah Syndergaard, who went down twice with major injuries.
After some down years, which included the rise of Jacob deGrom as the best pitcher in baseball, we got Brodie Van Wagenen mortgaging the farm while simultaneously not going all-in to win. Van Wagenen was the guy who sought to redefine the role of a GM, and instead, he wound up merely redefining how to be a terrible GM.
After those horror years, we finally got Steve Cohen. The results have been disappointing. That’s not to blame Cohen or this front office who has done everything they could do to win.
We saw deGrom go from the best pitcher in baseball to unable to stay on the field for more than a few months at a time. Now, he is opting out of his contract. Javier Baez came, and the Mets fell apart last season leading to him being gone. There was yet another collapse this season.
To make matters worse, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series last season. They ran past the Mets and didn’t look past last year. This year, they chased down the Mets all year, and they finally caught them on the final weekend of the season.
Of course, it needs to be noted Travis d’Arnaud has been a leader for the Braves. They also got great relief work from Colin McHugh. This is what just seems to happen to the Mets. We can rattle off names like Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy. The Mets don’t understand what they have in players, they let them go, and then, they act amazed when good players thrive when given an opportunity to thrive.
That brings us to Zack Wheeler leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a pennant. Wheeler was an ace level pitcher on the Mets. He was that for the Phillies. Notably, this Phillies team also has Syndergaard.
There is absolutely zero reason to expect the Phillies to win. Then again, we should not have expected Howie Kendrick to become Reggie Jackson and for Stephen Strasburg to become Bob Gibson in 1999. We should not have expected the Braves bullpen to look like Jeff Nelson–Mike Stanton–Mariano Rivera last year.
The Houston Astros are one of the greatest teams we’ve ever seen. They haven’t lost a game this postseason, an unmatched feat in the Wild Card Era. They have Justin Verlander, and they have a manager in Dusty Baker who just needs that one World Series to ensure his rightful place in Cooperstown. Everything should point to them winning the World Series with ease.
And yet, there is the Mets factor. Make no mistake, if the Phillies win here, it is nothing more than the baseball gods taunting us Mets fans. It is what they did in 2019 and 2021, the last two World Series with a full season. For that matter, no Mets fan wanted to see the Los Angeles Dodgers win in 2020.
The Astros should win this series, and it should be a short series. As a Mets fan, we somehow know better.
Just because the New York Mets lost in the 2022 Wild Card Series to the San Diego Padres does not mean the Mets will somehow not be represented in the World Series. In fact, both teams have some of the once top rated Mets pitching prospects in this series.
If you can recall back to the 2014 season, we can remember the Mets had viewed Jacob deGrom as a future reliever. At the time, they did not know they had someone who would be the best pitcher in baseball. Instead, deGrom was a too old for his level pitching prospect who was a converted shortstop.
Standing in deGrom’s way was Rafael Montero. He was famously a prospect the Mets held onto for too long while getting rid of him too soon. That was just the way things were when the Wilpons were in charge of the franchise.
Montero never panned out as a starting pitcher. It was not until he went to the Texas Rangers that he found a role for himself as a reliever. In typical Montero fashion, it has not been a smooth ride from there. He struggled for a few more years before another breakout season with the Houston Astros.
Montero was phenomenal this season. In 71 appearances, he was 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.6 K/9. So far this postseason, he has only allowed one earned over 5.1 innings. While not as a starter, at 31, he is finally having the level of success the Mets once imagined he would have.
In a twist of irony, the Mets did imagine Montero would be one of the best starters for a rotation which had Matt Harvey was the ace. Behind the two of them was going to be Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Well, Wheeler and Syndergaard are now standing opposite Montero in this series.
The tales of both Wheeler and Syndergaard are both fresh and well known for Mets fans. In terms of Wheeler, the organization really showed its own flaws with their complete inability to self scout. Their player projection and analytics teams looked as ill funded and understaffed as they were.
Wheeler didn’t get to be the pitcher the Mets had hoped he could be when they traded Carlos Beltran for him until the second half of the 2018 season. From there, he was actually one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He was top 15 in FIP and had the second best hard hit rate. Rather than see that and the woeful defense put behind him, the Mets just to foolishly sell fans that Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation as Wheeler, as his replacement.
Predictably, Wheeler has been an ace level pitcher despite arguably not being as good as he was with the Mets. So far, he is 1-1 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.513 WHIP, and an 8.33 K/BB this postseason. He is likely to get the ball in Game 1 of the World Series.
Unlike Montero and Wheeler, Syndergaard actually pitched for the Mets in the postseason. In fact, Syndergaard was the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game. He is the last Mets starter to not allow an earned run in a postseason start (2016 Wild Card Game).
Despite his big game credentials, Syndergaard has only started one game this postseason while making two appearances out of the bullpen. For Mets fans, that was reminiscent of his electric one inning performance in the clinching Game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things haven’t been great for Syndergaard since he looked like a future Cy Young in 2016. He dealt with a number of injuries. He worked hard to pitch for the Mets post Tommy John heading towards free agency. He asked for, received, and rejected the qualifying offer much to the dismay of Mets fans.
His choice of the Los Angeles Angels proved less than inspired. He would talk about his mental difficulties in New York, and after he was traded to the Phillies, he avoided the Mets the two times he was lined up to face them.
This may not be too different than most Mets pitchers returning from Tommy John. For whatever which reason, Mets pitchers seems to have a steeper mountain to climb in their returns. When you look at their current pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner, you realize some never make it all the way back to a Major League mound.
Despite all that, while he’s not Thor, Syndergaard is pitching for a team who just won the pennant. He is back on the stage he was seven years ago, albeit in a far different role. He’s also with a once hated rival. Remember, he is the guy who “threw” at beloved former Phillie Chase Utley.
As noted, that was all seven years ago. Things are far, far different. Things are much different than they were in 2012 when these three were all uber prospects that were going to lead the Mets to a World Series. Instead, now, they are pitching in the World Series for different teams, and at least one of them will get the ring we thought they would one day with the Mets.
The 2015 season was great for the New York Mets but a trying one for Zack Wheeler. It was never supposed to be that way.
At the end of the 2014 season, Wheeler was terrific. From June 30 to September 7, he was 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA. In the second half, he was 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA.
That was supposed to be his springboard to a true breakout 2015 season. He was supposed to join reigning Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and a returning from Tommy John Matt Harvey to form a super rotation.
Except it didn’t work out that way. Wheeler succumbed to a torn UCL in Spring Training. He was eventually supplanted by Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in the young rotation designed to turn the Mets into World Series contenders.
He was replaced and nearly traded. He and Wilmer Flores were nearly traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. If not for Carlos Gomez’s medicals, Wheeler’s story with the Mets ends there.
While we saw Flores crying, Wheeler was trying to intercede with Sandy Alderson. Given the interest in him and the Mets needs, it’s possible his efforts were the reason he was not traded.
However, that was the days of the Wilpon Mets. Embarrassment and nonsense were sure to follow. Mostly, needless pettiness did.
Wheeler wanted to be a part of that 2015 pennant run. This was his team. He was (once) part of the foundation. Only, the Wilpons didn’t want him there.
Seems like just yesterday the Mets were telling Zack Wheeler to buy his own tickets if he wanted to attend the 2015 postseason games.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) October 19, 2022
Of course, the Wilpons were that cheap. Even their own players had to purchase tickets to see postseason games. After all, these were the owners duped in a Ponzi Scheme and were continuously over leveraging themselves in a desperate attempt to keep the team.
Things were so bad they were a part of Amway. Amway.
Things would get worse for Wheeler. His Tommy John rehab was a nightmare requiring additional surgeries. He would not return until 2017. That season was cut short with bicep tendinitis and a stress fracture in his humerus.
It would not be until the second half or the 2018 season that we finally saw Wheeler fulfill his potential. He was dazzling going 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA.
With him cane hopes for a Mets quick resurgence. Again, the Wilpons are cheap and dumb. They hired an agent who showed no regard for the Mets future or really any clue as to what he was doing.
He tried to sell Marcus Stroman as his replacement. It was a complete farce to replace Wheeler with someone in the same rotation. It’s the Amway of building rotations.
Wheeler wanted to return and was willing to take less. Perhaps, he didn’t purchase enough postseason tickets because the Wilpons were not willing or able to bring him back at a discount.
Rather than be gracious, Brodie Van Wagenen took unnecessary shots at Wheeker. All Wheeler ever wanted was to be a Met, and Van Wagenen wanted no part in that. That goes double for the Wilpons.
Well, the end result was Wheeler with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was the ace he was with the Mets only to be recognized as such now.
He found himself in the postseason and has pitched great. He’s pitched the Phillies to a pennant. This time, he had a front row seat. He was paid to be there and not the other way around.
Wheeler wanted to fully experience this with the Mets. The Wilpons didn’t want that.
Well, Jeff Wilpon is out of baseball. Their GM is now an agent again. Fred Wilpon sold away almost all of his team. Wheeler is pitching for a pennant winner.
Wheeler deserves this moment. Hopefully, he cherishes it and the bit of irony he’s celebrating it with Syndergaard. Congratulations to them both.
After the five game series against the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets bullpen needed a break. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one in the schedule.
That left Chris Bassitt to get them one.
It wasn’t his prettiest outing, but it was his grittiest. While dancing around eight hits and a walk, Bassitt threw 114 pitches over eight innings.
Like that, there wasn’t any concern over who came out of the bullpen on a night Edwin Díaz was completely unavailable. No need to dance around with Adonis Medina or Yoan López.
No, with Bassitt going eight, Buck Showalter could hand the ball to a trusted reliever – Adam Ottavino – to wrap up the win. Ottavino did just that securing the Mets 5-1 win.
In some ways, this was a page from the 2015 Mets. Use your dominant starting pitching and only those relievers you can trust.
Back in 2015, the only relievers the Mets trusted down the stretch were Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia. They had the starting pitching to limit it mostly to just these relievers in the big spots.
In the 2015 postseason, the Mets got innings primarily from Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. That proved to be a bit of a double edged sword as it allowed the Mets to only have to roll with these relievers, but then, those relievers were exhausted and faltered in the postseason.
Fortunately for these Mets, they’re deeper. In addition to Díaz and Ottavino, they also have Trevor May, who has looked good since coming off the IL.
Seth Lugo has also better better of late. Moreover, Trevor Williams has performed in whatever role the Mets have needed from him. Keep in mind, Showalter isn’t Terry Collins as Showalter will use the next tier of guys when warranted.
That’s something Collins could never comprehend, and it cost the Mets dearly. Part of the reason the Mets could only use three relievers was because he only trusted three.
That led to disastrous decision making in Game 3 of the World Series which caused further bad decision making the rest of the series. However, the underlying principle was correct.
The more dominant innings you get from your starter; the better your bullpen is. Less innings means more rest. More rest means better performance. Better performance leads to wins.
In pressure spots, the Mets don’t want to see the last couple of pitchers in their bullpen. That goes double in the postseason. Of course, with Mets starters going deep, and we know they can, the Mets can lean on their top performers.
At least for this win, eight from Bassitt meant one from Ottavino as Díaz, May, Lugo, and Williams rested. It means the other pitchers will be fresher when called upon to pitch again.
This is how the Mets cover their tracks in the bullpen. Dominant starting pitching going deep into games followed by the 1-2 relievers a night the Mets actually want pitching in a big spot.