Don’t get too hot on Rafael Montero

Rafael MonteroIf you have watched any of Spring Training this season you may have seen an old and forgotten face, Rafael Montero. At 26 years of age, he’s no longer a kid and we’re no longer wondering if he or Jacob deGrom will be the better pitcher. Remember that back in 2014, the Mets (and their fans), were very very high on Montero and his potential.

Back then we were looking at a player who had achieved much with pinpoint control of essentially “league average” stuff. That being said, the stats told the tale of a pretty good pitcher:

● 2011 – 71.0 IP, 2.15 ERA, 66 Ks, 0.96 WHIP (DSL/GCL/APP/NYP)
● 2012 – 122.0 IP, 2.36 ERA, 110 Ks, 0.94 WHIP (SAL/FSL)
● 2013 – 155.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 150 Ks, 1.10 WHIP (EAS/PCL)
● 2014 – 86.0 IP, 3.45 ERA, 87 Ks, 1.27 WHIP (GCL/FSL/PCL)*

If not for injuries it’s possible that Montero, who was off to an okay start might have made the Mets question if deGrom should be sent back down to AAA. That didn’t happen and instead we’ve watched Montero’s prospect star fall, like Lucifer, from the heavens.

In 2015 and 2016 Montero peaked into the majors for a brief 54.1 innings thanks to godawful numbers in the very difficult PCL. The Mets even went as far as demoting Montero to AA in 2016 to try and save the last shreds of his self confidence.

Perhaps that worked…

This spring, he’s pitched 18.1 fabulous innings and boasts a 1.96 ERA and 21 Ks. What’s changed? That’s a good question. If one looks at his numbers (since 2014) the one thing we all took for granted with Montero has not been true.

The control has not been Montero’s ally and if you look at his numbers even this spring he’s walking too many batters. He’s got 8 walks this spring which is a better K:BB than he boasted in AAA last year (17:10). Am I suggesting we ignore what has been a fantastically resurgent spring? No. I’m suggesting prudent caution regarding a player who has let us down in the past.

12 comments for “Don’t get too hot on Rafael Montero

  1. TexasGusCC
    March 27, 2017 at 11:07 am

    David, amen.

    Montero may just be showcased. The two times I saw him this spring, that fastball was still straight as a dart. I know he comes in later in games, when minor leaguers are in, but he started this weekend and still did well. Just want to see him become a bulldog out there before I can believe in him.

    • David Groveman
      March 27, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Exactly,

      If there was an opening, based on injury, I’d put him in the rotation. He’s earned that. Otherwise his best play is to go to AAA as a starter and prove that the resurgence is real.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Jimmy P
    March 27, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Off-Topic: But I just want to comment that Michael Conforto is not a satisfactory replacement for Juan Lagares. He wildly underperforms in the two areas where Juan excels: defense and hitting LHP.

    Lagares injury simply underscores all the comments that SA made early in the winter. That the Mets outfield was off-balance and too lefthanded. Which was why, supposedly, he had plans to try to move Bruce or Granderson.

    The easy trade is Conforto and I commend him for not making that massive mistake.

    A platoon of Granderson/Conforto in CF does not make sense. The pieces don’t fit.

    Bruce is the problem. The mistake that keeps on giving.

    What kind of lineup would want Duda and Bruce back-to-back? One is an asset. Two is a hardened artery.

    My apologies, Dave: I’d bet we all agree with your assessment of Montero. Hard to imagine anybody would get too excited. Right now he looks like the team’s #8 starter. Those guys usually get in some games before the season is done.

  3. Eraff
    March 27, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Mets Outfield— another case of history repeating???

    last year Sandy did it with a 6 million dollar guy–d’Aza….he liked that so much, that he did it again this year–with a $13 million dollar guy!!

    Shirley Basey and Propeller Heads

    • Chris F
      March 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Dont forget Chris Young the year before that!

  4. Chris F
    March 27, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Im not sure ignoring the numbers is far off in Montero’s case. ST numbers are flat out meaningless. Pitchers working on things, hitters working on things, all kinds of players with numbers from the 60s to 90s on their backs. It would seem he will get another shot in the Bigs at some point given the pitching injuries we all expect. Bit one thing is for sure, with fastballs that have zero action, he is going to need command and control like never before.

  5. Eraff
    March 27, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I root for Montero…but I don;t see a big improvement. I have watched him in 3 appearances this spring— I see barreled 93 mph fastballs.

    I hope his stuff and approach will work—I don’t believe in it.

  6. March 27, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I don’t buy his resurgence. My preference is to hype him up and trade him to a team in need of pitching (ahem, Boston) for something useful. In the unlikely event he blossoms into a starter, he’s already 26 and we have lots of pitching. If he doesn’t, we turned lead into gold.

    • Jimmy P
      March 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      We are likely going to need a #8 pitcher somewhere down the line, especially with Wheeler on an innings count. So unless you are confident the Mets have better options now, there’s not a lot of sense in trading him away, since I don’t think you get anything of ML value in return. Right now he’s Manny Acosta . . . without the track record of success.

      To the larger point, I don’t think the “hype him” approach works in the real world, unless you believe all these GMs are idiots without their own scouting departments, etc. No amount of spin, or lipstick, is going to meaningfully change how the baseball world views Montero. He’s been exposed.

      • TexasGusCC
        March 27, 2017 at 4:10 pm

        Well, there’s Colorado, there’s Miami, and there’s Anaheim. That’s it.

  7. NormE
    March 27, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Looking at the way Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis seemed very comfortable in box facing Montero, I’d be concerned anytime he had to face a quality lefty swinger. I don’t think his arsenal can cut it.

  8. Dalton Allison
    March 27, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    I’d start Montero in the bullpen. If he proves himself, and an injury occurs then I’d possibly slide him into the rotation there.

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