Mets should look for starting pitching help on heels of Max Scherzer injury

mets, max scherzer

The New York Mets are 12 games over .500, sitting atop the NL East with a comfortable seven-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The team had avoided their first series loss of the season until this past weekend when they dropped two of three games to the Seattle Mariners. With a chance to get back on track and take three of four from the St Louis Cardinals, the Mets entered the 9th inning of Thursday’s game with a 5-4 lead. But in the blink of an eye, Edwin Diaz was victimized by a soft hit infield single and later by an error from third baseman Eduardo Escobar that allowed the tying run to score. Mets fans had seen this movie before. But for this matinee showing, fans may have been treated to the director’s cut. With the Cardinals now leading 6-5 in the 10th (thanks to the dopey extra-inning ghost runner rule), Pete Alonso saved the day and Mets fans further heartache with his mammoth walk-off two-run home run. Further heartache, you ask?

The Mets’ strong start to their season- highlighted by multiple, seemingly impossible, come-from-behind wins- would be a reason to start purchasing playoff tickets. But in the middle of the Mets Thursday win, turned loss, turned win again vs. the Cardinals, Mets fan’s greatest fear came true.

That is the news about Max Scherzer, who pulled himself from his start Wednesday due to an apparent injury in the middle of an at-bat. An MRI on Thursday revealed an oblique strain for the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer and a 6-8 week recovery timeline. Despite the absence of their ace Jacob DeGrom, Mets fans felt some security knowing Scherzer could hold down the fort until his return. They’re both shelved for at least the next month and a half.

Billy Eppler has made it clear- the New York Mets are a win-now team. The team signed Scherzer this offseason, three new starting position players in Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and Eduardo Escobar, and traded for starting pitcher Chris Bassitt. But without DeGrom. Without Scherzer. With Tylor Megill already enduring a stint on the injured list. The New York Mets need to trade for another starting pitcher.

Yes- it’s early. No- it’s never wise to negotiate in desperation. It’s something that even the most optimistic of Mets fans would admit about the state of their rotation right now. But something Mets fans are all too familiar with is the midseason swoon that has doomed this franchise year in and year out.

Last season the Mets held first place for over 100 days—longer than any other division winner in the league. But the Mets not only did not win the National League East. They didn’t even make the playoffs, finishing eight games under .500 with a 77-85 mark.

And while that Mets team was not nearly as talented as this one, thanks to the offseason additions made by Eppler and approved by owner Steve Cohen, the core pitfalls of the 2021 disaster mirror what the 2022 Mets currently face. The Mets, already without DeGrom and now without Scherzer, will have to go into the deepest crevices of their starting rotation depth for the interim. And there is a very real possibility the Mets will see 2 to 3 turns in their rotation feature Taijuan Walker, David Peterson, and Trevor Williams on the bump.

The trade market surely hasn’t developed, but perhaps the Mets should be the first to jump in the pool. Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo are the first two pitchers to come to mind. Two starters are pitching for teams that figure to be in the basement all year long with Oakland and Cincinnati.

It would be hard to envision the Mets making a trade of that magnitude at this early juncture of the season. But perhaps a pitcher of less pedigree, such as Chad Kuhl of the Rockies, could be serviceable for the time being. A former Pittsburgh Pirate, Kuhl has a 3.77 ERA pitching in the unfriendly confines and thin air of Coors Field. Would someone of that ilk be enough to help carry the freight while the Mets’ two aces are on the mend? Maybe. Maybe not.

But one thing is for certain- one month into the season, the New York Mets have been forced to scrape the bottom of their starting pitching depth barrel, just as they were forced to in 2021. And we all know how that season ended.

Yes, it’s early. But The Mets have seen this film before. Will they cut this tape differently? Or watch a repeat? Will it feature that same bitter, cruel ending?

Mets will be without top two starters for a while

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

The New York Mets are already down Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher in baseball, as he recently started his throwing program following a stress reaction on his right scapula. Now, however, their other ace went down, too: Max Scherzer will miss the next 6-8 weeks as he recovers from a “moderate to high-grade internal oblique strain.”

Scherzer suffered the injury in the Mets’ game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. He threw a pitch and immediately called in the trainer, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to continue pitching.

He underwent an MRI on Thursday morning, and the results showed the injury. He also has some blisters, but the longer absence will be related to his oblique strain.

Who will return to the Mets’ rotation first?

deGrom and Scherzer are making $78.8 million combined this season, and now, the Mets will be forced to be without them for weeks. Now, the question will be who returns first: deGrom needs about a spring training worth of reps, bullpens, and minor league games, so his return will likely be delayed into July, around the All-Star break.

Additionally, given the fact he is 37 years old, the Mets will likely be careful with Scherzer and have him return closer to the eight-week timetable than the six-week one.

“It definitely sucks, but it’s more so just next man up,” said No. 3 starter Chris Bassitt, who is now the Mets’ de facto ace. “We have the depth to withstand this. This is why I think the front office … brought me in, and brought Max in to really shore up the starters. When things happen — because things happen to everybody — we’re able to still win games. We didn’t lose him for the year, so it is what it is.”

The Mets’ pitching depth will be tested in the next few weeks, and names such as Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, Tylor Megill, David Peterson, and Trevor Williams will have step up.

Yankees Rumors: Aaron Judge could be Mets top target in free agency next off-season

aaron judge, yankees

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman took an incredibly risky approach with Aaron Judge’s contract extension this past off-season. The Bombers offered him seven years and $213.5 million to stick around for the foreseeable future. Judge’s representatives declined, looking to capitalize on a dominant 2022 season.

After 36 games of action, Cashman is likely pounding his fist on the table, watching Judge’s numbers increase daily. He currently hosts a .307 average with 14 homers and 30 RBIs. His 38.1% on-base percentage is one of the best on the team, and he’s striking out at just 26.3%, below his career average.

The Yankees are seeing the best of Aaron Judge:

At 30 years old, Judge hasn’t lost an ounce of power either, recording a 65.3% hard-hit rate and 27.6% barrel rate. His average exit velocity is the highest in his career at 97 mph. Judge ranks in the 97th percentile or better in seven advanced batting metrics, including average exit velocity, barrel rate, batting average, and hard-hit rate. His whiff rate has evened out at average, meaning he’s seeing pitches extremely well.

Against fastballs, Judge is hitting .305 this season, but against breaking balls, he’s hitting .400. Opposing pitchers are desperately trying to figure out how to attack Aaron. He’s experienced a slight increase in fastball usage, which has done absolutely nothing against one of baseball’s best hitters.

However, the open market will have a chance to jump on Judge this upcoming off-season. The Yankees will have their hand in the mix, undoubtedly. I wouldn’t rule out the crosstown rival Mets as a prospective buyer.

According to Kiley McDaniel of ESPN, the Mets have routinely come up among MLB executives discussing where Judge could land in free agency:

Mets owner Steve Cohen. He came up in every conversation I had with execs about Judge — partly because the Mets could stand to upgrade their outfield, but mostly because he becomes the Kool-Aid Man when a cost control is put in front of him.

The Mets could be a real competition in the market:

With Mets owner, Steve Cohen sitting atop a mountain of cash, stealing Judge away from the Yankees would make him the most loved person on Long Island.

There is reason to believe that Judge could find his contract approaching $300 million over eight seasons. Given his deal with expire at nearly 40 years old, there’s a legitimate possibility that Cashman lets him walk.

With the league slowly moving away from behemoth contracts for players over 30, there’s a real possibility Cashman sets a price limit. Over in Queens, Cohen could be licking his chops, preparing to make Juge a very rich man.

Mets get some good news as star pitcher starts throwing program

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom hasn’t been able to pitch in 2022 after suffering a stress reaction on his right scapula a few weeks ago. The rotation has been able to hold down the fort and then some during his absence, but they need the best pitcher in baseball back when he is fully healthy.

He was sent to the 60-day injured list this week, but not because he suffered a setback: the Mets made a waiver claim and it was a procedural move that doesn’t really affect his timeline.

The good news is that deGrom has already started his throwing program, in early May, according to Mets’ beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo. He is expected back next month, but the earliest he can return would be mid-June.

The Mets hope to have him back soon

“deGrom restarted a throwing program in early May, in advance of an MRI — his third since late March — that he will undergo around the middle of the month. Prior to throwing, deGrom had spent his time loading and strengthening his shoulder, which entailed a series of resistance exercises. If all goes well, deGrom’s progression will take him from flat ground to bullpen sessions and eventually to Minor League game action, with the goal of making it back before the All-Star break. But the timeline is fluid. deGrom hasn’t pitched since being diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right shoulder at the end of Spring Training,” DiComo wrote.

Last season was full of injuries for deGrom, who ended up pitching just 92 innings for the Mets. They were magnificent, though, as he had a 1.08 ERA and struck out 45.1 percent of the hitters he faced. But he suffered lat, shoulder, and elbow issues that ultimately ended his season in July.

This time, it was his scapula the one that barked, and the Mets just want to have him healthy and on a roll in time for the stretch run and the playoffs.

Mets: Pete Alonso is maturing as a hitter

With his two home runs on Sunday, New York Mets’ Pete Alonso now has seven long balls for the season, and keeps showing why teams who play the Mets need to be very careful when pitching to him. “Beware the Bear” would be a good message for opposing pitchers.

Heading into Tuesday, Alonso is slashing .276/.333/.500 with the seven homers and 26 RBI in the young season. He is well on his way to surpass 100 RBI for the first time since he was a rookie in 2019. His 143 wRC+ is just shy of his 144 mark that year, when he broke the record for most home runs by a rookie with 53.

The Mets’ slugger has a nice 113 blasts in 400 games for his career, and he is just entering his prime. Things could be promising for him from a totals standpoint.

The Mets have enjoyed not only Alonso’s power, but also an improved approach at the plate. He looks like a more complete hitter, going the other way frequently and taking what pitchers give him.

His .276 batting average is, according to MLB.com, almost 20 points higher than his career .258 mark.

The Mets’ manager raved about the hitter and the person

Here is what Mets manager Buck Showalter has to say about his first baseman: “Sincere,” Buck stated. “Always the same guy every day. Never moody. Really good teammate. Really wants to win. Doesn’t mind working on his weaknesses. He doesn’t look at the media as an enemy. A simple soul, really. Good husband. His nickname is perfect: Polar Bear. I see someone I call country strong. Very respectful, and he ain’t scared, and he likes baseball. A lot.

“He appreciates everything he has, like he can’t believe the money he’s making. And here’s something else that’s especially meaningful to a manager, and to his teammates: He listens.”

Because he listens, he has been able to improve as a hitter.

“Just taking whatever the opposing teams give me. I’ve always been able to go to the big parts of the field. This year it has happened a lot earlier,” Alonso said after the Mets got to 20-10, one of the best records in the National League. “I haven’t seen as many driveable pitches where you want to get big on and hit a double in the gap or go up top, but I just want to stay within myself and just put good quality swings on good pitches. Going to right field is a product of having a plan and not getting too big.”

He may be getting too big… too big of a hitter, a teammate, and a clubhouse guy.

The Mets pull off an incredible comeback win against the Phillies

mets, pete alonso

The 2022 New York Mets are a resilient bunch. They have the spirit of a winning team, and the roster of a legitimate playoff contender. They proved both of those sentences last night, with an incredible ninth-inning rally to secure an improbable come-from-behind victory against a division rival, the Philadelphia Phillies, with an 8-7 score.

They did it less than a week after stunning the Phillies with a combined no-hitter. They managed to top that, somehow, with last night’s win: they got to the ninth inning trailing 7-1, but they wouldn’t give up that easily.

It was the Mets’ largest comeback win in 25 years. “This doesn’t happen every day,” Brandon Nimmo said to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Nimmo was one of the batters with a crucial hit in the ninth.

“We just strung a lot of good at-bats together by some good hitters,” manager Buck Showalter said.

An incredible inning for the Mets

Marte started off the ninth with a leadoff single. At that point, the Mets’ win probability was a meager 0.5 percent. Then, Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer that put the game 7-3.

“It was just one of those euphoric moments that just kind of took over,” Marte said about Lindor’s blast. “After that, that’s when the lineup really got it going and they were battling and battling, and we were able to take it to another level.”

With two runners on and one out, Mark Canha hit an RBI single that meant the game was now 7-4. Dominic Smith struck out for out number two, but the best was yet to come for the Mets.

JD Davis hit an RBI double, and the game was 7-5, still in favor of the Phils. With two runners on, Nimmo hit an improbable game-tying single, and the people at Citizens Bank Park couldn’t believe it.

“I don’t think it was shock, I think it was just happiness,” Lindor said. “It’s like, ‘Yes, we’re doing it!’ We all believed it [could happen], but it’s just like, ‘It’s happening, it’s happening.’ You don’t have too many nights like that.”

Marte also said: “Once Nimmo tied the game up, that’s when I said, ‘Let me stand in there and do what I have to and get that base hit.’”

And boy, he did get a hit. Marte’s double turned around the score for the Mets, who were now winning 8-7.

“The game doesn’t end until that team gets 27 outs,” Marte said. “So we go out there, we compete and we hope to be victorious.”

It was an incredible night to be a Mets fan.

Mets lose key reliever for several weeks and have their bullpen plans affected

Simeon Woods-Richardson

New York Mets’ right-hander Trevor May will be out of action for a while. He has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in the lower part of his humerus bone, and will be forced to be on the shelf for the next 8-12 weeks.

He had allowed eight earned runs in 8.1 innings to open 2022, and while most relievers are used to pitch with some sort of pain, he knew something wasn’t quite right. An MRI confirmed that and the Mets now have a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

On Wednesday, you could definitely see that May, even though he wasn’t really pitching well, will be missed in the Mets’ bullpen. Fellow righty Adam Ottavino was asked to pitch for a third straight day, and he entered with the bases loaded. He walked in a run and conceded a two-run double to the next batter. After an RBI single, he left the game, but the damage was done.

A lopsided loss for the Mets

In the end, the Mets ended up losing 9-2 to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. “It was kind of a byproduct of having to compete with our guys yesterday to win those two games,” manager Buck Showalter said to MLB.com, talking about the Mets’ doubleheader sweep of the Braves on Tuesday.

Without May, everybody in the bullpen will need to step up. Yesterday, Showalter opted to go with Ottavino because Edwin Diaz is exclusively a closer, Drew Smith had pitched two innings on Tuesday, they prefer not to use Seth Lugo on consecutive days, and lefties Chasen Shreve and Joely Rodriguez weren’t really options against the right-handed Travis D’Arnaud with the bases loaded.

“They probably wouldn’t have asked if those guys were around,” Ottavino said. “But to be honest, I felt good. And I like to pitch a lot. I have good numbers the third day in a row, so I can’t use that as an excuse.”

In any case, the Mets’ relievers will now have to step up their game.

Mets make the “baseball decision” regarding Robinson Cano

The New York Mets had to bring their roster down to 26 players on Monday, just like every other MLB franchise. Many teams opted to demote prospects for the most part, but there was a difficult decision to make in Queens.

The 39-year-old Robinson Cano failed to get going at the plate: in 43 plate appearances, he slashed .195/.233/.268 with a homer and a 54 wRC+. He is owed roughly $37.5 million through next year, but the Mets are on the hook for that money either way.

General manager Billy Eppler told owner Steve Cohen that the baseball operations department’s recommendation would be designating Cano for assignment. Of course, it would mean they need to pay someone who isn’t even playing for the Mets.

Cohen, according to MLB.com, processed the information and told his GM: “Make the baseball decision.”

The Mets kept more deserving players

That’s what happened: the Mets designated Cano for assignment, and he was immediately removed from the 40-man roster.

DFA’ing Cano means that more deserving players like Dom Smith, Luis Guillorme, JD Davis, and Travis Jankowski get to remain in the roster.

“You couldn’t ask for a better support than Steve’s given us,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “You can tell how much he loves the Mets and the fans. He trusts the decisions being made.”

Cano was a beloved figure in the Mets’ clubhouse. “Especially Robbie Canó — he’s been around for so long in this game,” Davis said. “He’s been an icon here in New York. And he’s been a centerpiece in this clubhouse. He’s been a leader. To lose him definitely takes a little bit of wind out of our sails.”

It wasn’t an easy decision for Eppler. “I’m sure he’s somebody that five years, 10 years from now, I’m going to run into him on the island, or run into him in Florida or New York or somewhere, and we’ll share in some good memories together,” Eppler said. “But last night wasn’t one of them.”

He will be free to sign with any team in the upcoming days.

Mets players react to combined no-no: A historic day!

The Mets pitched the second no-hit, no-run in franchise history on Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies. The game, which ended 3-0, meant that New York now reaches an MLB-best 15-6 record, and features pitching contributions from Trevor Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and closer Edwin Diaz.

It was a historic night: the Mets used the black uniforms, the crowd was electric all night, and the pitching staff was absolutely impressive. A two-run single by Jeff McNeil in the fifth inning, and a Pete Alonso solo home run was all the offense New York needed.

“How often do you see a no-hitter?” Alonso said. “It’s like seeing a white buffalo or a unicorn.” Johan Santana owns the other no-hitter in franchise history, in another magical night 10 years ago.

“It’s something that [will] be in history forever,” said Mets catcher James McCann, who caught all nine innings. “Whether it’s one pitcher or five pitchers, it’s a no-hitter. It’s just special.”

A total of 315 no-hitters have occurred in MLB history: only 17 of them have been combined efforts, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. There was certainly something special about this one.

The Mets certainly enjoyed the no-hitter

The black uniforms, the red-hot Mets, and the hope of finally earning a playoff berth and competing for something built an incredible atmosphere at Citi Field.

Everybody in the building was waiting to celebrate, and when Edwin Diaz got the last out via a strikeout, there was a happiness overdose.

“The best way I can describe it is you shake up a soda bottle, and you’re just waiting for the cap to pop off,” Alonso said. “I feel like all of us knew what was going to happen because all of our guys, when they got the ball, they were just lights-out.”

Brandon Nimmo, who made an important catch for the Mets, referred to Santana’s no-no, saying it’s one of the most frequently seen highlights around Citi Field.

“It’s one of the highlights that we see most often here before games, after games, during rain delays they always play that game again,” Nimmo said. “It’s something that you’re like, ‘I’d like to be a part of a game they just play over and over again.’”

He is now part of one of those games.

Mets: MRI reveals improvement in deGrom’s shoulder, but he hasn’t been cleared to throw

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The New York Mets sent a bizarre update on the health status of their injured ace, Jacob deGrom, late on Monday. The right-hander has been out all season with a stress reaction on his right scapula, and was scheduled for imaging last week.

An MRI and CT scan taken Monday on deGrom’s right shoulder showed “considerable healing of the stress reaction on his scapula.” However, the Mets didn’t say he was allowed to throw just yet.

Instead, the star pitcher has been cleared to begin “loading and strengthening of the shoulder” and will undergo another MRI in three weeks to check his progress, per the Mets’ official site. That means his return isn’t imminent, and it could take most of the first half from the former Cy Young award winner.

As Anthony DiComo notes, the Mets’ release “didn’t say anything about a throwing program, so it would appear he won’t be cleared for that at least until the next exam.” While he is showing healing, the team is obviously not confident enough in his progress to let him start a throwing program just yet.

The Mets need deGrom

When healthy, there is no question that deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. Last year, he covered 92 innings and had a minuscule 1.08 ERA, with a 45.1 percent strikeout rate, but he suffered elbow issues that robbed him most of the second half.

In the meantime, the Mets have the best record in baseball, at 13-5, and haven’t missed deGrom much. Most, if not all, of his rotation mates have done a fantastic job holding down the fort: Tylor Megill, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, Chris Bassitt, and even David Peterson have all been stellar, and these are good times in Queens.

To make a deep postseason run, though, the Mets will need deGrom healthy and in-form, and that’s apparently what they are shooting for with so much caution.