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.