Zack Wheeler

Potential Matt Harvey Replacements

The news that Matt Harvey may miss a significant amount of time due to the possibility that he may have thoracic outlet syndrom is devastating to not only Harvey himself, but also to the Mets rotation.  While Harvey was struggling all year with a 4.86 ERA, he is also a pitcher who can rise up in big games.  We have seen it time and time again with him whether it was him almost pitching a perfect game against the White Sox, being named the starter for the 2013 All Star Game, or his Game 5 of the World Series performance.  He was an important part of the Mets, and if he has an extended absence, he is going to leave behind some pretty big shoes to fill.

As of right now, the Mets have not announced who will take Harvey’s spot in the rotation for Harvey’s next scheduled start.  Fortunately, the Mets organization is fairly deep in major league capable starting pitching talent.  Here is a list of the potential candidates:

Logan Verrett

Last year when the Mets were trying to manage Harvey’s innings, it was Verrett who temporarily took his place in the rotation.  In Verrett’s four spot starts last year, he was a very respectable 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA.  This included a brilliant performance Verrett had in Colorado limiting the Rockies to four hits and one earned run in eight innings.  Unfortunately, Verrett has not had the same success as a spot starter this year.  In his five spot starts, he is 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA.  Part of those struggles may be attributed to the fact that Verrett has not been fully stretched out like he was when he took the ball for the Mets last year.  Accordingly, if Verrett was stretched out and able to pitch every fifth day, it would be reasonable to assume he could pitch as well as he did as a spot  starter last year – perhaps even better.

Sean Gilmartin

Verrett was picked over Gilmartin for the last spot in the Opening Day bullpen, and as a result, the Mets sent down Gilmartin to be a member of their AAA starting rotation.  Last year, we saw that Gilmartin knows how to get major league hitters out.  In 50 appearances, he was 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, a 2.75 FIP, and a 143 ERA+.  When he made multiple inning relief appearances last year, he was 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.  The only caution with Gilmartin is he has not been as successful this year as he was last year.  In his 13 AAA starts, he is 9-3 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.336 WHIP.  In his five major league relief appearances, Gilmartin has a 7.00 ERA and a 1.556 WHIP.  However, it should be noted Gilmartin’s struggles started when he was being jerked back and forth between Las Vegas and the Mets, between relieving and starting.  Before his first call-up, Gilmartin was 4-1 with a 2.58 ERA in the very hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.  Overall, Gilmartin has shown he can get major league hitters out and pitch well as a starter.

Seth Lugo

When Harvey was put on the disabled list, the Mets called-up Lugo who dazzled in his two inning relief appearance.  In that outing, Lugo used all five out his pitches to get a potent Cubs lineup out.  He featured a 94 MPH fastball and a wicked curveball.  He curveball was working so well he was able to get Anthony Rizzo to swing at a pitch that moved so much it would hit him on his back foot.  He certainly has the tools to be an effective starter even if he hasn’t had the results in AAA this year.  Given his repetoire and the ability to work with pitching coach Dan Warthen, the Mets just might have a pitcher who could blossom on the major league level similar to how Jacob deGrom did when he was called-up to the Mets in 2014.

Gabriel Ynoa

If the Mets are going to turn to their prospects for a solution, Ynoa deserves some consideration as well.  By any measure, the 23 year old Ynoa has been the Las Vegas 51s’ best starting pitcher.  In a hitter friendly league, the Pacific Coast League All Star is 9-3 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.353 WHIP in 17 starts.  The only questions with Ynoa is if the Mets believe he is ready to make the leap to the majors and whether his ability to enduce groundballs is a good fit for a Mets infield whose players have limited range.

Rafael Montero

If the Mets are inclined to take a risk with a Lugo or a Ynoa, they may be inclined to give Montero one last shot.  However, as we have seen with Montero, it gets harder and harder to justify giving him another opportunity.  When he was with the Mets this past year, he had an 11.57 ERA and a 2.571 WHIP in his two appearances thereby more than justifying Terry Collins‘ almost outright refusal to put him into a game.  Down in AAA, Montero is 4-6 with a 7.88 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 starts.  This isn’t the same guy the Mets once thought had a bright future.  Keep in mind, the Mets thought he had a future as far back as last year when he made the Opening Day roster as a member of the bullpen.  Maybe just maybe giving this guy one last shot could wake him up, and it could bring out the best in him.  It’s possible working closely with Dan Warthen may allow him to fulfill the promise he had when the Mets valued him as a prospect.

Overall, the Mets have many directions they could go.  Each of the aforementioned starters could step-up and hold the fort until either Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler is able to return from the disabled list to help lead the Mets back to the World Series.  Ultimately, this is going to be an opportunity for one or more of these pitchers.  It’s up to them to step up and stake a claim to a spot in the rotation.  It’s up to them to make it hard for the Mets to remove them from the rotation much like deGrom did in 2014 when he won the Rookie of the Year Award.  If one of these pitchers has a run like that, it would give the Mets six or seven terrific starters.  That would be an amazing problem to have.

Editor’s Note: this was also published on metsmerizedonline.com

 

Bone Spurs Is the New Tommy John

Going into the season, the major concern was Tommy John.  There was the fear that Noah Syndergaard would need Tommy John surgery due to his velocity and work load.  There was concern over whether Zack Wheeler would be able to successfully return from Tommy John surgery.  There was less of a concern about whether Josh Edgin could as well.  There were concerns over how Matt Harvey would handle his second year post Tommy John surgery.  All of that concern was misplaced.

As it turns out, everyone should have been concerned over bone spurs even if Syndergaard won’t admit he has one.Both Syndergaard and Steven Matz have gone from All Star Cy Young caliber seasons to everyone wondering if they need surgery, if their seasons are over.  We don’t know when the problems began, but we do know that something is affecting them now.

Starting with Matz, who has admitted an elbow problem, there has been a precipitous drop off in his pitching.  In a nine start stretch, Matz was 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.007 WHIP while averaging roughly 6.2 innings per start.  He was limiting batters to a .222/.266/.282 batting line.  At that point, Matz was the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award.  He was putting up All Star caliber numbers.  His last three starts present a much different pitcher.

In Matz’s last three starts, he is 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA and a 1.470 WHIP while only averaging roughly 5.1 innings per start.  Batters are teeing off on him to the tune of a .324/.338/.529 batting line.  What is really troubling in each of these starts is that Matz falls apart in the fifth inning.  In each of the aforementioned three starts, he has no allowed one run through the first four innings of a game.  The worst of it was when the woeful Braves offense chased Matz from the game after allowing six runs in two-thirds of an inning.  Now, he’s missing today’s start, and the Mets are debating whether or not he needs surgery.

Syndergaard is a more interesting case as he’s denying the bone spurs rumors, but again like Matz something is wrong.  As the season began, all we could talk about what Syndergaard’s new 95 MPH slider, and his emergence as the ace of the Mets pitching staff.  Up until his last two starts, Syndergaard was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP.  He was averaging roughly 6.2 innings per start.  He stymied batters limiting them to a .223/.252/.312 batting line.  If Clayton Kershaw were not alive, we would have been talking not just about the Cy Young award but also the possibility that Syndergaard is the best pitcher in baseball.

In Syndergaard’s last two starts we saw something uncharacteristic from him.  He struggled.  While his pitching line from his June 22nd start against Kansas City didn’t raise any red flags his pitching did.  Syndergaard didn’t seem to have the pinpoint command he has had all year, and on a couple of occassions, he crossed up his catcher Rene Rivera.  At the time, it was seen as a blip on the radar, but after last night’s start and the reports from yesterday, there is a real reason for concern.

The Nationals, who are no offensive powerhouse themselves, took Syndergaard to the woodshed.  Syndergaard only lasted three innings allowing five earned runs.  To put it in perspective, Syndergaard only allowed five earned runs in all of April.  He had a season high three walks.  Runners were stealing bases left and right off of him and Travis d’Arnaud.  Now Ron Darling did point out that he didn’t seem in sync with Travis d’Arnaud, but was that really the problem?  This is the second straight start Syndergaard has had trouble locating pitches.  There are a numbers of explanations why that could be the case, but after the reports of his having a bone spur in his elbow, the bone spur seems to be the most likely reason for Syndergaard’s recent struggles.

Overall, Matz and Syndergaard might be fine and be able to finish out the year.  Right now, that proposition is a little hard to believe seeing them struggle recently and hearing news about bone spurs in their elbows.  If Syndergaard and Matz are unable to pitch effectively through these bone spurs, the Mets are going to be in trouble.  If that is the case, it will be bone spurs, not Tommy John, that will damage the Mets chances of going back to the World Series.

Mets Fans Can Still Dream

It seemed like disaster struck for the Mets. Both Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes were forced to leave Wednesday’s game due to injuries. For Cespedes, it was his left wrist. For Syndergaard, it was the dreaded elbow complaints. Speaking of elbow complaints, it appeared that Zack Wheeler had a Jeremy Hefner-like setback during his Tommy John rehab. 

It was seriousness enough that the Mets weren’t screwing around this time. They immediately sent Cespedes and Syndergaard to see Dr. Altchek.   

 
While these two Mets were getting themselves examined for potential season-ending injuries, Mets fans were left to drive themselves crazy. I spent most of the time trying to talk myself into Sean Gilmartin or Rafael Montero as a viable fifth starter.  I looked to see how Brandon Nimmo‘s numbers would translate to the majors. I thought about moves like signing Yusileski Gourriel
I kept reminding myself that Steven Matz was 7-3. I harkened back to last year when there was a big three of Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom. We haven’t seen the best of Harvey or deGrom yet, and Matz had shown the ability to potentially replicate what Syndergaard last year. I kept telling myself the Mets were going to be fine. All they have to do is make the playoffs with that pitching staff and bullpen. It was possible. 

Fortunately, Syndergaard put our minds at ease:

Happy elbows for me and mini Thor

A photo posted by Noah Syndergaard (@nsyndergaard) on

After that tidbit of good news, we learned neither he nor Cespedes are headed to the DL. Furthermore, tests revealed Wheeler has no structural damages. 

We don’t know when Cespedes can return to the lineup, nor do we know if Syndergaard will make his next start. However, we do know they will play again in the near future. We also learned there is still hope for Wheeler returning to the Mets to pitch this year. It’s a huge relief. 

Now, instead of staying up all night trying to dream up scenarios where the Mets can compete without their best hitter or pitcher, I can put my head down and go to sleep in peace. I imagine that I’ll dream of the Mets winning the World Series behind Cespedes, Syndergaard, and maybe even Wheeler. 

The Mets Shortstops Came Up Big

When the lineup was announced, the main reaction everyone had was “HOW CAN YOU START MATT REYNOLDS IN LEFTFIELD!”  Matt Reynolds never played in the outfield in his professional career, and the Mets were sitting Michael Conforto against Danny Duffy, the pitcher off whom he hit a home run against in the World Series.  In the bottom of the sixth, Reynolds made Terry Collins look like a genius with his first career home run:

  
His homerun broke the 3-3 tie, and it put Noah Syndergaard in position for a win after what was an uneven outing.

The Mets other three runs were courtesy of the Mets other shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera, who actually played shortstop today.  In the fourth, he scored off a James Loney two out RBI single with a nifty slide:

 
In the top of the fifth that 1-0 lead would quickly evaporte when Syndergaard allowed Chelsor Cuthbert to hit a solo home run.  The Royals continued the rally, and they would eventually went ahead 2-1 on a Whit Merrifield RBI single scoring Jarrod Dyson.  This meant Cabrera would have to go back to work by hitting a go-ahead two run home run (scoring Curtis Granderson).

Syndergaard had a rough sixth inning.  He got Rene Rivera crossed-up not once but twice.  One of them went for a wild pitch moving Salvador Perez to third.  He would score on a Paulo Orlando RBI single tying the game at three.  The Mets would go ahead for good on the aforementioned Reynolds’ home run.

In the eighth, Cabrera would leave his impression on the game AGAIN with a great stab and behind the back throw to get the force out at second. 

  
It would help Addison Reed pitch a scoreless eighth. Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the 4-3 win. With that save, Familia is now tied with Armando Benitez for most consecutive saves to start a season (24). 

After the stretch the Mets went through, including getting swept by the dreadful Braves, you would feel terrific after sweeping a two game set against the team that beat you in the World Series.  However, there remains some trepidation as Yoenis Cespedes had to leave the game with an apparent wrist injury after his walk in the fifth.  He was replaced by Alejandro De Aza, who may be set to get more playing time in center if Cespedes needs to miss any period of time.  Given the way De Aza has played this year, it is an not all too enticing proposition. 

With that said, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy this win while waiting with baited breath for the Cespedes news. By the way, we still don’t know about Zack Wheeler and his elbow. Good times. 

Game Notes: Jerry Blevins continues to put up zeroes:

Shades of 2015

Its astounding how much 2016 is paralleling 2015. This year, like last year, 46 games into the season, they trail the Nationals in the division. Interestingly enough, this is not where the parallels end.

Catcher

Last year and this year, Travis d’Arnaud had a significant injury forcing him to miss a significant period of time. This pressed Kevin Plawecki into assuming the starting catcher’s job, and he struggled. However, Plawecki kept on catching because his backup was a good defensive poor hitting catcher. Last year was Anthony Recker. This year it’s Rene Rivera.

Back Issues

Last year, the Mets faced the prospect of not knowing when or if David Wright could return due to his back problems. As a result, Eric Campbell played many more games than the Mets ever anticipated he would. The same thing is happening now as a result of Lucas Duda‘s stress fracture in his lower back.

Minor Leaguers Not Ready for the Majors

With the rash injuries last year, the Mets trotted out the likes of Daniel Muno and Darrell Ceciliani to try to fill in the gaps. It didn’t work. This year the Mets have pressed Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly into action. Reynolds and Kelly are having similar difficulties.

Rotation Issues

Last year, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee were having the worst years of their careers thereby putting the pressure on the other starters. The Mets were stuck in a holding pattern about making a change as the obvious replacement, Noah Syndergaard, still needed a little more time. This year it is Matt Harvey struggling while the obvious replacement in the rotation, Zack Wheeler, still needs more time to get ready to pitch in the majors.

Colon Dependability 

At this point last year, Bartolo Colon was 7-3 with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.20  This year Colon is 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.  This year and last year the Mets have been able to count on Colon to take the ball every fifth day and give them a chance to win.

Mid 30’s Corner Outfielder

Through May 25th last year, Michael Cuddyer was hitting .250/.328/.372. This year Curtis Granderson is hitting .204/.304/.413. Like Cuddyer last year, the Mets are relying heavily on Granderson, and unfortunately, they are not getting the production they need from them.

Second Year Starter Stepping Up

Last year, Jacob deGrom went from Rookie of the Year to All Star.  He emerged as the ace of the staff. This year that honor belongs to Syndergaard. Syndergaard has been dominating on the mound like deGrom did last year. He’s a likely All Star, and he’s quickly become the staff’s ace. Honorable mention should go to Steven Matz here as well.

Call for the AA Prospect to Get Called Up

Last year with a rash of injuries and offensive ineptitude, Mets fans shouted from the rooftops that Michael Conforto should be called up to the majors from AA. This year the fans have begun the same with Dominic Smith due to Duda’s injury and Campbell playing there everyday.

Jeurys Familia

Last year, Famila was as dominant as anyone at the end of the game. He started the year a perfect 13/13 in save chances. This year Familia is back to his dominant form. He’s a perfect 16/16 in save chances. As in 2015, Familia is going to slam the door shut.

The Two Team Race

Last year the Braves were the upstarts that faltered. This year will be the Phillies. However, when the dust clears, this is really a two team race between the Mets and the Nationals for the NL East.

Just remember that no matter how bad things got last year, the Mets still won the division by seven games. This year the Mets have a much better team across the board. We may sometimes forget this when the Mets slump or have a couple of injuries. However, this is a much better Mets team that can win the division. This is still a World Series contender.  That’s the overriding lesson from 2015.

The Mets Awaken

Today is Star Wars Day (May the Fourth – get it?). In celebration of the day, here are the Mets alter egos from Episode VII: The Force Awakens:

Yoenis Cespedes – Poe Dameron

  • Both Poe and Cespedes were renown for their incredible air power (Cespedes- HR, Poe – pilot). Both were thought to be gone only to return to the joy of everyone. We now know victory is certain. 

Matt Harvey – Kylo Ren

  • Both were once the most powerful apprentices only to have a younger one with long hair and more powers usurp them. Despite their most recent losses, they will be heard from again. 

Noah Syndergaard – Rey

  • Both were lost in the desert (Thor – Vegas, Rey – Jakku). Neither knew when they were going to be able to find their next lunch. Both are extremely powerful and are only now starting to realize it. 

Michael Conforto – Finn

  • Neither were supposed to be here. Neither were supposed to show any signs of greatness. Instead, they broke the mold and carved out a new path for themselves. 

Curtis Granderson – Han Solo

  • They’ve been around a long time, but they are still as cool as ever. It may be surprising, but they are in the thick of things like they always were. The only problem is there are some young upstarts (Granderson – Conforto, Han – Kylo Ren), who may push them aside. However, before that time comes, they will be heard from again. 

Bartolo Colon – Chewbacca

  • All these years later, they may be a step slow, but they still are large and in charge.  One moment you’re questioning what something so old can do to you. The next, you’re getting your arm or bat taken from you. 

Captain David Wright – General Leia Organa 

  • Years ago, they thought they had accomplished it all as the young, brash good looking people they were. Unfortunately, they didn’t. There’s still more work to be done. The difference is now they have to be the leaders and show a new generation how it’s done. 

Logan Verrett – BB8

  • Both are taking over for someone else’s role (Verrett – Sean Gilmartin, BB8 – R2D2), and they are performing admirably. 

Zack Wheeler – R2D2

  • Both are sitting around, shut down, but both still have a very important role to play. 

Jacob deGrom – C3PO

  • Both have problems with their arms (deGrom – decreased velocity, C3PO – it’s red) and no one knows how it happened. No worries. They’re back and better than ever. 

    Dan Warthen – Maz Kanata

    • Both seem to have the secrets needed to unlock people’s secret powers and lead them on the path to greatness. Plus they kinda look alike. 

      
      

      Terry Collins – Admiral Ackbar

      • Both seem like this has all passed them by, but they have returned. They came back and led their people to great victories (Collins – NL, Ackbar – blowing up the Starkiller Base). Now if only Collins had screamed, “It’s a trap!” in Game 5 of the World Series . . . .

        Lucas Duda – Captain Phasma

        • Their roles are relatively overlooked. Both are large and intimidating presences that can destroy you in the blink of an eye. 

        Juan Lagares – Snap Wexley

        • Both have been here since the new generation’s fight began, but they’ve been pushed aside by Poe/Cespedes who gets all the focus and glory. 

        Mike Piazza – Luke Skywalker

        • The time has come where their greatness has now become the stuff of legends. They are now at the shrines where it all began (Piazza – Cooperstown, Luke – first Jedi temple)

        Note, there are no Mets compared to Supreme Leader Snoke or General Hux as they just seem pure evil with no chance for hope. With that said, I think there’s enough room here for one more:

        Chase Utley – General Hux

        • Their sole intent is to destroy everything for their victory regardless of the consequences. Actually, that’s not true. The more amoral pain and violence inflicted the better. The good news is that no matter what they do, they will ultimately fail. 

        Zack Wheeler: Future Hall of Famer?

        During MLB Tonight, former players were asked to compare themselves to current major league players. During John Smoltz‘s segment, he compared himself with a Mets pitcher who had Hall of Fame talent . . . Zack Wheeler

        During his breakdown, Smoltz noted he and Wheeler have both had Tommy John surgery. He also broke down how both he and Wheeler had the inverted W (which is really an M) and had the same landing point. There’s another comparison Smoltz failed to mention. They were both overshadowed by other Cy Young/Hall of Fame caliber pitchers in the same rotation. 

        Just like Smoltz was overshadowed by Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, Wheeler has become overshadowed by Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Some would even argue he’s been surpassed by Steven Matz

        For Smoltz, it didn’t matter he was overshadowed. He built himself a Hall of Fame career. He was 213-155 with 154 saves, a 3.33 ERA, and a 1.174 WHIP. He won a Cy Young Award and was an eight All Star. He was an incredible postseason pitcher taking his game to the next level. He was 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.144 WHIP. 

        Now, Wheeler is not on this level. So far in his career, he’s 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.339 WHIP. That doesn’t mean he can’t improve. He’s a four pitch pitcher with a 96 MPH fastball and a 89 MPH slider. He’s got the stuff to dominate. He just needs better control and pitch location. Once he does that, the results will come. 

        All Wheeler had to do is make adjustments. As Smoltz noted in the segment, he consistently made adjustments in his career to get better. With each adjustment, Smoltz would improve. 

        Making the right adjustments is the final piece to the puzzle. If he can do it, he can have a long dominating career like Smoltz. The awards and accolades will come no matter how much another ace overshadows him. 

        Wheeler Reminds Us TJ Rehab Doesn’t Always Go Smoothly

        Last year, we were all spoiled by Matt Harvey‘s return from Tommy John surgery. Even if it took him almost a full season to find his slider, he pitched well, and he was healthy all year. We forgot that he had major surgery and issues can arise during either the surgery or rehabilitation period. 

        We forgot about former Mets like Jason Isringhausen, who had three Tommy John surgeries. We forgot about Jeremy Hefner, who was rehabbing from his Tommy John surgery at the same time as Harvey. During his rehab, something went wrong, and he had to have a second Tommy John surgery. Mets released him, and now he’s working his way back to the majors through the Cardinals’ organization. Harvey made us forget about all that could go wrong. 

        Now, there are reports that Zack Wheeler needed to have minor surgery to remove a stitch that didn’t resolve from his Tommy John surgery.  He’s going to need two weeks off to allow the wound to heal. He’s now at least two more weeks further away from pitching in the 2016 season. 

        It’s a reminder that while we all look forward to Wheeler toeing the rubber again, it’s far from a foregone conclusion that’ll happen. There’s still every possibility that Wheeler could have another setback on his road back. In reality, until further notice, Bartolo Colon is the Mets’ fifth starter. Overall, anything the Mets get from Wheeler this year is an unexpected bonus. 

        We forgot all of that during Harvey’s 2015 season. We’re now reminded of it again. Let’s all wish Wheeler a speedy recovery and wait for the day that he’s once again pitching for the Mets . . . whenever that might be. 

        Thor Trying to Avoid Tommy John Surgery

        Going into the 2016 season, there is one fear each and every Mets fan has. We dare not speak its name, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still present. That fear is that a pitcher will get seriously injured. 

        Looking at this year’s list of pitchers who could befall the dreaded “Verducci Effect,” Noah Syndergaard headlines that list. If Syndergaard was to suffer a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery? it would greatly hinder the Mets chances of winning not only the World Series, but also making it to the postseason. It’s something that not just Mets fans fear, but as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports, Syndergaard fears it also:

        I’ve thought about it quite a bit. But I trust myself to put my body in the right situations to be able to perform at a healthy level. 

        The fear is justified. Syndergaard threw 65.2 innings more last year. He throws over 95 MPH more than anyone in the game. He’s working to add the fabled Warthen Slider to his already dominant repertoire. Name a risk factor for UCL years requiring Tommy John surgery. Syndergaard meets most if not all of them. 

        One risk factor not readily discussed is the team he plays for. Look at the projected Mets rotation when healthy: Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler. Put aside Syndergaard for a moment. What do the other four have in common?  They are all hard throwing pitchers under the age of 30 who have already had Tommy John surgery. 

        Go outside this group. Since Warthen took over as the Mets pitching coach, the following homegrown Mets have sustained arm injuries: Jon Niese (shoulder), Dillon Gee (shoulder), Jeremy Hefner (two Tommy John surgeries), Rafael Montero (shoulder), Bobby Parnell (Tommy John), Josh Edgin (Tommy John), Jack Leathersich (Tommy John). There are more, but you get the point. 

        Now, is this an organizational problem since Warthen took over, or is it just bad luck?  Could this all have been avoided?  Back in the 60’s and 70’s the Mets developed pitchers like Tom SeaverJerry KoosmanNolan Ryan, and Jon Matlack. These pitchers threw more innings than the pitchers today, and yet, Matlack was the only one of this group that suffered an arm injury. 

        In the 80’s, the Mets had Dwight GoodenRon DarlingSid Fernandez, Rick AguileraRandy Myers and David Cone. Of this group, only Doc and Cone had arm issues. It should be noted that Doc had many other issues as well, and Cone’s problem was an aneurysm later in his career. 

        In the 90’s, Generation K was a bust, and the Mets haven’t developed the caliber of starting pitchers like they have in the past until now. However, this generation seems to befall injuries far more often than their predecessors. Is it organizational?  Is it bad luck?  Is it preparation?  For his part, Harvey wonders what if:

        I think now, there are things I could have done better in high school or in college to maybe prevent it. But I don’t know. I’m not saying [Syndergaard] works that much harder than everybody else, because we all work hard. I think as time progresses, guys pay more attention to stretching the shoulder, strengthening the shoulder. If I could go back — I don’t know if this would’ve prevented me from having [surgery], but if I could go back and really do 20 extra minutes of stretching and arm care, you never know what could happen. 

        That’s the thing. We really don’t know why one guy suffers elbow and shoulder injuries while others don’t. Is it preparation?  Is it good genes?  Is it just good luck?  Much time, energy, and money has been spent on this issue, and yet pitchers still get injured. Pitchers get injured despite teams doing everything in their power to try to prevent it. 

        It will help Syndergaard being in a clubhouse with players who have had Tommy John surgery. They each will have advice for him on why they suffered the injury and what they could’ve done differently. More importantly, Syndergaard appears to be a hard worker who takes the health of his arm very seriously.  There is no doubt he is doing everything he can do to avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery. 

        Based on what we’ve seen, if anyone can avoid it, it’s him. 

        Editor’s Note: this article was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

        Tejada’s Time With the Mets Should Be Short

        I’m sure Jedd Gyorko could be the answer to many questions. However, I’m fairly positive he’s not the answer to the question, “Who should be your starting shortstop?”

        With the injury to Jhonny Peralta, Gyorko is the Cardinals starting shortstop. Unless the Cardinals make a move, Gyorko will be the shortstop for the next two to three months. Now, Gyorko was never anything more than an average second baseman which a career -1.5 UZR over his three year career. That doesn’t bode well for his chances to be a good to adequate shortstop. Like most, I’m assuming if any team can make it work, it’s the Cardinals. 

        With that said, it’s a good time for the Mets to call the Cardinals. From all the reports this Spring, it appears that the Mets might be looking to move on from Ruben Tejada. It’s probably the right move too. 

        Last year, Tejada had an impressive finish to the season. Although never mentioned as such, he was part of the reason why the Mets rallied to win the NL East. His gruesome injury in the NLDS was a rallying cry for the Mets and Mets fans throughout the postseason. However, he’s on the last year of his deal, and he’s an expensive backup eating up a spot on the 40 man roster. 

        The Mets right now have absurd depth at the shortstop position. Asdrubal Cabrera is penciled in as the starter the next two years. Wilmer Flores grew into the role and handled the position very well when pressed into shortstop duty again in the postseason. Former second round pick Matt Reynolds is competing for a utility role in the majors. On top of that, the Mets have two big shortstop prospects in Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario. Long story short, the Mets don’t need shortstop depth. 

        What they do need is 40 man roster space. So far, Jim Henderson is having a nice Spring and may be on the inside track to locking down a spot on the Opening Day bullpen. The Mets are talking about letting Kevin Plawecki start the year in AAA. This means, as of right now, Johnny Monell would open the year as the backup catcher. There’s a problem with Henderson and Monell making the Opening Day roster. 

        Neither player is on the 40 man roster, and the Mets have no spots open. Even if the Mets placed Zack Wheeler on the 60 day DL, the Mets would still need to drop someone else from the 40 man roster to add both Henderson and Monell. This could be accomplished by trading Tejada. 

        It seemed like Tejada turned a corner last year. Unfortunately, with one dirty play he is back on the bench, and frankly, occupying a roster spot the Mets need. It may not seem fair. It may seem cruel, but it’s time for the Mets too move on from Tejada. They should do it now with the Cardinals having a need, and the Mets wanting to maximize the return they would receive for Tejada.  

        Editor’s Note: this article also appeared on metsmerizedonline.com