Steven Matz’ rebound, hot-hitting catchers, Spring Training record

Perhaps the greatest unknown entering Spring Training for the Mets this season was what the team would get from all of the starting pitchers who suffered injuries in 2017. After two Grapefruit League appearances the results were horrific for Steven Matz, an outcome even more disturbing because there was probably more reason for optimism with him than most of the other hurlers in the same boat. Matz had the same surgery that Jacob deGrom had prior to last season and deGrom came back and was very effective.

But after two appearances, Matz had a 45.00 ERA, which is hard to do, even in Spring Training. But the news coming from the organization was all positive. He was healthy and had velocity so it was just a matter of doing a better job commanding his pitches. It sounded naïve. But in his last three outings, Matz has had terrific results. Here are his line scores in those starts:

4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 0 HR
4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 0 HR
6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR

That works out to a 2.51 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP over 14.1 IP, with a 4.0 K/BB ratio thanks to 16 Ks. Until he proves otherwise, Matz is a huge injury risk, due to the plethora of injuries he suffered in both the majors and minors. But this recent three-game stretch is a nice little reminder of the guy Matz can be when healthy.

CATCHERS GETTING IT DONE – The fanbase asking for the catching situation to be upgraded is an annual event. All along Sandy Alderson has indicated that he likes his catchers and perhaps that faith is finally going to be rewarded. Last September, Travis d’Arnaud had a .999 OPS with 6 HR in 70 PA while Kevin Plawecki had an .826 OPS. So far in Grapefruit League play, d’Arnaud has a 1.147 OPS and is tied for the team lead with 3 HR while Plawecki has a .776 mark.

INFIELD CORNERS STRUGGLING – So far most of the bad attention has been focused on Adrian Gonzalez, the veteran who is hoping to rebound to be a productive player. Gonzalez has not hit this Spring while fan favorite Wilmer Flores has recovered from a slow start to be among the team leaders in OPS. But while the fans are rightfully dismayed with Gonzalez, new third baseman Todd Frazier has mostly escaped scrutiny. Gonzalez enters Wednesday with a .531 OPS and got his first RBI in Grapefruit League action Tuesday when he hit a solo HR. But Frazier has been even worse, with a .518 OPS. The two players expected to start the year at the infield corners have combined for 26 KS in 92 ABs.

HARVEY KEEPS PLUGGING AWAY – In yesterday’s road start against the Cardinals, Matt Harvey had his longest outing, as he allowed just 1 solo homer in 5.1 IP. While Matz started the year with two bad outings, Harvey had a bad game against the Yankees but otherwise has been solid this Spring. In his four non-Yankees starts, he has a 2.93 ERA and a 1.304 WHIP in 15.1 IP, with a 3.2 K/BB ratio thanks to 16 Ks. Overall, Harvey has a 4.50 ERA in 20 IP.

LOOKING AT THE SPRING RECORD – After yesterday’s win, the Mets sit with an 8-16-3 record, which is the worst mark in the Grapefruit League. It used to be that the majority of teams trained in Florida but now it’s an even split between Florida and Arizona. And while there are 15 teams in the Sunshine state, the Mets have played only seven of those. They are getting taken out behind the woodshed by the Astros, Nationals and Yankees. That trio has combined to go 11-2-1 against the Mets this Spring, with the Astros going 5-1-1, the Nationals winning four of five and the Yankees claiming wins both times they played. The Mets won’t play the Astros during the regular season but will play the Yankees six times and the Nationals 19 times.

6 comments for “Steven Matz’ rebound, hot-hitting catchers, Spring Training record

  1. Matt Netter
    March 21, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Our first base situation is concerning. Our worst case scenario, and not all that unlikely really, is that by June we learn that neither AGon or Smith is up to the task and wind up with a Bruce/Flores platoon. This would be a defensive disaster.

    • March 21, 2018 at 12:51 pm

      I hope 1B ends up our worst problem. That means the pitchers, along with the C&C boys, are healthy and productive. And if for some reason Bruce can’t hack it at 1B – it’s the easiest position to fill via trade.

  2. Eraff
    March 21, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    I’m much more concerned about the Middle Infield, with special notice for Rosario surviving his first 100-150 ab’s. I’m hoping his talent and quick learning will overcome his love of Swinging.

    I don’t believe any team in baseball has as much of it’s long term future at stake over as do these Mets—as a team and as individuals.

    This team is Built to Trade into a Pennant Race or a Rebuild…either way, the first 60 or so games may provide a very specific direction for the next 2-4 years.

    • March 21, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      I get what you’re saying but if Rosario flops they can still play Reyes/Cabrera there and if Cabrera flops they have even more options. They can handle an injury here and a flop there. They can’t handle multiple ones of those at the same position at the same time.

      I mostly agree with your last graph. But I could see them selling guys at the deadline and not necessarily going full-blown rebuild. A team with Noah, JDG, Conforto and Rosario has four pretty strong pieces in place. Certainly you could trade one or two of those and go the rebuild route. They could also trade, say, Familia and Harvey and look to be back in it in 2019.

  3. Eraff
    March 21, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    If you’re trading, the big haul guy is Jake deGrom…. Prime and Proven…and very reasonable for another 2, 3 years or so. That would be sad.

    The “Big Piece” remains Pitcher health…. if they get 3-4 healthy and performing parts, they will find themselves in “Add Mode” by default.

    When you really look at things, it’s not so different than any other team, any other year—if your pitchers pitch, you probably remain intact.

  4. March 23, 2018 at 8:10 am

    The Mets have some pieces – Cespedes, Conforto, Bruce, Rosario, Thor, Degrom, to a lesser extent Flores, Cabrera, Familia, Blevins. That’s 10 very good / decent players to start a season. I don’t think A.Gonzalez is the answer at 1B, perhaps Flores takes over before too long. If not, as one writer said, 1B is easy enough to trade for in the course of the year, or promising P. Alonso is called up if D.Smith is eating his way out of a career. Nimmo can be very useful with his ability to get on base, Lagares will save a few games with his defense. Anything from Harvey, Wheeler, Matz, Ramos, Swarzak, the 2 catchers and this could still be a 90 win team, a few Nats injuries and it could be a fight for the top spot in the East. New Mgr Calloway and new pitching coaches are an infusion of energy vs the previous field managers. Trick is for Mets to get out fast to start the year, not get buried in April and May, beat the lesser teams that they must beat – example – Marlins, Braves, etc, etc. Phils won’t be a cakewalk this year.

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