Five Mets’ storylines to watch in the second half

As the Mets get set to open the second half with a home series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, the Mets have a lot of work to do if they have any notion of trying to creep back into the wild-card race.

It’s unlikely, though, that the Mets will contend, as they simply don’t have that much talent to work with. That’s not to say that the last two and half months won’t be important. Quite the contrary.

The way the Mets finish this season could prove to be a precursor of things to come in the future. The future looks bright. With that said, here are five defining storylines to watch for, as it could indicate the direction the Mets are heading in.

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler innings limit

What will be Harvey and Wheelers’ innings limit this year?

Well, if Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are to believed, than the max innings for Harvey will be set at around 210 (40 more than last season), while Wheeler’s is set to be around 185 innings.

Harvey has compiled 130 innings thus far, while Wheeler has tossed 96.2 between Las Vegas and New York.

Considering that the Mets will likely be out of the race, limiting the number of innings for both Harvey and Wheeler seems practical and the franchise could be better off for it. Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.

Who will take hold of first base?

Well if you poll most Mets fans, they all want Josh Satin to get the job full-time, or least the majority of at bats.

The Mets still have Ike Davis and Lucas Duda–once he’s activated off the DL—on the roster and how Collins manages this conundrum could be of paramount importance heading forward.

Collins seems reticent to tip his hand and wants to give all parties a fair chance. Obviously, I don’t need to rehash the stats that support more playing time for Satin, as Davis has been a complete mess. However, Davis should not be forgotten, as he’s been a slow starter before and why not give him the benefit of the doubt for a rebirth in the second half.

Will Mets be sellers and/or buyers at the trade deadline?

Alderson has stated on many occasions that the Mets will  open the checkbook in order to acquire the bats necessary to make the Mets contenders in the future.

Will Alderson be looking to make some moves at the deadline by shopping some of its surplus pitching to acquire some much-needed offense (especially in regards to the outfield)? Or will Alderson dangle the likes of Bobby Parnell, Marlon Byrd, Daniel Murphy, etc. and try to bolster the farm even more?

Whether the Mets are in a buying or a selling mode, don’t expect the Mets to be quiet at the deadline this time around.

Will there be any call-ups of significance?

Many Mets’ fans are eager in anticipation about some prospects on the farm being called up this season.

There is a good chance that, granted they are still with the franchise, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jack Leathersich, Travis d’Arnaud (given he’s healthy) and Wilmer Flores could be called up by season’s end–with the most likely scenario being that they are part of the September call-ups.

Flores and d’Arnaud could provide some spark from the offensive side of things and Montero and deGrom could inject some more life into a blossoming rotation or perhaps help in the bullpen. Leathersich could add some buzz to the bullpen with his strikeout-inducing arm.

Again, given that they are not traded, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the aforementioned minor-leaguers could all make a splash late this summer in Queens.

Jonathon Niese’s health

The good news is that Niese will not need surgery on his rotator cuff and that with some rest and rehabilitation, he could be able to rejoin the rotation in mid-August.

Niese is currently doing some long tossing at the team’s spring training facility and soon he will begin a rehab assignment to build up his arm strength.

Whether it was injury related or not, Niese did struggle a bit in the early parts of the season. However, if the Mets can get consistent and healthy efforts out of Niese to end the season, it could go a long way in stabilizing the rotation while calming some fears about Niese’s health at the same time.

12 comments for “Five Mets’ storylines to watch in the second half

  1. TexasGusCC
    July 18, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Dan, #4 is irrelevant if you heard the Alderson interview on Tuesday. Montero and Leathersich are out of the equation because they do not have to be protected on the 40 man roster unless you call them up. You miss one of the biggest talked about issues and one that will now certainly be a very hot item in Terry Collins. Will he or won’t he be back.

    It will probably become the most talked about thing if he is still wearing a Mets uniform in September.

    • Dan Stack
      July 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      True about Collins. If the Mets ever get to .500 and show marked improvement, would you still want TC out?

      • TexasGusCC
        July 19, 2013 at 1:20 am

        Dan, I would want him out if the Mets win the World Series. Here’s why:
        - Too often, the Mets overcome Collins to win.

        Just a couple of examples: Mets playing the Nationals on a Sunday afternoon, 2-1 game in the eighth inning. First and second, no one out and Jason Werth coming to the plate, Scott Rice is pitching. Rice stays in. Goes to 3-0 on Werth. Werth hits ball four for a 6-4-3 double play. Rice gets out of it. Remember that one?
        Then there was the game against Miami that he didn’t take out Duda for defense and he botched two balls late in the game that almost allowed Miami to come back and win, but they fell a run short.

        When I heard Leyland wanted Rivera to pitch the eighth because if the NL scored four runs in the eighth there would be no ninth, I almost applauded. It has been a while since a manager that thought like that was in the home dugout of the Mets.

        Collins faulty decisions? Just a few of what I remember:
        - Putting Cowgill for defense instead of Lagares (whom he praised defensively the day before) and having Howard’s double go over his head. Before that, bringing in the righty so that Howard can pinch hit.
        - The next day, Cowgill for defense again. Gets a bad read, ball falls in front of him, winning run scores. Nice job.
        - Taking out Aardsma in the eighth inning of a 4-1 game against the Nats with two outs and a man on first, with THE Denard Span coming up. You remember the rest?
        - The way he treats youngsters.

        That’s enough for now. You get my point, I’m sure.

  2. Metsense
    July 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Innings or pitch limits are mandatory for both. Wheeler’s development of his command is important.
    The clock is ticking on Davis. His “potential” turn around must come before Duda gets back.
    Playing Duda over Davis in a Satin platoon is more important to the franchise to actually establish if Duda at first works.
    Sellers if they can get blue chip prospects to fill an OF position and SS for 2014. It would be heartbreaking for me, after these years of suffering, to spend the limited finances on an Ethier type player just like the previous regime did, especially after they let an undervalued Bourne sign elsewhere last winter.
    The call ups will be very important as auditions for 2014. Especially d’Arnaud and Leathersich.
    I would really baby Niese in his comeback this August and then give him a full winter to rest. When planning for 2014, I would make sure there is a replacement for him ready. Then if Niese is healthy it will be a team strength and a positive, instead of a weakness like the Santana injury.
    Dan, thanks for the thought provoking article.

    • Dan Stack
      July 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks Metsense, a lot of people are forgetting how important Nies could be for the future.

  3. Chris F
    July 18, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I agree Tex…the 30 minute interview with Francesa is a must listen for Mets fans. I thought it addressed more than #4. The interview can be found at the WFAN/CBS/Mike Francesa web page.

    Heres my take on the 5.

    1. Innings limits. I expect a real imposition of innings limits. It looms over the second half, as does the fear of the regularly occurring meltdown.

    2. First Base. SA made it clear that its fish-or-cut-bait time with Duda, Davis, and Tejada. He made it clear that patience for Ike is think and that if Satin out-competes him, well, so be it. Ike wont just “be the guy”. IMO, 1B becomes the next position player problem that needs attention. I dont see Ike or Duda as the long term, and I cant envision Satin is either…but I like what he’s shown!

    3. Buyers v sellers. I dont expect much as per usual. SA made it clear that Parnell and Byrd are not going anywhere. He also made it clear that the pitching pipeline will not be interfered with. Furthermore, the price of any big bat is far outside what SA is comfortable with. Small moves, sure, but nothing of “shocker” level is coming if we can believe the scrabble (scrapple?!?!?) that pops out of SAs mouth.

    4. Call ups. See the comment by Tex.

    5. Niese. Yeah, well he had a rotator cuff tear. This isnt like he had a scrape on his arm. It didnt require surgery…this time. Before there’s any joy in mudville WRT Niese, Id like to see the subsequent MLB starts pile up. If we rewind the hands of time, who wansn’t excited to see Johan on a mound in April? Let’s not forget what shoulder injuries really are like for a pitcher: DANGER DANGER DANGER

    • Dan Stack
      July 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Like the take Chris.
      I don’t know but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Mets land a quality bat at the deadline. We’ll see.

  4. Jerry Grote
    July 18, 2013 at 11:20 am

    2nd Half points that interest me:

    Whither Eric Young? Clearly EYJ has set his fangs completely into the leadoff spot and overlooking some highlight reel plays, he plays OF only on teams like ours. Which of course begs the question … how do you make room for him at 2B, when Murphy seems so entrenched, and when you have Flores banging on the door at AAA?

    How much of Torres is small sample size, and how much is transformation? His last start now places him into a string that is reaching double digit appearances of playing not just well, but outstanding. Between himself, Gee and Hefner, this could play huge in what represents excess talent.

    Can Q legitimately bear the weight of playing everyday? If he can, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least for the Mets to go into 2014 with Omar batting 8th and playing SS. If he can’t play daily, get ready for a diet of Justin Turner doing OTJ training at the most important defensive position.

    And most important of all: Is, or is not, TDA the future answer at catcher? Sort of an offshoot of “significant call up”, but not really. TDA can show himself to be a future and not be “significant” this year.

    • Jerry Grote
      July 18, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Oh yeah. Does Juan Lagares have a regular future on this team, or will continue to get a diet of .145 hitting Kirk N … or worse yet, will the Mets actually consider an OF with EYJ in CF and Duda in LF? (Willing to give odds that at some point this year, Terry Collins actually plays that defense.)

    • Chris F
      July 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Ill tell ya. TdA has me quite concerned, to the point of wondering if he will make AND stick with the big club. Most of 2 years in a row he’s out. When is he, or even can he be, stretched for an MLB season? The clock is ticking on prime years.Hes gonna be 25 next year and unlikely to go the distance on games alone. Add in the likely catcher injury here and there, and poof, he’s 26 before we maybe even know what we have.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 19, 2013 at 1:23 am

      Good point. Turner has been playing SS only in his rehab.

  5. Eric
    July 18, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Will Jeremy Hefner continue pitching like an ace?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Satin get some of Murphy’s PT at 2nd base while 1st base is sorted out. The kid was drafted out of Berkeley as a 2nd baseman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *