The Morning Report 2.24.2015 | Harvey’s workload, Zack fine tuning, Wright’s health, Matz in 2015?

Adam Rubin | ESPN.com New York Mets ace Matt Harvey's first season back from Tommy John surgery will not include an ultrarestrictive innings cap, general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday. Alderson said Harvey will have no "extra special precautions" during spring training and should face batters within a few days of any other Mets starting pitcher in camp. "I don't expect this is going to appear to be a highly constrained workload for him over the course of a season," Alderson said. Alderson said the Mets have an idea of a prudent innings cap for Harvey based on conversations with medical personnel, Harvey's agent Scott Boras and Harvey himself. Still, team officials do not want to publicly disclose a number and then have it become a headline for the next 10 months. The GM added that there is some flexibility based on how Harvey performs. Alderson nonetheless reiterated a past pledge that Harvey would pitch in the postseason if the Mets are involved. The GM does not expect Harvey will be allowed to pitch 215 to 225 innings, but 200 innings including the postseason is plausible, Alderson added. "Including playoffs?" Alderson said. "Yeah."

(Herb G.  On the one hand, Alderson says Harvey will not have a “highly constrained workload” or an “ultrarestrictive innings cap”, but on the other he says they “have an idea of a prudent innings cap” and “200 innings including the postseason is plausible”. I hope they really do have an idea of what is prudent for Harvey. The last thing we need is for Harvey to go down again because they overwork him. Since the front office was so conservative with his rehab, I have to believe they will be similarly conservative with his return. I am beginning to subscribe to the idea that one of our readers put forth, to combine Harvey with Montero in each of his early starts, removing Harvey after 5 innings and giving Montero the rest of the game. That approach would not only reduce Harvey’s workload, it would give us a better idea of Montero’s abilities as a major league starter, and worst case, showcase Montero for a possible trade.)

Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com Zack Wheeler returned to camp Sunday after missing the first official workout dealing with strep throat. Now he can get down to business building on his second-half performance in 2014. In his first 16 starts last season, Wheeler went 3-8 with a 4.45 ERA. In the subsequent 16 starts to close the season, he was 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA. Wheeler’s winter workout partner, former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, told Wheeler that the right-hander pitched better in the second half because he was more tired and not overthrowing. Wheeler seemed to subscribe to that theory too. “I was just getting more tired, so I wasn’t overthrowing,” Wheeler said Sunday. Pitching coach Dan Warthen preferred to assign the improved second-half pitching to maturity -- that Wheeler simply settled in at the major league level in his second season as a Met. “I don’t know that it’s fatigue as much as growing up, maturing.” Warthen said. Regardless, the 24-year-old Wheeler still has more maturing to do. Among the 88 qualified major league pitchers a year ago, Wheeler’s 4.17 pitches per plate appearance ranked second-highest. Warthen said it is incumbent on the coaching staff to drill into Wheeler’s head that he is unhittable when he gets into two-strike counts. Overall, batters hit only .146 against Wheeler once getting to any count with two strikes last season. “I don’t think I hit my stride yet,” Zack Wheeler said. “Some guys, like Harvey and [Jacob] deGrom, they just come up and dominate. That’s awesome for them and awesome for the team. I mean, I wasn’t terrible. But I wasn’t great. That’s fine with me. I can only get better.”

(Herb G. If you look at Wheeler’s last 16 starts, you are looking at an ace. But let’s not be deceived into thinking that he finally figured it out and we will surely have an ace in Wheeler this year. His last 5 starts of the year were not special. So we still must sit on pins and needles wondering which Wheeler will show up this season. I am betting on a new and improved version, but not necessarily the ace with the 2.71 ERA. If we get 16 wins with a sub 3.50 ERA, I will be extremely happy.)

TIM ROHAN |nytimes.com David Wright has learned a few tricks over the years to help him stay healthy for an entire season. . . . Essentially, he has tried to eliminate taking unnecessary risks. In June, Wright slid head first into second base and jammed his right shoulder. He was not the same player the rest of the year. By the time the Mets shut him down in September, he had career lows in home runs (eight), on-base percentage (.324) and slugging percentage (.374). On Sunday morning, Wright, 32, met with the news media at the Mets’ complex for the first time this spring training. He said his shoulder was fine. He seemed to be more aware of his physical limitations, having played at least 135 games just once in the last four seasons as a result of back, shoulder and hamstring injuries. Manager Terry Collins, who said he would limit Wright to about 150 games in an effort to keep him healthy, believes that a healthy Wright will benefit the rest of the lineup by taking pressure off other hitters. (Wright) has high hopes for this season and said this was the best pitching staff he had played behind. He could not say the same about the Mets’ lineup. No matter who is pitching, the team very likely will be a contender only if Wright is healthy.

(Herb G. When a player is as competitive as David Wright, trying to avoid unnecessary risks is contrary to his game. In the heat of the moment, baseball instinct takes over. Hence, David slid head first, and he might do it again. Maybe the conditioning program will help and maybe he will be able to think twice, but the bottom line is that the Mets are a much better team with a healthy Wright. That said, I don’t like saying that “the team very likely will be a contender only if Wright is healthy.” We have a number of question marks going into the season - Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Flores, d’Arnaud, Granderson, Duda, the pen, to name a few. Will they match or exceed their previous performance. If those question marks are answered positively, I believe this team can make the playoffs even if Wright is out for a time during the season or if he doesn’t have the banner year the pundits say he must.)

Interview Report |  metsblog.com/sny.tv Robert Brender of SNY.tv spoke to New York Mets pitching prospect Steven Matz about his development and future with the team. Matz talked about his 2014 season, including his postseason starts, helping the Double-A Binghamton Mets win the Eastern League championship. “The more innings I threw, the more comfortable I felt out on the mound,” Matz said. According to one high-ranking Mets executive, Matz could very easily make his big-league debut in 2015, reports Kevin Kernan (NY Post, Feb. 13). Matz said he will work to “fine tune everything” in camp, as “there’s room in every area to get better.” Matz is reminiscent of Madison Bumgarner, Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola recently told reporter John Harper (Daily News, Feb. 4). Similarly, last summer, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen compared Matz to Clayton Kershaw (MetsBlog, Aug. 2014). Wally Backman has said Matz – not Noah Syndergaard – is the organization’s best pitching prospect, he told fans at the Queens Baseball Convention at McFadden’s Citi Field.

 (Herb G.  Matz has progressed rapidly after coming back from TJS and pitching only 29 innings in 2012. He has looked outstanding every step of the way. The praise that he is receiving from people like Sweet Music and Wally B is all well and good, but I hope it does not put added pressure on Matz to try to replicate Matt Harvey’s MLB debut. He will start this season in that pitcher’s hell known as Las Vegas, and, based upon last year’s 140.0 innings pitched at two levels, he should be limited to no more than 170 innings this year. So, despite what that “high-ranking Mets executive” says, I will be very surprised if we see him as a fixture in the Mets’ rotation this summer.)





Thomas Brennan said...

Every inning Matz pitches in the minors from here on out is an inning wasted from his arm. He is ready...the question is how ready "ready" is. If 3 starters went down, he could slide right into the rotation. So could Thor.

Wheeler will have a big year...I am thinking slightly sub-3:00 ERA. Part of a guy's ERA i derived from the quality of the bullpen. That should be higher quality for the 2015 season on the whole. Helping keep starter ERAs lower as fewer inherited runners score.

Wright realized there is kryptonite embedded around 3rd base and they've sapped some of his powers. Less head first dives at 3B and going into bases are a must. No more than 145 starts too.

If this team stays healthy, we're heading north of 90.

Ernest Dove said...

Always weird to try predicting stats, but I'd like to think that Wheeler can produce a sub 3.00 ERA in 2015.
Once upon a time he was said to have better stuff then Harvey, and not everyone pitches like Harvey right out the gate like Harvey did.
For all we know Wheeler can still be the ace of this team, even if Harvey is healthy and technically keeps wheelz at SP2.

Reese Kaplan said...

It's all the more reason for the Mets to clear roster spots and payroll to open up more starting pitching possibilities with other pitchers with the potential to dominate rather than the likes of Niese, Colon and Gee.

Anonymous said...

My dream would be to have Thor and Matz come up together and fill out the card for a doubleheader, preferable at Citifield. I like how the two of them are buddying around this spring.
Noah Game 1
Matz in the nightcap

man can dream cant he?
Anon Joe F

Hobie said...

It was Mack who first suggested piggy-backing Harvey (with Gee, I think) for the 1st two months. I liked the concept and suggested Niese would be a good tag-team partner, now HG mentions Montero.

My Niese rationale was that the contrast with MH would be effective in the 6th on, would 'save" some BP use (effectively Neise becomes that elusive 2nd Lefty, albeit available only for Harvey starts & perhaps an inning on throwing day), and solves the (hopefully temporary) 6-starter problem better than yanking Gee up & down daily in the pen.


Dallas said...

I hope you guys are right about Wheeler. He seemed just ordinary compared to DeGrom and Harvey who just plain dominated and went long in games. Maybe because Wheeler had the 2nd most pitches per plate appearance he just seems less dominate while DeGrom and Harvey seem to make very quick work of the batters. I really hope we dont have a long experiment with Gee/Colon, I hope we move on quickly to the new guard. They simply arent pitchers that are going to win you a championship. You just hope they keep you in the game with their average stuff.

Thomas Brennan said...

I am a little nutty with "what if's", but can you imagine if anyone in the Mets' 2014 opening day starter rotation was not available for 2015? We'd have a rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Thor, Matz, and Montero, and Bowman as a back up. Some teams out there would kill to start the season with that group.

Mack Ade said...

Morning guys...

I expect the Thor/Matz plans to speed up if the win-loss record doesn't reflect early success.

Richard Jones said...

I don't want to see Matz this year. I don't think he is ready and he can use a full year in AAA. Syndergaard was more dominant in AA.
If we see Matz before September it means something went very wrong, like losing a couple of starters to TJ surgery.
You don't want to trade all of, Colon, Neise, and Gee and have no depth.
There will come a time before the trading deadline that other teams will desperately need starting pitching. Hopefully the Mets can pull off a couple of Byrd like trades and bring up Syndergaard.

Richard Jones said...

I've been thinking about the "piggy-backing" concept. It sounds good in theory and it does have some good points but I don't thin it will work in the real world of ML baseball.
Lets say Harvey goes 5. You bring in Gee and he get through the 6th. He than gets into trouble. A lefty is coming up. I would want a lefty-lefty match up. When your in a tight game you want the right match ups late in a game.In the minors where development is more important than winning it works. In the majors I don't think it would.

Thomas Brennan said...

Richard, I think Matz is ready now, but perhaps not as "ready" as deGrom was when he got called up. Mets have the luxury of going slow.

I fully expect Matz will start out in AAA. I fully expect him to not repeat Thor's struggles...if Bowman could pitch well in AAA last year, Matz will dominate in AAA and show he is ready.

We have the luxury of not rushing a guy like him. I wish we were desperate. I think he'd have a fine rookie year if pressed into service early in 2015.

He has always had a low ERA and just does not surrender homers, amazing for a lefty facing mostly righty hitters (something like an astonishingly low 8 HRs in 300 innings, including playoffs, in his career). That stat always sticks with me, and gives me the sense he'll be great, not good.

Thomas Brennan said...

Richard, on your piggybacking thought, I really hope Leathersich shows up with a better approach to shutting down lefties and lowering BBs. Because he is so tough on righty hitters (.195/.290 slug vs. righties in 2013 and 2014). Then you'd not have to be so prone to lefty/righty switches, and he's been used in non-closing (earlier inning) relief roles his whole career.

Richard Jones said...

Thomas, I saw Matz live towards the end of the season last year. I had first row seats right behind home plate. He struggled with his command. He got away with a lot that he would not have against Major League hitters. It was only one game so it could have been just a bad night for him.
I think Las Vegas could be a great place for pitchers to go. I'm probably one of the few who believes that. If you're going to be successful there you have to learn how to pitch. Your breaking pitches aren't going to have the same bite. AAA hitters can hit the fastball. You get batters out by locating your pitches and changing speeds. I'm convinced that deGrom would not be the pitcher he now is if it weren't for Vegas.
If Matz is successful there then he is ready. The Mets coaches see him every day and I believe their doing a good job with their young pitching and I trust them with him.
I hope we do get to see a Harvey, Syndergaard, Wheeler, deGrom, Matz rotation for a while, that would be fun to watch.

Thomas Brennan said...

Richard - great - appreciate your sharing your in-person observations on Matz's pitching acumen.

I look forward to seeing him on TV this spring at least once, if not more. Hopefully he pitches on TV days.

Richard Jones said...

I have a small amount of HD video I took. I'll try to upload it to youtube this weekend. I was planning on taking video of all his pitches. My battery went bad at the wrong time. It was fully charged but died after the first couple of batters.

Thomas Brennan said...

Great - that would be terrific, Richard

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