On August 11, 1992, the Mets had a day to honor Tom Seaver for being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Considering he was the best pitcher in Mets history, you would think the honor of starting that game would go to Dwight Gooden, who was the only Mets pitcher who would break any of Seaver’s records. David Cone was another terrific choice given how great a pitcher he was for the Mets. Bret Saberhagen would have been fitting as he was a two time Cy Young winner and a former World Series MVP. Even Sid Fernandez could have fit the bill as it was his Game Seven performance that helped prevent Seaver from winning one last ring in 1986.
Instead, it was Eric Hillman, who was making his first ever major league start on a dark and rainy night that drove away most of the fans who should have been there to celebrate with Seaver. To be fair, that game would’ve been called almost any other night had it not been Seaver’s night. Between the weather, and who was going to be honored, it was a difficult situation for a young pitcher. Hillman was up to the challenge pitching eight scoreless innings to help defeat the first place Pittsburgh Pirates.
With Monday’s rainout, the Mets will be in a similar position for Mike Piazza‘s number retirement ceremony.
It was supposed to be Noah Syndergaard. Who better to celebrate the career of the Mets rock star catcher than to have the Mets rock star starting pitcher? Who better to honor the power Piazza showed at the plate than the power pitcher who can routinely throw over 100 MPH? The long haired starting pitcher dominating the opponents should have started the game honoring the long haired dominant hitter. It was all too perfect to be true. With the rain, it’s not going to happen.
Instead, the Mets are most likely going to get a spot starter making his first ever major league start similar to what happened with Eric Hillman on Tom Seaver’s night. It just seems to go that way on a night when the Mets honor their Hall of Famers.
The start could to to Seth Lugo, who has pitched extremely well out of the bullpen in his four appearances this year. Gabriel Ynoa could be summoned from the minor leagues to make his first ever start as could his Las Vegas 51s teammate Robert Gsellman. Whoever it turns out to be, they have some large shoes to fill. No, not Syndergaard’s, the 6’10” Hillman’s. Whoever the Mets give the chance to make his first ever career start needs to go out there and put up a dominant performance like Hillman’s to allow the fans to celebrate deep into the night.
Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are at the All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league pitcher named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:
Class A Full Season – Columbia Fireflies
- Wins: P.J. Conlon (8)
- Saves: Alex Palsha (14)
- Strikeouts: Joe Shaw (88)
- ERA: P.J. Conlon (1.84 – League Leader)
- WHIP: P.J. Conlon (1.00)
- Games: Alex Palsha (28)
- Starts: Kevin Canelon, Chase Ingram (16)
- Innings: Kevin Canelon (97.2)
- Holds : Tyler Bashlor (4)
- All-Stars: P.J. Conlon, Alex Palsha
- Promotions: P.J. Conlon, Alex Palsha
Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets
- Wins: Ricky Knapp (8)
- Saves: Corey Taylor (13)
- Strikeouts: Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt (63)
- ERA: Ricky Knapp (2.01)
- WHIP: Ricky Knapp (1.08)
- Games: Corey Taylor (28)
- Starts: Chris Flexen (17)
- Innings: Chris Flexen (95.1)
- Holds: Robert Coles (5)
- All-Stars: Alberto Baldonado (DNP – promoted)
- Promotions: Alberto Baldonado, Casey Delgado, Kevin McGowan, Tim Peterson
Double-A – Binghamton Mets
- Wins: Tyler Pill (6)
- Saves: Beck Wheeler (6)
- Strikeouts: Tyler Pill (88)
- ERA: Rainy Lara (3.98)
- WHIP: Tyler Pill (1.21)
- Games: Beck Wheeler (28)
- Starts: Tyler Pill (17)
- Innings: Tyler Pill (107.2)
- Holds: Tim Peterson (5)
- All Stars: Logan Taylor, Tyler Pill
- Promotions: Robert Gsellman, Beck Wheeler, Josh Zeid
Triple-A – Las Vegas 51s
- Wins: Sean Gilmartin, Gabriel Ynoa (9)
- Saves: Paul Sewald (9)
- Strikeouts: Sean Gilmartin (77)
- ERA: Gabriel Ynoa (4.19)
- WHIP: Sean Gilmartin (1.32)
- Games: Chasen Bradford, Josh Smoker (38)
- Starts: Gabriel Ynoa (18 – League Leader)
- Innings: Gabriel Ynoa (109.2)
- Holds: Josh Smoker (9)
- All-Stars: Gabriel Ynoa
- Promotions: Seth Lugo
- Wins: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (10)
- Saves: Alex Palsha COL (14)
- Strikeouts: Joe Shaw COL, Tyler Pill BNG (88)
- ERA: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (1.97)
- WHIP: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (1.03)
- Games: Chasen Bradford LV, Josh Smoker LV (38)
- Starts – Gabriel Ynoa LV (18)
- Innings – Gabriel Ynoa (109.2)
- Holds – Josh Smoker LV (9)
* stats are updated through July 13, 2016
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net
Matt Harvey having season ending surgery has put the Mets rotation in flux, and it could potentially lead towards the team deciding which one of their prospects should be added to the rotation. With Robert Gsellman only having made one AAA start and his being on the disabled list, there are only two prospects the Mets have to choose from – Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo.
For many, the obvious choice is Ynoa. The 23 year old Ynoa has been regarded as one of the top prospects in the Mets minor league system. He has progressed rather quickly through the Mets minor league system which is all the more remarkable when you consider how conservative this front office tends to be with their prospects. In this his first full season in AAA, Ynoa was named a Pacific Coast League All Star. He is 9-3 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.353 WHIP in his first 17 starts. These are impressive numbers when you consider Ynoa pitches to contact and that he’s pitching in a hitter’s friendly league. Given his status as a Mets top prospect and the fact that he is pitching well in AAA, it seems like he would be the obvious choice to join the Mets rotation over a pitcher like Lugo.
The 26 year old Lugo was the Mets 2011 34th round selection out of Centenary College of Louisiana. That’s a Division III NCAA school. This season he lost his spot in the AAA rotation due to how poorly he had been pitching. Overall, Lugo has made 13 starts and six relief appearances going 3-4 with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.675 WHIP. These are ugly numbers that were brought up time and again when the Mets first called him up to the majors to pitch out of the bullpen. However, in his first relief appearance, we quickly found out why we scout a pitcher for their repertoire instead of their stats when he struck out Anthony Rizzo with a filthy curveball:
As you can see, Lugo has a filthy curveball that can get fool even the best major league hitters. Lugo combines that pitch with a fastball in the mid 90s, a slider in the upper 80s, and a developing changeup. This is the repertoire Lugo used to pitch two scoreless innings against a Cubs team that has scored the most runs in the National League. This is the same repertoire Lugo was developing when he went 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP in five AAA starts last year. Overall, you can reasonably argue that Lugo’s fastball and curveball are two plus major league ready pitches. As we have seen with a number of Mets pitchers, time spent with Dan Warthen will only help him further develop that slider. Despite his early season struggles, he’s arguably more ready to succeed in the majors.
In fact, Lugo has had success in his limited work with the Mets this year. In the aforementioned game against the Cubs, Lugo pitched two scoreless innings allowing only two hits while striking out two. When he had to take the place of an injured Noah Syndergaard, Lugo responded with two scoreless and hitless innings against the Nationals. Lugo is clearly proving he can get big league hitters out, and that the Mets should consider him for a rotation spot.
Montero, on the other hand, struggled in his last start. He lasted only four innings allowing 10 hits, five earned, and one walk while striking out only two. In his last three starts, Ynoa has averaged 4.2 innings with a 9.42 ERA and a 2.163 WHIP. Ynoa has hit a bump, and he needs to remain in AAA to make the necessary adjustments.
Right now, Lugo is better equipped to get out major league hitters. He’s a better bet to succeed in the Mets rotation. Lugo should get his shot.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Going into last year, the Mets were well noted for their organizational pitching depth. It wasn’t just the pitchers that were in the majors, but it was also the pitchers on the way. The thought process was the Mets could select the pitchers to keep to help the rotation and trade the others for a bat.
Well, the Mets are going into the 2016 season, and their depth isn’t the same as this regime seems comfortable jettisoning this team’s pitching depth. A large part of the reason was the unwillingness and/or inability to spend in the offseason last year. Here is the list of pitchers gone from the Mets organization:
- Greg Peavey
- Randy Fontanez
- Cory Mazzoni
- Brad Wieck
- Casey Meisner
- John Gant
- Robert Whalen
- Michael Fulmer
- Luis Cessa
- Matt Koch
- Miller Diaz
- Dawrin Frias
- Jack Leathersich
- Jon Niese
- Matthew Bowman
This list doesn’t include Logan Verrett, who was selected in last year Rule 5 draft and returned. It also doesn’t include Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon, Eric O’Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, and Alex Torres because, at least in theory, they all could return to the Mets next year. In any event, that’s a lot of pitchers gone and/or potentially gone from the 2014 Winter Meetings and the 2015 Winter Meetings.
After losing all these pitchers, the Mets only have two . . . TWO . . . players on their 2016 major league roster resulting from these moves: Addison Reed and Neil Walker. Also, the Mets still need a fifth starter and possibly bullpen help. You would think after losing 15 pitchers in a year, you’d be in a better position.
Now, the important caveat here is not all of these pitchers are of the same caliber. For example, Peavey and Fontanez were selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Also, I did defend the trade that brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. On the flip side, I did not like the trades which brought in Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes.
I’m not in the crowd that justifies these deals due to the Mets winning the pennant. You win the World Series, you’re untouchable because you did what was necessary. However, the Mets lost all that pitching and still fell short. Think of it another way. Do you think the Tigers would’ve traded winning the AL East for John Smoltz‘ career?
With all that said, the Mets still deserve some credit here. Even though they lost all that pitching, they still have good pitching prospects like Robert Gsellman. I just wish they spent more money last offseason and kept some of those pitchers to give them more options to make deals this winter or this upcoming summer.
Keep in mind that sooner or later losing all this pitching will eventually catch up with them. I’m not looking forward to the day that happens.