Mets problems might only be just beginning when play resumes after the All-Star break.
Starting pitching has been the Mets indomitable strength for two seasons now, although slightly less so this season than last. Their combined staff presently ranks third in the National League in ERA, fifth in strikeouts and WHIP, and seventh in average against – small down ticks off last year’s levels.
The team’s offensive production, meanwhile, has frustratingly mirrored last year’s highs and extreme lows through this same point of the regular season. But right on schedule, their bats finally seem back in the swing after a dormant May and June. The Mets presently lead the circuit with a .556 slugging average for the month of July, and rank second in team average and runs scored.
However, the Mets darkest hour may not be just before the dawn. Instead, their problems might only be just beginning when play resumes after the All-Star break.
There’s no way to understate, or overstate, the precarious nature of the Mets evolving pitching dilemma. A duel threat of injury and lack of depth stand poised to foil defense of their National League flag yet.
Matt Harvey has been lost to season ending surgery, while bone spur/spurs within the respective elbows of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are making greater Metsville feel uneasy entering the mid-season break.
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For the moment, surgery for the latter two is not an option. It was said by the organization they’ll be able to pitch through the condition if properly managed.
In three starts previous to Sunday’s, Steven Matz allowed 11 earned runs on 22 hits and four walks, in just 16.1 innings pitched for a 6.14 ERA.
Matz then threw 100 pitches through seven innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and four walks, with five strikeouts, in closing out the season’s first-half against the Nationals. Four walks, however, were the most Matz ever issued during his brief 27 game MLB career. He only walked three batters in a game on three other occasions: his MLB debut on June 28, 2015, and twice previously this season. But of the now four occasions Matz ever walked three or more in a game, two instances have come within his last three starts.
Syndergaard, meanwhile, was recently removed from last Friday’s 3-1 loss against the Nationals due to what was described by the club after the game as arm fatigue while insisting this had nothing to do with his elbow. He’s since been declared unavailable for Tuesday’s All-Star game – smartly I might add.
Assuming the worst, and if Jacob deGrom is left to carry the rotation from here on out, Bartolo Colon certainly becomes the Mets last known quantity before the starting rotation ventures into the great unknown.
Player transactions over the last two seasons have certainly depleted the Mets organization of pitching prospects, leaving them arguably short of minor league reinforcements suitable enough for keeping the team within striking distance of the Nationals.
Las Vegas: Tumbling Dice
After Logan Verrett, I’m being kind when I say the Mets have three other potential options:
- RHP Gabriel Ynoa, 23, is getting the most attention. He owns a 9-3 record through 18 starts in his first season with the Las Vegas 51s, with a Pacific Coast League worthy 4.16 ERA. His WHIP is up around 1.40 after allowing 122 hits and 32 walks over 109 innings pitched, with only 57 strikeouts. For his career however, Gabriel owns a 3.36 ERA over 751 minor league innings pitched.
- Fans are more familiar with RHP Rafael Montero, 25, who previously experienced limited spot duty with the Mets in each of the last three seasons, during which he established a 4.45 ERA and a near identical 4.16 FIP, with 29 walks and a nifty 58 strikeouts over 56.2 innings pitched. Rotator cuff issues limited him to just seven overall games in 2015, while this year’s comeback has been nothing short of a a mess. Pacific Coast League or not, Rafael is 4-6 after 16 starts with a 7.20 ERA. He’s allowed 111 hits and walked 40 batters through 80 innings pitched, with 69 strikeouts.
- RHP, Seth Lugo, 26, was drafted in the 34th round of the 2011 draft. While pitching in his first full season for the Las Vegas 51s, Lugo made his MLB debut on July 1, then was recalled again on July 7. In 19 games and 13 starts at Vegas, he was 3-4 with a 6.55 ERA, allowing 97 hits and 18 walks in 68.2 innings for and 1.67 WHIP, with 55 strikeouts.
Said another way, Sandy Alderson has 22 days left before the arrival of this year’s August 1 non-waiver trade deadline to proactively address the accumulating circumstances affecting the Mets starting rotation.
That said, the merits or mistakes involved with potentially trading away the organization’s top positional prospects requires an entirely different discussion.
P.S. The Mets enter the All-Star break six games back of the first place Nationals, tied with the Miami Marlins for second place.