Tomas Nido

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Big Chance Against Yankees

The Yankees were banged up, and they struggled against the Mets. However, when push came to shove, they came out on top because this Mets team couldn’t get that big hit or big out.

1. The Mets were sellers at the deadline obtaining Steve Cohen for Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and a Wilpon to be named later.

2. You’d have to assume if any deadline deals go forward now they have Cohen’s blessing. Of course, with the Wilpons, it may not be safe to assume.

3. This season is more evidence Brodie Van Wagenen should be fired. Hopefully, that’ll be one of the things Cohen does first.

4. No, Van Wagenen’s hot mike saying Rob Manfred doesn’t get it doesn’t make him likable or competent.

5. Hopefully, that wasn’t Van Wagenen’s Terry Collins ejection video.

6. Mets should insist on wearing Jackie Robinson‘s 42 for the rest of the year as art of their protests.

7. Luis Rojas‘ bullpen management has not been great.

8. Not using Drew Smith to protect a five run lead but then using him in a tied extra inning game is bizarre. That’s still not as bizarre as bringing in Edwin Diaz with runners on base.

9. These games just further cement how much the Mets need Seth Lugo in the bullpen. Aside from him, there’s no one you can truly trust in that pen.

10. The Mets are looking for a catcher at the trade deadline because Wilson Ramos has been terrible, and all indications are Tomas Nido has COVID19.

11. The COVID19 anonymity doesn’t work when you put players on the IL. At that point, we all know who had it.

12. Aside from that huge three run homer, Pete Alonso has been lost at the plate all season.

13. The same is true for Amed Rosario. He hit that walk-off homer off Aroldis Chapman, and then he once again did nothing at the plate. Also, he still hasn’t drawn a walk all year.

14. Chapman plunked J.D. Davis leading some to point out Davis was on the 2017 Astros.

15. Speaking of Davis, he’s been flat out terrible. Without the juiced ball, he’s back up to a 50% ground ball rate. That’s where he was before the juiced ball.

16. While others struggling mightily stay in the starting lineup, Luis Guillorme continues to sit despite his stellar defense and his continuing to get on base. If he’s not playing, it’s clear these Mets only want to win with Brodie’s guys.

17. Dominic Smith continues to play great, and he continues to show the Mets organization failed when they didn’t give him a real chance to win the first base job.

18. Andres Gimenez had just about as bad an inning at third as you can have. It’s a reminder he’s a rookie who never played above Double-A before this season.

19. If you like these seven inning games, you don’t like baseball. You might’ve at one point. You might’ve even loved it. But if you’re pushing for seven inning games now, you no longer like the sport.

20. Hopefully, Cohen tells Van Wagenen he’s not allowed to ruin the Mets future for short term personal glory before being shown the door for a real GM.

Game Recaps

Mets At Homer In Yankee Stadium

Dellin Betances Throws It Away

A Doubleheader of Depressing Losses

How Long Can Mets Stick With Wilson Ramos

It’s easy to overreact to what Tomas Nido did yesterday. After all, his two homers and six RBI put him in the company of Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza, and Paul Lo Duca. When you’re capable of doing that, you’re a star in the making.

The thing is Nido isn’t that type of player. He entered this season as a career 39 OPS+ hitter. Before he was called up to the majors, he had just one minor league season with an OPS higher than .660.

No, Nido has never been an offensive force. When you look at the Mets catchers, the offensive thread behind the plate is Wilson Ramos. Well, at least he’s supposed to be

So far this year, Ramos is hitting .196/.274/.286 (60 OPS+). While Ramos has typically been a slow starter (April has historically been his the second worst month), this is a new floor for him.

As an example, last year, Ramos hit .320/.393/.340 over the first 16 games. The average and OBP were there, but the power wasn’t. The power wouldn’t come until May. His power would improve in June.

What’s interesting with Ramos was while he had 14 homers last season, he only had one homer through the Mets first 16 games. That’s where he stands now.

If he follows on that power pace, Ramos’ second homer won’t come until the 40th game of the season. Not only would it take him 40 games to catch Nido, but the season would also be 2/3 over.

No one realistically believes Nido will outhit or out-homer over the course of the season. That’s the case even with Nido doing just that 1/3 of the way through the season, and as Justin Toscano of nj.com explains is a retooled swing and refined approach.

What’s odd is it is not even close. Nido has a 225 OPS+ to Ramos’ 59. Yes, Nido’s will drop precipitously, but how soon before Ramos starts hitting like Ramos again?

We don’t know, and the question for the Mets is how long can they wait for it to happen. That issue gets magnified by Nido being VASTLY superior defensively.

Per Baseball Savant, Ramos ranks 44th of all qualified catchers in pitch framing. Of catchers with over 400 chances, he’s the third worst in the league. Put another and simpler way, he’s bad behind the plate.

While Nido hasn’t qualified, his numbers were better than Ramos’ last year, and he has a better reputation as a defensive catcher. Of course, that’s partially because Ramos has never been known for his defensive prowess.

Overall, Nido is giving the Mets a much better chance to win 1/3 of the way through the season. In fact, Nido’s fWAR (which incorporates framing) has him at 0.4 to Ramos’ -0.1.

If you’re the Mets, how much longer do you wait around for Ramos to turn it around? The team is two games under .500, and they’re barely in the playoff picture.

When Nido is the catcher hitting homers and framing the low pitches better for a staff of sinkerball pitchers, you really wonder if Ramos even has a role on this team right now. He and the Mets are running out of time to find out.

Mets With A Nido Win

Bases loaded, no outs, Juan Soto at the plate. Rookie pitcher David Peterson on the mound for the Mets, and the Nationals starting Austin Voth with his 1.80 ERA.

That’s how the Mets day game against the Nationals began. That’s how the game began. Seeing that, you probably didn’t expect the Mets to not just win, but win big.

The reason? Tomas Nido.

Peterson got ahead of Soto 0-2 before getting a REALLY low pitch for a called strike three. Part of that was another day of poor umpiring. To put how bad it was, Stephen Strasburg was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. He was seated in the stands.

The other reason is Nido is a terrific pitch framer adept at getting the low strike called. That call changed the complexity of that inning and the game. After that strikeout, the only run the Nationals would score that inning was off a Howie Kendrick RBI groundout.

One of the reasons the scoring ended there was Jeff McNeil absolutely robbed Asdrubal Cabrera of an extra base hit. McNeil would hurt himself on the play and would have to be taken off the field via stretcher.

That Nationals lead was very short lived because Dominic Smith hit his fourth homer of the season:

After that it was the Nido show. In successive innings, Nido would homer. In the fourth, it was a two run shot off Voth. In the fifth, it was his first career grand slam off Seth Romero:

That second homer put him in some very exclusive Mets territory with the two homers and six RBI:

When you’re in a group with Mike Piazza and Gary Carter, you know you had an absolutely phenomenal day.

Lost in this insane day was the fact Peterson carried a no hitter into the fifth. His final line was 5.0 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He’d leave after 74 pitches due to some shoulder soreness. According to Peterson, it’s not serious.

From there, the teams would score one more run apiece in the Mets 8-2 victory. It was a complete team victory.

With the exception of J.D. Davis, every starter who received a PA had at least one hit. That includes Luis Guillorme who had another strong day at the plate going 2-for-4.

Overall, the Mets split the series with the Nationals. In doing so, they learned how this defense first lineup is their path to victory.

Game Notes: Billy Hamilton replaced McNeil and batted third. He finally got his first hit after going hitless in his first 15 Mets at-bats. Davis is hitless in his last 10 at-bats with six strikeouts. Andres Gimenez is tied for the MLB lead with five stolen bases.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Finally Win A Series

Well, the last place Mets took a series from the first place Marlins. That’s certainly something we never thought would happen in August 2020, but that’s where we are.

1. Andres Gimenez continues to prove he’s a Major Leaguer. When Robinson Cano is ready to return, it’s going to be impossible to pull him from the lineup.

2. If you’ll note, since the Mets have been forced to switch to a vastly superior defensive alignment, they’ve begun winning.

3. As we see that includes getting J.D. Davis out of left where he made you pine for the days of Todd Hundley, Daniel Murphy, and Lucas Duda.

4. Ty Cobb is the MLB all-time MLB leader with a .378 BABIP. Post World War II, Rod Carew is the leader at .359. Simply put, if you’re over those marks, your numbers are not sustainable.

5. On a related note, the Mets embarrass themselves, when they tout average plays as being great plays as part of their endeavoring to make a horrendous GM look somewhat competent.

6. Gimenez shows how great the Mets had been identifying Major League talent in the draft and international free agent market during the Sandy Alderson era.

7. The Mets bullpen had stepped up in August. Part of that is Edwin Diaz returning to his old form. No, it’s not because he’s out of the closer role. It’s because he has great stuff.

8. Seth Lugo needs to be used in the highest leverage spots. That’s not always the ninth, and that’s why he can’t be used as just a closer.

9. Speaking of pitchers with great stuff, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball and not even a blister or “hot spot” can get in his way.

10. Tomas Nido has completely outplayed Wilson Ramos this year. You know the Mets will never make the switch, but you do wonder if the Mets will find more spots for Nido.

11. Jared Hughes is one of those players who come along and are a pure joy. Not only has he pitched well, but he’s also shown the ability to laugh at himself. Like the Juan Uribe era, the Jared Hughes era will go down as one of the most enjoyable in Mets history.

12. Even with the juiced ball appearing to return, the Mets offense has looked off all year. That’s most likely the result of their inability to hit with RISP.

13. Pete Alonso struggling doesn’t help either. The frustrating part is every time he appears to break out, he starts slumping again.

14. Mets have been lucky getting serviceable starts from David Peterson. He did it again in this series helping the Mets turn things around.

15. With Michael Wacha going down with a shoulder injury, the question before the Mets is whether Corey Oswalt or Franklyn Kilome can step in the way Peterson has.

16. This further highlights how the Mets desperately need Marcus Stroman back. That was the case when Wacha was “healthy.”

17. Michael Conforto has a hit in every game this season, and Brandon Nimmo has reached in 30 straight games (dating back to last year). Somehow, Mets fans still have a hard problem embracing them and instead ask why they’re not perfect.

18. The Cardinals have only played five games, and seemingly every time they appear set to return, there’s another positive test. Maybe they should just be contracted . . . at least for the 2020 season.

19. MLB went from not suspending or fining Carlos Correa for clearly violating COVID19 protocols. Let’s see if MLB continues their Astros double standard when dealing with Ramon Laureano.

20. If the Mets want to be taken seriously, they need to beat up on a Washington Nationals team who is undermanned and playing terribly right now.

Game Recaps

At Least Dominic Smith Homered

Mets Homegrown Talent Beats Marlins Youth

Andres Gimenez Shows Marlins He Belongs

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blew Opening Series

Baseball is finally back, and the Mets offense looked like they haven’t played a game since September losing 2/3 to the Braves.

1. Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on that planet.

2. And Seth Lugo is still the best reliever.

3. Yoenis Cespedes homering on Opening Day to help give the Mets a 1-0 victory may be the highlight of the season . . . especially if the backend of the rotation will be this bad.

4. Mets two best hitters so far this year are Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, and it’s quite likely it stays that way.

5. With the exception of the Braves offense going bezerk yesterday, it appears the juiced ball is gone. That’s going to be a problem for some of the Mets hitters who relied upon it.

6. If J.D. Davis is in the lineup for his bat, he has to hit, or at least have more hits than Jake Marisnick does in part time duty.

7. That goes double when his defense is that bad. It’s already turned a single into a double and an out into a game altering RBI double.

8. No, you don’t want to overreact to a slow start, but remember a three game set is the equivalent of eight games. That’s over a week of the season.

9. On that note, Porcello was bad last year, and Davis was extraordinarily lucky with his hitting a juiced ball. These two are more than worth monitoring and having a short leash.

10. As for Porcello, he’s locked in the rotation because the Mets have no starting pitching depth. That, and there’s no way the Mets bench him and his prorated $10 million.

11. One of these days, Corey Oswalt will be given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Last night, being rushed to warm up and brought into the middle of an inning when he was supposed to be preparing to start on Tuesday isn’t remotely giving him a fair shake.

12. Aside from Oswalt imploding, the Mets bullpen looked really good with Jeurys Familia rediscovering his power sinker.

13. Early on, it looks like Justin Wilson is going to be a reliever Luis Rojas really trusts. With the way he pitched last year, and his first two performances this year, you can’t blame him.

14. One nit to pick with Rojas is he needs some consistency. You can’t let Wilson Ramos run the bases with three catchers but pinch run for Cespedes with two outs and a runner on first. It doesn’t make sense to make wholesale defensive changes and leave Dominic Smith on the bench.

15. On that point, use Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera with Edwin Diaz. For a multitude of reasons, the Diaz/Ramos pairing just is not working.

16. Diaz’s stuff has looked great. However, that was a bad pitch to Marcell Ozuna. He threw five straight pitches to that side of the plate, and the previous day he went there to strike Ozuna out. Ozuna couldn’t have had a better idea what that pitch was going to be even if he was a Houston Astro.

17. That spoiled a GREAT start from Steven Matz who has seemingly taken another step forward from his second half turnaround. That added velocity and improved change makes him a legit number two instead of the one he is on paper.

18. Mets are going nowhere if Marcus Stroman‘s injury is serious.

19. We have seen Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers miss this series with COVID19 symptoms. Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro tested positive along with some teammates. It appears with catchers unable to socially distance during games, they are the players facing the brunt of the COVID19 risks.

20. It’s great having baseball back even with the universal DH and extra inning rules bastardizing the game. On the later, with all four extra inning games ending in the 10th, Rob Manfred may really push for that rule to stay. Naturally, the universal DH fans who love gimmicks to produce offense must love that.

Game Recaps

Yo! Mets Baseball Is Back

Mets Didn’t Edwin Game Diaz Blew

Pin Tonight’s Blowout Loss on Brodie Van Wagenen

Pin Tonight’s Blowout Loss On Brodie Van Wagenen

Zack Wheeler desperately wanted to stay with the Mets. Brodie Van Wagenen wasn’t interested, and he went so far as to say what Wheeler signed for with the Phillies didn’t match how the Mets valued him.

Why be magnanimous about a very good pitcher who time and again made it clear he wanted to be a Met? Why avoid giving a starter in your division bulletin board material? Those are questions for another day.

The overarching question is what was Brodie thinking? He really signed Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha instead of Wheeler. In Porcello’s first start, we saw it for the mistake it was.

Porcello wasn’t good, but he wasn’t quite as bad as his final line seemed.

The Braves got to Porcello with two in the first, and he escaped trouble in the second by getting Ronald Acuna to hit into an inning ending double play. If you had any hopes that meant his sinker was working, they’d be quickly dashed.

It began with Jeff McNeil making an error allowing Ozzie Albies to reach safely. Then, with the Mets apparently being deathly afraid of Freddie Freeman (with good reason), Porcello walked him. Then disaster struck.

Marcell Ozuna doubled to put the Braves up 3-1, and Matt Adams walked. At that point, the Mets were still in it. Then, J.D. Davis completely misplayed what was a routine play for a left fielder into a two RBI double for Dansby Swanson.

Instead of it being 4-1 with one out, it was 5-1 with no outs and runners on second and third. With that, Porcello’s night was done, and the Mets night was effectively over.

Corey Oswalt was thrust into a relief role instead of preparing for a start against the Red Sox. Again, he was put in a position to fail, and he did. He’d allow inherited runners to score along with a few of his own. On the bright side, he ate four innings saving the pen a bit.

When all was said and done, it was 14-1 Braves with the only Mets run being driven in by ninth place hitter Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo batted ninth because of the left-handed starter Sean Newcomb.

Newcomb was terrible in his own right, but he was bailed out by an overly aggressive Mets lineup. This is the same lineup which was assembled due to their bats while punting defense. They punted defense with a starter with a low strike out rate and is coming off a season where he had the worst ERA in the AL.

You can point a lot of fingers tonight. No matter where you point them, make sure you point them at the GM. This is exactly how he designed the team, and it failed like anyone else could’ve predicted.

Game Notes: Tomas Nido started over Wilson Ramos. He scored on the Nimmo double. Davis is 1-for-10 on the season.

Time To Split Up Edwin Diaz And Wilson Ramos

In the first two games of the season, Luis Rojas brought in Jake Marisnick and Andres Gimenez for defense. For some reason, despite the Mets putting out most of their best defenders, Rojas stopped short at catcher.

It’s not unusual for a team to stick with a vastly inferior defensive catcher. Part of that is the fear of losing a catcher even if that rarely happens.

And Wilson Ramos is a vastly inferior defender to Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera. In addition to that, we see time and again he doesn’t work well with Edwin Diaz.

While CERA is a highly flawed stat, we see Diaz has a 6.07 ERA pitching to Ramos. That’s the second worst he’s had with any catcher and the worst with any catcher who’s caught him at least 14.0 innings.

When we dig into the numbers there are a few reasons to explain this. Chief among them is Ramos’ inability to get the low strike. It’s something which impacted Noah Syndergaard, and it caused Syndergaard to try to get a personal catcher.

As we see with Baseball Savant, Diaz’s real weapon is his slider. Both that and his fastball are great pitches. However, for his slider to be effective, it needs to be low in the zone. When you can’t get it called a strike, a batter can spit on it forcing Diaz to have to bring it up making it more hittable. That happened all of last year.

With his fastball, Diaz has to move it around. He can throw it in all three zones, and really, if he needs to pound the slider down, he needs the fastball to change eye level and side of the plate. That brings us to his blown save yesterday.

(Image from MLB.com)

In the moment, many commented Diaz just got beat by Marcell Ozuna on a good pitch. After all, it was 98 MPH on the black. Batters aren’t supposed to hit that. So, why did he hit it?

First off, it should be noted it wasn’t that good of a pitch. Just because it was 98 MPH doesn’t de facto make it a good pitch. Yes, it was on the corner, but it was also belt high. Professional hitters, especially very good ones like Ozuna, crush belt high fastballs.

The biggest reason why it wasn’t that good of a pitch and why Ozuna was able to jump on it was Diaz and Ramos basically telegraphed where the pitch was going to be. The last five pitches of that at-bat were all towards the outside corner. Give a batter like Ozuna the location and put the pitch belt high, and he’s going to crush it.

These are the situations which led Diaz to allowing a Major League record for most ninth inning homers last year. A veteran catcher needs to make sure his pitcher isn’t telegraphing pitches like this. A team needs to make sure a catcher isn’t negating their closer’s biggest strength.

Yesterday, the Mets brought in Marisnick for defense. They brought in Gimenez for defense. Neither could make a play on a ball hit over the right field wall. That homer made those defensive changes superfluous.

It’s time the Mets realize if they’re going to make these wholesale defensive changes, they need to not stop short at catcher. They need a good defensive catcher behind the plate who can get the low strike and ensure the pitcher is moving the ball around the plate.

Essentially, the Mets need a catcher who will let Diaz be Diaz.

In the end, if you’re going to give up Jarred Kelenic to go get him, it just seems plain stupid and ignorant to not give up one inning of Ramos per game. The Mets went all-in to get Diaz. Now, it’s time to go all-in on helping him succeed.

Biggest Mets Takeaways From Exhibition Games Against the Yankees

The Mets were bludgeoned by the Yankees over the two game exhibition set by the combined score of 15-3. The key word there was exhibition.

Neither of these two games counted, and they had all the weight and importance of a Spring Training game. That’s because it was Summer Camp, which was really Spring Training Part Deux.

Really, when you break it down, almost none of what happened the past two games matters. That’s even if you want to get bent out of shape about the Yankees homering off of Corey Oswalt, Drew Smith, and Chasen Shreve, i.e. bullpen bubble guys.

That’s not to say there weren’t some important takeaways. There absolutely were. It’s just the final score of home run barrage weren’t close to them.

The biggest takeaway was Yoenis Cespedes was able to play consecutive days, and he looked good running. He also only played three innings in left meaning he’s not quite in a spot to play the outfield just yet. Put another way, on a team of DHs, he’s the Mets DH.

Jed Lowrie still isn’t really playing, and the Mets have no idea when he can play. Basically, it’s 2019 all over again. To a certain extent, in this topsy turvy COVID19 world, it’s nice having some consistency.

It appears with Wilson Ramos missing these two games to attend to an undisclosed family matter and Rene Rivera being added to the 40 man roster, Tomas Nido might be the Mets Opening Day catcher. Somewhere the rehabbing Noah Syndergaard must be ripping his hair out.

On the topic of Opening Day, Jacob deGrom had a good bullpen session, and he appears set to go.

In that Opening Day lineup, all indications are Robinson Cano will start the year batting third . . . again. Of course, this once again means this wasn’t a Mickey Callaway decision, but rather a Brodie Van Wagenen one. That is, unless, you believe Luis Rojas independently reached the same decision, and Van Wagenen isn’t still trying to prop up his former client he used Jarred Kelenic to obtain.

More than any of this, it’s great having baseball back with Gary, Keith, and Ron calling games. Let’s all just cherish this, hope everyone stays safe, and the Mets got the work in they needed to start their path towards winning the 2020 World Series.

Rob Manfred Capitalizing On Global Pandemic To Kill Minor League Baseball

Let’s call it what it is. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball sought to kill the Major League draft not because of the COVID19 pandemic. No, he used it as a ruse to facilitate his plan to contract minor league baseball.

Remember, Baseball America first reported Manfred’s plans to contract 42 minor league teams in November. That plan included reducing the draft to 20 rounds, and it was going to be pushed back from June to August. There was also going to be a limit of 150-200 minor leaguers for each organization. Currently, there is no limit.

By and through these plans, short season ball is going to be effectively eliminated. In terms of the Mets, that means no more Kingsport Mets, and it means the Brooklyn Cyclones will have to pay a fee in the ballpark from $8 – $12 million dollars to move from the New York-Penn League to Double-A.

That also effectively puts the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in limbo. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The Rumble Ponies have already been pegged as one of the 42 teams subject to contraction. It is something they are fighting fiercely.

One of the key elements to having no short-season ball is to not accumulate a larger number of minor league players. With fewer minor leaguers, you do not have enough players for leagues like the Appalachian, Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, and other leagues. By moving the draft back to August, you no longer have the need to have a league for college and high school players to get some playing time in before the end of the year.

This is exactly what Major League Baseball is doing a year earlier, and they are using the COVID19 pandemic as an excuse. They’ll say they didn’t have an opportunity to scout players who are entering this year’s draft due to high school and collegiate years being shut down, but that’s a lie. Major League Baseball has been well aware of those players they were going to draft, and they have been scouting them for years.

What they missed is the opportunity to see them grow or regress. Keep in mind, they have no issue using their big money on those draft picks as the first five picks receive the largest bonuses. This was more about cost control by prorating bonuses paid to minor leaguers over a few years, by capping the bonuses given to now undrafted players, and by taking a step forward in eliminating a significant portion of the minor leagues.

To show you how short-sighted this plan is look at the New York Mets roster by where they were drafted:

Think about that for a second. Under this plan, the reigning two-time Cy Young award winner who has established himself as the best pitcher in baseball would not get drafted in 2020. Looking further, under Manfred’s master plan, Mike Piazza, one of two Mets in the Hall of Fame, would never have been drafted, and it is questionable if he ever would have received an opportunity due to the cap on minor league players.

Looking at this plan and agreement, there is one glaring omission. In addition to deferring payments to 2020 draftees, there was no provision in this agreement to pay minor league players their 2020 salary. On that note, both Rob Manfred and Tony Clark should be ashamed of themselves.

Really, this entire agreement is an embarassment for baseball. The sport needed better leadership than what they are providing, and worse yet, the commissioner is taking advantage of global pandemic to take away money and jobs from players and minor league employees.

Mets Problematic Tommy John History

The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.

Jeremy Hefner

The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.

Matt Harvey

Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.

In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was  wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.

Bobby Parnell

Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.

Zack Wheeler

While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.

He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.

Steven Matz

A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.

Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

Jacob deGrom

When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.

With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.

As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.

Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.

Position Players

The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.

Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.

He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.

This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.

Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.