Optimism for the Mets’ pitching staff

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.

22 comments for “Optimism for the Mets’ pitching staff

  1. February 13, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Or it could be the FO is waiting for the price to come down the closer we get to ST? I still believe they’ll sign one more starter.

  2. Hunter
    February 13, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Lackey might be a good sign, I also like the lefty,Garcia.

    • Steve S.
      February 13, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      I could see them signing Lackey at age 39—hoping to find another Colon. He did get paid $16 million last year. I wonder what it would take to sign him? Maybe $10 million. I’m not sure he’s worth it at this point though.

    • February 13, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      Lackey is 39 years old and he gave up 36 HR last year. If he wants anything more than an NRI, he’s expecting too much.

      • Chris F
        February 13, 2018 at 9:38 pm


  3. MattyMets
    February 13, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    In other news, Brian’s all-time favorite player Matt den Dekker might be coming back.

  4. February 13, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Of the question marks in-house, I’m most optimistic about Matz and Lugo. The Long Island kid could pull it together after surgery reduces pain and the curveball master was always effective, albeit on the verge of needing surgery.

  5. Eraff
    February 13, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Ok… Please tell me who starts and who parks when they bring in the extra starter…I Demand to Know!!!!

    Assuming Health, they will need Innings in August and after–without health????…they don;t need an added Pitcher unless it’s a top of rotation starter on day 1—and tell me who you park?

    Somebody share the rotation and schedule and assumptions about who gets innings, when and where

    • John Fox
      February 13, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      Eraff, I would suspect either Gsellman or Lugo could end up working out of the bullpen if all the other starters are ready to go, perhaps as a 2-3 inning reliever, both have been relievers before.

    • TexasGusCC
      February 14, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Assuming they are healthy, the team’s plan to limit staters not named Jacob or Noah, is to have them pitch six innings. Then, Callaway has said they will go six starters at several targeted spots in the schedule to ease the burden. Throw in a couple of skipped starts or three and a starting pitcher can last most of the season making 28 starts and having no more than 170 innings. Not bad.

  6. Metsense
    February 14, 2018 at 8:53 am

    The consistency of Lynn, Cobb or Dickey would solidify the rotation and provide the quality innings needed to make it to through season. The front office is too optimistic.

  7. TJ
    February 14, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I agree with adding some starting pitching depth, but at this stage, given supply and demand, time is on the Mets’ side. Until the market starts moving, they can continue to assess the health, progress, and performance of the current flock of potential starters. It also allows some time to manage the 40-man roster, and how to DL Wright and Conforto in order to add a couple of arms.

    Still, I would not burn that high #2 pick for a mid-rotation guy like Cobb or Lynn. I’d rather keep that pick and target a Garcia, Vargas, or Cashner-type.

    • Mike Walczak
      February 14, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      What has higher odds? The number two pick becoming even a marginal major leaguer or Lance Lynn winning 15 games.

      I’ll take Lynn.

      • February 14, 2018 at 7:15 pm

        But that’s only part of the equation. How likely is Lynn to win 15 games? How likely is Lynn to be worth his contract? Which would you rather have — Lynn or a #2 pick + whatever else you could get with the money – rumored to be in the $15 million range – required to sign Lynn?

        I don’t like looking at Wins as a way of identifying the talent of a pitcher. Jacob deGrom’s career high is 15 Wins and Lynn has an 18-Win season under his belt. I don’t consider Lynn a better pitcher than deGrom.

        Lynn significantly out-performed his peripherals last year. He had a 4.82 FIP and a 4.75 xFIP. I’m not interested in giving a multi-year deal at an AAV of 8 figures to a guy whose FIP was nearly 1.5 runs higher than his ERA.

        I have no idea what kind of offers Lynn has received so far. But I wouldn’t even consider (much less sign) him until he got down to the type of contract Frazier signed for — 2/$17. And given the market, that’s probably an overpay. I’d rather give the starts to Lugo or Gsellman.

        • TexasGusCC
          February 14, 2018 at 9:39 pm


      • TJ
        February 14, 2018 at 9:38 pm

        What Brian said.

        To clarify further, I just don’t think there is a quality margin between Cobb/Lynn and some other available starters that is worth losing a high 2nd round pick for. If it’s Arietta, he’d be worth the pick, but a guy like Jamie Garcia could provide almost as much without loss of a high quality pick.

    • MattyMets
      February 15, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Jason Vargas is 35 and was injured 2 of the past 3 seasons. Last year he was awesome in the first half then fell off a cliff. He missed nearly all of 2016 and made just 9 starts in 2015. In the five years prior he was a pretty solid innings eater. Maybe he bounces back, maybe he doesn’t. How much is that worth? And would it make sense to bump a finally healthy Wheeler or Matz to the pen for him?

  8. footballhead
    February 14, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I don’t like to wish ill of any of the Mets pitchers, but if Harvey returns to a level of just being competent, that would be a historic high mark for a pitcher trying to return from his type of injury. And even though Gsellman is not as touted as the other arms, I am more hopeful for him to be a solid innings eating starter with about a 4.00 ERA. Perhaps with Callahans touch, someone like Montero can be the positive surprise of the year.

    The biggest reason I have for being positive about this staff though, is that Collins is gone.

    • February 14, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      I agree that the new manager and pitching coach will be an improvement over what we had previously.

      But there have been relatively few cases of MLB pitchers with TOS that you just can’t draw any conclusions right now. Yet we’ve certainly seen guys return to being competent.

      Clayton Richard had a 2.3 fWAR last year
      Jaime Garcia had a 2.1 fWAR in 2017
      Josh Beckett came back and posted a 2.88 ERA in 115.2 IP

      Entering the 2018 season, I’m more concerned about Harvey’s head than his TOS. I’m encouraged that the new manager and pitching coach advised Sandy Alderson not to trade him during the Winter Meetings. They probably have the best shot of getting him right mentally.

      • Mike Walczak
        February 14, 2018 at 10:57 pm

        I think Lynn would be a great addition to the team, but I understand your points. I’d rather have Lynn or Cobb or Arrieta or any number of other pitchers as the number 3 in the rotation.

        There are just too many questions and what ifs on the staff.

        The Phillies and Braves will be better, Marlins worse, so the division will be tougher.

        We had one reliable starter last year for the whole year. You mean you want to rely on all (or some) of those pitchers coming back to even average performance – Unlikely.

        I’ll also take Vargas or Cashner.

        I know, I know, I ramble on. Thank goodness baseball season is here with spring training.

  9. TexasGusCC
    February 15, 2018 at 1:58 am

    I could write this fifty times and still be glad to keep writing.

    From Wednesday’s Callaway press conference:

    He was asked about guys getting up and down and risk tiring out their arms.
    He nodded and said, “if I use them the wrong way, yeah! If I hadn’t thought it out the right way, that could definitely be a risk. We’re going to be very diligent about that. Dry humping guys is something I feel very strongly about and that’s alot of wear and tear that’s needless, and if I haven’t prepared the right way, that will happen. I have to make sure I’m in communication with Dave Eiland on a daily basis so that we know in this part of the lineup, we need to have this guy ready, and I have to make a decision with good timing so the game doesn’t speed up on us and I get somebody ready too early. So we need to be very diligent about that and make sure that doesn’t happen.”

    Wow! Who can defend Bozo now? This guy sounds like what we have all been dreaming of… if only it can be so.

  10. TexasGusCC
    February 15, 2018 at 2:15 am

    In continuation, for those of us that are tired of seeing low and away, low and away, low and away:

    “If you can get ahead of a hitter and trust your stuff, then you keep attacking to put the pressure on the hitter. By going after him with good stuff, you’re going to have success”.

    Afterward, Dave Eiland said that Matt Harvey had gotten into bad habits because of his injuries, and his lower half and upper half were not in sync. Truth or psychology? Not too sure about that one, because didn’t anyone else see that last year?

    But I enjoyed Callaway’s thought process, including him sidestepping a question about Nimmo/Lagares because the press shouldn’t always know what you’re thinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: