Last 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.