What do injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy mean for the Mets?

Reverse LogoKris Medlen is a very good pitcher. You will be forgiven for not knowing that because he’s rarely on the field enough to display this talent. Last season he started 31 games for the first time in his career, and it seems like he was well on his way to fully recovering from his 2010 Tommy John surgery. During the 2013 season, Medlen pitched to a 3.11 ERA while allowing 18 home runs, striking out 157 and walking a total of 56 batters.

Medlen was even better when he first returned to action in the second half of 2012. He went 10-1 with a sparkling 1.57 ERA, while displaying a phenomenal 5.22 K/BB ratio. Granted he started only 12 games that year, but between then and now it was enough evidence to say he was going to be an elite pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, and most likely their ace heading into 2014.

Brandon Beachy is another talented pitcher for the Braves. While never showcasing quite the same stuff as Medlen, he pitched to a 3.68 ERA in 2011, and a fantastic 2.00 ERA in 2012 before undergoing a Tommy John surgery of his own. He returned toward the end of 2013 to a 4.50 ERA, but he was projected to have a solid rebound year in 2014. Both Beachy and Medlen would have been featured at the front of the Braves’ rotation.

Unfortunately, it now looks like both men will need second Tommy John surgeries after pulling up lame with UCL damage this past week. The Braves made quick work of righting the ship by signing Ervin Santana to a very friendly one year, $14 million contract; almost exactly what he turned down from the Kansas City Royals over the winter break.

Santana has been the epitome of an up-and-down pitcher, often showing flashes of All-Star potential, while simultaneously allowing on-average 25+ home runs per season since coming into the league in 2005. Last year with the Royals he started using his sinker more which helped cut down on his walks, but he still gave up 26 bombs. Perhaps he’s just a late bloomer, in which case, the Braves may have found someone to replace Beachy. Losing Medlen is still a devastating blow, however, and no matter how good Santana might be in 2014, he can’t replace two pitchers.  So what does all this mean for the Mets?

At first glance the answer might be, not much. Despite their own internal/hopeful forecast of 90 wins, not many experts outside the Mets front office are agreeing with that assessment. Meanwhile, the Braves were tied for the second best record in baseball last year, and that was despite losing ace Tim Hudson to an unfortunately collision at first, and having a team that struck out at an abysmal rate. But now these injuries do elicit some questions about the Braves moving forward in 2014, and that opens the door, if just a crack, for the Mets.

If the Mets have any hope of competing for a Wild Card playoff spot in 2014, either the Braves or the Washington Nationals have to stumble. As the Nats are looking more like the team that was predicted to run away the with National League East last year, it makes more and more sense that the Braves would have to be the team the Mets overtake. Now remove Medlen and Beachy, and the Mets can see light shining through that sliver of hope.

But the Braves aren’t going to injury themselves out, and subsequently the Mets into the playoffs. The Mets will still have to play above their current potential. Huge questions at first base and shortstop are stopping the Mets from being a legitimate playoff threat. A nifty trade for a budding young shortstop could help change that. It might move Wilmer Flores to a new position. It might even open up doors for a three-team trade somewhere. Anything is possible when you allow it to be. However, this front office does not seem quick to relinquish any young arms for positions players, perhaps for good reason. And while it is still possible that either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda could take the first base job and run with it, most Met fans are waiting to see that before believing it.

So without wishing harm upon anyone, the Medlen and Beachy injuries certainly don’t hurt the Mets, but they don’t necessarily make the Mets look any better. It’s an opportunity that the Mets need to and should capitalize on. Pulling the trigger does not seem to be a favor pastime of the current Mets front office, though. So we wish a quick recovery to Medlen and Beachy, because they won’t be pitching this year anyway. And we pray that our team can make the best out of these circumstances. Just watch out, or that door might swing shut awfully fast.

11 comments for “What do injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy mean for the Mets?

  1. Jerry Grote
    March 18, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Alex Wood is up to 14 IP without giving up an earned run this spring.
    Julio Teheran is up to 13 IP and he’s given up ONE earned run this spring.
    Nearly every one of their hitters – including BJ Upton and Dan Uggla – is hitting the ball very well.

    Meanwhile Curtis Granderson and David Wright (outside of 2 HR against a minor league-esque pitcher), are a combined 6 for 43 and you can’t find a starting pitcher that has been lights out this spring.

    The Atlanta Braves, and the rest of the NL, is not staying up at night worrying about us. So far, this has been one of the worst springs in memory. 11-1 to the Marlins? Turning Kolten Wong into Barry Bonds? I’m betting Dice-K gets hammered this afternoon. This is going to get ugly, really fast.

    • Chris F
      March 18, 2014 at 8:42 am

      Yeah JG, I think you’ve served up an MLB sized dose reality there. While it is only ST, there are quite a few troubling things occurring before our eyes.

  2. March 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

    You’re article makes a lot of sense. Watching MLB last night, Harold Reynolds did a quick review (maybe 10 to 15 minutes)of the Braves on there 30 teams in 30 days, spending over a half hour on the Tigers. Predicting the Braves will finish in Second to the Nationals. Fluffing off the pitching losses, and saying Ugglia, BJ, and Haywood would have come back seasons. Predicting the Mets for fourth in the east by one game? behind than the Phils. I think Haywood will have a good year, but I’m not a strong believer in Ugglia and BJ. I think Freemen and Gattis will play consistant like last year.

    The need to catch the Braves by having a better year than them and not relaying on the Braves misfortunes. I when into spring training thinking the Mets plan will work, but the Mets spring training has been a disaster. Especially shortstop, why is Flores getting a fair shot? Tejada has failed miserably. Now the Tigers are in the hunt for a Shortstop. Davis and Duda will start on the DL, except for managements denials. Satin at least hits in clutch situations which the two clowns haven’t a clue. Or move Murphy to first and have EY at second. Duda and Davis have not exactly ripped up the minor camp where they have been playing. TDA has not shown, he can hit, they might be better going in the season with Rector and Teagarden, and send Travis down to the minors. Yesterdays game against the Marlins had to be one of the Mets worse outing of the spring. The Marlins look awful,but won.

  3. Name
    March 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I never thought the Braves were that good to begin with and were terribly overrated last year. Besides 2 hot stretches at the beginning of the year and the end of the year, they were basically a .500 team from May to August.
    This doesn’t mean that I think the Mets will overtake them, just that the Braves likely won’t make the playoffs.

  4. March 18, 2014 at 10:51 am

    I want to correct some errors I made. TDA has not showed he can hit. I know he has had only two month of Major league experience. I would hate to see him get into a big hole at the beginning of the season. What I meant say about Satin, in RBI situations he really bears down, and showed better success that Davis and Duda. The Tigers have entered the market for a shortstop, with Ingelas having stress fractures in both legs. Maybe the Tigers will sign Drew. Whom I don’t think is he worth the money he wants. The Tigers are in the position of an elite team, let them pick up Drew. But the Mets should go after Franklin or Owings and get the deal done. Tejada can’t do the job. The Mets are desperate. You can’t go into the season with 4 automatic outs in your line up, even if you have great pitching. This is why moving Murphy to first, and EY to second, might work.

  5. Jerry Grote
    March 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Slightly different answer …
    A different answer than you were expecting … perhaps it means a stricter interpretation of the 30 innings increase rule by the Mets FO:

    2009: 76
    2010: 134 increase of 58
    2011: 147
    2012: 81
    2013: 70

    2006: 22
    2007: 47
    2008: 120 increase of 73
    2009: 104
    2010: 107
    2011: 2.1
    2012: 138 increase of 136
    2013: 197 increase of 59

    Just putting it out there. Thoughts?

    • Name
      March 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Last year the Braves had 4 homegrown players who have had TJ (Venters, OFlarety, Medlen, Beachy), now they have 2 2nd time TJ guys. I think Beachy has always been a brittle guy like Mejia, but it’s gotta more than coincidence. Venters and OFlarety were definitely abused by Gonzalez.

      Mets so far have had Mejia, Harvey, Pelfrey, Hefner within the last 2 years. Mejia has also been brittle and Hefner isn’t homegrown. Pelfrey seemed like a fluke as he had 4 years of 180+ and his biggest jump in innings camed in 07-08 when he went from 150 to 200. The Mets also handled Harvey with kid gloves so at the injury wasn’t from abuse.
      Still, i’d be concerned with Harvey/Mejia as there’s a growing number of pitchers who need 2nd TJ surgery a couple of years of their 1st one.

      • Jerry Grote
        March 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm

        I don’t think its a coincidence with the Braves, and I think it amplifies the likelihood that Mejia will be kept on a very short leash.

        • Name
          March 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm

          Well with Mejia you should be worried about keeping him on the mound healthy period. Guy averages like 70 innings a season over the past 6 years and hasn’t pitched more than 108 in a season. I’d be thrilled if we got to the point where we have to shut him down, given that there’s a good chance he won’t even get that far.

  6. Stephen
    March 18, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Actually there is a lesson to be learned. The cause of a UCL tear or detachment almost always is the result of poor form (I detest the word “mechanics” which does not apply as will be seen shortly).

    Medlen, Beachy, and the next TJ surgery survivor who will reinjure himself, Stephen Strasburg, all have something in common with Matt Harvey.

    They are what we scouts used to call “short armers”.

    The best “form” or actually bio mechanics for the pitching motion should have the majority of the acceleration of the arm developed by the latisimus dorsi, the huge muscle that lays on both sides of the back, or “lat”.

    There should be maximum extension of the arm, with a “clearing” of the head.

    Instead, systematically since the end of the “pendulum” motion used before WWII, there has been greater and greater torque placed on the elbow, as pitchers “snap” down.

    Harvey, while not nearly as bad as the others, is also something of a short armer, and it is why I, and many of my former scout friends, had him pegged as the next big name UCL tear early on.

    Compare Harvey’s motion with that of either Wheeler of Syndegard, and you can clearly see the difference.

    Add to that the additional violence in Harvey’s motion b/c of his sheer velocity, and the tearing forces on his UCL become quite clear.

    It is a good lesson for anyone to go to Youtube and take a look at some films of old style pitchers and you will see whey they never seemed to have elbow trouble despite exponentially greater numbers of Innings Pitched.

    • Metsense
      March 19, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Thanks Stephen, as “just a fan” I appreciate you sharing this information. Many believe that there is a corelation between innings pitched and injury, that is why the Mets use the new “industry standard” 30 inning increase per season. What are your feelings on this? Does one size really fit all?
      As a layman, I would think that if you build up a muscle from start to start, not year to year, then it will perform better as long as you don’t over do it and stress it during the excercise. Therefore pitch count would seem to be more important because, during the excercise of pitching , if you exceed your normal workout you are stressing a fatigued muscle thus increasing the risk of injury. Again, thanks for sharing.

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