Reviewing the 2017 Mets injuries and looking ahead

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:

name position start end days location type side
Asdrubal Cabrera SS 5/14/2017 5/25/2017 11 thumb sprained left
Asdrubal Cabrera SS 6/13/2017 6/23/2017 10 thumb sprain left
Yoenis Cespedes LF 4/28/2017 6/10/2017 43 hamstring strain left
Yoenis Cespedes LF 8/26/2017 10/1/2017 36 hamstring strained right
Michael Conforto LF 8/25/2017 10/1/2017 37 shoulder dislocation left
Michael Conforto OF 7/1/2017 7/8/2017 7 wrist injury left
Travis d’Arnaud C 5/3/2017 5/24/2017 21 wrist bruised right
Lucas Duda 1B 4/20/2017 5/12/2017 22 back spasms lower
Jeurys Familia RHP 5/11/2017 8/25/2017 106 arm blood clot right
Wilmer Flores 3B 4/21/2017 5/3/2017 12 knee infection right
Robert Gsellman RHP 6/28/2017 8/15/2017 48 hamstring strained left
Matt Harvey RHP 6/15/2017 9/2/2017 79 shoulder stress injury right
Juan Lagares CF 4/2/2017 4/13/2017 11 oblique injury left
Juan Lagares CF 6/16/2017 8/10/2017 55 thumb fracture left
Seth Lugo RHP 4/2/2017 6/11/2017 70 elbow inflammation right
Seth Lugo RHP 8/12/2017 8/27/2017 15 shoulder impingement right
Steven Matz LHP 4/2/2017 6/10/2017 69 elbow inflammation left
Steven Matz LHP 8/19/2017 10/1/2017 43 elbow irritation left
Tommy Milone LHP 5/22/2017 8/19/2017 89 knee sprain left
Brandon Nimmo LF 4/2/2017 7/28/2017 117 hamstring strain right
Brandon Nimmo LF 7/8/2017 7/28/2017 20 lung partially collapsed  
Jose Reyes 3B 8/13/2017 8/26/2017 13 oblique strain left
T.J. Rivera 3B 7/27/2017 10/1/2017 66 elbow partial tear right
Josh Smoker LHP 6/14/2017 7/20/2017 36 shoulder strain left
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
Zack Wheeler RHP 6/20/2017 7/1/2017 11 biceps tendinitis  
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.

14 comments for “Reviewing the 2017 Mets injuries and looking ahead

  1. TexasGusCC
    November 19, 2017 at 9:39 am

    The first injury that I’d like to bring up, is my own. A great opportunity to share a joyful day with friends and this game happens:

    I’m so done with liking him.

    I have to admit, I totally forgot that this was the game we saw, LOL! I remember coming back from the bathroom and Metsense telling me he thinks that the Mets can come back, and we cracked up!

    • November 19, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Hey, if you have to watch a game where Kevin Plawecki pitches, you might as well be in a bar!

    • Chris F
      November 19, 2017 at 9:55 am

      I believe the season was over for the Mets that day.

  2. Chris F
    November 19, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Great article Brian. When I was reading the fangraphs piece, Im sitting here screaming “but we lost so many important pieces its not the same!!!” and so smiled when you brought your analysis in. As usual, nicely thought out and expressed.

    On this same line, John Harper in the NYDN today has an article entitled “Mickey Callaway leading charge on Mets’ new injury prevention methods” which is worth the read.

    • November 19, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Thanks Chris.

      The best part about that article was this:

      One person familiar with the organization recalled that former pitching coach Rick Peterson, who believed strongly in the study of biomechanics, was pushing such technology 10 years ago.

      After the Mets fired Peterson, however, “there was a backlash to all of that stuff because people got tired of hearing it,” the person said, “and then they brought in Dan Warthen, who didn’t believe in a lot of that stuff. Now it’s come full circle.”

      • Chris F
        November 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

        indeed…that was quite a telling sentence.

  3. TexasGusCC
    November 19, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Guys, the caller is my buddy Artie that I grew up with. This is too funny, and depicts him perfectly.

  4. Meticated
    November 19, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    I lost my fascination with the team in 2017. It’s become more difficult to endure the long season of misery with little respite thru success … no feel good stories emerged, no unexpected tour de force , simply same old ,same old metsian bad karma. I’m 61 and now live in Sydney. I would truly love to have my mojo back re the blue and orange…perhaps this year will be a great time, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile

    • November 19, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      No doubt it was tough to watch at the end of the season and I bailed on more games last year than I did in the first six years of the Terry Collins era combined.

      I look forward to seeing how the team plays under Mickey Callaway. It might not make any difference at all but that’s not going to be my default assumption here in the Hot Stove season.

      • Jimmy P
        November 20, 2017 at 8:46 am

        And I would contend that a part of that dissatisfaction — a slight drag, like pedaling against the wind — comes from the game itself. The long slog through nine innings. The HRs and strikeouts are boring. The pitching changes, the stupid reviews, the diminishment of speed and defense, etc.

        Baseball is not as beautiful a sport as it used to be. All the data and analysis tends toward slowing the game down to a crawl. For me, it’s been easier to *not* watch than ever before. I just don’t have the time.

        Again: One of the most exciting WS games in recent history lasted more than 5 1/2 hours and ended at 1:37 AM. I didn’t see half of it. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

        • November 20, 2017 at 9:44 am

          Yes, it’s definitely part of it. Although I make no distinction if the team consistently loses a 4-hour game that has a bunch of HR and strikeouts or a 4-hour game that has a bunch of singles and caught stealings.

          But it was also that the team traded the guys I liked and kept the guys I didn’t. It was also the disillusionment from a season that started with high hopes that fizzled out completely. It was from watching pitchers go out there who clearly weren’t prepared to pitch in the 2017 reality, whether because of injury or a lack of a suitable game plan. It was also consistently playing Flores at 3B and batting Nimmo anywhere but leadoff and picking Smoker over Edgin and a bunch of other decisions coming from both the manager and GM that I felt did nothing to help the team either in 2017 or beyond.

          The season was a disaster and things needed to change. We’ve seen some changes, some big changes from business as usual. Will it be enough? Will they be in better position to compete? Man, I hope so.

          • Jimmy P
            November 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

            We are in agreement.

            Except — this being us — I have to make one point.

            I look at “game events” as, generally speaking, balls in play (and I’d include HRs in that category, though it’s not true in the strictest sense).

            In today’s baseball, we see fewer “game events” per pitch than at any other time in the history of baseball. And the games last longer than ever. And after the most exciting plays, we immediately follow that up with watching a coach on the phone, then a huddle of umpires staring into the middle distance.

            Less and less happens more and more.

            The stolen base, and the caught stealing, are action-filled plays of paramount skill and athleticism. I’ll take them over a call strike any day of the week.

            We’re in the midst of a bad era for baseball in terms of how the game is played. But I’m not saying that it is strategically unsound.

  5. MattyMets
    November 20, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Nail on the head. If this DL chart were redone to only include key players (maybe top 15 or so as you suggest) and not peripheral players, the Mets would most most certainly sit at the top. Or perhaps the chart could be weighted somehow so AAAA players aren’t valued as much as stars. I mean was anyone heartbroken over the Tommy Milone injury? Of course you’d rather lose three of those guys than one Thor or Ces.

    • Jimmy P
      November 20, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      When Thor went down the shit was shot.

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