Rafael Montero continues to defy MLB betting lines

Rafael MonteroAfter three games, the starting pitchers for the Mets have a 4.82 ERA, having allowed 10 ER in 18.2 IP. While that’s still less than half the ERA of the bullpen, it’s nowhere near what many hoped from out of the group that was expected to carry the 2014 club. While it’s still weeks away from being a legitimate cause for concern – recall that the 2013 club had Dillon Gee with a 5.96 ERA and Shaun Marcum with a 7.94 ERA at the end of April, and the starters finished the season with a 3.68 ERA – it’s now something about which for fair-weather fans to complain.

Rather than complain, perhaps fans can be placated by the knowledge that the top pitching in the pipeline, specifically Rafael Montero, is only a phone call away in Las Vegas. At this site, we hold Montero in high regard, even if that opinion is not shared by the prospect hounds of MLB. If and when he does get called up, the 36th-best pitching prospect in the game can still help the Mets, who are perennial underdogs in MLB betting lines, in part due to their lousy pitching. And that’s using the Baseball America list, which has him ranked higher than any other major list available.

The minor league season began Thursday night and Montero picked up right where he left off in 2013 – dominating hitters in the highest level of the minors while pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly environments around. He threw six shutout innings, did not walk a batter and recorded five strikeouts to lead Las Vegas to a 9-2 home win over the Fresno Grizzlies.

Dating back to his sparkling run to end the 2013 season, Montero now has a 1.42 ERA in his last eight starts, a span covering 50.2 IP. Five of those games were at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. And if somehow you had the idea that his ERA was a giant fluke, he has a nearly 7:1 K/BB ratio and has allowed just two homers. That works out to a 2.31 FIP and keep in mind that FIP adds 3.2 as a constant, meaning a pitcher with a mark below that has really, really excelled.

The knee-jerk reaction for many is – So what, it’s only eight starts! And while there’s truth to that, it’s also extremely unlikely to find any pitcher in the last 25 years to experience such fantastic success in a similar number of innings in the PCL in general and Las Vegas in particular. And if we limit the PCL to the West Coast teams – and eliminate those in the middle of the country who joined from the old American Association and who play in more pitcher-friendly environments – my strong suspicion is you will not find anyone.

Montero may get pounded in his very next start – even 1985 Doc Gooden gave up 5 ER in 5 IP one start – but that should not take away from the unbelievable run of pitching he’s exhibited in his last eight starts. If you cannot get excited about a guy excelling in Las Vegas, there’s probably no pleasing you. If nothing else, Thursday’s start should drive home the point that there’s no reason to trade Montero – much less throw in another player!! – to acquire a guy who is a defensive liability at shortstop.

10 comments for “Rafael Montero continues to defy MLB betting lines

  1. Jim OMalley
    April 6, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    The Mets are going to be hard-pressed to not start bringing some of the AAA pitchers up sooner rather than later.

  2. Frank from jersey
    April 6, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Don’t have to convince me, I’ve always liked montero

  3. dd
    April 7, 2014 at 8:11 am

    If I was Alderson here’s what I would do: promote Montero, slot him into the rotation; and send Bartolo Colon to the bullpen with the instructions: now you are Bob Stanley, circa 1982-1983. The young pitchers would get the starts, but be on a fairly short leash; Colon would be called upon to deliver 2-3 innings of quality work about twice a week — about 150 innings worth.

    The rotation would be strengthened, I think, and the Mets would be substituting Colon’s effectiveness for the two weakest bullpen arms. It would not be a demotion for Colon; Stanley in those years went to an All Star game, came in seventh in a Cy Young voting, figured in two MVP votings. I believe the result would be more wins.

  4. amazin
    April 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

    10 million for a middle innings reliever, it ain’t happening! Maybe when montero and Syndergard get called up they trade Neise (if he looks healthy),Colon, or Gee and get a bat for first, a glove for Short, and a arm for the BP or some combination of the the three.

  5. Metsense
    April 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    This past winter Sandy spent 10M on Colon to replace the injured Harvey. Then he spent 7.5M to have C Young take an outfield spot so that the weak hitting Lagares/EY would not drag down the order. He also spent 15M on Granderson. These signings were giving the fans a belief that 2014 would be a year to compete and then he stopped with the job half done.
    If he wasn’t going to complete the job why did he bother shelling 10M for Colon? Montero was ready, is ready and his innings limit is not an issue when you add the team imposed 30 innings.Montero has 188 innings or 31 starts.
    If the Mets were gearing up to compete in 2014, then I understand the expenditure on a veteran like Colon instead of trusting a rookie to step in and perform. Sandy did not get a veteran relief pitcher, did not get any depth at SS and so all he accomplished in my eyes was to impede the progress of Montero, Mejia, Syndergaard and deGrom. If the Mets can’t compete wouldn’t it have been better to give the rookies the experience. Personally, I wished he would have completed the job.

    • April 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Yeah, I think this is spot on.

      I like all of the moves that Sandy made in isolation but as a whole work — it leaves something to be desired. I guess we could still be the team to sign Drew and maybe we’ll get some closure at 1B with a trade.

      Then it’s just the matter of the bullpen. I’m not in favor of putting a lot (okay, not even a medium amount) of money into the bullpen but maybe – with the benefit of hindsight with Black not being ready and Parnell getting hurt – we should have re-signed Hawkins.

      But I’m not going to crucify him for the bullpen. For me, it’s just not at the level of SS and 1B.

  6. Chris F
    April 7, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Metsense,

    What you write here presumes one big thing: that all SAs actions were to demonstrate that 2014 was an effort to be competitive. Your documentation shows this simply is not true. Although I am extremely tired of the Alderson two-step every time he opens his mouth, I do not believe for 1 second that he really believes anything about 90 wins this year. He simply has not provided the talent to do that, and that is plainly visible.

    What we really got was an effort to show that at least something is in fact being done by signing Colon, Young, and Grandy. But all the moves were ultimately revenue neutral….purely window dressing, with a little “hope” tossed in. You know that ray do sunshine that says just maybe something can happen this year. In fact SA has made nowhere enough moves to look that much different than last year. I believe the Colon and Young moves were pretty much identical to Byrd last year: the chance of catching lightning in a bottle with the opportunity to spin both off for prospects in the second half of the season given there is no one left on the roster with that potential. Grandy has that potential too, but the 4-yr deal and obvious man-crush on David Wright says this was a move to add leadership and playoff experience to the team and to help young players grow (by the way, there was a great interview with Grandy today where he talks about Lagares).

    What really bothers me is that there were 2 easily have able solutions to the 1B problem that I am extremely disappointed SA didn’t choose. 1. Jose Abreu would have been a great grab. 2. Mark Trumbo could have been had for a guy like Mejia. Either would have been real solutions for 1B. The present “show about nothing” at 1B is quite an embarrassment. You have covered SS with aplomb. The 1/2 done job was intentional if you ask me, just enough to look like something is being done, but not quite enough to say the dark days are gone.

  7. Patrick Albanesius
    April 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    General Question: If Colon pitches well, and the Mets are at or near .500, do you think he gets traded this year? Or does Sandy have to hold on to him to save face?

    • Metsense
      April 10, 2014 at 7:39 am

      I think it depends more on how Mejia and Montero do. Colon is a nice piece if the Mets are contending but on a non contending Met team he becomes an impediment to the development of the young starters.

  8. Chris F
    April 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    He gone!

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