As the 2017 season drew to a close, it was obvious there were several parts of the Mets’ roster that needed upgrading, not surprising for a team that finished 70-92. The Mets’ management recognized that and subsequently signed free agents to bolster the areas that needed to be improved.
The team needed a starting caliber infielder, and thus hard-hitting free agent third baseman Todd Frazier was scooped up. With outfielder Michael Conforto not expected to be ready for the start of the season, the Mets responded by signing slugging free agent Jay Bruce, who could be used at first base as well. The Met bullpen wallowed near the bottom of the league in several categories, so FA set-up man Anthony Swarzak was inked.
It also seemed possible the team would try to corral another starting pitcher, since the injury-ravaged staff was feasted on by opposing hitters, with the team ERA finishing with a dreadful 5.01 ERA for last season. However, as of this writing, no additional starter has been signed. Is that a bad thing? Is it a case of management being cheap? Maybe… or maybe not.
The more optimistic outlook is that the front office is comfortable with the starters on the roster, and is comfortable with their medical progress. We do know that the medical unit of the Mets has been revamped, and we can be pretty sure the team has kept up with the conditioning and health of the players during the off-season.
It’s hard for us outsiders to judge the fitness of the players, but we can see what a lot of the pitchers have said about their health now that spring training is starting, at least for the pitchers and catchers.
Power pitcher Noah Syndergaard was on a path to elite status until a torn lat muscle in his pitching arm caused him to miss most of last season. As quoted on MLB.com, Syndergaard has said this off season that his “Arm feels great…never really felt better.”
Left-hander Steven Matz pitched through pain last year, and ultimately had surgery on the ulnar nerve in his left elbow. According to Newsday, Matz announced “I feel really good coming in to camp.”
The Mets’ ace in 2017 was Jacob deGrom, who recovered nicely from ulnar nerve surgery the previous year. He ended up posting a solid 3.53 ERA last year in 201 IP with an impressive 239 K’s. When asked about his arm at the New York Boat show last month, he responded, “Feels good” and is “healthy.”
Hard-throwing Zack Wheeler was very good for the Mets in 2014, but has been injured most of the time since then. His latest setback was a stress reaction in his right arm. When asked about his condition, he told the New York Post that “My arm is feeling good, feeling strong, hopefully this will be a big year for me.”
Robert Gsellman was very effective for the Mets in 2016, then was ineffective last year. He has not had any type of major arm trouble, he just seemed to suffer through the old sophomore slump. Gsellman was quoted in the New York Daily News as stating “I feel great, the best I’ve felt in a while and I’m ready to get after it.”
One time ace Matt Harvey has suffered several significant injuries including thoracic outlet surgery. He did return at the end of last season and still had velocity on his fastball, touching the upper 90’s at times, although his command was way off. I did not see any recent quotes from him concerning his condition.
Sure there may be a little puffery in what the above pitchers have said about their health, and of course a new injury could always develop. We also have Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero in the mix. Lugo has had elbow problems and is hoping rest will improve it so he did not get surgery, and the jury is still out on that move. Montero was once a prospect who has yet to pan out. Both of these could be used in long relief or spot starts or even in the rotation.
The fact that the Mets have not signed any new starting pitchers yet may well be a vote of confidence from the management that the pitching staff as currently constructed should be a team strength.