Robert Gsellman

Seth Lugo is Better than Philip Humber

Back in 2007, the Mets collapsed in part due to a rash of pitcher injuries.   Pedro Martinez missed most of the year following offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum.  An injured Orlando Hernandez (El Duque) had to be moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen.  With they myriad of injuries, Mike Pelfrey was put in the rotation before he was truly ready.  Brian Lawrence made a few poor starts.  With the walls crashing in on the Mets and the Phillies gaining on them, the Mets had to turn to Philip Humber.

Humber was the third overall pick in the 2004 draft.  In his career, he never lived up to that billing.  It could have been that he was damaged goods coming from Rice University, who is well known for abusing pitcher arms. He did have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery before his major league debut.  It could be that he was rushed through the system never being given proper time to develop.  It could any single factor or any combination thereof.  It could just be that he just wasn’t good enough to be a top line starting pitcher.

He certainly wasn’t on September 27, 2007.  His final line was four innings, six hits, five runs, five earned, two walks, no strikeouts, and one home run allowed.  Humber did his best to battle that night, but he either wasn’t ready or wasn’t capable of winning a big game like that.  The only reason he didn’t take the loss was the Mets staked him to a 4-0 and a 6-2 lead.  It would be his last game as a Met as he would be part of the Johan Santana trade.  It was also the last day the Mets would have sole possession of first place as the loss would drop them to only one up in the division.

Like in 2007, the starting pitching is dropping like flies.  Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and even Jon Niese have found themselves on the disabled list.  Logan Verrett has served as this year’s Lawrence.  Robert Gsellman serves as this year’s Pelfrey.  However, Lugo isn’t quite this year’s Humber.  They really have nothing in common.

Whereas Humber was a high draft pick, Lugo was a 34th round draft pick.  While Humber was pushed through the minors without mastering a level, Lugo has performed at each and every level having to prove himself over and over again.  During his career, Humber had trouble developing a real outpitch.  Conversely, Lugo has a terrific curveball that has already fooled Anthony Rizzo, who is a terrific major league hitter.  More importantly, the main difference between Humber and Lugo is Lugo has already had success as a pitcher for the Mets.

In nine appearances as a reliever, Lugo pitched 17.0 innings and had a 2.65 ERA.  When injuries forced him to make an unexpected start, Lugo was better than anyone could have imagined.  He was not only good, but he was efficient.  When Lugo walked off the mound, he had pitched 6.2 innings allowing seven hits, one run, one earned, and one walk with three strikeouts.  At a minimum, Lugo has shown everyone he has the capability of being a good and reliable major league pitcher.

During this season, this Mets team has been compared to past Mets teams that have failed.  Namely, they have been compared to the 1987, 2001, and 2007 teams.  You can go up and down the line and compare different aspects of those teams to this current team.  However, those comparisons need to stop with Lugo as everyone should have faith when Lugo steps on the mound.

Rafael Montero Is a Non-Starter for the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming.  Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:

  1. Amed Rosario
  2. Wuilmer Becerra
  3. Gavin Cecchini
  4. Marcos Molina
  5. Paul Sewald
  6. Travis Taijeron
  7. Paul Paez
  8. Phillip Evans
  9. Champ Stuart
  10. Chase Bradford

There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players.  With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions.  With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster.  With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?

At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen.  Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.

The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted.  The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t.  It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August.  Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot.  Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.

Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused.  Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust.  In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA.  Montero would be demoted.  It wouldn’t be his last demotion.

After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived.  In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP.  It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career.  Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher.  Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.

When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett.  When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot.  The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese.  When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation.  Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation.  With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot.  Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.

The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation.  They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen.  The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever.  It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then.  It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.

Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot.  A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for  nothing.  A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team.  Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors

Gary Cohen Wins the Hair Contest

With Jacob deGromNoah Syndergaard, and now Robert Gsellman, the Mets feature a team with a number a players with long flowing locks:

None of that could prepare you for the Gary Cohen photo from college during the game last night:

  
Who knew Gary Cohen was a hippy?  Heck, who knew he had hair?  

At this point, seeing Gary Cohen, it’s fair to say none of the Mets will beat either this photo or this hair style. 

Winning Formula: Seven Pitchers & Seven Runs Scored

For some reason or other, the Mets went with an injured and bad Jon Niese over a healthy and ready Robert Gsellman. One thing was for certain, no matter who started, the Mets needed an early lead and hold on. 

The Mets just did that. Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera led off the game with back-to-back singles, and then they pulled off a double steal. Cleanup hitter Wilmer Flores then hit a three run homer to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. 

Niese would give it right back even with Ron Darling saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger, but Niese is 55-3 with a three run lead.”

Niese allowed three of the first batters to reach base narrowing the lead to 3-1. Then his knee became too much for him. Terry Collins then went to Gsellman with one out and runners on first and second. Gsellman was greeted by a Yadier Molina game tying RBI double. 

Gsellman would escape the first without allowing another run. Gsellman would be in trouble most of the night, but he would bend but not break. He was really helped by some terrific Mets defense.

Even with the struggles, Gsellman would earn his first win in his first ever game. His final line was 3.2 innings, two hits, no runs, none earned, three walks, and two strikeouts. 

Gsellman was in line for the win as the Mets offense responded immediately to losing the lead. Travis d’Arnaud would hit a one out single and move to second on a Gsellman sacrifice bunt. Reyes then singled him home as it seems every time d’Arnaud finda his way into scoring position, Reyes singles him home. Cabrera then doubled home Reyes to make it a 5-3 game. 

Justin Ruggiano effectively closed the book on Cardinals Jaime Garcia with a monster home run:

Garcia only lasted four innings himself in taking the loss allowing seven hits, six runs, six earned, and one walk with six strikeouts. 

Things calmed down once it became a battle of the bullpens. Alexander Reyes flashed his dominant stuff shutting the Mets down over 2.1 innings. 

Josh Smoker pitched two tension filled innings, but he only allowed one run on a monster Randal Grichuk solo homer in the sixth. There wouldn’t be another as Yoenis Cespedes robbed Stephen Piscotty of a homer:

It was an even bigger play when you consider Cespedes seemingly tweaked his quad chasing down a liner in the first. 

In the seventh, Jerry Blevins and his tight firearm left a runner on with one out. Jim Henderson would then make his first appearance since coming off the DL. He got the Mets out of the inning, and he punctuated it by striking out Jedd Gyorko looking to end the inning. 

Like every other Mets pitcher, Addison Reed pitched into trouble, but he got out of it unscathed. Jeurys Familia was the only one of the Mets seven pitchers to have a 1-2-3 inning in recording his 42nd save. 

At least for one night, the Mets and Cardinals switched places. The Cardinals were 2-10 with RISP leaving 11 men on base. The Mets were 5-10 with RISP including a James Loney ninth inning RBI single to make it 7-4. 

The Mets have finally won three in a row since the All Star Break. The Mets are now 3.5 games back of the Cardinals in the race for the second Wild Card. 

Game NotesNeil Walker missed the game as he is on paternity leave. His wife gave birth to a baby girl, Nora Vail Walker. T.J. Rivera is taking his spot until he returns. Curtis Granderson didn’t start with the lefty starter. Jay Bruce would go 0-5 with two strikeouts. He is now two for his last 22. 

Pennant Race: The Marlins lost to the Royals 1-0. The Nationals lost to the Orioles 8-1. The Pirates beat the Astros 7-1. 

How Did It Come Down to Jon Niese?

Hopefully, the Mets will be in peak defensive form as the team is going to send Jon Niese to the mound in a critical three game set in St. Louis.  How did we get to this point?

Plain and simple, a mixture of bad luck and bad planning.  Niese was never supposed to be a Met in 2016.  The Mets traded him for Neil Walker, and with his reasonably affordable option years, it was presumed that he would be a Pirate through the 2018 season.  However, Niese was horrendous this season leaving the Pirates to demote him to the bullpen.  They were clearly going to let him walk after the season was over.  Fortunately for the Pirates, they were able to get rid of him even sooner.

The Mets had to contend with Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery which left a hole in the rotation Logan Verrett couldn’t quite fill.  Despite know this, the Mets kept turning to Verrett as they did not trust Gabriel Ynoa, Robert Gsellman, or Seth Lugo. Sean Gilmartin went down with a shoulder injury.  Additionally, the Mets had the under-performing Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen.  The Mets were probably the one team who could use Niese as a bullpen arm and/or a possible fifth starter.  They were probably also the one team that believed they could salvage Niese.

As it turns out, the Mets desperately needed Niese.  Verrett couldn’t handle being the fifth starter.  Ynoa appeared as if the wasn’t ready in his short stint in the Mets bullpen.  Gsellman isn’t putting up great numbers in AAA.  Worst of all, Steven Matz was just diagnosed with a mild rotator cuff strain.  It is quite possible the Mets will need to not only replace Harvey, but also Matz for the rest of the season.  That will put Seth Lugo in the rotation.  It also means the Mets will have to keep Niese in the rotation for the remainder of the season.

It’s strange to think about it.  Niese was the first pitcher removed from the rotation last season.  The Mets seemingly wanted to get rid of him.  Now?  Now, he is a key part of a rotation that is taking the ball to start what is the Mets most critical series to date.

Niese has his fair share of detractors due to his struggles and his inability to accept any blame for his poor pitching.  Detractors could also be synonymous with Mets fans in this case.  With a big finish to the season, Niese can win over a large group of Mets fans.  That all begins tonight.

Somehow, some way, the Niese are relying on Jon Niese yet again.  It’s strange how it came to this point, but here we all are.  Let’s hope Niese makes the best of it because if the does, the Mets will return to the postseason.

Is the Mets Window Closing?

Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason.  Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.

The foundation of this team is its starting pitching.  Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome.  There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.

Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break.  Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season.  While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain.  He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.  We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons.  Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.

There are more question marks in the rotation.  Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors.  Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year.  Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective.  Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation.  Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems.  The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.

The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors.  Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters.  That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.

As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.

As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all.  The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup.  Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat.  Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base.  In 2015, Duda had a disc issue.  This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back.  There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate.  The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising.  That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.

This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.

Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available.  The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned.  That’s the hope why he will stay.  However, it’s more narrative than fact.

The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market.  Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.  The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else.  The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason.  It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes.  There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.

It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him.  Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason.  If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.

The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017.  The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.

Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team.  Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year.  Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed.  Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue.  Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential.  In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.

Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front.  The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare.  The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera.  They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith.  The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.

Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner.  They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return.  Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.

Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year.  As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete.  With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets.  It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step.  But after that?

You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee.  You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410.  He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015.  You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year.  Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year.  You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties.  You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season.  It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.

As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.

Mets Overthought the Jon Niese/Gabriel Ynoa Decision

With the Mets finally admitting that Logan Verrett was not capable of being the team’s fifth starter for the rest of the season, the Mets had to make a decision on who should be the fifth starter for the rest of the year.

Seemingly, there were a few options.  The first was Robert Gsellman who has made significant strides this year in the minors, but is struggling in AAA going 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA and a 1.406 WHIP.  The other option was Seth Lugo, who has pitched fairly well out of the Mets bullpen, but he has not been fully stretched out.  There was also Gabriel Ynoa, who entered the season as the Mets top rated pitching prospect in AAA as the year began.  Ynoa started the year strong, but he pitched to a 6.64 ERA in June and July this year.

Given the fact that the younger Mets arms didn’t seem ready, it is no surprise the Mets turned to recently acquired Jon Niese to be the new fifth starter.  Niese has been horrendous this year, but with Dan Warthen as his pitching coach, Niese has been a .500 pitcher with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.365 WHIP.  These are not great numbers, but these are numbers that you can live with from your fifth starter.

However, what is surprising was the Mets calling up Ynoa to be the long man in the bullpen.  First and foremost, Lugo has done a good job as the long man in the Mets bullpen.  In his seven appearances, Lugo has pitched 13.2 innings with a 2.63 ERA and an 0.878 WHIP.  More than that, Lugo is actually a reliever.  Due to his own struggles in AAA, Lugo was demoted to the bullpen where he was used as a reliever.  Lugo has actually made appearances in back-to-back games and appeared in a number of different scenarios.

Ynoa hasn’t.  Before being called up to the majors, Ynoa last made a relief apperance on August 26th of last year.  In that relief appearance, Ynoa was on regular rest, and he pitched two innings after a Steven Matz rehab start.  Prior to that Ynoa last made a relief appearance as an 18 year old pitching in the Gulf Coast League.  It should be noted that in those three relief appearances, Ynoa was piggybacking the starting pitcher.  In essence, Ynoa has never truly been a relief pitcher in his entire professional career.

That didn’t stop the Mets from making him one for the first time in the majors.  Not only that, it didn’t stop Terry Collins from using Ynoa in back-to-back games.  That is all the more startling when you consider the fact that Ynoa HAS NEVER pitched in back-to-back games in his professional career.  This is no way to treat a 23 year old pitcher who very well could be a part of the Mets rotation within the next year or two.

If the Mets truly believed he was ready to get called-up to the majors, it is hard to dispute that especially seeing how poised he was on the mound in his first two appearances.  However, with that said, if you’re calling him up, why not put him in the rotation and leave Niese in the bullpen where he has had some experience and some success?  It’s not like Niese is fully stretched out, and it’s not like Niese has exactly earned the opportunity especially since Niese was given the rotation spot AFTER allowing six earned runs in an inning.

Instead of doing the obvious, the Mets are putting Niese in the rotation and Ynoa in the bullpen.  It doesn’t make any sense.

The Piazza/Seaver Celebration Parallels

On August 11, 1992, the Mets had a day to honor Tom Seaver for being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Considering he was the best pitcher in Mets history, you would think the honor of starting that game would go to Dwight Gooden, who was the only Mets pitcher who would break any of Seaver’s records.  David Cone was another terrific choice given how great a pitcher he was for the Mets.  Bret Saberhagen would have been fitting as he was a two time Cy Young winner and a former World Series MVP.  Even Sid Fernandez could have fit the bill as it was his Game Seven performance that helped prevent Seaver from winning one last ring in 1986.

Instead, it was Eric Hillman, who was making his first ever major league start on a dark and rainy night that drove away most of the fans who should have been there to celebrate with Seaver.  To be fair, that game would’ve been called almost any other night had it not been Seaver’s night.   Between the weather, and who was going to be honored, it was a difficult situation for a young pitcher. Hillman was up to the challenge pitching eight scoreless innings to help defeat the first place Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Monday’s rainout, the Mets will be in a similar position for Mike Piazzas number retirement ceremony.

It was supposed to be Noah Syndergaard.  Who better to celebrate the career of the Mets rock star catcher than to have the Mets rock star starting pitcher?  Who better to honor the power Piazza showed at the plate than the power pitcher who can routinely throw over 100 MPH?  The long haired starting pitcher dominating the opponents should have started the game honoring the long haired dominant hitter.  It was all too perfect to be true.  With the rain, it’s not going to happen.

Instead, the Mets are most likely going to get a spot starter making his first ever major league start similar to what happened with Eric Hillman on Tom Seaver’s night.  It just seems to go that way on a night when the Mets honor their Hall of Famers.

The start could to to Seth Lugo, who has pitched extremely well out of the bullpen in his four appearances this year.  Gabriel Ynoa could be summoned from the minor leagues to make his first ever start as could his Las Vegas 51s teammate Robert Gsellman.  Whoever it turns out to be, they have some large shoes to fill.  No, not Syndergaard’s, the 6’10” Hillman’s.  Whoever the Mets give the chance to make his first ever career start needs to go out there and put up a dominant performance like Hillman’s to allow the fans to celebrate deep into the night.

First Half Mets Minor League Pitching Leaders

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

Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets

Double-A – Binghamton Mets

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

Organizational Leaders

  • 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

Seth Lugo Is a Better Choice Than Gabriel Ynoa Right Now

Matt Harvey having season ending surgery has put the Mets rotation in flux, and it could potentially lead towards the team deciding which one of their prospects should be added to the rotation. With Robert Gsellman only having made one AAA start and his being on the disabled list, there are only two prospects the Mets have to choose from – Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo.

For many, the obvious choice is Ynoa. The 23 year old Ynoa has been regarded as one of the top prospects in the Mets minor league system. He has progressed rather quickly through the Mets minor league system which is all the more remarkable when you consider how conservative this front office tends to be with their prospects. In this his first full season in AAA, Ynoa was named a Pacific Coast League All Star. He is 9-3 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.353 WHIP in his first 17 starts. These are impressive numbers when you consider Ynoa pitches to contact and that he’s pitching in a hitter’s friendly league. Given his status as a Mets top prospect and the fact that he is pitching well in AAA, it seems like he would be the obvious choice to join the Mets rotation over a pitcher like Lugo.

The 26 year old Lugo was the Mets 2011 34th round selection out of Centenary College of Louisiana. That’s a Division III NCAA school. This season he lost his spot in the AAA rotation due to how poorly he had been pitching. Overall, Lugo has made 13 starts and six relief appearances going 3-4 with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.675 WHIP. These are ugly numbers that were brought up time and again when the Mets first called him up to the majors to pitch out of the bullpen. However, in his first relief appearance, we quickly found out why we scout a pitcher for their repertoire instead of their stats when he struck out Anthony Rizzo with a filthy curveball:

As you can see, Lugo has a filthy curveball that can get fool even the best major league hitters. Lugo combines that pitch with a fastball in the mid 90s, a slider in the upper 80s, and a developing changeup. This is the repertoire Lugo used to pitch two scoreless innings against a Cubs team that has scored the most runs in the National League. This is the same repertoire Lugo was developing when he went 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP in five AAA starts last year. Overall, you can reasonably argue that Lugo’s fastball and curveball are two plus major league ready pitches. As we have seen with a number of Mets pitchers, time spent with Dan Warthen will only help him further develop that slider. Despite his early season struggles, he’s arguably more ready to succeed in the majors.

In fact, Lugo has had success in his limited work with the Mets this year.  In the aforementioned game against the Cubs, Lugo pitched two scoreless innings allowing only two hits while striking out two.  When he had to take the place of an injured Noah Syndergaard, Lugo responded with two scoreless and hitless innings against the Nationals.  Lugo is clearly proving he can get big league hitters out, and that the Mets should consider him for a rotation spot.

Montero, on the other hand, struggled in his last start.  He lasted only four innings allowing 10 hits, five earned, and one walk while striking out only two. In his last three starts, Ynoa has averaged 4.2 innings with a 9.42 ERA and a 2.163 WHIP.  Ynoa has hit a bump, and he needs to remain in AAA to make the necessary adjustments.

Right now, Lugo is better equipped to get out major league hitters.  He’s a better bet to succeed in the Mets rotation. Lugo should get his shot.