Shaun Marcum And The Shaky Nature Of The Mets’ Pitching Staff

It seems hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about a player of at least moderate importance to his team sustaining an injury. Someone is forever being “shut down” for a few days or more. We hear about some muscle or other being tender, sore, tweaked or torqued. There are the intercostal strains which have deprived us of Daniel Murphy and David Wright. There is the arm weakness of Johan Santana. There’s the tortured ankle of Justin Turner. There’s the impounded knee of Kirk Nieuwenhuis. And that’s just us. Chase Headley of the Padres has a wonky shoulder. The Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez has a throbbing thumb. The news across town is even more grim, with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixiera looking at skipping most of the summer and even Derek Jeter suffering a setback on his famous ankle, jeopardizing his participation in Opening Day.

News like this can ruin a franchise’s whole mojo at the outset, and when you’re a team like the Mets – where so many things need to go right – any injury news can cause stroke-like symptoms among the fan base. Such was the case with the news that Shaun Marcum had to have a cortisone shot in his pitching shoulder, due to an “impingement.” Pulled from a start, sent for an MRI: these are all familiar themes to the veteran Met-watcher. With Santana on the shelf nursing his mysteriously weak arm, this news about Marcum made the Mets’ starting staff look a lot less hearty than it did a week ago. Add in the fact that Dillon Gee has been cuffed about pretty badly in his last two appearances, an you have grounds for thinking that a supposed strength of the team may not be as strong as one would hope. In fact, minus Santana, Marcum and with a diminished Gee, the starting pitching boils down to Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and a bag of dirt. With the offense looking as frail as it does, it’s going to take beyond stellar pitching for the Mets to even show up 162 times, let alone have the ability to win more than half their games.

Now, word has come down today, that Marcum gets a cortisone boost in his right shoulder every spring. His shoulder, he says, feels “fine,” and he will only be missing one start. He’s been backed up by manager Terry Collins, who plans to use him sometime around Monday (3/25), and GM Sandy Alderson, who called the shot/rest “precautionary.” The collective “WHEW!” from Queens could be heard all the way to Jersey.

But it only goes to show you just how tenuous the whole thing is, how easily something counted on can turn to chalk. This early in the year, nothing is graven in stone; no thing is a sure thing. It’s not that far a stretch to go from “I think we might be OK,” to “Oh my God! We’ve lost Shaun Marcum!”

In this time of the NCAA Tournament, the madness that is March, Met fans can borrow a mantra from a legendary coach, the late Jimmy Valvano.

“Survive and advance.”

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

15 comments for “Shaun Marcum And The Shaky Nature Of The Mets’ Pitching Staff

  1. Name
    March 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    To be fair, this is pretty much the case with almost every team. Not too many teams are 7+ deep and can sustain 2 injuries to the SP and not have the rotation become a weakness in the eyes of the fans. Off the top of my head, maybe the Reds and Cards and possibly the Jays. But even their 6/7th are questionable at best.

    • mikey
      March 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      completely agree. Met punditry is a little over the top. If the Mets can 130 starts from Santana 20 , Gee 30 , Marcum 20, Niese 30 and Harvey 30 and Hefner/Wheeler pick the rest, then they will be in good shape.

  2. March 22, 2013 at 11:38 am

    From “I feel like it’s part of my Spring Training routine,” Marcum said, noting that he received similar injections the past three springs.

    “It’s precautionary to make sure everything’s OK. I told [manager] Terry [Collins] and [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] I’d rather miss three days of Spring Training than miss a week or two during the season.”

    Yeesh. Getting injections of cortisone is part of his Spring routine? That’s an interesting routine.

    I think the Mets will be fine in the rotation come Opening Day, Hefner looks to be taking the #5 until Santana comes back and I think Gee will turn it around. I’m more then happy with this rotation to begin the season.

  3. Don Mullaney
    March 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Does anyone remember Johan Santana wanting to play in the WBC?………..How did he expect to do that?

  4. Bobby the Brain
    March 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I don’t understand why Sandy didn’t bring in some other cheap 4A type SP on a minor league deal after bringing in Marcum to add more SP depth. That was the rumor. If Marcum can’t answer the bell at the start of the season, who takes his spot? McHugh has not showed well vs. major league Competition and IMO-Mejia is not a legit SP prospect.

    • Name
      March 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      The guy you are talking about is already in Mets camp and ready to start.
      His name is Aaron Laffey

  5. Metsense
    March 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Not to be doom and gloom but it was expected a year ago that Mejia and Familia would be fighting for the 5th rotation spot this Spring. We all know they are not. It is difficult to rely on prospects and you never have enough pitching.

    • Chris F
      April 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      We clearly do not have enough MLB level pitching right now. I think we have 2 legit, and then the rest are 3A or 4A types not destined to ever see much time in the show. As I was pondering the thrashing by the hated and not that good Phillies we just took, it reminded me of something I thought about earlier…we defend mediocrity as if it were reasonable. Laffey, Marcum, Heffner, McHugh, Mejia, Familia, Hawkins, Burke etc are all low level players right now, not worthy of being considered part of a competitive staff. Sure they are Mets and I love the Mets, but that doenst change the objective reality they are more Casey’s Metsies and not Gil’s or Davey’s. Until we understand that we need 3-4 Harvey/Niese types, 90+ wins shall forever be just over the horizon. I guess Sandy does in the end, but the reality is that ’13 is gonna be a long season.

      Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Gee? would about do it if everyone lives up to the hype.

      • April 11, 2013 at 5:46 pm

        Substitute Montero for Syndergaard and you’ve got something going there…

      • Metsense
        April 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm

        Well said Chris. If you want a .500 team you have to have average players, something the Mets don’t have. Wouldn’t it have been nice the other night to pinch hit Heffner with the bases loaded knowing a long man like Laffey was in your bullpen and not your 5th starter. Heck, if I’m wishing, it would have been better when Gee was getting roughed up that Heffner was in the bullpen as your long man instead of your 4th starter! Until the Mets start getting better players it will be difficult to be competitive.

  6. shelly
    March 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    To be fair Dillon Gee is hardly ‘diminished’ by having two poor spring starts. That stuff happens and the likelihood is that he will fix whatever the problems are and be the same pitcher he has been in the past – not an all-star but a competent 4/5 starter. To say he is dimished is a little silly.

  7. TJ
    March 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Chris Young will soon be available…

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