Too often during the current regime the team has downplayed the severity of injuries. Right now the Mets are facing a number of them and no one has a clear idea of what to expect in each case.
Wilmer Flores is currently on the DL with a hamstring injury. Most medical experts rank them from a Grade 1 through Grade 3 which is a measurement which helps dictate range of motion, discomfort, activity level and recovery time. It may be too soon to tell how well Flores responds to treatment, but three weeks may be a minimum level to expect him to be missing from action.
In the short term the decision to promote Sean Gilmartin to allow Logan Verrett to start makes sense though personally I would have gone the other way since Gilmartin has been stretched out and working regularly as a starter rather than miscasting both pitchers in unaccustomed roles. This change is necessitated by the elbow injury news on Steve Matz which no one knows how serious or minor it really is.
What we do know is the Mets have made the conscious decision not to DL Matz while they evaluate his condition and play shorthanded on the bench with the extra pitcher arriving from Las Vegas. Remember when he had the lat problem last year which was supposed to be a minor thing and cost him about two months of starts? Sometimes it makes sense to err on the side of caution, give him his 15 days since you do have pitching to spare, rather than pushing him to come back prematurely.
Then there’s the curious case of Travis d’Arnaud. Yes, throwing is an integral part of a catcher’s game (and frankly not one of his stronger suits when his arm was completely healthy). If he was a pitcher with a rotator cuff problem they would already be talking about shutting him down for the long term. For now he remains on the 15 day DL in the hopes that the Mets’ crack medical staff can find the right combination of snake oil to help him make a miraculous recovery. 6 months is not an uncommon recovery period for non-athletes for a tear. For an “impingement” it’s anyone’s guess.
Why d’Arnaud’s case is interesting is it demonstrates roster flexibility and how the Mets will wind up addressing the Wilmer Flores injury in both the short and long term. There are a lot of “ifs” at play here, but right now the 40-man roster is full. Granted, there are a few spots you could open up such as jettisoning 28 year old Jeff Walters or the strikeout king with the 7.00+ ERA, Dario Alvarez. One of these moves would open up a spot to promote a player not currently on the 40 man roster onto the major league squad. Placing d’Arnaud on the 60-day DL would open up the spot, too.
Creating a 40-man roster spot would allow someone like T.J. Rivera (currently hitting .330 and a career minor league .319 hitter) to come to Queens as the backup shortstop. He would essentially fill the role Flores had been filling as the supersub. Rivera has hever hit double digits in home runs or stolen bases, but he hits consistently and never fanned more than 73 times in a minor league season.
Gavin Cecchini, after a dismal start, is back up to nearly .300 but has only played SS in the minor leagues. He’s probably better off playing every day at that position in the minors than sitting on the bench in the majors. In addition, they would be concerned about burning his options as they tie into future salary considerations – not something they would worry about in the case of the 27 year old Rivera.
However, it’s much easier to do nothing than it is to take a risk by exposing 40 man roster players to waiver claims or prematurely pushing an injured player into DL purgatory. Consequently you have to look at who’s currently on the rosters and see if a solution exists there.
Matt Reynolds famously made the team but never appeared in a game after the Ruben Tejada/Chase Utley incident. He’s on the 40-man roster, hitting an unimpressive .246 but has spent time at SS, 2B and 3B. He would do the same as Rivera with a somewhat better glove while delivering a lesser bat. However, to promote him is as simple as filing the paperwork and buying him a plane ticket.
Dilson Herrera is also on the 40-man roster but, like the case with Cecchini, they probably want him to play every day in the anticipation of a long big league career. Furthermore, he’s pretty much exclusively a 2nd baseman. He’s only logged 25 games and 223 innings in the minors playing shortstop. Neil Walker on the big club has not played it at all. David Wright has played a whopping 8 innings at short, but his health is pretty fragile AND he’s facing his own concerns about his throwing shoulder. Eric Campbell is healthy but only logged 6 innings at SS in his entire career.
For now the Mets are playing a waiting game. They don’t know how severely injured Steve Matz really is. They don’t know how bad Flores’ hamstring is. They don’t know how bad d’Arnaud’s shoulder is. Until they get word on one of them, I expect they’ll muddle along with a short bench. If Matz heads to the DL, then personally I think the best move is to promote Rivera as a direct replacement for Flores. He can deliver some offense (which is Flores’ strong suit despite his slow start). However, I think the Mets would opt to go with Matt Reynolds due to roster constraints.