On Thursday, Anthony Recker made his first start since being recalled from Las Vegas. He went 1-for-2 with a HR and 2 BB and he did a fine job working behind the plate with Carlos Torres. The Mets had a laugher, as they downed the Phillies, 11-3, to earn a split of the four-game series. The win upped the Mets’ record this season with Recker starting behind the plate to 17-11 (.607). In games started by the other two catchers, the Mets are 43-61 (.413).
Are 28 games enough to make any firm conclusions? Over one season, no probably not. But it’s at least enough to make us sit up and take notice and give Recker’s stats another look. He’s still on the Interstate with his AVG (.198) but he has a higher OPS than Ike Davis (.675 vs. .652) even with Davis’ walk-fueled resurgence since his recall from Triple-A.
Recker also has a higher OPS than Buck, who finished his Mets career with a .652 mark. It’s harder to quantify their defensive impacts, as Recker did not get a chance to catch the team’s best pitcher all season. The one hurler they came close to catching an equal amount was Jeremy Hefner. With Buck behind the plate for 303 batters faced, Hefner had an .876 OPS against. Recker was behind the plate for 253 batters faced and Hefner had a .613 OPS against.
Most everyone agrees that they would welcome Buck back as a backup for 2014 if he would accept the position. But outside of a highly visible – perhaps premeditated – display of affection towards Matt Harvey, there’s little concrete evidence to point at which indicates Buck would be better than Recker. No one questions Buck’s mentorship skills. But that’s why we have coaches. At some point, on-field production has to count for something. And Recker has produced enough in 2013 to merit a shot, with the Mets or some other club, for a full season on a major league roster.
A ROLL OF THE DICE – The Mets took a low-risk gamble when they signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to replace the injured Harvey in the rotation. Matsuzaka has pitched better than his 8.68 ERA would indicate but a high strikeout rate only goes so far when you have a 1.821 WHIP. Hopefully, he gets one more start to show something or else they pull the plug on the experiment. Another bad outing would put him among the worst SP in franchise history.
There are two hurlers who pitched exclusively as starters with a minimum of 10 IP in a season who posted a double-digit ERA for the Mets. Jason Vargas – yeah, that one – had a 12.19 ERA in 2007 while Jason Jacome recorded a 10.29 ERA in 2005. Only two other pitchers in club history met these requirements and had an ERA over eight: Jose Lima (9.87) and Dennis Springer (8.74). Matsuzaka currently sits with 9.1 IP and an 8.68 ERA.
DAVIS TURNS WALKS INTO A SACRAMENT – Since his return from the minors, Davis has a 22.6 BB% and has been praised for not swinging at bad pitches. The combination of this other-worldly walk rate and a .348 BABIP has led to an .858 OPS for Davis since his return from Las Vegas. Some consider Davis “cured” of the miseries that overwhelmed him in the first half of the year. However, in his last 10 games, his walk rate has dropped to merely a 14.7 BB% (a rate which would tie for second-best in the majors among qualified hitters) and his OPS sits at .668 in this brief span. Even more alarming is the return of the strikeouts. Davis has nine whiffs in his last 34 PA. Immediately preceding that stretch, Davis needed 62 PA to record nine strikeouts.
RUMORS CIRCULATE THAT WARTHEN WILL RETURN IN ’14 – What do Scott Atchison, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Harvey, Hefner, Shaun Marcum, Jenrry Mejia. Jonathon Niese, Bobby Parnell and Johan Santana all have in common? All 10 of those pitchers spent time on the disabled list in 2013. Hey, it happens – pitchers get hurt and it’s not fair to blame the pitching coach or the medical staff. While it’s not fair to blame them, it is reasonable to ask what they have planned to reduce the risk in 2014.
BROWN MAKES CASE FOR MORE PLAYING TIME – Six times this month, Andrew Brown has received just 1 PA in a game and he’s 3-for-5 with a double and a walk. He’s not doing too bad when he gets multiple PA, either, as he’s 11-for-33 in those situations with two doubles and two homers. Yet Brown still struggles for playing time, as Terry Collins continues to write Eric Young’s name into the starting lineup.
After a hot start with the Mets, Young’s numbers now bear an uncanny resemblance to his lifetime marks. His New York line of .255/.329/.335 is nearly identical to his lifetime marks of .260/.329/.340 – this is who Young is as a hitter. Young’s presence removes the question of who to bat leadoff for the club but Collins should bite the bullet, give Brown more playing time and find another hitter with an OBP north of .300 to bat from the leadoff spot.
LOVE THOSE LEFTY RELIEVERS! – All season long the Mets have deployed two lefty relievers and with the recent promotion of Robert Carson, Collins now has three lefties at his disposal. Don’t be surprised if another one is added once rosters expand in September. Here’s how the lefty relievers have done here in 2013:
IP – 106
ERA – 4.58
HR – 13
BB – 50
Ks – 74
FIP – 4.94
Collins manages his entire bullpen to maximize the effectiveness of his lefty relievers and they repay him with a 4.58 ERA while their peripherals paint an even bleaker picture. Meanwhile, righty relievers have a 3.62 ERA for the Mets this season.
While Collins does an excellent job of getting his lefty relievers to face as many lefty batters as possible, they still have to face righty batters. And with the exception of Josh Edgin, these lefty relievers have been just dreadful versus RHB. Here’s how they stack up without the platoon advantage:
The price of carrying these lefty relievers is that every righty batter they face becomes as productive as Carlos Gonzalez, the guy we dream about acquiring for our lineup. The tradeoff isn’t working and hasn’t worked for the Mets the previous two seasons, either. How much longer will this failed policy decision be allowed to continue?