While most of the Mets community is still reeling over the announcement that pitching phenom Zack Wheeler will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament (no, it has not yet been announced but take it from someone who has seen way too many TJSs over the past decade--a fully torn UCL doesn't magically heal. He will have to go under the knife), Terry Collins has announced that Dillon Gee will take his spot in the rotation.
This makes sense. Gee is the veteran and has been an average if not effective back end starter for over 600 major league innings. In fact, when Gee has been healthy, he has had stretches in which he is quite good. Some even believe that concerns over Wheeler's elbow kept Sandy Alderson from trading Gee this past winter. No matter the case, I understand the reasoning behind using Dillon Gee.
However, it should be Rafael Montero.
Dillon Gee is an okay pitcher. Montero could be a very good one. Before Jacob deGrom was Jacob deGrom, fans thought Rafael Montero would be the sleeper prospect who would take over New York like a young Pedro in Montreal. Like the Matt den Dekker/Juan Lagares story arc, deGrom won the job, performed well, took home hardware, and cemented his spot on the team. That does not mean that Rafael Montero all of a sudden stopped being a good pitcher. Like most young starters, he merely had growing pains when he pitched in the majors for the first time. I wrote about this topic early this winter.
Here is what Rafael Montero brings to the table:
- Incredible command.
- Throws a plus four-seam fastball, a plus two-seamer, a plus slider, and an average changeup that was actually more effective in the majors last year than his slider, statistically.
- Beautiful mechanics. Possible the best I have ever seen from a prospect. If Rafael Montero needs Tommy John Surgery at any point in his career, you can demand I never write for Mack's Mets again and I will honor that request. It's just not going to happen. He neither has the strain on his arm from insane velocity nor anything close to wrong with his delivery to predict any throwing-related injuries.
- The best minor league numbers of any of our starters--including Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, and Syndergaard. The only prospect who has performed anywhere close to Montero in the minors is Steven Matz who has only thrown 71 innings above A-ball.
- By great minor league numbers, here is what I mean:
- 2.69 ERA in 434.1 innings.
- Only 102 walks, for a rate of 2.1 BB/9.
- 413 strikeouts, for a rate of 8.6 K/9.
- A 4.05 KK/B ratio, a mouthwatering number for any pitcher in any role at any level.
- The above three rates would have ranked 32nd, 21st, and 19th out of all qualified starters in 2014.
- A career 10.0% Infield Fly Ball rate.
- Only 20 home runs allowed. For a fly ball pitcher (perhaps even an extreme fly ball pitcher), 20 home runs in 434+ innings is undeniably good.
- A career 1.066 WHIP. This is a WHIP only seven qualified major league starters bested in 2014: Hisashi Iwakuma, Garrett Richards, Adam Wainwright, Chris Sale, Johnny Cueto, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw. That is in reverse order from 7-1. No Nationals pitcher kept runners off of base at that rate or better.
- 7.5 hits/9 innings. For a pitcher who limits walks as well as Montero does, this is also an excellent rate.
|Statistic||Montero’s Minor League Numbers||Rank amongst 2014 ML Starting Pitchers|
|Walks per 9||
|Strikeouts per 9||
|HR per 9||
|19th (tied, with Zack Wheeler)|
|Line Drive %||
|Infield Fly Ball %||
|HR to Fly Ball ratio||