2/24/15

Tom Brennan - PROJECTIONS: METS STARTING PITCHING 2015 VS. 2014

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Tom Brennan- PROJECTIONS: METS STARTING PITCHING 2015 VS. 2014
The Mets ranked 9th overall in ERA in 2014 at 3.49, behind the Nats (3.03 – 1st) and Braves (3.38 – 5th) in their Division.

I will analyze their overall performance in 2014, and then give my view on 2015.

The starters went just 57-55, with a 3.67 ERA, leaving 50 decisions to the bullpen arms.  Pretty generous of them.  The bullpen guys thank them.

51 of those 57 wins were from the basic starting 5 (deGrom, Wheeler, Colon, Niese and Gee), with 6 other wins spread between Montero, Matsuzaka, and Mejia.  Other than the basic starting 5, 25 games were started by those other 3 gents and a spot start from Torres.

I think we’ll see some starter improvement in 2015 – forces aiding and hindering that in 2015 are itemized below:

POSITIVES

1)   Harvey’s Back – let’s say Harvey bumps Gee, who had a 4.00 ERA in 2014 in 137 innings.  Likely a big improvement there.

2)  A Full Season of deGrom – 2.69 ERA overall, and 2.16 in his last 100 innings, over 22 starts.  What will he do with 32 starts?  Some hint at some regression.  I’m thinking possible Cy Young.

3)  Wheeler Ready to Blossom – first 3 months of 2014, he had a weak 4.26 ERA.  Last 3 months, he went 2.52 in 100 innings.  My guess?  His full 2015 is much closer to his 2nd half excellence.

4)  Better Starting Production from the Fill Ins: Torres, Mejia, Matsuzaka, and Montero were not bad (6-6, 4.23 in 137 innings over 25 starts), but I think this year’s fill in pitchers (likely to be less fill-in and more transitional – e.g., Thor, maybe Matz, or a seasoned Montero instead of last year’s more transient bunch) will toss to a better ERA.

5)  Better Starting Production from the Promoted:  2 or 3 of Niese, Colon, and Gee are likely to head out this year, leaving a rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Thor, and Montero or Matz.  Niese, Colon, and Gee combined to pitch to an ERA of 3.83.  I already bumped Gee for Harvey above, so Niese and Colon were a combined 3.76.  I think the young call ups can do as well or perhaps a bit better.

HEADWINDS

1)   Shorter fences will lift ERAs a bit, but the 3 pitchers most often spoken about as being likely to depart (Niese, Colon, and Gee) gave up 57 of their 141 homers surrendered (40%) in their 527 innings (36% of the Mets’ innings).  57 in 527 innings (or 1 every 9.24 innings) is a tad high.  Syndergaard and Matz have only given up 34 homers (26 and 8 respectively) over 702 innings (427 and 275, respectively) in the minors.  That’s 1 every 20.64 innings.   So I think those 2, while neophytes in terms of not yet being in the bigs, will surrender fewer homers per inning than the veterans they may replace.

Harvey, who will replace Gee, allowed just 12 homers in 237 career innings, or 1 every 19.75 innings.  Long story short, the fences coming in will help the Mets’ hitters more than it will hurt their pitchers.

2)  Harvey coming back from Tommy John.  All reports sound promising, but will he be 100% Dark Knight when he returns?  Time will tell.

3)  Transitional uncertainty – Gee, Colon, and Niese have many combined years of big league experience, which counts for a lot.  It is also unclear if only Thor will join the rotation in 2015, or Matz or Montero will.

Overall:

I see the starters going 72-48 with an ERA of 3.20 in 2015, a substantial jump over the 57-55, 3.67 of 2014, for all of the reasons above...plus I believe the offense will score 120 more runs in 2015.  More offense, more wins.
 
Next article:

An analysis of the bullpen of 2014 vs. 2015, and an overall recap of 2014 actual vs. 2015 projected pitching results.

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