As we get closer to Spring Training, the Mets’ new coaching staff is looking at all the ways they can keep their starting rotation healthy in 2018.
This will be Mickey Callaway‘s first season as manager of a major league club, and his rookie gig will be full of challenges, including what to do with the Mets starting rotation.
In his column for the New York Post, Kevin Kernan discussed the upcoming season with the new Mets’ skipper and what he plans on doing to keep their pitchers on the mound throughout the year.
One of Callaway’s biggest areas of focus will be the preparation before a start and in between starts. This down time for pitchers is usually a big deal for every starter and Callaway wants to capitalize on that.
"“You have to have that routine in place at all times,” Callaway told Kernan. “We are going to implement some things that maybe they haven’t done before.“Everyone I’ve been around pretty much walks outside, stretches, plays catch, they do their bullpen. Our pitchers in Cleveland had about an hour-and-a-half routine before they even went out and played catch. They were with massage therapists, then they were with trainers, getting all these hands-on things done, then they went to the weight room to see the strength coach for extra stretching, then they went on the bike, then they went outside and stretched.“It’s pre-hab. If we can implement those types of things, we have a better chance to stay healthy. It does work. When you present it to these guys, they are going to want to do it.”"
Callaway’s thought process makes sense, and hopefully it brings some much needed health to this organization as a whole. Unfortunately, just because it worked in Cleveland doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work in New York. I will personally remain skeptical of guys like Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler until they show us they can be counted on for a length of time.
The 42-year-old manager is excited about what the potential of these guys could be if they stay healthy.
"“When I look at this staff and think about them, I see the same thing that they had in Cleveland. The one difference has been the health — if we get them healthy and get them in good routines to keep them that way.”"
Another way Callaway wants to keep his starters healthy is by giving them breaks during the year when they get an extra day off. For that, you’ll sometimes need an extra starter – a concept that Callaway really likes.
"“We may go to a six-man rotation at some point to give guys a break when we can,” Callaway said. “I pitched over in Asia, and when you start pitching every sixth day, it is a hundred times easier. It really is. I think we have enough depth to make those adjustments.“There might be times when we have an off-day coming up and we can make that happen without using the extra pitcher or we can slide a guy in and go from there. For any team to expect to use five starters a whole season is silly."
Again, this sounds great, and if guys are healthy, it can definitely work. Bringing in Seth Lugo, or Robert Gsellman for a start or two once in a while is not a bad idea if you have Matz, Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, and Wheeler all pitching. However, the minute injuries start piling up we’re going to be getting more our fair share of starts from guys like Rafael Montero, Tyler Pill, and Chris Flexen, for example. That’s not exactly what any of us want to see, specially not after how they performed last season. This is why health is such a big deal for this Mets team, and it will be what makes or breaks this season.
Up until this point, ownership has decided that starting pitching depth is not a priority this offseason even though the team posted the second ERA in franchise history last season. So if their main starting pitchers are unable to remain healthy, kiss any chance of success in 2018 goodbye. Some teams can take a few injuries and still remain in contention. The Mets are unfortunately not built like that.