Rafael Montero’s struggle should not be a major concern

Rafael MonteroLast night, Rafael Montero made his first start for the Mets in over a month. Montero was just recently called up from Triple A Las Vegas to replace Jacob deGrom while deGrom suffers from shoulder soreness.

While Montero struggled in his return to the major leagues, the struggles should not be the doomsday that many suggest it could be. Montero isn’t the first starting pitcher to struggle during their first cup of coffee in the big leagues. Cy Young winners Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw had an adjustment period when they were first called up.

Even Mets starters Zack Wheeler and deGrom weren’t getting the results they wanted when they first came to the big leagues.

A major point that needs to be kept in mind is that Montero was signed as an amateur free agent by the Mets in 2011. That means he has only played professional baseball for three full seasons. During that time, he has shot up the ranks in the Mets minors system to become one of their top prospects. He’s only 23 and in each of the past three seasons he has had great success and every minor league level.

But making the jump from the minors to the major leagues is the hardest jump, and it’s especially hard for a kid who only has three years’ experience against similar talent.

The Mets obviously view Montero as second fiddle to super-prospect Noah Syndergaard, but that doesn’t mean Montero isn’t a key part of the future.

The Mets need both Syndergaard and Montero to have success at the big league level, or at least prove they can hang at the big league level, in order to trade one of the two in a deal for a bat (which everyone assumes happens this winter).

Montero, at this point, can’t work any “issues” in Triple A. He’s proved himself at every level so far. This time, he’s going to have to work out his struggles at the big league level, underneath the bright lights.

During his recent stint in Triple A, both Wally Backman and pitching coach Frank Viola commented about Montero needing to get back to his old ways, and over his past couple of starts he was beginning to do this.

Not everyone can be Matt Harvey when they get called up. It’s been stated in the past how rare that is. Most great pitchers go through tough times. What makes them great is how they battle through and prove how talented they really are. Rafael Montero is no different.  These are just growing pains. Sooner or later, Montero will be dominating for the Mets.

7 comments for “Rafael Montero’s struggle should not be a major concern

  1. Chris F
    August 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I agree. Teething pains are part of the process. My question is, how long do you let it go on for?

    Presumably 2015 is a year where if we dont break even, heads will begin to roll. Does Montero lock down SP5 until the ASG…is that enough rope? Who sits (I imagine thats a solveable issue)? How much rope do we give a guy in year we absolutely need to have a winning record?

    It seems AAA is not enough competition, and he cant develop being a spot starter.

  2. Patrick Albanesius
    August 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I hope he can turn it around, because that’s a lot of home runs given up. What happens when JDG is ready to come back? Bullpen for long-relief? Back down for a couple more starts at Triple-A? Is spring the only real opportunity for him to earn a rotation spot?

  3. August 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I hope they make the commitment to him as a SP in the majors for the rest of the 2014 season. I think he’s earned that much.

    Right now, Montero has not earned anything for 2015.

  4. Marc melton
    August 13, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    He’s getting extremely unlucky with home runs. He does such a great job keeping the ball in the park in Vegas….But in the bigs he’s having a real tough time. That home run he gave up to Harper would only be a homer in 6 parks. That’s pretty lucky. I think it got in his head again. You did mention he’s only been pitching in professional baseball since 2011, so it’s possible he’s absolutely not used to giving up home runs like that and he can’t recover mentally just yet.

  5. August 13, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    It just seems like his fastball is flat and unless he has good location on it major league hitters are going to able to hit it. This isn’t the PCL. The only way a player stays in the big leagues is with the ability to hit a fastball. He needs to learn how to “pitch” and not just rely on being able to over power the hitters. It’s a growing curve too bad he doesn’t have a veteran catcher to guide him.

  6. Metsense
    August 14, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Montero has started off poorly and has become a questionmark instead of a solution. He has not earned consideration for the starting rotation in 2015 and this winter any trade value has diminished. It is a concern when one of your major prospects falters. I have seen him pitch in A ball and he had impecable control. I think he needs to gain confidence that he can get major league batters out because the stuff is there. Montero said “The batters here are a little bit better”.
    Montero should continue to get starts in this lost season and begin to find his way. He probably will end up the injury insurance starter kept at AAA in 2015. He is young and controlled. Disappointing but fixable.

  7. Chris F
    August 14, 2014 at 8:46 am

    From my limited observation he lack one huge thing: late movement in the zone. If he’s a nibbler, then the control cannot waiver at all. It serves to highlight the huge difference between the minor league and
    major league.

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