Addition of Daisuke Matsuzaka affirms the fragility of pitching

Mejia TDAPitchers are great to have when they’re healthy. However, nothing is worse than a depleted rotation due to injuries. The Mets are learning just how fragile a pitching rotation can be as both Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy Hefner went down with season-ending arm injuries. In Hefner’s case, he will likely be out of action for all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery. This is certainly concerning.

It’s amazing how quickly how the tables can turn. A week ago, the mainstream media and the Mets blogosphere were noting that the Mets had depth and breadth when it came to young pitching talent. It seemed like the 2013 plot line leading into 2014 would be about how this team is going to be a pitching team: “Generation K 2.0.” However, now the Mets are forced to rely on Daisuke Matsuzaka and Carlos Torres to fill in for Mejia and Hefner.

This is what happens when rotations are built around pitching: Injuries. It’s like when you have an iPhone without a case. It’s looks really nice until you drop it on asphalt and it smashes into a million pieces rendering you iPhoneless. If a team is going to have a group of five or six good pitchers, it’s pretty much expected that at least one of them is going to spend some time on the disabled list.

This is the type of thing that Mets fans should fear for the rest of the season, and heading into next year. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler haven’t had injuries yet, but it shouldn’t be too surprising if one of them does have a serious injury. These types of threats to the rotation should encourage Sandy Alderson to do one of two things: (1) Improve the offense so that an injured starter won’t be the end of the world; and (2) Look for a couple either really old veteran or number-six starters to stash in the minors and have ready in the event of an injury.

Thoughts on Matsuzaka:

Matsuzaka was signed to fill a specific role, and if the Mets had some younger talent in the system who had been ready, Matsuzaka would probably still be unemployed.  What we saw on Friday is that Matsuzaka’s fastball is absolutely terrible. Both of the pitches that Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera homered off of were hanging fastballs right down the middle.  His fastball was never really good throughout his career, and even last year it was worth -12.7 weighted runs above average.  Command issues have also been a consistent part of Matsuzaka’s career; he’s never posted a K/BB ratio higher than 2.50, and that was posted in his rookie year.

The expectation for Matsuzaka is to just go out and pitch. He can sometimes deliver a streak of really nice outings, but most of the time he delivers a streak of really bad outings. Matsuzaka is a decent enough to fill in for an injured starter at the end of the season, but he shouldn’t expect to have a job with the Mets next year.

16 comments for “Addition of Daisuke Matsuzaka affirms the fragility of pitching

  1. steevy
    August 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Which is why I would never trade even a potential star everyday player for a pitcher.Think KC would like Will Myers back?

    • Spencer Manners
      August 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Even if you took out the fact that pitchers get injured a lot, that was still a terrible trade.

  2. Jim OMalley
    August 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    You could also use this to argue that the Mets may not want to trade too much pitching away this offseason.

  3. August 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    What fastball? For Torii Hunter at age 37 to able to tomahawk a pitch into deep left field says it all!

  4. August 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Eh, I wouldn’t be TOO worried about it going into 2014. Dice-K was a stopgap for this year because their other youngsters were approaching their innings limits and in playoff races. Next year, though you are out a Hefner, at various points in 2014 the Mets should have the following pitchers to work with: Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Mejia, Montero, deGrom, Syndergaard (potentially) and any other AA starters who may start the season in AAA next year (Cohoon, Verrett, Mazzoni, etc.) whatever vet(s) they DO sign, and your Torres types.

    Sure, it could all come crashing down and you can never have too much pitching depth, but I think the Dice-K thing was more about finishing out 2013 than anything.

  5. DD
    August 26, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Question: would it have been so crazy for the Mets to have promoted Darin Gorski to make a few starts?

    Adding Gorski to the 40 Man today makes at least as much sense as the Mets adding Hansel Robles made last year. Actually, of course, I think it makes more sense; Gorski’s line at Binghamton is at least as impressive as Robles’ stats at Brooklyn last year, and the Eastern League is closer to the majors thanthe NY Penn. With Gorski having lost some time to injury, he is one prospect the Mets have who could actually use the innings. And, and, Gorski has developed the habit of going deep into games. Why the hell not?

    It is something I would have liked to see

  6. Chris F
    August 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Matt Harvey apparently down with a UCL tear. Looks like Tommy John surgery…another Mets pitcher down. Who is letting this happen?

    • August 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Ugh. Well, we just keep chipping away at this pitching depth, huh? Terrible.

  7. Chris F
    August 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    He is apparently being shut down immediately. Brian, do we have stats on the pitcher injury history of the Warthen era? My eyes make me wonder if we are not watching these Mets close enough. Im just filled with sadness. 4 pm announcement.

    • Name
      August 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I’ll take a stab at this.
      Warthen came on in June of 08, so i’ll start with his first full season in 09.

      2009:
      -John Maine went down in early June, but he was already injured at the end of 08 and was a called a “habitual liar” by Warthen.

      -Perez was injured for 2 months in May and June, stemmed from left knee tendonitis. Had experienced discomfort in the knee cap in Spring Training, but Jerry Manuel was intent on pitching him as long as he was effective.
      Source: http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090506&content_id=4595576&vkey=news_nym&fext=.jsp&c_id=nym

      -Pelfrey, Livian Hernandez, and Tim Redding were all kept healthy (but all ineffective).

      -And of course there’s Johan who I don’t need to explain

      2010:
      -Pelfrey,Dickey, and Niese were all healthy during the season. The 5th starter was a revolving door all season. And there was Santana of course, who suffered his devasting shoulder injury this season.

      2011:
      -Chris Young went down (but when has he actually been healthy). Dickey, Niese, Pelfrey, Capuano, and Gee were all healthy.

      2012:
      -Dickey, Niese each pitched a full season. Harvey came up mid-season, and Chris Young was healthy when he recovered from his 2011 injury. Hefner was healthy all season while being bounced around from the rotation and bullpen.

      -Pelfrey had TJ surgery, which no one saw coming

      -Dillon Gee had that blood clot which was a non-pitching related injury.

      -And of course we once again have Santana’s reoccurring injury bug.

      2013:
      -I’ll start with the healthy folks… Gee and Wheeler

      -Hefner has TJ but who saw that coming?

      -Niese has shoulder problems which may have stemmed from the Niese getting the short end of the stick and pitching a lot of the brutally cold April games.

      -Marcum was probably damaged when he signed with the Mets.

      -And now we have Harvey and his UCL tear.

      So his first year, he had a lot of SP injuries to work with, though i’m not sure how many you can attribute to him. 2010-2012 everyone apart from Santana was mostly healthy, with only Pelfrey being the other major injury. And this year, our SP staff has been decimated with injuries.

      • Chris F
        August 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        Dont we have Edgin out as well?

        • Name
          August 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

          I only did starting pitching because looking at relief pitching would make my head hurt. Plus relievers are so volatile anyways and we have TC who optimizes his bullpen to maximizes his LOOGYs which makes the other relievers have to pick up the extra slack and no doubt causes more strain on the arm.

  8. Chris F
    August 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks Name. Greatly appreciated. I was spurred to ask when I heard an interview with Leo Mazzone who said that in all his time with the Braves they only lost a small number of people, which I surmised came from attentive coaching and training.

    • Name
      August 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      These are some of the reasons why I think there are way more injuries than “back in the day”

      1. Better medical understanding. A lot of injuries that we diagnose now, we probably would have never ever diagnosed even 15-20 years ago.

      2. Players are throwing MUCH harder than in the past. 100 mph used to be something special. Now every team has 1 person who can do it and a couple kids in the minors. This no doubt causes more strain on the arm as pitching is already an unnatural motion.

      3. Kids are now playing pretty competitively at a much younger age than before, which means they are starting the clock on their arm much earlier than kids before.

      4. Related to #3, athletes are also training much harder and longer than they used to. That also takes a toll on the body and causes more injuries.

      • SL
        August 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        Your thesis is incorrect. Seaver, Koosman, Matlack and to a lesser degree Ryan. Who didn’t throw hard 45 years ago? (and same on most teams).
        In fact, the issue is NOT ENOUGH WORK. No one long tosses anymore, which is where a fastball is developed. It should not be an explosive pitch but from true arm strength.

        Also, by babying pitchers they never learn to pitch full games as well as to tell when something is wrong.

        It’s no coincidence that Ryan made going the distance the main goal for the Texas staff.

        There is literally no, none, zero, evidence that pitch or innings limits do anything. The more times you engage in a repetitive use activity the more likely you are to incur an injury that you are genetically likely to incur, whether in your 30th start or your 35th.

  9. steevy
    August 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I was excited about Harvey but this is why you can’t rely on pitchers stating healthy.No pitch limit,inning limit is worth a damn.They can go out on their first pitch in their first inning or throw 250 innings without a problem.

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