Steven Matz

It’s Just a Flesh Wound

The Mets have a terrific team doctor whom they trust. They allowed him to kill the very important Carlos Gomez deal that initially left them with egg all over their face

It’s because of this that I don’t believe the Mets consult with their team physician when a player has complaints. Matt Harvey was the most important part of the otlrganization in 2013. They let him pitch through forearm tightness, and he would subsequently need Tommy John surgery. 

Never ones to learn their lessons, the Mets permitted Zack Wheeler to pitch with ligament damage while Harvey was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He needed Tommy John surgery. 

Now, after losing two major pitching prospects to injury two of the past three seasons, they repeated the same mistake with Steven Matz. After telling the team of pains in his side in his first major league start, Dan Warthen declared him fit to pitch after watching a bullpen session. Matz was shut down for three weeks and only recently began his rehab outing. 

It’s an epidemic. You need look no further than Friday’s gameBartolo Colon was not fit to pitch. His wrist was swelling up more and more. The Mets answer?  Ray Ramirez sat there rubbing some ice on it and then sent Colon back out there. I guess we should be happy it wasn’t leeches. 

You see that’s the problem. Injuries aren’t taken seriously. They’re not properly addressed. Players are not placed on the DL and their conditions get worse. 

This became evident again with Lucas Duda‘s back. The Mets saw with David Wright the severity of back injuries and how long they take to heal. Similar to Harvey/Wheeler, the Mets showed an inability to learn their lesson. 

Arguably, Duda is the Mets most important offensive player. You need to take care of him. Despite his back pain, they never bothered to send him for an MRI. That’s right they didn’t order a necessary test despite having gone through what they did with Wright. Only now are they conferring with Wright’s back specialist, Dr. Watkins. 

For some reason the information isn’t going from the player to the right people. Maybe it is, and I dint know it. Maybe the Mets are ignoring the advice. Maybe they don’t know to to properly gauge when a doctor needs to be consulted. Whatever the case may be, there is something wrong here.  

The Mets need to change something and fast. Not everything is a flesh wound. Sometimes an important player gets hurt and is out longer because of the team’s actions. It just happened again with Duda. 

Noah Nonsense is Flooding In

We all know the Mets are in bullpen trouble and they’re mismanaging the situation. You know the only way it could be worse?  Putting Noah Syndergaard in the bullpen.  

In 18 starts, he’s 7-6 with a 3.17 ERA. He’s got an ERA+ of 119, which loosely translated makes him 19% better than the league. He has a 9.5 K/9, which is better than Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. His FIP is 3.16, which equates to him being a great starting pitcher. On a team with a weak bullpen, he averages 6.1 innings per start. On top of all of this, he’s going to finish within his innings limits

Now, please tell me why we should pull him from the rotation?  Is it because we don’t want to be successful?  Is it because we think Steven Matz MIGHT be better?  Is it because we’d rather him make a few appearances pitching one inning a piece over six starts at six plus innings a piece?  Fact is, there is no good reason. 

We know the Mets have a weak bullpen. One way to mitigate that is to keep the weak arms in the bullpen. You do that with pitchers, like Syndergaard, who go deep into games. I like out-of-the-box thinking, but I also like ideas that make sense. 

Syndergaard belongs in the starting rotation. 

Glimpse of the Cespedes Trade Debacle

We may soon find out how bad the Yoenis Cespedes trade was. With an injury to Daniel Norris, the Tigers are pondering calling-up Michael Fulmer

This is salt in the wound after watching Terry Collins throw away the last game in Baltimore. In part, that is because of the ineptitude of the Mets front office in handling the innings restrictions. If Fulmer is truly ready, he could have been used for a spot start over Logan Verrett. This way the Mets bullpen, in the middle of a pennant race, wouldn’t be understaffed for a full week. 

There’s also the possibility if Fulmer stayed with the Mets organization, he wouldn’t be called up to make a spot start. Correction, there is no way they would call him up. Considering they won’t consider Steven Matz in the bullpen, they wouldn’t consider Fulmer there either; especially with the intriguing possibility of Vic Black

Also, don’t misconstrue this as me saying I don’t want Cespedes. It was a sign to the Mets fans and players the team was all-in. The Mets took off since that time. However, this is a question of whether the Mets had to give up Fulmer. I still say they didn’t. Sandy Alderson balked and the departing GM didn’t.  This trade could very well haunt them. 

So in the history of John Smoltz and Jeff Bagwell, the Mets may get a glimpse of what could have been part of their future. 

Parnell Finds Out His Arm Hurts

After a number of bad outings, the Mets decided it was time to make a changeLogan Verrett is going to take Bobby Parnell‘s place in the bullpen. 

It was decided that Parnell would go on the DL with arm fatigue. This is a good move because Parnell had been effective earlier in the year, and he probably just needed some time off. It’s good the Mets didn’t DFA him because you don’t throw away a potential asset.

What this also signals to me is how the Mets have mismanaged the innings limits of their young pitchers. Look at how easy that was. Just throw a guy on the DL. No real excuse needed. If they did this at some other time, like when Matt Harvey had some rough outings, we wouldn’t be talking about reintroducing the six man rotation in September. 

Instead, we would be talking about what to do with Bartolo Colon. We would be talking about whether Steven Matz should go to the bullpen. No, we are instead talking about who’s going to be the seventh inning reliever. It’s too late in the season to leave this unanswered. 

It’s also the result of uninspired thinking. The Mets never truly pivoted from the failures of Vic Black and the suspensions of Jenrry Mejia

Hopefully, Verrett, a player the Mets were alright subjecting to the Rule 5 draft, will be the seventh inning answer. I would like the Mets to consider Matz. I wouldn’t rule out Parnell once he decides his arm no longer hurts. 

Mets Are Full of Bull

As we saw this past weekend, the main difference between the Pirates and the Mets is their bullpens. All three games went down to the bullpens, and the Mets lost all three games.   

Bobby Parnell had a rough weekend. It wasn’t his first implosion. It won’t be his last. His time for high leverage innings has passed for the time being. The Mets need some solutions because if they’re going to do things this year, they’ll need a better bullpen. At least we know Terry Collins is concerned

Unfortunately, I don’t think the front office is concerned.  For staters, they never made a move for Joba Chamberlain. Like Parnell, he hasn’t had a great year. However, what did the Mets have to lose by signing him and putting him in AAA and seeing if Frank Viola could get him straight. All it would’ve cost the Mets was the prorated Major League minimum. The Kansas City Royals, who have an amazing bullpen, had this foresight. 

Next, they have Logan Verrette in the AAA rotation in the hopes of possibly using him for a future spot start. Why?  I don’t know because there is no innings limit problem. Also, if he’s going to help this team, it’s in the bullpen. There is no chance he’s on the postseason roster as a starter. 

Also, there is the Steven Matz issue. Similar to Verrette, the Mets want him for spot starts, rather than in the bullpen. Like Verrette, Matz can only help the postseason roster in the bullpen. 

Furthermore, Rafael Montero isn’t a real option. He’s been on the DL with a shoulder injury. Initially, it wasn’t thought to be serious. That turned into a stay in the 60 day DL. Team doctors still have not found the source of the injury complaints. He can only throw three innings at a time. He’s far away. He’s not an option. 

This means that right now the Mets are putting all of their eggs in the Erik Goeddel basket. Goeddel has been pretty good thus far, but the Mets need more than just him . . . especially given his injury history. I’m sure there are other options in the minor leagues. Here’s the problem: are any of them the 2002 K-Rod?  The answer is no. 

If that reliever exists than why is the team’s bullpen constructed the way it is?  Hansel Robles is nice, but he’s not a reason to keep a stud reliever in the minor leagues. That’s why the Mets need to get Verrette and Matz on track as bullpen options.

Regardless of the route the Mets decide to pursue, I’m alright with them waiting until September 1st. Matz and Goeddel are in the middle of rehab stints. Parnell may be going through a rough stint, but with two off days this week, he will get some rest.  Maybe that rest will let him set himself straight. 

Parnell has great stuff. He’s coming off of Tommy John surgery. He may still be their best option. If the Mets don’t get serious about the bullpen, he will be. Personally, I’d rather see Matz and Verrette. Unfortunately, the Mets seem to disagree. 

Arm Wrestling

About three weeks ago, I addressed the Mets innings limitations problem. Without completely regurgitating everything here, my conclusion was that without a spot starter, Jacob deGrom would be the only stud muffin able to make a postseason start. Even at that, he would only be available for one game. 

I thought with the latest go-round of stud muffin starts, it would be helpful to re-visit where we are on the innings limits:

Matt Harvey: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 180 – 190 innings. Right now, he’s at 148.0, or 42.0 innings before a hypothetical shutdown (don’t worry Collins said there’s no shutdown). By my rudimentary calculation, Harvey has nine starts left, at most. He’s averaging 6.2 innings per start meaning he will go over his limit by 18 innings (about three starts), not including the postseason. 
Jacob deGrom: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 208 – 214 innings. Right now, he’s at 146.2, or 71.1 innings before needing to be shutdown. With approximately nine starts left and his averaging 6.2 innings per start, he looks to finish the year with 206.2 innings. It looks like he will be below his limits, postseason aside. 

Noah Syndergaard: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 159.0 – 163.0 innings. Right now, he’s at 105.2, or 57.1 innings before needing to be shut down. With nine starts remaining and his averaging 6.2 innings per start, he looks to finish the year with 165.2 innings. He will be slightly above his innings limits right before the postseason.

So interestingly enough, if you’re only looking at the regular season, there isn’t an innings limitation problem with anyone but Harvey.  This is yet again a sign the Mets shouldn’t “Matz” with the rotation right now. 
While not addressing the pitching, Sandy Alderson did say, “[i]t’s about this year. Not next year.”  I hope he keeps this in mind and puts Steven Matz in the bullpen. Remember it’s all about this year. 

BACK to Having This Conversation

We all have those conversations that we just hate having. For some of us, it’s that conversation when it’s time to go on a diet. For others, it’s about the household budget. For all Mets fans, it’s about injuries.

They all start out seemingly innocuous and become something more. When it originally seems bad, we’re told it’s not and the player sits on the bench until they can hobble on the field for a PH appearance. 

Prior to this year, it was the awful way, the Mets responded to Matt Harvey‘s and Zack Wheeler‘s arm complaints. It continued this year with Dan Warthen playing doctor with Steven Matz

Also, this year we saw David Wright‘s hamstring injury become a spinal stenosis issue. Then the Mets refused to put Michael Cuddyer on the DL, severely limiting the team. Now, Lucas Duda has missed three straight games with an unknown back injury

Yes, I know it says stuff back in the link, but that’s a symptom; not a diagnosis. For example, a throbbing leg is a symptom. When x-rays show a fracture that’s a diagnosis. Duda has missed three straight games. It’s time to get some tests. 

Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this after David Wright. You’d think the Mets would be extra sensitive to back injuries. However, when looking at the facts, I’m naive. You’d think the Mets would’ve show extra precaution when a young starting pitcher has arm complaints after Harvey, yet they ignored Wheeler. 

I’m not calling for Duda to be put in the DL yet. You need to know what the problem is before making that decision. However, I will note that when they finally put Cuddyer on the DL, he got better, and it looks like he’s playing better

I’d rather see Duda get right than try to play through this and get more hurt. While we know rest may not be the best cure, he can do the exercises needed to get his back strong for the rest of the year. It’s not about RIGHT NOW; it’s about this season. You need healthy players for the stretch run. First base can be manned by Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy in the interim. 

Please let the Mets learn from their mistakes and take care of Duda. They’ll need him. 

Are the Mets All-In?

Rarely, if ever, do you see the Mets go all-in on a season. In fact, the only time I remember it happening was 1999 when Steve Phillips traded everyone to try to improve the team after just missing out on the playoffs in 1998. 

Watching that 1999 team was probably the most fun I had watching baseball. With that season came so many highlights including the Al Leiter two-hitter in the Wild Card play-in gamePratt’s All Folks, and the Grand Slam Single. The season ended cruelly with Kenny Rogers . . . . 

If you remember, that year the Mets gave away Jason Isringhausen for Billy Taylor.  As we know Taylor had no regular season impact and was left off the playoff roster.  It also saw Octavio Dotel get called up too soon and stay in the majors too long to the tune of a 5.38 ERA. He was warming in the bullpen when Kenny Rogers . . . .

This year, the Mets are seemingly all-in like they were in 1999. They gave up their two best prospects who have not appeared in the majors this year. In exchange the Mets received two and a half months of Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes, who is leaving as a free agent. Because of deplorable offense, Michael Conforto was rushed to the majors, and the Mets won’t send him back down

Look, I understand going all-in. It led to a run in 1999, and to a certain extent 2000. However, in order to go all-in, you don’t hedge your bets. 

For starters, that means ending the innings limits nonsense. First of all, the underlying theorem was proven incorrect. Second, the rotation is set up nicely the rest of the year if it’s left unadulterated. Third, Steven Matz must go to the bullpen upon his return from the DL. 

If the Mets make the playoffs, he will be in the bullpen anyway (if he makes the postseason roster). He can be like the 2006 Adam Wainwright or the 2008 David Price out there. This will help him and the Mets. If you put him in the rotation, you mess up the rotation and you endanger the opportunity that Matz can be effective in the postseason as a reliever. 

If the Mets are truly all-in as their trades and treatment of Conforto suggest, Matz will be a reliever. If the Mets put him in the rotation and try spot starts or a six man rotation in September, then they should’ve sent down Conforto. You can’t go half way in being all-in. 

Let’s hope no matter what they do, it works out to their benefit. Let’s also hope we’re talking potential postseason roster moves instead. 

Charting the Mets Rotation

Coming out of the All Star Break, the Mets wisely set their rotation to allow their stud muffins to face the Nationals twice. Initially, the move was a bust.  However, after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the Met took off and swept the Nationals.  Now, it seems like the Mets want to go back to the six man rotation, or at a minimum have some spot starts.  If the Mets did not go to the six man rotation or have any spot starts, here’s how the rotation would shake out:

Jacob deGrom:

8/7 @ Rays
8/12 vs. Rockies
8/18 @ Orioles
8/24 @ Phillies
8/29 vs. Red Sox
9/4 @ Marlins
9/9 @ Nationals
9/14 vs. Marlins
9/20 vs. Yankees
9/25 @ Reds
10/1 @ Phillies

Noah Syndergaard:

8/8 @ Rays
8/13 vs. Rockies
8/19 @ Orioles
8/25 @ Phillies
8/30 vs. Red Sox
9/5 @ Marlins
9/10 @ Braves
9/15 vs. Marlins
9/21 vs. Braves
9/26 @ Reds
10/2 vs. Nationals

Bartolo Colon:

8/9 @ Rays
8/14 vs. Pirates
8/21 @ Rockies
8/26 @ Phillies
8/31 vs. Phillies
9/6 @ Marlins
9/11 @ Braves
9/16 vs. Marlins
9/22 vs. Braves
9/27 @ Reds
10/3 vs. Nationals

Jon Niese:

8/10 vs. Rockies
8/15 vs. Pirates
8/22 @ Rockies
8/27 @ Phillies
9/1 vs. Phillies
9/7 @ Nationals
9/12 @ Braves
9/18 vs. Yankees
9/23 vs. Braves
9/29 @ Phillies
10/4 vs. Nationals

Matt Harvey:

8/11 vs. Rockies
8/16 vs. Pirates
8/23 @ Rockies
8/28 vs. Red Sox
9/2 vs. Phillies
9/8 @ Nationals
9/13 @ Braves
9/19 vs. Yankees
9/24 @ Reds
9/30 @ Phillies

Now, we are all aware of the rumblings of the Mets using a spot starter or returning to the six man rotation.  What we also know is the Mets are going to rip past the innings limits anyway.  So in this somewhat academic analysis, just go back and take a look again at how the rotation will work out.  For starters, it’s great that Colon only pitches one game against a team over .500 until the last week of the season.  Additionally, if everything works out according to plan, you don’t have to finagle the rotation to start the postseason with Harvey, Matz, and Syndergrom.  Isn’t that your goal?  Now, if things get hectic towards the end, remember the Mets don’t have a huge lead right now, they can shift starts around in September so you can have the stud muffins going against the Nationals in the last series of the season.

Overall, if you are going to rip through the innings limits, why not do it properly and set the team up for success in September and October?  My belief is that if you don’t change the rotation as it stands right now, the Mets look to be in good shape for the rest of the season, and they will have their stud muffins front and center entering the postseason.  Let’s not overthink things and keep it the way it is.

 

 

Mets Have “40” Decisions to Make

As of today, the Mets 40 man roster is full with Erik Goeddel and David Wright on the 60 day DL. Since players on the 60 day DL do not count towards the 40 man roster, two players will have to be removed from the 40 man before Goeddel and Wright can be added.

The first decision could potentially come on August 11th, when Goeddel is first eligible to come off the DL. The Mets can send down Hansel Robles, who has options, but that only solves the 25 man roster issue. As of today, here are the people who are on the 40 man roster, who are also not on the 25 man roster:

  1. Dario Alvarez
  2. Vic Black
  3. Jack Leathersich
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Akeel Morris
  6. Logan Verrett
  7. Gabriel Ynoa
  8. Johnny Monell
  9. Anthony Recker
  10. Dilson Herrera
  11. Danny Muno
  12. Wilfredo Tovar
  13. Darrell Ceciliani
  14. Michael Cuddyer
  15. Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In deciding who to remove, there are a couple of important factors to take into account:

  1. This player will be exposed on waivers allowing any team to claim that player, and
  2. A player must be on the 40 man roster as of August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster (there are loopholes however).

Immediately, you can rule out the pitchers. They’re young, under control, and will be snatched up by another team . . . even Vic Black. That leaves eight players for two spots.

Next, we can eliminate Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis from consideration. Cuddyer is set to come off the DL soon. Nieuwenhuis is a possibility, albeit remote right now for the postseason roster. We’re done to six players.

I would next eliminate Dilson Herrera, who is seen as the second baseman of the future. This is especially important with Daniel MurphyKelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe set to be free agents. We’re down to five players: Monell, Recker, Muno, Tovar, and Ceciliani.  Here’s where things get tricky. You can make cases for all of these players to stay or go.

I’ll start with the catchers, who have been awful this year . . . absolutely terrible. I’m expecting the Mets to move on from both of these players in the offseason. However, we need to remember Travis d’Arnaud has been injury prone. You don’t want to him to go down and have no playoff replacement. At a a minimum, one catcher must stay on the roster. Possibly both.

Up next are the young middle infielders. Admittedly, they have both been pretty bad in very limited major league experience. Accordingly, you can’t use that experience as the sole reason to outright that player. It should be noted neither player is a top prospect in the Mets organization. I think both are candidates, specifically Tovar, who is behind Matt ReynoldsGavin Cecchini, and Amed Rosario on the organization’s SS depth chart.

Finally, we have Ceciliani, who played decently with the Mets this year (even if he was a little exposed). It should be noted he was passed over in the last two Rule Five Drafts.  I don’t imagine his limited playing time changed the minds of the other 29 teams.  Furthermore, with Nieuwenhuis being on the bubble for the postseason roster, there’s no chance he would even see the field. In my opinion, this makes him the most vulnerable.

Now, I have no connections whatsoever, but I would believe Ceciliani and Monell are the two players who will be moved to make room for Goeddel and Wright. You could easily interchange that for Recker and Ceciliani or one of the middle infielders.  However, I think Ceciliani and Monell are the two least  regarded players on this list.

Further complicating matters is Rafael Montero, who is also on the 60 day DL. Terry Collins recently went to talk to Montero to encourage him to ramp up his rehab so he can help the team.  If Montero is coming back, the Mets are going to have to make yet another roster move.  I believe at this time, the middle infielders would definitively be in danger of being removed from the 40 man roster.  My guess would be Tovar, but then again, I could be wrong.

The only way to avoid removing anyone, and risking losing a player, is to make a trade with another team.  The problem there is if these players had value to other teams, they would have been moved already.  Specifically to Ceciliani, we’ve seen teams pass on him a number of times.  There is also the possibility that the player to be named later in the Eric O’Flaherty deal is one of the aforementioned 15 players making part of this post moot.  However, I think that is unlikely.

Overall, the Mets have a lot of important decisions to make with an eye towards who they want on the postseason roster.  It’s fun to be a Mets fan again.