Tom Brennan - HOW'S IT LOOKING?


Tom Brennan - HOW'S IT LOOKING?

After starting the season 7-3, the Mets have gone a miserable 9-20 to fall to 16-23.  And that 9-20 stretch incredibly included a stretch where they won 8 of 11!!

They have scored 5 runs per game, which would normally get the Mets to 23-16, not vice versa.  

Of course, the 5 runs per game has been achieved despite poor early season performances from Reyes and Grandy, although both are recently showing signs of life.  And without Cespedes, d'Arnaud, Duda, and now Cabrera for major stretches of time.  Pretty remarkable run production from that perspective.

The Mets have nonetheless scored 38 runs less than the Division-leading Nationals, who are averaging a surreal 6 runs per game.  You know, Big Red Machine stuff.

In the pitching department, the exuberant optimism of mid February, about a team that could have almost a legendary staff, has been far more shocking in its disintegration than anything I can remember.  The team's 5.13 ERA is dead last in baseball, with the next-to-last Phillies far better at 4.82.

Serious injuries to Steve Matz and Seth Lugo thinned pitching depth before even starting the season, raising nerves.  Could the pitching stay strong until the two got back from their boo-boos?

Clearly, no. The indispensable Thor sustained a serious injury measured in months, not weeks, on the DL.  Harvey has been very disappointing, Jake has not achieved his usual standard of excellence, and starter fill-ins Montero, Wilk, and Milone have been miserable. Gsellman, so good late last year, with a 2.42 ERA, has more than struggled to a stratospheric 7.12 ERA so far in 2017.

Losing Familia for, most likely, the rest of the season, was an earthquake for an already overworked bullpen.  We are back to the point where, if the bullpen has to go several innings, which they do daily since starters remarkably never are able to record outs into the 7th inning, you feel as a fan that all is lost.

Bright notes have been Zach Wheeler's laudable comeback and Paul Sewald's very fine relief pitching, which has made the pen a little less awful.

Minor league-wise, many call for IF Amed Rosario to be called up, but scoring runs has not been the problem, the pitching is.

Are there REAL minor league pitching alternatives?  No.

Kevin McGowan has been decent in AAA in relief, but not long and strong enough to make me think he is an answer.

Al Baldonado just got to AAA, so it feels like calling him up would be rushing him. Neither Kevin nor Al, to me, feel like better alternatives than just-signed marginal pen arm Neil Ramirez.  No other minor league pitchers (starters or relievers) are ready and able.

If all goes well, over the next 2-3 weeks, the walking wounded (Matz, Lugo, Cespedes, d'Arnaud and Cabrera) should all be back.  

But will the plummeting Mets be so far gone by then that the season will be effectively over?  Well, they will have to play the games one at a time to find out.

Meanwhile, the crosstown Yankees dazzle and amaze, so we are losing the town again.  Yankee Swagger is back, and so is Mets Stagger.

With the Wild Card further and further away, this could be a mighty long season with major changes ahead.

Encouraging news: Matz and Lugo pitched very well in 3 inning stints in St Lucie, and Travis d'Arnaud went 2 for 4 catching for St Lucie.  Also, Smoker pitched well in AAA, as did Kevin McGowan, so there are some upcoming reinforcements and call-up options.  Oh, and Rosario homered and tripled last night, too.


Gary Seagren said...

Another great post Thomas and I'm totally in amazement too in the awful pitching this season. As much as I am looking forward to Rosario's and Smith's arrival I get that in this ugly season I too would wait till after the super2 in June to get another year of team control. My main issue is even if our starting staff were healthy how good is it really when none of them can get past the 6th inning? In this "error" of radar guns and "I need to throw the ball through a wall" thinking it might be wiser to have a starting staff that can throw strikes and get to the 7th at least and back it up good defense and a killer bullpen. Could this era of obsession on pitch speed have anything to do with all the TJS? It certainly makes sense which leads to another big question: can you change the mindset of our starting staff this far into their careers to pitch more to contact? With
Mike Trout coming into Citi-field tonight I often wonder if we didn't lose the pick to the Angels when we signed K-Rod would we have picked him?

Thomas Brennan said...

Thanks, Gary, and I wonder the same thing about Trout (would the Mets have picked him or dreamed up a reason not to, like "we need the best pitcher").

I mentioned the other day that good old Don Cardwell, the forgotten starter of 1969, had 72 complete games in 301 career starts. It will be remarkable if the Mets Big 5 collectively end their careers with 72 complete games. I'd bet against it. Don was doing something right that they are not.

These guys had the honor to watch Bart Colon not throw his pitches thru walls and succeed. I am not sure if any of that sank in.

Hobie said...

RE: pitching to contact. While I agree with T.Seaver that a 3 pitch inning is more satisfying than a 9 pitch, 3K inning--the former is so much harder to do.

Watching Harvey the other day I noticed a cluster of AB's where he had the batter 0-2 followed by foul-ball-foul-ball to even the count. I'm not sure he could have done more to "pitch to contact."

Is it my imagination, or have Met opponents fouled off 2-strike pitches more often than... idk, statistical relevance?

Reese Kaplan said...

As I said elsewhere, had the Mets drafted Mike Trout he'd still be in the minors at 25. The Angels promoted him at 19.

Gary Seagren said...

Guys it's gonna take a paradigm like change throughout major league baseball as well as from the youth leagues on up to change this insane 6th inning mentality which certainly got a strong foothold with the "quality start is 3 runs or less in 6 innings craziness. I really miss Gil Hodges.

Thomas Brennan said...

there is something to be said for the sinkerball pitcher who induces grounders to keep pitch counts down. I think a lot of these fouls are fouls straight back where the guys get just a piece of the ball.

You can't turn 2 on a strikeout too often either. Two outs on one pitch? That'll keep your pitch count down.

Thomas Brennan said...

Trout and TJ Rivera would have been called up together last September, Reese. And if he started this season 0 for 5, off to Vegas he'd go :)

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