New York Mets News

Mets doubling down on their current pitchers is too risky

By Darren Martino
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 09: Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout during the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 9, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 09: Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout during the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 9, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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We all thought that the summer of 2015 was the first act of a new age for the Mets; that it was the shape of things to come.

While it’s easy to romanticize and live in the past, 2015 was ultimately a disappointment. We fans along with the Mets front office need to move on from it.

At this point, It feels unlikely that we’ll ever see a rotation with all 5 young “aces”. If we do, it probably won’t meet our expectations of just a few years ago. It likely won’t be for long either.

With recent news suggesting that the Mets will not pursue additional starting pitching, the team is now painting themselves into a corner that only 2 years ago we couldn’t have been happier to be in. A lot has changed in those 2 years in regards to performance and health. With that noted, the Mets should not go into 2018 with the only the “core” pitchers in place. Let’s just take a quick look at the would-be “dream rotation” now.

Matt Harvey is no longer “The Dark Knight.” He hasn’t been since the 8th inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.  The combination of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and a damaged psyche has rendered him not only ineffective but to be blunt, terrible. Watching him pitch at this level, having witnessed his potential in the first half of his career, is borderline tragic.

Fans have gone from cheering the day Harvey would pitch to clenching their teeth while his pitches get batted into the outfield stands. While we can all reminisce about those earlier days fondly, we all have to move on. If Harvey doesn’t show life throughout spring training and into the beginning of the season, the Mets will have to make the decision to trade or outright release him.

Jacob DeGrom is finally beginning to receive the praise he deserves from the fan base and media. He has been the most dependable Mets pitcher the past few years. Again, while on the field that is. If there is any truth to reports, the Mets’ front office may finally see it that way as well.

Noah Syndergaard looked strong at the end of the season, if only for a few innings. Perhaps 2017 was a realization for him that he is not an actual God; he only plays one on the field. He will have to keep that lesson in mind the next time he is ordered to undergo an MRI. If he learns that lesson and stays healthy, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be in the mix for a Cy Young Award in 2018.

After missing the first 2 months of the season with elbow inflammation, Steven Matz moved into Josh Hamilton territory, in that every time he gets back on the field, his body finds a way back to the DL. His latest injury ended his season early when he underwent elbow surgery to reposition his ulnar nerve. This is the very same procedure that Jacob DeGrom underwent at the end of the 2016 season. Perhaps now with a new training staff in hand, the Mets won’t force him to pitch through the pain anymore. Perhaps.

Zack Wheeler came back in 2017 and reminded everyone why they weren’t totally distraught when he got injured in the first place, all the way back in 2015. He is an above average pitcher, but not by much. Wheeler shows flashes of brilliance from time to time. However, he makes you forget it the next inning as he can’t locate the strike zone.

What he’ll give moving forward looks to be mediocrity, but from a #5 pitcher, can you ask for much more? Still, with his tumultuous road back to the majors, it is fair to ask if he’ll be up to the strain of a full season’s schedule? Furthermore, will the rest of the rotation’s health allow him to stay in the back-end of the rotation?

Of course, then there are the guys who can fill in for spot starts or longer should the injuries creep back up. That role will go to both Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman again in 2018.

Gsellman disappointed in 2017. Maybe it was the pressure of being thrown into a situation where he went from a nice-to-have to a necessity, or something else. After showing so much promise in the latter parts of 2016, he took a step back in 2017, posting an 8-7 record along with an era over 5. If called on again to fill the same role, can we expect much more in 2018?

Lugo, suffered, rehabbed, and returned fairly quickly from a partially torn UCL at the beginning of the season. The fact that he pitched at all afterward is an accomplishment in and of itself. Still, the potential for season-ending surgery is even greater here moving forward.

It first looked like he was going to come back strong, with solid starts in June. However, he pitched poorly the rest of the way with a stop on the DL along the way, much like Gsellman.

Next: Nimmo takes on the cursed Santa role for the Mets

While there is still incredible upside to the rotation as is, the Mets continue to ignore Murphy’s Law (Not that Murphy). That is, what can go wrong, will go wrong. Isn’t that always the case with this franchise?

The team can’t keep scrambling to fill the offseason’s shortcomings midseason every year. It worked in 2015 and to some degree, 2016. It backfired in 2017 and it could again easily in 2018. Wouldn’t it be nice for the Mets to be in a position where they have an excess of starting pitching leading up to the trading deadline? Do we really need to see guys like Tommy Milone again being brought in to plug gaps? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Hopefully Mickey Callaway, and the new Mets training staff can help the situation if Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons won’t.

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