deGrom Shut Down for 4 Weeks

The Mets announced yesterday that deGrom will be shut down for 4 weeks after the MRI revealed a stress reaction in his right scapula. An early-mid June return is most likely if his recovery goes like plan.

The Mets will send out a rotation with Bassitt and Scherzer at the top. Scherzer will likely make the opening day start. Walker and Carrasco need to step up and improve from last season. The last spot will be given to either Tylor Megill, Trevor Williams or lefty David Peterson.

This is obviously a big blow for the Mets and their fans. Losing your ace is hard on every team. Still, this team is a solid ball club and with the extra postseason spots, this team should stay in the race until deGrom gets back.

Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors

Saturday Night Matchup: Mets vs Royals

After another tough loss, this time to the lowly Kansas City Royals, the New York Mets look to turn it around tonight at Kauffman Stadium.

The defending N.L. Cy Young Jacob deGrom will take the mound for the Orange & Blue and while he wasn’t exactly great his last time out, the damage was caused by an error which lead to three unearned runs.

Overall, Jacob deGrom is 7-7 with an ERA of 2.68, a 1.07 WHIP, while striking out 189 batters in 148 innings pitched. However, since the start of June, deGrom has been pitching to a 1.20 ERA and has collected three wins in that span.

Jakob Junis is expected to take the mound for the Royals tonight. The right hander has an 8-10 win/loss record and has been pitching to a 4.80 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP while striking out 136 batters in 144.1 innings.

In his last seven starts, Junis owns a 4-2 record with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 44 in 45.0 innings pitched.

Changing the Cycles; Jacob deGrom & Robinson Cano are the Mets strategic Brain Trust.

By Gino Gallo,

The game of baseball has been through cycle after cycle for as long as there has been baseball. However every now and then, a player or players come around and change the cycle. It has become abundantly clear that baseball has changed over the last 10 to 15 years drastically.

Almost every single lefty now has to deal with the dreaded shift, more frequently then ever, right handed batters are even being shifted against. The launch angle theory has also come into play more recently and players are now swinging for the fences like it is mid to late 90’s again.

Personally, (and I do not think I am alone) the more old school approach to the game is a better game. This is not to say I do not enjoy the game as it is today, to me it is and always will be the greatest game in the world. Although the Chess like adaptation and precision is an art that has taken a back seat and given way to a more Checkers approach.

This is especially in regards to the art of hitting. The philosophy now of “go up there and swing as hard as you can with a swing that contains launch angle” is less appealing then the go up to the plate and try to out think the pitcher. Find your pitch and drive it somewhere.

As a avid and die hard Met fan, I have noticed two players playing a huge part in swinging the cycle back toward that old school style of play. First and foremost, lets look at Robinson Cano, his new approach is as brilliant as it is obvious. All spring long he worked on shooting the ball into left field. He made the proclamation that he was going to do it, and he already did it once in only one game. It’s something we all have seen.

The infielders drastically shift over toward the right side of the field and we collectively sigh and say, just poke one down the left field line. Robinson Cano has finally decided to make a conscious effort to put that into practice. I’m not saying Cano is going to bat .350, however if someone with his type of bat control decides he’s going to forgo swinging for the seats every single at bat and take a double or base hit when that shift is on, .350 can be an easy average to obtain.

If other hitters with Robinson Cano’s bat control such as Joey Votto, Andrew Benitendi, Daniel Murphy, Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez Ect. start taking this same approach. Eventually the shift will revert back to a tactic you can only deploy against big sluggers like Joey Gallo and Khris Davis. It is only a matter of time before other players pick up on this and begin to adapt the same way. As Cano has gotten older it seems he has gotten much wiser, because he is the first one I’ve seen make a serious effort into making that shift ultimately work for him, rather then against him.

The second player I believe has figured something out is our beloved Jacob deGrom. Remember not to long ago Jake’s out pitch was that devastating low and outside fastball? His first two years that was how he predominantly retired hitters. Although Launch angle has completely put a damper on that philosophy. The fastball at the knees has turned from a deadly weapon into a pitch that is now right in a hitters wheel house. The launch angle technique which pushes for an uppercut stroke, make a low fastball a hitters dream.

After a season in which deGrom had a higher then usual ERA of around 3 and a half and had given up more homeruns then usual he seems to have moved the pieces on the chess board around. If you watch closely “peas at the knees” (As Terry Collins used to call it) is no longer the way Jacob strikes batters out. When deGrom gets two strikes on a batter nowadays, he inevitably throws that high fastball which looks great to a hitter, however is almost impossible to hit when using the launch angle method. Once again it is only a matter of time before the other smart pitchers in the league see what’s going on and adjust. Before long to high fastball is going to be a premiere out pitch again.

As it seems Jake and Robinson have figured out new methods of combating the competitions strategy. It is imperative the New York Mets see what is in front of them and draft and develop players accord.

deGrom gives up a pair to Gnats

deGrom took the mound against Stephen Strasburg at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida and gave up two earned runs in his go against the D.C. Nationals.

The Mets Ace went 3.0 innings while giving up two runs, both of which were earned. He also walked two and gave up a home run to Nationals left fielder Adam Eaton. deGrom struck out four and his Spring Training ERA is a modest 3.86 as of March 7th.

deGrom gave up his first run in the bottom of the first as veteran third baseman Ryan Zimmerman launched a sacrifice fly to centerfielder Keon Broxton to give the Nationals the early lead.

Adam Eaton then homered to left field in the bottom of the third to put the Nationals up by two runs.

The Nationals are currently leading the Mets 4-1 in the 7th.

deGrom’s camp disappointed in Mets Front Office

With extension talks going nowhere with Jacob and the Mets, deGrom’s agent and camp is displeased with the lack of loyalty to the reigning Cy Young Award winner.

The problem is, deGrom will reach Free Agency in his 30’s, and history has gone to demonstrate that overpaying for any player over the age of 30 is a detrimental mistake to the team’s long term future. While I do love deGrom, I just don’t know or think that he’ll be a great or above average pitcher once that decline hits.

deGrom’s camp and agents issue are that it was publicly stated that signing Jacob to a long-term extension was a priority for ownership and the front office, I think a combination of Brodie Van Wagenen being deGrom’s former agent has stalled talks and it’s probably impossible to negotiate with a pitcher that has had one of the greatest single seasons ever, that not only gained him a Cy but he was also well deservedly in MVP discussions, as well.

This shows how the salary system in the MLB is messed up, I mean it’s terrible. When players get called up and perform for 6 seasons while being paid a much smaller percentage from other veterans while these young bucks are going into their prime years, they then hit Free Agency with a taxed arm, bummed leg, or an overused position player that just doesn’t have the mileage anymore.

I’m a big believer of “Gestures of good will” and I believe the Mets need to take note, deGrom has 2 years of arbitration left and trust me guy, the man is going to get paid if he goes through the arbitration process. So pull deGrom aside and be blunt, tell him that ownership believes in you and wants you enough to treat these final two arbitration years as if he were a Free Agent.

Yes, do it because we all love him. Yes, do it because he’ll always put meat in the seats, but the fact of the matter is, deGrom is 30 and I’d rather sign him now with the “Gesture of good will” instead of having these same long term negotiations when he’s 32. A 4-5 year deal looks better and is more justifiable now as opposed to 2 years later when the quality of his performance may not be up to par, understandably so.

The Mets Starting Pitching depth?

By Corné Hogeveen

The Mets are having a great off-season under the wings of new GM Brodie van Wagenen. Something the new GM has addressed big time is Depth. With the additions of Lowrie, Broxton and JD Davis, they have improved our MLB depth with good and versatile players. The bullpen has improved drastically with the additions of Diaz, Wilson and Avilan and the return of Familia. But there is one spot on the roster which the Mets haven’t addressed as much so far this off-season, and in my opinion that’s the area van Wagenen should be looking to add depth: Starting pitching.

Current Rotation:

The Mets rotation at the moment is Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jason Vargas. To me this is a very good rotation, as I believe Vargas will be close to his career norm, sporting an ERA around the 4.20. Which is solid as a fifth starter. That being said the Mets starters have injury history. We saw a health improvement from all the starter, besides ironically Jason Vargas, who was hurt parts of the first half. So what do the Mets have behind the rotation now?

Seth Lugo:

Yes the Mets still have Seth Lugo, a very reliable starting pitching option. We all remember Lugo dominating the Yankees at Citi Field last season, as it shows that Lugo is capable to provide a solid spot start if needed. But with that being said, Lugo has shown he is way more important as a bullpen piece. A guy who can give you innings out there with more dominance than when he starts.

Career numbers:

Starting pitcher: 4.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP

Relief pitcher: 2.38 ERA, 0.99 WHIP

That’s a pretty big difference from a dominant reliever to a so-so starter. To me Lugo needs to be in the pen and provide depth and innings in that role. If you need a starter for one game, I wouldn’t mind Lugo to make the start, but if you need a starter for a longer period of time I would rather keep him in the role he excels in.

Hector Santiago:

The Mets lone minor league starting pitching signing this off-season so far is Hector Santiago. The former all-star has been in steep decline after his 2015 all-star season. Over the last 3 seasons Santiago didn’t have an ERA under 4.50. Last season Santiago was awful as a starter with a 6.12 ERA. He fared far better as a reliever owning a 3.87 ERA in that role. I believe the Mets will give him a look in Spring as he might provide innings out of the pen, more than been seen as a starting option. Just like with Lugo.

Corey Oswalt:

We have seen Corey Oswalt pitch for the Mets in the Majors. He did make some solid starts, but even in those he was pretty lucky allowing some hard hit balls, that landed in gloves of the fielders. Oswalt sported a 5.85 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP for the Mets in 2018, not something you want pitching a lot. And at this moment you can argue that Oswalt is next in line to make multiple starts if needed, which to me is scary bad. Oswalt is just one season removed from being the Eastern League pitcher of the year for the Binghamton Mets (now Rumble Ponies). But still don’t see that much upside for the 25 year old, as his stuff is below average in my opinion.

Walker Lockett:

The Mets traded for Walker Lockett in the Kevin Plawecki trade with the Indians this off-season. Lockett has more upside than Oswalt in my opinion as he features a heavy sinking fastball with a solid curve and change. His sinking fastball is his main weapon as it features good movement. Lockett has pitched just 15 innings in the majors, but they weren’t pretty, as he allowed 16 earned runs in those innings. Still Lockett had a solid season in the difficult PCL with a 4.73 ERA (which is solid in the PCL) for EL Paso. If Lockett outperforms Oswalt in Syracuse, he can be next up if the Mets need a starter.

Kyle Dowdy:

The Mets selected Dowdy in the Rule 5 draft this off-season, so he needs to be on the 25 man roster or MLB DL all season for the Mets to keep his services. That will give Dowdy an edge over guys like Bashlor, Smith and Hanhold to make the big league pen out of spring training. If Dowdy makes the squad, after a solid spring, he will likely be an eight man out of the pen who will pitch in long relief. That will include spot starting if needed. Dowdy had a down year in 2018 as a starter in the minors for the Indians and Tigers, but the Mets clearly see him as a relief option to take a look at this spring. Over 124 innings, Dowdy pitched to a 5.15 ERA combined in 2018. Here is something I found via Metsminors.net.

In a July scouting report from 2080 Baseball, Dowdy received the following comments:

Ceiling of low-leverage middle reliever if he takes to a ‘pen role and finds a more consistent off-speed pitch. If he can’t do those things, will be a 4A guy lacking another speed to pair with his high-velo fastball. OFP 40.

Dowdy needs to take a bullpen role if he wants to have a shot at the MLB roster, so don’t see a problem here. If he doesn’t make the team he will need to be send back to Cleveland, and in my opinion there is definitely a possibility that happens.

Chris Flexen:

Chris Flexen showed off that he is in better shape working out with the Barwis program last week. Lets hope that something will get out of it with him being in better shape. Flexen had a lot of issues in the bigs in his stints in ‘17 and ‘18. His big league career ERA is 8.45 with a WHIP over 2. Again not something you want to see a lot if you are a Mets fan. But Flexen still has some promise, as he features a plus curve ball with a solid change. If he can add some mph on his FB there is still some promise for him being a solid depth piece, but we can’t count on that.

Drew Gagnon:

The Mets still have Drew Gagnon on their 40 man roster, which probably won’t be the case this spring. But since he is still on the roster he is still starting pitching depth. Gagnon actually had the best season out of the mentioned depth (besides Lugo/Santiago) in the minors. He pitched to a 4.40 ERA in 163.2 innings between AA and AAA, with most of his work in the PCL. Gagnon led the PCL with strikeouts in 2018, striking out 167 in AAA. In the majors Gagnon pitched to a 5.25 ERA in 12 innings of work. His strikeouts per nine was just 6 showing that Gagnon is most likely being a AAAA starter type without much upside for the MLB level. At 29 years old I won’t expect any improvement.

When you look at all of these options you can’t deny we can use additional starting pitching depth. With the injury history of most starters and ineffectiveness from Vargas in 2018, you still need more depth. As I do believe in Vargas to return to his career norm, you still need back-up if that isn’t the case. The Mets have talked with Gio Gonzalez as he could become the fifth starter with Vargas getting moved to the pen. That will provide Vargas as more of a depth starter behind the very strong starting five. Mets could also look at depth options like Ervin Santana, who is coming off an injury riddled-down year, if he takes a milb deal. Still with the Mets being constructed like it is right now, my main attention will be adding starting pitching. And with the Gio reports it seems like that what BVW is aiming for.

Is There Room for Optimism in 2018?

By David Weiss

Metsland is pretty depressing place right now. Fans are not looking forward to 2018. After a few years of optimism, we have reverted back to masochism. Is it possible that the Mets might shock us? If a few things fall into place, maybe the Mets could stun the baseball world. Even if the Mets make no more offseason moves, they could possibly be the Cinderella team. After all, every season has its share of surprises. Last year the Twins went to the playoffs after losing 103 games in 2016. The Diamondbacks lost 93 in 2016 and followed by winning 93 in 2017. Every team has its ups and downs. With the current playoff format in which each league has two wild card teams, anything is possible.

For the Mets to have a good season, several things need to go right. To start, the Mets need to be healthy. There is no way around this one. Fans got a crash course in anatomy. The 2017 Mets injuries were of epic proportions. Thor refused the MRI. Harvey hasn’t been healthy since game 5 of the World Series. Familia had a serious blood clot after his suspension. Lugo and Nimmo got injured during the WBC. Cesp couldn’t keep his hammy healthy. Flores and Lagares each had a couple of trips to the DL. Conforto and TJ had such bad injuries they may not be ready for opening day… and the list goes on and on. One can only wonder what the 2017 Mets would have done if they had stayed healthy. The Mets have fired head trainer Ray Ramirez and players have discussed taking their training more seriously this offseason. Juan Lagares has changed his swing and hopes it can keep him healthier. If the pitching staff can stay healthy enough this season, that would be a huge improvement. It is reasonable to say that if the Mets can stay healthy they should at least be a .500 team.

Thor injury

After refusing an MRI, Noah Syndergaard left his next start with a torn lat muscle. (April 30th 2017)

The other big advantage the Mets have is a weak division. While the Nationals are clearly the favorites to win the NL East, the rest of the division is mediocre. The Marlins are in a fire sale of Marlinian proportion. They do this about once a decade. The Braves and Phillies have potential but their rotation depth must shape up before being taken seriously. By the time March comes around, it is fair to assume that the Mets will be predicted to be the second place team in this division by most experts.

As of now, the Mets have a lot of youngsters who will be expected to step up. Rosario and Smith are the ones on everyone’s mind. However, Nimmo and Plawecki are guys who were high draft picks who had some decent numbers in 2017. They had an OBP of .379 and .364 respectively, which is very solid. If they Mets can maximize the potential of these sleepers, they can make things a lot of fun and be the team breakout players of the year.

Nimmo Smile

Always smiling, Brandon Nimmo could be a pleasant surprise in 2018.

It looks like this will be the year many have waited for. Wilmer Flores, will finally get his shot as an everyday player. He is currently the Mets second baseman. While he has been justifiably criticized for very poor defense, it should be pointed out that it is almost always for his play at third. At second, his defensive stats are better. He is no gold glover but he is tolerable. If Rosario’s defense at short is as good as advertised, it can make up for Wilmer’s lack of rabge. In 2017, Wilmer showed he can hit righties well and had an OPS of .765 against them. Give him a full season and he could be a 20-25 homer guy.

Wilmer

Wilmer Flores hitting a game winning… against a righty (July 22nd 2017)

Most projections have Thor and deGrom pitching well in 2018. The rest of the rotation is a big question mark. Wheeler, Matz, Lugo and Gsellman all have shown that they have star potential. All have shown that they can find the DL on a map. All of them will be fighting for a spot in the Mets rotation. We can only hope that at any given time at least two will be healthy and effective pitchers. Harvey is of course the biggest mystery. He has gone from being the Dark Knight of Gotham to Hurricane Harvey. The past two years have been a nightmare. There is one thing to remember. Harvey wants a big payday after this season. If he can return even close to his old self, he could get that. Many have questioned how motivated Harvey still is. Perhaps a nine figure paycheck could inspire him to shape up.

Harvey

The Dark Knight Returns- What does the future hold for Matt Harvey?

The rotation is still potentially great. With some health and luck, they can be fantastic. Additionally, the bullpen seems to be very deep. With Familia, Ramos, Swarzak and Blevins the Mets have four really solid guys. If Robles can bounce back, the bullpen could be lights out. Toss in pitchers like Smoker and Sewald who have could be back end of the pen guys and the talent is there. Never forget that in October the team with better relief pitching usually wins in any given series.

For the Mets to make the playoffs in 2018 will require a lot to fall in line. The website fangraphs.com projects the Mets to win 80 games and miss the playoffs by only 4 games. Who knows? Maybe this season the Mets will surprise us.

(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page ‘Jewish Mets Fans’.)

Mets cannot afford to let Wilmer Flores go

By: Rhonda Schmidt

Wilmer Flores, an underrated infielder who may need improvement only on defense, is one vital part of this team. The 26 year old bench player Flores may not see much starting time again in 2018, which could spell out bad news for this team. For one, his offensive numbers are wow worthy. You cannot deny that off the bench, Flores came through every time.

Now if Flores were to start, imagine those numbers, but also improvement defensively.

Defensive growth is not impossible. If you say so, you are fake news. Flores is young, and his potential is shining through. He has the heart needed the passion, is it really his fault that he never gets the chance to grow since he is being shifted around the infield without a permanent role to develop with?

If the Mets trade Wilmer, it will be a move that will haunt them. Look at Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner and countless others who came back to make the Mets sorry they let them go.

You may trash his defense all you want, but when another team sees his starting potential and he excels for them, he will have the last laugh

11 positive points we’ve learned about the Mets this spring 

By Corné Hogeveen 

Opening day is three weeks away and with that I thought about a couple of things I liked this spring for the Mets. The Mets are hitting well during Spring Training and have a 9-9 record. With the WBC the Mets are missing some key players and have to play guys like Tebow, Biondi and Mazzilli as well as others.
These five things I will write about are all things I think will impact the Mets big league squad. As many know I’m a Minor League Guru so I will also add five good point about 2017 minor league players, who made an appereance in this spring.
1. Josh Smoker’s improved breaking ball. I already wrote about him in the #MetsCrushMonday piece here on Mets Junkies. I really like what I saw from Smoker so far. He told reporters and showed he is working on a better slider to the lefties and he made strides with that pitch IMO. If he adds a good slider he will fair a lot better against the lefties on the ML level.
2. TdA has hit the ball really well so far. I know a lot are down on TdA but I see a major difference in his swing. Without the loop in his swing, his swing is a lot shorter and he is hitting the ball hard consistently, line drives and not ground balls. I know TdA also had a lot of work to do on his throwing and I haven’t seen him throw a lot this spring. That still worries me a bit until I’ve seen his throwing improve. I still like what I have seen from Travis with the bat so far, I find it encouraging which to some and maybe most, is not the popular opinion.
3. Walker’s back looks good. When the Mets and Walker talked about an extension during the offseason I was skeptical. I like Walker a lot but returning to the team fresh from back surgery makes me wonder how well will he hold up. This spring Walker has showed his back isn’t bothering him at the moment. I like how quick he was inside on a couple of pitches and I don’t see any problems at the moment. Great sign for the Mets.
4. deGrom is back to throwing hard as he reached 97 on his fastball multiple times. He looks healthy and dominant. After Syndergaard, I see deGrom as our number two guy and seeing him much like he pitched during the 2015 season, which makes me smile. If healthy, he is a top tier starter in all the MLB.
5. Ofcourse I didn’t forget Cespedes, who’s raking at the very moment. He has been hitting the ball hard multiple times and his homeruns are bombs. No need to worry about Cespedes’ work ethic after signing a four year deal. He wants to win a ring with the Mets.
These 5 point are in random order. Now I’m heading to my personal love the Mets minor Leagues. Spring training for me is a lot of fun. Not that I take spring stats serious but because I can watch Mets minor leaguers play against actual MLB talent. Most players that we have seen, I’ve had the privelegde to watch on MiLB.com but there are some players I’m seeing for the first time. Here are my positives I have seen so far.
1. Luis Guillorme has flashed his defensive skills. He did it with the glove, making some smooth plays in the field. He also played a game at third, for the first time in his career and he looked so sure handed at that position as well. We have seen what he can do in the field and in the dugout as well as he saved Nimmo and others with a barehanded catch of a baseball bat as it was flying towards the Mets dugout. With the bat he did it as well. Guillorme has just one MiLB homerun in his professional career, it came last year in St. Lucie, but he added another one to the list this Spring training. It was an opposite field 3 run shot. I knew Guillorme and loved seeing him play. That’s still the case after this spring.
2. Philip Evans is having himself a great spring. Not only with the bat but also with the glove. Evans is not a big man but, is built up of muscle and is a strong kid. He has showed power, ability to hit for average and slick fielding. An all around great camp for Evans who put himself on the map for a lot of Mets fans this spring after a breakout 2016 season where he won the Eastern League Batting title.
3. Corey Taylor has looked good in a (kind off) closing role for the Mets. Taylor hasn’t pitched above High-A but did impress scouts in the AFL. Taylor throws a heavy sinking FB that he relies on for out in clutch spot. I had the priveledge to see him close out a game when I visited St. Lucie and his fastball-slider combo is impressive to say the least. He is definitely a break out canididate for me and we could see him pitch in the Mets bullpen this season.
4. Paul Sewald has a legit shot to make the opening day bullpen in my opinion. Some know that I’m a huge Sewald fan and he has done nothing but performed this spring yet again. The T.J. Rivera of the bullpen guys. Sewald isn’t overpowering but, uses a great slider to get Hitters out. He struck out 80 in 65.2 innings pitched in a very Hitters friendly league in the PCL in 2016. He closed out 19 games with a 3.29 ERA. His Minor League career ERA is a minuscule 2.20 which is obviously very impresive and he deserves a shot at the major league level.
5. Former first rounders that are currently impressing me: Rosario, Nimmo, Cecchini and Smith will all likely start at the Triple-A Level in 2017 and how good did they look so far in Spring (WBC)? All have hit and played the field very well. The position prospects are rising through the minors and are almost there. How fun is that. Future looks bright.

6. Montero has looked really sharp so far. Although I’m still skeptical, I think his control looks really sharp so far this spring. His slider and FB are back on the corners and he’s not walking that many. Will he return to old form when he was a top prospect and be a succesfull MLB pitcher? That still remains to be seen.

After these 11 positive point, I want to share that how great it is to see guys like Ali Sanchez, Andres Gimenez, Colby Woodmansee among others, playing games amongst the big league players, it’s so cool to see.