New York Mets: Starting Pitching Competitions

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets created a “competition” amongst their backend starters when they signed Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. It is safe to say Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman are safe, but things might be different for Steven Matz to go along with Porcello and Wacha. Barring injuries, it seems like the rotation is a lock, but the Mets are going to weigh their options before committing.

Steven Matz

Personally, Steven Matz should have his job secured with the top three of the rotation. Much like the high priced Zach Wheeler, Matz has only put together one lousy season over the entirety of his career. He has also made 30 starts in back to back seasons and plays a vital role as the only left-hander in the rotation. Despite holding down a rotation spot for the majority of his career, Matz still views his spot as one he needs to earn.

His biggest issue was his 6.21 ERA during the first inning and the 6.11 ERA he had in the sixth inning. Once Matz can start strong, he can ride his momentum through the game and pitch deeper. The stronger starts should lower his ERA in the sixth inning because he will have lower pitch counts by that point in the game.

Rick Porcello

Porcello is the veteran of the pitching staff and should be a lock for the fifth starter as well. He struggled in the AL East during 2019, but things should change pitching in the NL for the first time. The expectations are not high for the former Cy Young winner. All he has to do is eat innings, and the more innings he throws, the more successful of a season he has. Porcello has thrown less than 170 innings in a season once during his 11-year career, and the Mets should expect him to land in that area again.

Michael Wacha

The once-prized young pitcher has struggled to regain his All-Star success again. Wacha struggled during the first two months of 2019 with a 6.61 ERA and spent some time in the bullpen. During the rest of the season, he pitched to a 3.65 ERA, but 13 out of his 19 innings were less than five innings. The improvement towards the end of the season is promising, but the Mets best option is to keep him in the bullpen to begin the season.

Opening Day is still a while away, and Spring Training could play a massive role in shaping the rotation. Unless we see a significant breakout in Spring Training, the rotation should lineup as expected.

Predicting the New York Mets Starting Rotation

The New York Mets come into the 2020 season with a pitching staff spearheaded by back-to-back Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. The rest of the rotation following deGrom continues to be one of the best in baseball and puts itself up there with the best in the National League.

The #1: Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom is good at getting hitters out. That is all you need to read.

The #2: Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard was inconsistent throughout the 2019 season but rejuvenated his Thor persona during the second half of the season. Despite having a 4.28 ERA, highest of his career, he made 30+ starts for the first time since his All-Star season in 2016. In the second half of 2019, he pitched to a 3.82 ERA, and his K per BB ratio was on par with deGrom. Heading into his age-27, Syndergaard can easily become ace 1a with deGrom.

The #3: Marcus Stroman

Whether the antics please you or not, the substance meets the style with Marcus Stroman. When he joined the Mets at the trade deadline in 2019, he did not pitch at his expectations, but the numbers were still solid. He had a 3.77 ERA over 11 starts, and his K/9 increased from his time with Toronto. No longer the ace, like he was in Toronto, Stroman should settle in nicely to the top three the Mets have. Stroman would easily be the best pitcher on a third of the teams in baseball and gives the Mets a high caliber third starter.

The #4: Steven Matz

Steven Matz has always been a compelling case for the Mets. He shows glimpses of brilliance but is never consistent enough to rise up the rotation. During 2019, Matz set career highs in games, innings pitched, and strikeouts. Taking away his nightmare 2017, he has a 3.77 career ERA, which is above average for a fourth starter. Anywhere between his career 3.77 and 2019, 4.21 ERA should be the expectation for him in 2020.

The #5: Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello is coming off a lousy 2019 season, where his home run rate went above one for the third straight season. Throughout his career, he rarely puts together back to back years that resemble each other. For the Mets’ sake, they hope to get a good year out of him. He should have an easier time pitching in the NL East where the DH does not exist along with having the face the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays. If Porcello pitches well enough to get through 180 innings, his production should be in line with what the Mets expect from a fifth starter. The fifth starter becomes a reliever in the playoffs, so any season he had before 2019 would be fine for Porcello, barring injuries to his fellow starters.

Who’s The Odd Man Out in the Mets Starting Rotation?

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

For better, or worse, the New York Mets have depth in their starting rotation. They have a back to back Cy Young winner (deGrom), a Norse god (Syndergaard), a homegrown kid (Matz), a separate Cy Young winner funny bear with a proven track record in the postseason (2013 NLCS MVP Michael Wacha), and a Gold Glove-winning WBC champion/MVP (Stroman).

The only problem is… they all expect to be starters. And there are only 5 in the rotation. So who’s the odd man out?

Who’s Likely in the Rotation?

Well, deGrom is coming off of his second consecutive Cy Young season. He’s not the odd man out. When you look at Porcello’s career, he has a good to the exceptional season after a bad season consistently. And last year was a bad season. So he’s in.

Stroman did not fare well transitioning from the AL to the NL last year. His ERA, home run per 9, walks per 9, and WHIP all went up. But, he’s still an elite caliber pitcher who’s in the last year of his contract. The smart move would be to have Stroman as your number 3 starter. Because at the very least, if he’s having a great 2020, but the Mets aren’t, him being in the rotation gives you the opportunity to shop him to a team looking for a second-half rental.

Thor had a good full season, his first since 2016, but he wasn’t great. He seems to fit as a later in the rotation arm, rather than the team’s number 2. Those earned run, and home run totals, coupled with that bloated ERA just isn’t a good look for someone who became the heir apparent to Matt Harvey’s “Dark Knight” moniker.

Then, you have Rick Porcello, who boasted a 5.52 ERA in 2019, a significant increase from the year before. The Mets are hoping for a bounce-back year, but his numbers have never been considered elite.

In a Fight Between Matz and Wacha, the Winner Is…

Matz should be the 5th guy in the rotation. At the end of the day, Wacha has been hurt an awful lot. He hasn’t thrown a complete season since 2017, his WHIP was over 1.5 last year, and his two home runes/four walks a game… it’s not good enough to be a starter.

Maybe the Mets should just go with a 6 man rotation.

Several Key Mets Due Raises at Arbitration Table on Friday

Several key New York Mets players will be granted significant pay raises on Friday when the deadline for teams and players eligible for arbitration exchange salary proposals for the 2020 season expires at noon.

The Mets have nine players due raises on Friday. Below is a list with the projected 2020 yearly salary as per spotrac.com.

Marcus Stroman, $11.8 million
Jake Marisnick, $3.0M
Noah Syndergaard, $9.9M
Steven Matz, $5.3M
Michael Conforto, $9.2M
Edwin Diaz, $7.0M
Seth Lugo, $1.9M
Brandon Nimmo, $1.7M
Robert Gsellman, $1.2M

Diaz, Nimmo, Lugo and Gsellman are all Arb 1 status and are under team control until the end of the 2022 season.

Conforto and Matz are Arb 2. and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. Syndergaard is Arb 3 and is under team control for two more seasons.

Stroman and Marisnick are Arb 4 which means they are eligible for free agency next year.

 

The Futility of Projections for Mets and Yankees Players

Simeon Woods-Richardson

We are less than 100 days away from Spring Training, so Mets and Yankees fans should be rejoicing everywhere. However, as is with every year, statistical projections are made for player’s offensive and defensive output well in advanced.

Can we just stop to take a look at how futile this is by looking at some Yankees and Mets players?

2019 vs 2020 Projections for Yankees Sluggers

Big things were expected of Miguel Andujar and Giancarlo Stanton in 2019. But, we all have eyes, we saw what happened. Both got hurt early, and both played next to no time during the regular season. For Andujar, it was his surgically repaired labrum in his right shoulder. For Stanton, it was a plethora of injuries. Let’s look at some of the projected offensive numbers for Miguel Andujar in 2019:

610 plate appearances, .283 batting average, 25 home runs, 85 RBI’s.

And now for 2020:

285 plate appearances, .279 batting average, 12 home runs, 40 RBI’s.

Who in their right mind predicted that Andujar was going to suffer from season-ending surgery in the FIRST SERIES of 2019? No one? Thought so. So who’s to say that Gio Urshela won’t suffer a similar injury, paving way for Andujar to fulfill those 2019 projections?

Now let’s look at Stanton’s 2019 projections:

560 plate appearances, .265 batting average, 42 home runs, 105 RBI’s.

Now, Stanton in 2020:

307 plat appearances, .266 batting average, 19 home runs, 48 RBI’s.

What is the absolute point in drawing up projections for the year after an injury? Especially when players haven’t even reported to Spring Training yet?

And Now the Mets

It’s equally convoluted for pitching as it is for hitting. Here are some projections for Syndergaard in 2019:

196 innings pitched 12 – 9 record, 3.50 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 200 strikeouts.

Not too far off the mark for where he ended up. His 2020 projections are:

174 innings pitched, 10-7 record, 4.03 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 179 strikeouts.

Why the spike in ERA, and drop in innings pitched and strikeouts? What has he shown to indicate that will happen in 2020? Are we predicting he’s going to get hurt when there was 0 prediction Andujar and Stanton would in 2019?

Things were even worse for Steven Matz in 2019:

He was projected to be below or right at .500, he finished above .500. He was projected to have less than 150 strikeouts (average), he had over 150 in 2018 and repeated the feat in 2019. Hell, one projection predicted he wouldn’t even post a record. The rest was pretty spot on for where he finished.

Projections Take the Human Element Out of Baseball

Analytical number crunching of baseball players is fine, but they are more than just numbers and equations. They’re people. Who’s to say that Thor or Matz won’t be better than Jacob deGrom next year? deGrom is going to be 32 next season and has pitched over 600 innings in the last 3 seasons. Why is he projected to give up only 19 HR’s next year? He’s going to not be as effective as he was the last 2 seasons because… HE’S A LITTLE BIT OLDER AND THERE WILL BE MORE SCOUTING DONE ON HIM!

After never hitting above .235 in a single season, Urshela is projected to hit .283 next year. What if Andujar wins his job back in Spring Training and is the opening day starter? And what if Urshela tears the labrum in his throwing shoulder, mimicking what happened to Andujar in 2019?

For the love of Pete, we all love playing MLB’s The Show, but even Madden gets wrong how good a football team is going to do each season, how well the stars of the league perform that season, and even who wins the Super Bowl. Just let the grown men play the game as the humans they are, not the AI programs we treat them as.

 

 

New York Mets: Steven Matz Year in Review

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The homegrown Steven Matz had another solid year in the middle of the New York Mets rotation. Much like the rest of the team, he found his stride during the second half of the season. Matz also reached a career-high in innings pitched and recorded the first shutout of his career.

Matz had a solid start to the season; the only let down being an eight-run outing without recording an out against the Philadelphia Phillies. He had a 3.55 ERA at the end of May, but he struggled with getting deep into the game. In half of his starts, he failed to get above 90 pitches. Some of it had to due with not pitching well in those starts, and other times, Mickey Callaway did not have the onions to let him continue.

Poor June and the Move to the Bullpen

Matz hit a wall during June, with a 7.36 ERA during the month. Things had gotten so weak that Matz had to move to the bullpen in July. After two scoreless outings out of the bullpen, he returned to the starting rotation when Zack Wheeler went down with an injury.

Safe to say the move to the bullpen made him better. In the two months following the stint, Matz had a 2.52 ERA and returned to the strike-throwing machine he was known to be. He had a couple of hiccups in his last couple of starts in September but still finished with a 3.52 ERA in his starts following his bullpen duty. While he still was not getting deep into games consistently, he always gave the Mets prime chances to win.

There have been trade rumors surrounding the only lefty in the Mets rotation, but they seem very unlikely to happen. He has been a solid mid-rotation starter, who is also very cheap. Matz still has a ceiling to hit, which is very likely to occur as he heads into his age-29 season. Coming off two straight 30-start seasons and having a healthy offseason is going to be a key for his 2020 success.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: B+, Change-up, and Curveball control can be flat at times, sinking fastball played very well for him.

Control: B+, Walk rate slightly decreased this season.

Composure: A-, Huge difference in his confidence and demeanor this season, which allowed himself to figure things out in the second half.

Intangibles: B+, Still has to work on avoiding the big inning, but was a much smarter pitcher this season.

Overall: B+, Solid year from Matz, but there is still a lot of potential for him heading into 2020.

 

New York Mets Tender All Arbitration Eligible Players A Contract

New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets have tendered all eight of their arbitration eligible players a contract.

The New York Mets’ announced last night that they have tendered a contract to all of eight of their eligible players.

This should come as no surprise considering who the eight players were.

Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are both starting outfielders for the Mets, and all-star caliber players. There was never any doubt that the Mets would ever consider not tendering them a contract.

Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz were also never in jeopardy. They’re three of the Mets starting pitchers for the 2020 season.

The Mets traded for Stroman in July and he pitched well for them. The Mets view him as their internal replacement for Zack Wheeler. Noah Syndergaard is one of the top 20-25 best pitchers in baseball. He had a down season last year, but even then his fWAR was higher than that of Dodgers’ ace Walker Buehler. Matz is one of if not the best number four starter in baseball. On another team Matz would likely slot in as their number two starter.

Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz were also never in doubt. Lugo is one of the best relievers in baseball. He may have never been an All-Star, but he’s also never been a close before. He’s made his money working as a multi-inning relief ace to put out fires and bridge to the closer. He was excellent in that role and he was excellent was asked to close in 2019. Despite his down year, the Mets were never going to non-tender Diaz. His ceiling is way too high and they gave up way too much to let him leave.

Last is Robert Gsellman, and while it was unlikely he would be non-tendered there was a slight chance. Gsellman hasn’t excelled in either the bullpen or the starting rotation. He’s been mediocre at both and hasn’t given the Mets much reason to pay him more than a relief pitching free agent would cost. However, his versatility and his consistent mediocre ability are worth something. Not everybody has to be good, teams need mediocre middle-relievers too.

New York Mets: Marlins Execute the Role of Spoiler

Amed Rosario, New York Mets

The Mets had won seven straight games against the Marlins, but the Marlins and Jorge Alfaro were ready to put a quick end to the Mets season. Miami came into the game with one of the worst offenses in the National League, but managed to muster plenty of offense to steal a 8-4 victory.

The Mets had a chance to open up the game in the bottom of the first but Todd Frazier but popped up to second base. He also had an opportunity to get the Mets on the board in the third, but also popped up with runners on first and second. This was the theme against Caleb Smith who seemed to have base runners on during every inning he pitched, but the Mets could not capitalize.

Matz Shell Shocked

Steven Matz battled through five innings, with his only blemish being a two run home run from Alfaro. In the sixth, he allowed three ground ball singles to load the bases with nobody out. The inning built up with those three innocent hits, then Alfaro capped it off with his heart breaking grand slam.

Matz was visibly frustrated and had the same feeling as other Mets fans. The look signaled it was the end of the road not only for his start, but the official nail in the coffin on the Mets season. They certainly had a chance for a comeback against the Marlins bullpen, but pulling off a six run comeback against any team is quite a feat.

Rosario Slam

The Mets responded very quickly by loading up the bases once again against Smith. All hope seemed lost once Rajai Davis popped up to make the second out of the inning. Amed Rosario launched a grand slam to inch the Mets closer at 6-4. It was his 15th home run and 70th RBI in a season which has been very impressive for the young shortstop.

The Mets seemed to keep the momentum going to get out of the top of the seventh. Brad Brach induced a ground ball to Pete Alonso and beat Harold Ramirez to the first base bag to end the inning…or at least he thought so. It went to a video review which overturned the call and gifted the Marlins two extra runs. It effectively killed any momentum the Mets had built up from the prior inning.

The Mets now chase five games with six left on their schedule. Any combination of a Brewers win and a Mets loss will officially eliminate the Mets from playoff contention. They got as close as one game from a playoff spot, but could never reach the top of the mountain they were climbing for the last two and a half months.

New York Mets: Mickey Callaway’s Mismanagement of the Pitching Staff

New York Mets, Mets

There comes a time in a manager’s career where it is better to simply do nothing instead of over manage. Mets manager Mickey Callaway did not get that memo when he pulled Steven Matz out of the game with only 79 pitches after letting him hit for himself.

Callaway’s trademark is his extremely questionable moves during his tenure as manager. Throughout the Mets hot streak he did not make many tough decisions as the starting pitching went deep into games, making it automatic to use Seth Lugo. Callaway did not even have a tough decision to make with Matz. He could have fell asleep and done nothing, which he should think about doing more often.

100 Times Out of 100?

Callaway’s defense of his move is the same idiotic thinking that will push him out of a job next season. Matz cruised through 14 straight batters prior to his departure. He even started the two out rally which gave the Mets a 2-1 lead at the time. Allowing Matz to hit when they were down one was a good move. Partly because he had settled in nicely and partly because he is a better hitter than anyone on the Mets bench.

Callaway was also unprepared heading into the seventh inning. He should have warmed up Lugo before the rally even started, if he had ideas of bringing him in. He waited until Pete Alonso, who was the last hitter of the inning, came up to hit. Callaway has been very hypocritical throughout his time in New York and proved it once again. He claimed he wanted his “best pitchers to carry us” then only needed a week to prove he lied.

Remember the “Pitching Guru”?

To Callaway, it made sense to push Marcus Stroman to 115 pitches in 6+ innings when he did not need to, but not to stick with the 79-pitch Matz. Even if everything worked out, Callaway did not have a real plan following Lugo. Granted, Lugo has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the last month, but most of that happened because they did not overuse him.

Was Edwin Diaz actually expected to close out a potential one run lead against the Atlanta Braves? If that was the case, Callaway should never be allowed to manage again. You do not need to be Gil Hodges to figure out what the best move was.

Making Matters Worse

Once it was clear Lugo was no where near his best, Callaway decided to leave him out there long enough where he becomes unavailable for Thursday’s game. Then he used Jeurys Familia for the bottom of the eighth, which likely made him unavailable for Thursday since he threw in back to back days.

Familia did keep the Mets in the game but now they have to rely on the combo of Brad Brach and Edwin Diaz to close out a win. The Mets have the talent on their team to make a deep playoff run, but it is a shame their manager is not fit to run a little league team.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Steven Matz

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

Matz was drafted by the New York Mets in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft from Ward Melville High School in Long Island. Before even making his professional debut he underwent Tommy John Surgery which kept him out for the whole 2011 season. Matz finally made his debut in 2012 with the Kingsport Mets where he had a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings.

How has Matz found success?


Going into the 2013 season he replaced his slider with his curveball and found success with it. With the Savannah Sand Gnats, he made 21 starts and had a very nice 2.62 ERA, which earned him an All-Star selection for the Mets organization and the nine spot on their prospects list.

2014 was another strong year for Matz as he split time between the St. Lucie and Binghamton Mets and made 24 starts with a 2.24 ERA. He was also an organization, Florida State League and Double-A All-Star. He was also named the organization’s pitcher of the year, the top spot on the Mets prospect list and number 15 on the MLB prospect list.

2015 was a big year for Matz, where after putting a 2.05 ERA in the minors he earned a call up to a Mets team that was in a pennant chase. Matz helped lead that team to a World Series birth going 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA.

Other than being sidelined in August with a shoulder injury, Matz had a 2016 season going 9-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 games. Matz would finish tied for sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Just like many of the Mets pitchers in 2017 he did not live up to the high expectations he had and was often injured. He only pitched for a little over two months and had a horrible 2-7 record with a 6.08 ERA. Matz reported to Spring Training hoping to start with a clean slate but has struggled so far.

Matz has made two starts but only pitched 1.2 innings and allowed four walks, eight hits and ten runs. In his last start against the Washington Nationals, he could not make it out of the first inning. With every other option the Mets have to start pitching better than him he is likely heading to the bullpen. He still has time to right the ship but if he continues to pitch this bad it would be no surprise to see him start the season in the minors.