Posts Tagged ‘Matt Harvey’

By Steven Inman

Sandy

Photo from NY Times

The Mets 2017 season, that started with so much promise, has been completely derailed by injuries to key players. The pitching staff that finished 2016 with the 3rd best ERA in MLB, has been the WORST in the majors with a 5.01 ERA. The pitchers that the front office believed could lead them back to the World Series have all dealt with injuries (Or in Matt Harvey’s case off the field troubles and regression) this season except for Jacob deGrom, who has been decent, but far from the elite arm he’s been the last few seasons. It must make fans wonder if Sandy Alderson and his team creating the blueprint around young pitchers was the right choice.

When Sandy Alderson came to New York, he had the plan of tearing everything down and following the San Francisco Giants mindset, which was to construct a team around one offensive star (Buster Posey for SF, Yoenis Cespedes for NYM) and pretty much all other offensive players were interchangeable, while building around superior pitching. The trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were as formidable as any rotation in baseball for not one or two, but three championships. That model created a borderline dynasty, but it was short lived. Cain never had an ERA under four after his age 27 season, and Tim Lincecum now 32, is out of baseball. The Giants success while impressive, has a stroke of luck attached to it. Looking back on it, all of those postseason innings Cain and Lincecum threw turned out to just be too much mileage on their arms. The club has had a dismal start to 2017.

The Mets like all other franchises, want to make long runs in the postseason every season. The way their pitching has not been able to stay on the field the last few regular seasons, it’s fair to wonder if they’ll have the ability to do that. Even workhorses like Cain and Lincecum were not able to handle that kind of workload going on deep playoff runs after awhile.

Sandy Alderson did an excellent job of following the Giants model. He waited out long and expensive contracts left behind by the previous Met regime and made some shrewd trades to acquire future starters such as Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. Offensively, Sandy has made it clear in his tenure with the Mets that home runs and walks are the most important traits he wants his position players to have, while defensive range and ability haven’t been considered as important. Hopefully for the Mets sake when the team calls up Amed Rosario in a few weeks, they can improve a very poor defense. The Atlanta Braves are also on record saying during their current rebuild that they’re trying to emulate the starting pitching plan the Mets have committed to.

With that said, there aren’t too many teams that build around pitching in today’s game. Obviously, you need quality pitching to win, nobody is disputing that, but with pitchers being as brittle as they ever have been, does it make sense when rebuilding to build a core around arms? Or does it make more sense when rebuilding with prospects to go after young hitters over pitching like the current Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs went with the opposite strategy of the Mets and Giants, selecting position players at the front ends of drafts such as Kris Bryant & Kyle Schwarber and trading big league pitching for Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo. The Houston Astros also have a nice young core of position players such as George Springer, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. The ‘Stros have enjoyed the majors best record to start 2017.

The story of this Mets era, built around the arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler is far from over but at this point it’s a legitimate question if this group can stay healthy enough to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1986. The 5 starters mentioned, who the Mets were hoping would anchor their pitching staff for the next decade, have never pitched a single turn in the same rotation.

When all is said and done will the Mets regret building around pitching over hitting?

By Steven InmanHellickson

For all the talk of the Mets acquiring a bat at the trade deadline, it appears now the team will be reversing course and looking at the scarce starting pitching market to help bolster the team. The Mets have been ravaged by injuries this season, and the latest hits have come to the Mets star-studded rotation. Zack Wheeler has had some setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery. With the season half way over it would be unfair to expect much out of Wheeler, if anything in 2016. He will need about a month to build his pitch count up in the minors which the Mets were hoping he would have started by now. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are dealing with bone spurs as well as general fatigue while Matt Harvey is now out for the season. It isn’t known if last year’s massive innings increase is the reason Harvey is injured but he deserves a ton of credit for putting everything on the line for the Mets in the 2015 postseason. Met fans including myself owe Harvey an apology as he really put the team over his own future last season. The Mets don’t get to the World Series without Harvey and if the Dark Knight doesn’t come back from this uncommon surgery at full strength, he could cost himself over $100 million as a free agent in a couple of years.

The Mets must now replace Harvey in the rotation, while Logan Verrett has been decent as a swingman it would behoove the Mets to go out and get another arm. With two Wild Cards in each league there aren’t too many teams that have thrown up the white flag yet but one of those teams looking to next year already is the Philadelphia Phillies. After a hot start, the Phils have had a miserable summer but one bright spot has been trade chip Jeremy Hellickson. The former AL Rookie of the Year is having a solid 2016 after coming over in a trade with Arizona last winter. While Hellickson is certainly more of a back of the rotation guy, he could help the Mets by eating innings and saving the Mets overworked bullpen.

Hellickson, 29, has a 3.39 ERA in his last 11 starts but perhaps most important is that he has thrown at least six innings in 10 of those 11 outings. Hellickson isn’t a huge strikeout guy but he could keep the ball in the ballpark at Citi Field and would be a nice fit for the Mets. Hellickson’s contract wouldn’t be a huge issue for Sandy Alderson and company as he is making just $7M in the final year of his deal. Having said this, due to the lack of starting pitching available, the Phillies are going to ask for a solid prospect or two in exchange for Hellickson’s services. It’s unlikely either the Mets or the Phillies would have a problem trading within the division.

Other than top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets don’t have a ton in their system that they shouldn’t be willing to deal. With the Nationals expanding their lead in the NL East, the Mets join a large group of teams after a National League Wild Card spot. It would be smart for the Mets to add talent in any way they can. The final Wild Card spot could come down to a game or two and adding a veteran arm like Hellickson could actually be the difference maker. Expect the Phillies to be heavy sellers over the next few weeks and Hellickson will likely be at the top of that list. He would be a nice get for the Mets.

By Steven Inman

If you haven’t noticed, the Mets season is at a crossroads. The Mets offense is at a point where it’s hard to expect runs no matter who is on the mound for the opposing team. While losing Lucas Duda and David Wright has hurt, the rest of the team just hasn’t produced offensively. The Mets were counting on Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to carry the load like they did in the second half of last season. Cespedes has cooled off dramatically since a hot April and Conforto is in the minor leagues after not being able to adjust to pitchers strictly throwing him breaking balls. The Mets have really had no answers on how to fix this lineup internally. Since then the Mets have brought back Jose Reyes.01-terry-collins-080915-getty-ftrjpg_dduuxh7xyqfg1ckk33738rts9

No matter what you think of Reyes’ off the field issues, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the same Reyes that won a batting title in his last tour with the Amazins.  Reyes was never a gold glove caliber shortstop by any means, but his defense has dramatically regressed over the last few years with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Rockies. Now the Mets are relying on Reyes to be the dynamic spark plug he once was along with learning third base, a position he has never played in the big leagues. Reyes is a good enough athlete where he could adapt to third base or even the outfield but the Mets wouldn’t be asking this of Reyes if the guys in the lineup were producing. It seems pretty desperate to bring in Reyes and hope he can be the Reyes of old and not just an old Reyes. Expect him to be up at Citi Field next week.

Washington just swept the Mets and while there is still half a season still to be played, it’s hard to imagine the Mets offense being good enough to hang with Dusty Baker’s club down the stretch. The Nationals clearly look like the better team and the Mets starting pitching looks tired. It may be because of all the extra pitches the young starters endured in the postseason or perhaps some nagging injuries that we haven’t been made aware of but this rotation just isn’t the same as it was last year. That doesn’t mean the Mets should regret throwing their arms deep in the playoffs by any means but it’s clear that there’s some fatigue.

Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are both dealing with bone spurs in their elbows. While the Mets doctors have ensured the team that pitching through these injuries won’t make their elbows worse, you often see players develop new injuries trying to overcompensate from the pain they are dealing with.  Steven Matz has basically stopped throwing his slider in June, you have to wonder if that pitch was causing him pain. Matt Harvey hasn’t been the same elite pitcher this season and Jacob deGrom’s velocity has been down most of the season. Bartolo Colon at the ripe age of 43 is still pitching as strong as ever.

While there is still plenty of baseball to be played, the Mets are in a very dangerous part of their season as we head towards the All-Star Break…

By Steven Inman

harvey1

Photo from NY Post

The Mets have gotten off to a hot start this year despite getting very little out of key players such as David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. With that said the most difficult start to the season for any Met has to be from Matt Harvey. After dominating the Royals for the first 8 innings in Game 5 of the World Series, Harvey has been largely ineffective this season.

It’s really unknown how and why Harvey has a 5.77 ERA and has given up 65 hits in just 48.1 innings. It could be just a slow start, or an injury that Matt isn’t revealing to the Mets, or perhaps fatigue from such a large number of innings in 2015. Regardless at this point it’s probably best for the Mets to place Matt Harvey on the disabled list to regroup.

There is a reason why teams place innings limits on their young pitchers and while it isn’t clear if Harvey throwing 216 innings (including postseason) last season coming off Tommy John surgery is the reason for his 2016 struggles, it didn’t help him.

Stephen Strasburg, who Matt Harvey has often been compared to, went through a very similar ordeal that Harvey is experiencing now. The Nationals right-hander was badly struggling to start last season, his first 10 starts included a 6.55 ERA and opponents were hitting .325 off him. The Nationals placed him on the disabled list for about a month and when he returned he was dominant. Whether it was the rest or being able to take a step back to refine his mechanics, something changed for Strasburg. Since coming off the DL last June, Strasburg is 15-2 with 2.20 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 143.0 innings.

Strasburg and Harvey aren’t the only two pitchers to struggle coming back from Tommy John. Left-handers Patrick Corbin and Matt Moore both looked like they were on the cusp of stardom before they went under the knife. Both have struggled with command since returning and while that hasn’t added to their walk totals, it has caused both to give up home runs at an alarming pace this season.

While Tommy John is now a common occurrence for pitchers, no starter had ever come back from the surgery and thrown as many innings as Harvey. The Mets are in uncharted waters here so it is probably best if they play it safe.
As of right now the Mets are not planning on placing Harvey on the DL or skipping his start. He is expected to pitch Tuesday in Washington.

While Matt has been a soldier for the Mets, never asking for his start to be skipped or blaming his struggles on a defense that hasn’t helped him much, it’s probably in the Mets best interest to place Harvey on the disabled list. It’s a long season and the Mets can get by without one of their star right-handers while he gets himself right.

At the end of the day this season for the Mets is about finishing what they started last year and that’s winning the World Series and the Amazins can’t get that done without Matt Harvey at his best.

By Steven Inman

With less than 2 weeks before Opening Day, the Mets Opening Day roster is pretty much set. The only questions left are with a few injuries along with spots on the bench and the bullpen still to be determined. Here’s how we expect it to all shake out.

The Starting Rotationdownload

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Jacob deGrom
  4. Bartolo Colon
  5. Steven Matz

Matt Harvey has already been named the Mets opening night starter in Kansas City. After a strong 2015 season along with a brilliant performance in WS Game 5 against KC, Harvey has certainly earned the honor of starting opening night.  Jacob deGrom’s wife is expected to give birth around April 5th so Noah Syndergaard will start the second game. If deGrom is back from his expected paternity leave he will likely start Game 3 with 3rd year Met Bartolo Colon and rookie Steven Matz behind him in the rotation.

The Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson RFdownload (1)
  2. Neil Walker 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. David Wright 3B
  6. Michael Conforto LF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud C
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera SS

Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) is questionable for Opening Day. It is unknown if he will get the at-bats needed this spring to be able to be ready for the season. The Mets seem to believe that he will be ready so we will put him in the starting lineup for now. After releasing Ruben Tejada the Mets don’t have much shortstop depth with major league experience.

If Cabrera is not ready Wilmer Flores will likely step in to the starting lineup at shortstop. The Mets will need Wilmer to play third base a few days a week for the aging David Wright. This could be a very big year for the Mets two youngest starting position players, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto.

The Bullpen

  1. Jeurys Familiadownload (2)
  2. Addison Reed
  3. Antonio Bastardo
  4. Jerry Blevins
  5. Hansel Robles
  6. Sean Gilmartin
  7. Jim Henderson

Terry Collins said a few weeks ago that the first five on this lists already had spots cemented in the Opening Day bullpen. Hansel Robles will be suspended for the KC series but the Mets will not be able to replace him on the roster while he is out. Gilmartin was very solid last year as a long man for the Mets after coming over from the Twins as a Rule 5 pick. Jim Henderson, the former Brewers closer, has regained velocity and looks very sharp this spring. While the Mets can send Henderson to the minors, he has looked very solid and if the Mets believe he can go back to being the reliever he was when he pitched the 9th for Milwaukee, then he certainly would be a fine addition to the Mets bullpen. Other candidates are Erik Goeddel who has been injured most of the spring and Logan Verrett who is likely competing with Gilmartin for the Mets long man role.

The Bench

  1. Wilmer Floresdownload (3)
  2. Juan Lagares
  3. Alejandro De Aza
  4. Kevin Plawecki
  5. Eric Campbell

Thanks to additions to the Mets starting lineup, players that were expected to get major at-bats like De Aza and Flores now become solid and versatile bench players. Flores will help Wright at third and will back up at short and second. Neil Walker didn’t hit lefties much last season so Flores could get at-bats at second vs. lefties. Expect Flores to play a lot this season even though he isn’t an “everyday player” anymore.

While Juan Lagares is a very good center fielder expect him to play some left field as a defensive replacement for Conforto. Terry Collins is wary of moving Cespedes all around the outfield so Lagares may not play much center field while Yoenis is in the game.

The Mets were interested in finding a backup catcher so Kevin Plawecki wouldn’t be sitting on the bench so often but they haven’t found a player they like yet so Kevin stays on this list. The Mets believe an extra 200 plate appearances for Plawecki in the minors would really help his development offensively. Thanks to the trade of Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell makes the club as the 25th man. Campbell has struggled in the majors the past few seasons but has had a strong spring and can play the infield and outfield corners. A majority of Terry Collins’ bench can play multiple positions.

With two weeks to go still before the season, injuries can alter this list. On paper this is a very strong roster that should have Citi Field buzzing all summer. Do you agree with this 25-man roster projection?

By Steven Inman nlds

  • The wait is nearly over. After nine very long years, the Mets will be playing their first postseason game tonight in Los Angeles. Terry Collins and company will hand the ball off to their 1A ace, Jacob deGrom, who was simply spectacular this season and will finish in the top 5 in NL CY Young voting. Despite his accomplishments this season, deGrom and the Mets will still be underdogs in Game 1 facing Clayton Kershaw who has simply been dominant this season. The reigning NL MVP is 7-1, with a 1.37 ERA over his last 11 starts. He is also baseball’s first 300 strikeout pitcher in over a decade. Unfortunately for the Mets, they will likely see Kershaw twice in this best of five series. That being said the Dodgers and Kershaw can be beaten. Here are the Mets keys to the series.

Key 1: Work Long Plate Appearances 

It goes without saying but the Dodgers are obviously a much weaker team when Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke aren’t on the mound. The Mets may not be able to do much damage against the Dodgers two aces but if they can get them out of the game after six innings somehow, they should be in decent shape. The Dodgers bullpen is 7-10 with a 4.24 ERA since July 25th. Hardly the same production that Kershaw and Greinke bring. Kenley Jansen is the only reliever that Dodger fans can trust so if the Mets can force Don Mattingly to go to his other relievers then New York should have the advantage.

Curtis Granderson at the top of the order will be the biggest key for Game 1. Granderson who badly struggles against lefties and is just 1 for 10 against Kershaw needs to draw out long at bats. The quicker the Mets can get into the Dodgers bullpen, the better chance they have to win. Plus getting into the Dodgers bullpen allows Terry Collins to utilize lefty bat Michael Conforto more, who is likely just a pinch hitter vs three of the four Dodgers starters in this series.

Key 2: Get ahead in the count on Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez is the Dodgers best bat but like most of the Dodger hitters not named Corey Seager, he has struggled to date, batting just .176 with zero extra base hits over his last 11 games. If the Mets can keep Gonzalez in check, they should have a very good chance at moving on to the NLCS.  Gonzalez is very good at sitting on one particular pitch and waiting for the pitcher to throw it. He can get in trouble when he waits for a pitch that doesn’t come and gets behind in the count. Gonzalez is hitting just .127 with 4 home runs when behind in the count 0-2 this season. Getting head of Gonzalez will be key for the Mets all week.

Key 3: Regain home field advantage

If the Mets can somehow take one of these two games in LA vs Kershaw and Greinke they will be sitting pretty with Matt Harvey on the mound in Game 3 with something to prove. The crowd will be in it and the Mets will be facing Brett Anderson, a solid pitcher but a major downgrade to what LA used in Games 1 & 2.

Expect these to be low scoring games where the Mets great young starting pitching will be asked to match two of the greatest pitchers in the world. They certainly have the talent to do it. It brings together the most important question of the series, are the Mets young pitchers running out of gas? Or will they outpitch the Dodgers and become household names across the nation. We find out tonight.

By Steven InmanEzopb0DF_400x400

It has happened. After two collapses and six seasons of just pitiful baseball, the Mets are heading back to the postseason. The club has been dominant since Sandy Alderson upgraded the club’s offense back in late July. The Nationals had a golden opportunity to put the Mets away in the first half of the season but never played consistent enough to get on any kind of win streak. Once the Mets added thump to the lineup, they zoomed past the underachieving Nationals. All the Nationals frustration boiled over on Sunday when Jonathon Papelbon attacked Bryce Harper in the Nats dugout during another difficult loss.

The return of David Wright to the New York lineup was pivotal in addition to the acquisitions the Mets made at the trade deadline but it was the Mets starting pitching that was able to give the Mets a huge advantage on most nights. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey were even better than expected in their first full seasons with the Mets. Veterans Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon were very up and down this season but were able to provide some solid moments for a Met club in the midst of a special season. However one of the biggest reasons the Mets have had a resurgence is the promotions of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Both former top prospects were even more polished than advertised and were key to the Mets going on their second half run. No other club had two top flight pitching prospects that were able to step into a major league rotation and contribute like this right away. Having two rookies contribute in the starting rotation the way Matz and Syndergaard have is extremely rare and should not be taken for granted.

All of these pieces had to fit together for the Mets to win their 5th division title in franchise history. They will face the Dodgers in the NLDS starting Friday October 9th.

BrokeMets will have a full scouting report on what the Mets can expect from the eventual NL West champs next week.