Wednesday catch-all thread (2/26/20)

News came out recently that the Mets are toying with the idea to use multiple people in the fifth starter’s role, playing matchups with Steven Matz, Michael Wacha and possibly even the two relievers who wish to be starters.

As stated here many more times than once, the idea is to run your team to maximize the talent available, not simply do what all of the other clubs do.

It remains to be seen if they’ll actually do this, rather than just talk about it early in the Grapefruit League season. It certainly would be unconventional here in the 21st Century. Could it work? Gil Hodges used five different pitchers, including Don Cardwell, Jim McAndrew and Nolan Ryan, to throw multiple games as both a starter and a reliever in 1969 and that worked just fine.

The question is: Do you believe Brodie Van Wagenen is as good of a manager as Hodges?

Cardwell, McAndrew and Ryan combined for 52 starts and 30 relief appearances. If the 2020 Mets try something similar, you have to believe that Matz, Wacha and Robert Gsellman would combine for many more appearances out of the pen.

Seth Lugo‘s name has also been mentioned as a potential opener. It’s hard to believe that having him pitch an inning or two at the beginning of the game and then having Matz or Wacha come on to pitch the middle innings is preferable than just having one of those two start the contest and saving Lugo for guaranteed high-leverage innings.

Yes, the issue is that Matz struggles in the first inning and Wacha in 2019 frequently failed to go five. But after his bullpen exile last year, Matz put up a 3.50 ERA in his final 12 starts. It seems strange that he’s not going to be given some time to prove that he can continue to pitch that well.

If the Mets hadn’t signed Rick Porcello, it would make some sense to use Gsellman as an opener and have Wacha come on next. That is, of course, assuming that a healthy Wacha would continue to be a four-inning pitcher.

From a distance, this just seems to be an experiment for experiment’s sake. Which is fine for a club projected to win 70-something games. It seems maybe not so great for a win-now team, at least right out of the gate. Here in late February, it seems like a solution in search of a problem.

Or maybe this is Van Wagenen’s way of trying to appease Wacha, giving him a shot at some starts after allegedly promising him that he’d be a starter while wooing him during free agency.

17 comments for “Wednesday catch-all thread (2/26/20)

  1. February 26, 2020 at 8:59 am

    I actually was thinking about that while reading MLBTraderumors. If Wacha can’t pitch more than 5 innings why not alternate between him and Matz? Depending on how well they performed in the past against the opposing team? We’ll have 6 starters in 5 spots. Matz and Wacha should both be stronger and with less wear and tear thus avoiding using the 7th or 8th starter whoever that may be. Thirty “starts” at 4+ innings still leave you with a better and more refreshed starter in September. Why wait for the inevitable one bad inning? I agree Brian. Save Lugo for high stress situations and not waste him early in the game.

  2. TexasGusCC
    February 26, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Read this! Easy reading and you’ll know why this is here when you read it.

  3. Chris F
    February 26, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Much to your unhappiness Brian, Syndergaard will be paired with Ramos today.

    • February 26, 2020 at 11:18 am

      I’m not going to be concerned about that in February.

      • boomboom
        February 26, 2020 at 1:54 pm

        They looked comfortable together today

  4. Name
    February 26, 2020 at 11:03 am

    The opener concept is not a reliable option in the NL because the pitcher bats. It’ll be a waste of an appearance to have to pull the real SP in the 6th/7th inning at only 50 pitches because you need to PH for him. Or you’ll be burning a position player in the 1st/2nd inning.

    It’s much better just to have the SP go short and then use relievers rest of the way

  5. John Fox
    February 26, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    The oddest thing about that article was it indicated the Mets have already annointed Porcello as starter #4. He wasn’t very good last year, to me if Matz or even Wacha shows better in ST, I would put one of them in the rotation instead.

    • Bob P
      February 26, 2020 at 8:07 pm

      I agree completely John. Not sure how Porcello has jumped Matz on the depth chart based on how they both pitched last year. I think that Porcello should be in the same mix with Matz and Wacha and see who wins the last 2 spots in the rotation.

  6. Eraff
    February 26, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    I don’t believe we should be blind to the guess that guys might be healthier and more sustainable with shorter exposure to Hitters and Fatigue.

    We’ve pretty much eliminated “The Win” as a measure of quality… maybe “Innings per start/appearance” is next? it 1 start per week or is it 7-9 innings per week…where does this go?

    • February 26, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      Where’s the end game? Does each team have two guys who go as long as they can and then the rest all go 2-3 innings per outing? If so – how do you pay those 2-3 inning guys? Also, we say over and over again how fickle relievers are for the most part. Why make essentially more relievers if you don’t have to?

      My preference would still be to see a 4-man rotation with 21st Century pitch counts.

      • Eraff
        February 26, 2020 at 11:33 pm

        What exactly is your Argument here?…. that you don’t know how it will go? I realize that you can’t run a projection on something that hasn’t been tried…but so what?!

        Frankly, this is an outgrowth of advanced stats…it’s about growing quality and efficiency of Pitched Innings. It’s removing the thought Silos around Wins, Innings per Start, and Individual Performance. The Save…The Hold… those Stats were somewhat scoffed at years ago….and then Tony Larussa! Now “The Win” is scoffed at…and The RBI. The HR is still celebrated because it’s “an event” in itself…yes…it’s also Productive.

        I’m surprise that you’re straight out of hand dismissive, rather than curious.

        • February 27, 2020 at 12:11 am

          If some team wants to be the guinea pig of having most of the pitchers on their staff go no more than 3 innings per outing – I’ll gladly look at the results. I don’t want my team to be that particular pig. Especially with likely 7 guys on the roster capable of going more than that consistently.

  7. Eraff
    February 27, 2020 at 12:31 am

    I expect Pitcher Use to become more fluid, generally, just as position players have done….the Mets have several guys who might be strong in flexible roles where they get to impact a lot of games.

    If you have 6 or so Guys who can pitch mid to deep multiple innings, why waste the Last man out on the starting rotation as a scrub innings guy?

    You’ll lead the analytic charge on this in 3 years…and you’ll criticize the lingering Trogs who refuse to understand the Stats 🙂

    • February 27, 2020 at 8:17 am

      I disagree that position player have become more fluid. You don’t see people playing out of position except out of necessity. The Mets aren’t going, “Let’s play Pete Alonso at SS because he would be more valuable in that role.” They play guys out of position because they make bad moves (trade for Cano, give Lagares too long of a contract) or need to cover for injuries or have guys blocked at a position. Dominic Smith plays LF because there’s a better guy at 1B. No different from Lucas Duda playing the OF in 2012 or John Milner doing the same in 1972. That’s completely different from what they are proposing to do with their pitchers.

      Just because you have a guy capable of being a starter pitching in the pen doesn’t mean that he’s relegated to scrub innings. Any Mets fan who’s watched Seth Lugo should understand that.

      If you think fluid pitching roles is going to be heavily used within three years, you’re kidding yourself. The most successful strategy change adopted by clubs wholesale this Century has been the shift and that took over twice as long for most clubs to adopt in more than a token way.

      And I’m pretty sure the most I’ve ever said about the shift was that it was moronic for Rob Manfred to want to ban it.

  8. NYM6986
    February 27, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Love the idea of a return to the 4 man rotation of a generation ago. Seaver, Gibson, Palmer, Carlton and many more thrived getting the ball under these circumstances. Why are pitchers so fragile? Why must 100 pitches ring an alarm bell? The big key is if the third time around the order they have figured out our starter, pull him. In essence what they are proposing is a solid 4 man rotation and then the best use of available arms. No issue if it works. Matz just figured out how to stay healthy and still needs to avoid the gopher ball. Wacha and Porcello, while having good experience are trying to resurrect their careers. The keys continues to be the pen. When the bell rings if they are ready this will be a fun year to watch.

    • TJ
      February 27, 2020 at 9:17 am

      Perhaps there are some studies out there, I don’t know, but it strikes me from being a baseball fan for near half a century that the difference between pitching now and “back then”, especially for starters, is that today “max effort” is required on virtually every single pitch. I take it better prepared hitters require this approach. This, combined with an evolved approach to hitting that overall has resulted in more pitches per at bat (from strategic patience to more foul balls). So, more pitches per at bat, more pitches per inning (as opposed to spreading out over more innings and getting more recovery time in between), and 100% max effort focused on both velocity and spin rates makes the pitcher much more fragile, despite advances in nutrition, training, and medicine. Throw in the huge increase in financial earning potential for the player and financial commitment for the team, and each party is more likely to err on the side of caution.

  9. Eraff
    February 28, 2020 at 6:50 am

    We should forget the myth that the pitchers of yester year were more durable. Pure and simple, Luck or “physical attributes” seem to have allowed a select number of Pitchers to avoid injury. We remember them because of their accomplishments and compilations. The reality is that the history of Pitchers is filled of Injury. For every Jim Kaat there are Dozens of Gary Gentrys and Wayne Simpsons.

    One thing we may get right in all of this is that the effort to “Pitch to The Gun”, along with “going full out as long as you go” may be add physical stress to all Pitchers.

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