Zack Wheeler

David Peterson Out-Duels Zack Wheeler

This should have been a pitching mismatch with Zack Wheeler dueling against David Peterson. The disparity was widened due to Peterson’s struggles against the Phillies in his young career.

Instead, Peterson threw the best game of his young career.

Over six innings, Peterson would limit the Phillies to one run on two hits and no walks. He’d strike out an astonishing 10 batters. The only blemish was a Jean Segura homer in the fifth.

Peterson needed to be this good because Wheeler was fantastic as well. The key with good pitchers like him is to jump on them early before they get in a groove.

Brandon Nimmo, who seemingly can’t make an out anymore, led off the game with a single. Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith followed with a pair of singles to put the Mets up 1-0 without recording an out.

The Mets chances of blowing it wide open early was stymied when Pete Alonso hit into a double play. The bright side was a run scored to make it 2-0.

It was 2-1 heading into the seventh when Luis Rojas tabbed Jeurys Familia. With Miguel Castro and Trevor May realistically unavailable, this was a good spot to see if Familia could grab big innings again.

Familia would walk J.T. Realmuto to start the inning, and Realmuto would go to second on a fielder’s choice. Segura followed with an infield single putting runners at the corners. On the play, Linder tried to pick Realmuto off third to no avail.

When Didi Gregorius was announced as a pinch hitter, Rojas went to Aaron Loup. Loup did his job getting the ground ball to induce the inning ending 6-6-3 double play.

Loup had his best game with the Mets. After getting the inning ending double play in the seventh, he retired the Phillies 1-2-3 in the eighth striking out two.

While the Mets bullpen was at work, Joe Girardi got a little greedy with Wheeler pushing him to start the seventh. After retiring Nimmo, Lindor and Smith got back-to-back hits setting up runners at the corners.

After 108 pitches, Girardi finally lifted Wheeler for Sam Coonrod. Coonrod got Alonso out, but Lindor would score on the sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The top of the Mets lineup was fantastic tonight. The top three batters combined to go 8-for-14 with three runs, a walk, and an RBI.

The Mets added some more insurance runs in the eighth. Michael Conforto led off the inning by getting hit on the elbow . . . again. Astoundingly, Conforto’s elbow has been hit by four pitches, and he’s gotten three hits with his bat. James McCann made JoJo Romero pay by hitting his first homer as a Met:

Edwin Diaz came on in a non-save situation in the ninth, and he closed the door on the Mets 5-1 victory. Mets are now the only team in the NL East two games over .500, and they don’t seem like they’re looking back.

Game Notes: Nimmo leads the majors with a .583 OBP. There is rain in the forecast putting tomorrow’s game in jeopardy.

Fernando Tatis, Jr. Injury Reminiscent Of Michael Conforto

Back in 2017, Michael Conforto had emerged as a true star. In fact, he had made his first All-Star appearance, and at 24, the former first round pick was starting to push to become one of the best players in baseball.

That’s exactly when disaster struck. Robbie Ray threw a pitch, Conforto took a big cut, and then he went down:

Conforto tore the posterior capsule in his shoulder requiring surgery. At the time, there was a real question whether he’d ever get back to being Conforto.

There were a lot of factors, including his being completely and unnecessarily rushed back, but it would take him about a year to get back.

Truth be told, it was longer than that. It probably wasn’t until nearly two years after did we see Conforto return to the form he was at before that swing.

That’s exactly the thoughts which ran through Mets fans minds when Fernando Tatis Jr. went down.

No injuries are quite the same. Even two of the same injury is not the same. Just look to how Zack Wheeler needed multiple years and surgeries to return from Tommy John whereas Noah Syndergaard seems primed to go once he’s eligible to come off the IL.

That said, it would seem Tatis is likely gone for the year. Fortunately for San Diego Padres fans, their front office doesn’t have Jeff Wilpon. That means doctors will make decisions on Tatis’ rehab and return.

It should also be noted this is the benefit of Tatis’ mega-extension. Both he and the team will be forced to take the long term view. There’s no rush to play him in his pre-arbitration or team control years because he’ll be a Padre for a decade.

That’s decidedly different for Conforto. He didn’t get the benefit of the organization taking a long term view of his career. Tatis will, and he will be better for it.

Jed Lowrie And Zack Wheeler Have Outhit Mets Roster And Other Alarming 2021 Stats

After being unable to make more than eight hitless pinch hitting attempts over two years, Jed Lowrie has out-hit the entire Mets team in 2021. For that matter, so has Zack Wheeler.

So much for the universal DH.

Wheeler also has more strikeouts than anyone on the Mets pitching staff including Jacob deGrom. For that matter, so has Matt Harvey. In fact, Harvey has struck out more batters than the entire Mets staff combined.

If you think that’s scary, consider Chris Flexen does as well. In fact, Flexen has more wins that the Mets do this year. Of course, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering Brodie Van Wagenen was horrible as the GM.

Of course, we all know the reasons why Wheeler is out-hitting the Mets, and Flexen has been stats than anyone on the Mets is because the Mets haven’t been able to play their opening series.

Until that point, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Carlos Carrasco are atop all the Mets pitching categories despite their not being able to begin their season for at least a month. Of course, no one is pitching for the Mets now.

The stats are so skewed J.D. Davis is the Mets top fielder . . . and hitter. Right now, Davis can be considered the Mets player because he’s tied atop every statistic. That’s how you know things aren’t great.

Fortunately, the Mets hiatus will be over soon when they take the field in Philadelphia on Monday. When that happens, we should soon see deGrom correct a number of these bizarre discrepancies caused by the Nationals COVID infections.

Good Day For Former Mets Pitchers

Thanks to the Washington Nationals, we can’t watch New York Mets baseball just yet. What we could do was see former Mets pitchers in action.

Matt Harvey took the ball for the Baltimore Orioles, and he looked good. His slider was moving, and he touched 95 MPH. Unfortunately, he fell one-third of an inning short of the win.

Zack Wheeler took the ball for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he’d have more hits himself than he allowed. He was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

On the mound, he struck out 10 over 7.0 innings with the only hit against him coming from Travis d’Arnaud.

We also saw the former bullpen arms do well. Darren O’Day pitched 0.2 scoreless and picked up a hold. Michael Fulmer picked up a hold for pitching a scoreless inning while hitting 95 MPH.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good day for former Mets pitchers. Hopefully, that momentum for Mets pitchers will confine when the Mets are finally able to start their season on Monday.

Mets Should Begin 2021 Season With Six Man Rotation

Typically speaking, you don’t like to see pitchers jump over 100.0 innings from one season to the next. The problem is with the 60 game season in 2020 nearly every pitcher in Major League Baseball is going to have to make that jump. How to combat this is going to be a concern for all 30 Major League teams, especially the New York Mets.

The Mets have Marcus Stroman, who didn’t pitch last year, and they have Noah Syndergaard returning from Tommy John at some point this season. Carlos Carrasco is still building up his endurance on the mound after battling leukemia. There is also the opportunity for David Peterson to crack the Opening Day rotation. Throw in protecting Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher in baseball, and you see how the Mets may want to find a way to limit everyone’s innings.

There’s more to it as well. None of these pitchers threw even 70.0 innings last year. We don’t know when, but it is reasonable to assume at some point the Mets starters may face fatigue and may hit a wall. As we typically see, there are going to be a few pitchers who battled ineffectiveness and hit the proverbial dead arm periods. That’s even with extremely well conditioned pitchers like deGrom and Stroman.

Really, the Mets need to figure out the best possible way to let their pitchers keep strong all season long, and hopefully, be in a position to be as strong as possible heading into October. In a different way, that was an issue the Mets had in 2015.

That season, the Mets opted to throw their five best pitchers to start the season. To a certain extent, Zack Wheeler‘s needing Tommy John forced the issue there. Beyond that, the Mets didn’t really plan for making the postseason. Their season as well as Matt Harvey‘s return from his own Tommy John surgery as well as Scott Boras forcing the issue with innings limits forced the Mets to confront the issue.

At times, we saw a six man rotation. That was something which was met with some resistance from the Mets young starting staff. To a certain extent, you could understand that as baseball players, especially starters, are creatures of habit. Considering that being the case, perhaps it would be better to start the season with a six man rotation to give the Mets starters a better opportunity to adapt.

Certainly, the Mets have the arms to pull that off. To start the year, they already have a strong top of the rotation with deGrom, Stroman, Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. After that, they have a strong competition for the fifth starter spot with Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto. There is also players like Jerad Eickhoff and Corey Oswalt who could force their way into the conversation.

In terms of Spring Training competitions, we should not that they’re terrible in nature. You’re judging a bunch of players against differing levels of competition. You may get to face a team full of Double-A to Four-A players and dominate while another player gets to face Major League caliber competition. That leads to skewed results.

One way to combat that is to take your best six pitchers up north. You can ease your four best pitchers into the 2021 season and then get a better look at the fifth starters against Major League competition. This means while you are saving your best pitchers for the end of the season, you are also getting a better look at your pitchers in what could be described as a protracted competition.

Keep in mind, you can easily skip this sixth starter in the rotation if need be and have them available in the bullpen. With early season rain outs and off days, you may not want to go right to the sixth starter. That also gives the team an added benefit to see how a Lucchesi or Yamamoto could look coming out of the pen for an inning or more.

Overall, there is a lot of benefit to having a six man rotation to start the season. Pulling it off properly requires a deft touch by Luis Rojas. If done properly, the Mets can secure a postseason spot, and they can have deGrom at full strength to have a similar run to what he had in 2015. In fact, imagine what he could do now! But before that, we just have to figure out a way for him and the rest of this rotation to navigate the 2021 season.

Jake Arrieta Feels Like A Jeff Wilpon Move

Before the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen, you could almost be assured the team would have had heavy interest in Jake Arrieta. Really, this was a play out of their playbook. It was a big name, and they could tout adding a Cy Young winner to the rotation.

We saw it just last offseason. They let Zack Wheeler go to the Philadelphia Phillies unchallenged and chastised him as having two half seasons. They would then promote adding former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and former NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. It didn’t matter neither pitcher was still in that form, they were names the Mets could tout, and so they did.

Looking at Arrieta, it is hard to argue he is anything more than just a name at this point in his career. Like with Porcello and Wacha, he is far removed from the form he once was.

Since signing with the Phillies, Arrieta has seen his ERA rise in each of the last three seasons while seeing his ERA+ drop to a 90. His WHIP has gotten successively worse while seeing his H/9 and K/BB worsen each season. During his time in Philadelphia, he had a 4.36 ERA, 99 ERA+, and a 4.55 FIP. Based upon what we’ve seen of the soon to be 35 year old pitcher, that is only going to get worse.

Over at Baseball Savant, we see Arrieta has ceased getting swing and misses, and the contact against him has gotten increasingly harder. Batters are having an easier time squaring him up, and his velocity is down. When he was throwing 95 MPH with the Chicago Cubs, he was a true ace. At 92, he’s been a fifth starter on the verge of being a pitcher who may be forced into retirement.

Really, when you look at Arrieta, you have to wonder why the Mets would have interest. Arrieta hasn’t been all that good the past two seasons, and he has been trending downward since that Cy Young season in 2015. Of course, with all of these reasons, you could also understand the Mets may pursue him because they feel like they could build on something.

On that note, Arrieta’ GB/FB rate was back to the levels it was when he won the Cy Young in 2015. He was also unlucky last year with a .333 BABIP. Certainly, if you are the Mets, you can look at the addition of Francisco Lindor and their attempts to build an infield in 2021, and you could certainly talk yourself into it working.

If nothing else, it is a plan which would allow David Peterson to begin the year in Triple-A Syracuse. It allows the team to have to only look to rely on one of Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation. It is a bridge to when Noah Syndergaard is ready. Based on the likely commitment required to sign him, it is entirely possible it will be easy to cut bait with him should he falter.

On those grounds, you can certainly understand the Mets line of thinking. That said, when there are better and higher upside options available like James Paxton, you do wonder why the Mets would push for Arrieta right now. If the team was still operated by Jeff Wilpon, you would understand, and you could see this coming a mile away.

However, now, this move at this time seems odd. Perhaps, the Mets won’t go this route until the rest of the free agent starting pitching market shakes out. Maybe, they know something we don’t. At this point, it is anyone’s guess. We can only hope they know better and their hedging their bets here will pay off in a way it typically didn’t under Jeff Wilpon.

Mets Can Extend Noah Syndergaard And Marcus Stroman For Less Than What Trevor Bauer Wants

Once again, there are rumors the New York Mets are pursuing Trevor Bauer, and once again, there is a debate whether Bauer is worth it. While most of those debates focus on the personal, it rarely focuses on the budgetary.

Yes, we all know Steve Cohen has more money than the Wilpons, and he’s far more invested in winning. That said, even he has his limits, and he didn’t get this wealthy by just throwing money around like the Yankees when they see a Boston Red Sox player past their prime.

For the Mets, they have to best decide how to invest in players and the team. Looking at it from that perspective, you really have to wonder why the Mets would even bother contemplating signing Bauer.

MLB Trade Rumors projected Bauer could land a four year deal with a $32 million AAV. There have been claims Bauer could surpass Gerrit Cole‘s record $36 million AAV. Long story short it appears it’ll take approximately $30 million per year to sign Bauer.

Looking at the current Mets pitching staff, both Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That means the Mets will need to make a decision whether they want to re-sign one, both, or neither.

With Stroman and Syndergaard missing 2020 for differing reasons, Zack Wheeler is an interesting comp. Entering free agency, Wheeler had a strong season-and-a-half. From June 1, 2018 through 2019, he had a 3.26 FIP, and there was the expectation he would improve.

As a result, entering his age 30 season, he received a five year deal with a $23.6 million AAV. Syndergaard, 27, and Stroman, 29, ate slightly younger than Wheeler when he hit free agency. Syndergaard (3.25) has a better FIP than Wheeler over his last two years, and Stroman’s (3.79) is worse.

Given that and a number of other factors, we could well see Stroman and Syndergaard sign deals with an AAV comparable to Wheeler. For the sake of using round numbers, let’s say it’ll take $25 million per year to extend both Stroman and Syndergaard.

In 2020, because Stroman accepted the qualifying offer, he will make $18.9 million. Syndergaard and the Mets settled his final year of arbitration at $9.7 million.

That means, if the Mets were looking to give Stroman a deal with a $25 million AAV, he’d get a $6.1 million raise. For Syndergaard, that’s a $15.3 million raise. Combined, that’s $21.4 million.

Looking at it purely from a pitching perspective, the Mets could give Bauer $30 million, or they can use $21.6 million to keep Stroman and Syndergaard. That’s $8.4 million which can then be used for a Brad Hand or another area of need.

Keep in mind, that $30 million doesn’t have to be used for starting pitching. In addition to Stroman and Syndergaard, the Mets will see Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Seth Lugo, and maybe even Jacob deGrom hit free agency over the next few years.

Taking all that into account, you really have to wonder why the Mets would be pursuing Bauer. In reality, it’s a gross misallocation of resources. For what the Mets could give Bauer, they could keep two better ones and have money left over to further invest in the team.

Maybe the Mets still want Bauer, and maybe, they even sign him. Whatever the case, the Mets really have to make sure he’s worth all that comes with him, and given the expiring contracts, all that will likely go.

In reality, it’s far better to keep Stroman and Syndergaard than to sign Bauer. Hopefully, that’s the path the Mets pursue.

Zero Reason For Mets Fans To Be Concerned

One of the WFAN shows inquired whether Mets fans were starting to “feel anxious.” With all due respect, there’s no reason for any Mets fan to feel this way.

The team has an offer out to James McCann. So far, he has not signed with the Mets, but then again, he hasn’t agreed to terms with anyone. In the event McCann does the unexpected and signs with another team, J.T. Realmuto is still a free agent.

In addition to McCann and Realmuto, the following players remain on the free agent market:

  1. Trevor Bauer
  2. George Springer
  3. Brad Hand
  4. Liam Hendriks
  5. Masahiro Tanaka

There are many, many more players past that as none of the big ticket free agents have signed. On that note, the Mets have already had a great start to free agency by already bringing Marcus Stroman and Trevor May aboard.

In addition to the free agent market, we haven’t seen the main targets get traded. Those players include but aren’t limited to the following:

  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Nolan Arenado
  3. Blake Snell
  4. Zack Wheeler
  5. Kris Bryant

There are many more players available beyond that group. Much like the free agents, we have yet to see that blockbuster trade happen. So long as all of these players are available and there remains a multitude of options, there is absolutely no reason to feel anxious.

Remember, these are not the same old Mets. The Wilpons are gone and have been replaced by Steve Cohen. The Mets have money and will not have Jeff Wilpon interfering with Sandy Alderson running a competent organization.

Mets fans just need to relax and wait and see what the team will do this offseason. Based upon how it’s started and the resources available, the only anxiousness Mets fans will likely feel is for the season to come as soon as possible.

Zack Wheeler Might Be Best Pitcher Available

The Philadelphia Phillies are apparently punting on the 2021 season and their window to compete. Instead, they’re now looking to break it down and start anew.

Now, there are conflicting reports about whether that will include Zack Wheeler. Despite reports the Phillies were looking to shop him, team owner John Middleton saying, “If they offered me Babe Ruth, I wouldn’t trade him.”

Putting the hyperbole aside, it seems like the Phillies are looking to rebuild claiming poverty. If Wheeler is indeed available, he becomes the best pitching option available.

Yes, that includes Trevor Bauer.

In 2018, Wheeler finally put the injuries behind him to have a breakout season. Over the next two years, he proved that breakout was real.

From 2018 – 2020, Wheeler has had a 3.34 FIP which is the 14th best in baseball. Wheeler has a 27.5% hard hit rate which is second best in baseball. That is part of the reason Wheeler has a 9.4% HR/FB which is fourth best in baseball. Breaking this all down, Wheeler has emerged as an ace level pitcher.

By contrast, Bauer’s 3.38 FIP is a shade behind Wheeler. Bauer’s 37.1% hard hit rate is just 51st. Bauer’s HR/FB is 11.8% which is 13th. Yes, Bauer won the Cy Young, but over the relevant time span, he’s a clear step behind Wheeler.

That’s magnified by level of competition. As previously noted, Bauer has had the benefit of routinely facing terrible offensive teams. It’s been a much different story for Wheeler.

Over the past three years, the Braves are the eighth best offensive team in baseball by wRC+. The Nationals are a hair behind at 10th. Bauer hasn’t faced any teams near that level.

As you continue to break it down, Wheeler has been better than Bauer. According to speculation, he’s going to cost a lot less.

Wheeler has four years $96.5 million ($24.1 million AAV) remaining on his contract, which is quite a discount for his services. According to MLB Trade Rumors projections, Bauer is going to receive a contract with a $30+ million AAV.

If you’re the Mets looking for another starter for the rotation, there is no doubt Wheeler is the better option. Not only does he have the better stats against a higher level of competition, but he’s proven he could do it with the Mets.

With that being the case, the Mets should be pursuing Wheeler much more heavily I than Bauer. The only question right now is just how much the Phillies would want in return. That is, if the Phillies are indeed dumb enough to trade Wheeler.

2020 Mets Did Not Underachieve

As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.

Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.

Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.

In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.

Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.

An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.

By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.

The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.

Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.

Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.

You can’t win games that way.

What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.

Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.

Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.

Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.

The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.

On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.

Throw in Michael Wacha being predictably bad and injured and Steven Matz regressing, and this wasn’t even close to being a team being built to compete over a 162 or 60 game season.

Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.

In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.

However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.

That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.

Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.