Recently, the indispensable Jeff Zimmerman released his annual DL information for all MLB clubs. For me, the nice part about this year’s information is that Jeff included both his usual bar chart and the actual numbers, eliminating the need to ballpark what the actual number was. In 2017, the Mets lost a total of 1,487 days to the disabled list, which was the seventh-most days in MLB last year.
Let’s explain that number a bit. First, the total number of days in the MLB season is 182, so a player like the captain who doesn’t play a single day all year gets 182 days lost. Second, teams typically don’t place a player on the DL during the month of September. So, when Wilmer Flores breaks his nose on Sep. 2 and doesn’t play the rest of the year, his 27 games and roughly 30 days don’t count in Jeff’s total. Additionally, there are more days lost to the DL this past year, as MLB introduced the new 10-day DL. Previously, teams would have a player miss a few days, hoping he wouldn’t need to be gone for 15 days. This past year, pitchers especially, would go on the 10-day DL.
And perhaps most importantly of all, out of pure necessity all days are counted equal. Mets fans may be a bit incredulous that other teams had more time lost to the DL. But for example the Red Sox had more days lost because Tyler Thornburg missed the entire season, Carson Smith lost 156 days, Steven Wright was on the shelf for 154, Marco Hernandez had 150, Robbie Ross had 145 and Josh Rutledge had 122. That’s 909 days of guys who wouldn’t be included among their top 15-18 players.
Meanwhile, here were the top five Mets players in terms of DL days lost:
Wright – 182
Syndergaard – 145
Nimmo – 137
Matz – 112
Familia – 106
Nimmo is the only one who wouldn’t be considered among the team’s top 15 players. And he illustrates another shortcoming with this list. Nimmo would have broken camp with the Mets on the 25-man roster but came down with a hamstring strain. He recovered from that and played in the minors, starting on April 26. But all of the time he spent in the minors is counted as DL time. It’s likely every team has a player like that, perhaps even one or two of the Red Sox guys listed above.
From Mr. Zimmerman, here’s the complete table of days lost to the DL for the Mets in 2017:
|Jeurys Familia||RHP||5/11/2017||8/25/2017||106||arm||blood clot||right|
|Matt Harvey||RHP||6/15/2017||9/2/2017||79||shoulder||stress injury||right|
|Brandon Nimmo||LF||7/8/2017||7/28/2017||20||lung||partially collapsed|
|T.J. Rivera||3B||7/27/2017||10/1/2017||66||elbow||partial tear||right|
|Noah Syndergaard||RHP||5/1/2017||9/23/2017||145||lat||partial tear||right|
|Neil Walker||2B||6/15/2017||7/28/2017||43||hamstring||partial tear||left|
|Zack Wheeler||RHP||7/23/2017||10/1/2017||70||arm||stress reaction||right|
|David Wright||3B||4/2/2017||10/1/2017||182||cervical||disc herniation|
Considering just the five guys who started the season in the rotation, the Mets lost 353 days to the DL. And that’s not counting the 197 days lost for Lugo and Matz, either. And it’s also not counting the time when they were pitching and clearly should have been disabled. By comparison, the Red Sox pitchers who started the year in the rotation lost 199 days, with 154 of those coming from Wright, who only made the rotation because David Price opened on the DL and lost 108. The five Red Sox pitchers who led the team in starts totaled 136 and included four of the five guys who began the year in the rotation. The top five for the Mets had 107 and included just two from the Opening Day rotation.
But it’s likely that you knew all of that already and the goal is always to put something in the article that you didn’t know or hadn’t considered. So, going back and re-reading some of Jeff’s previous DL articles, there was something that jumped out at me. In 2016, the Mets actually finished in the bottom half of the majors in days lost to the DL. They finished 21st in MLB in days lost. Eyeballing it from the bar chart, it was around 1,100 days. They actually lost fewer days to the DL in 2016 than the White Sox, who year-in, year-out typically have one of the lowest totals in the league.
In 2015, the Mets had the second-most days lost to the DL.
It seems like each year we talk about what could be if the team stays healthy and each year we’re disappointed in what actually happens in terms of players put on the DL. It could be that we need to re-adjust our expectations. It could be that the Mets need to develop a deeper team. A gambling man would not wager on either of those things happening for 2018.
But there is at least some good news in this department. During the 2017 season, the Mets announced they were streamlining the process of how they would handle injuries and rehab internally. And once the season ended, they parted ways with their manager, pitching coach and head athletic trainer, who each need to take partial blame for what’s happened to the pitchers under their watch.
No matter who occupies those roles, pitchers are going to get hurt. Hopefully the new guys in those positions for 2018 can institute new practices that result in fewer trips to the DL and for shorter stints, too. The hitters on the 2017 Mets saw some DL stints that resulted in fewer days than a month lost, which was progress. Amazingly, d’Arnaud lost just 21 days, which must be a personal best. Cabrera lost just 21 and Duda just 22. If the pitchers could cut back their time missed from three months or more to three weeks, that would be a giant step in the right direction.