Chris Flexen gets his first big league start tonight in San Diego, and it is a fine club to break in against - last in hitting and last in runs scored in the majors, averaging a run less per game than our Metsies.  Since he bypassed Las Vegas Pitchers' Hell to go straight to the big leagues, it shows that pitching for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies is sometimes a heartbeat from the majors.

So what was Flexen accomplishing in Binghamton?  And...

How about his fellow starters, too, while we're at it?

Flexen first - he's young (just turned 23), big (listed at 6'3", 250), and throws hard. After a cup of coffee in the lower minors at the age of 18 in 2012, he had a great year in 2013, 8-1, 2.09 in eleven starts as a 19 year old.   He struggled for a while in Savannah in 2014, succumbed to the evil Tommy John mid-season, and returned mid-season in 2015.  After a rehab with Brooklyn, he dazzled with Savannah to close out 2015, going 4-0, 1.87 in 6 outings.

2016 was a decent year in St Lucie, some great starts, some not so great, but he got 25 starts in and went 10-9, 3.56 with a high 51 walks in 134 innings.  But in his last 2 outings of 2016, back to back 5 shutout inning efforts, the second with no hits allowed.  A great sign for 2017.

Spring 2017, hoping to see Flexen in spring games, was frustrating, as he needed meniscus surgery, which delayed his season start to May 17 - 3 outings for St Lucie, then on to Rumble Pony land. 

In AA, simply exceptional. 7 starts, 6-1, 1.66, slightly over a K per inning, superb control, 0.72 WHIP.  His "worst" outing involved him allowing 2 first inning runs and a 7th inning run.

Just 10 walks in 62 IP in 2017, a huge improvement vs 2016.

I for one very much look forward to this inaugural Mets start.


MARCOS MOLINA: the prized 22 year old righty is just 2-8 this year, but the last start (no decision)was a beauty - Tuesday night, 6 innings, 3 hits, no runs, 9 Ks - he's back!!

As a 19 year old in the NY Penn League, he was the best starter in the entire league.  Sadly, Tommy John (what else) caused him to miss a chunk of 2015 and all of 2016. 

Back from TJS in 2017, his season was delayed until mid-May due to (what else) injury.

Once back, he was 2-3, 1.26 in 5 starts for St Lucie. Promoted to AA, he lost his first 5 starts, mostly pitching satisfactorily (but for one start), but the latest start against a decent hitting team hints strongly to me that he is about to enter the Flexen Fast Lane. 

Molina could be starting games in Queens at some point next year - I'd skip him over Vegas, too.

COREY OSWALT: Turning 24 this September, the 6'5", 250 Oswalt has been oft-injured (limiting him to 404 innings in 5 1/2 seasons. 

But he has been healthy this season, and sits at a fine 7-4, 2.61 (but a 1.26 WHIP compared to Flexen's 0.72).

However, drop his first two lousy starts and he is great - 7-2, 2.17 in his 16 starts since.  He has surrendered zero runs in 5 of his starts.  80 Ks in 97 IP is decent too.  

My guess?  He gets to experience Vegas Pitching Hell before he shows up in Queens in late 2018, perhaps as a pen arm if not as a starter.

MICKEY JANNIS: a 44th round pick, the 5'9" knuckleballing Jannis is trying to become  the next RA Dickey.  After pitching a 7 inning shutout in the doubleheader on Tuesday, he is 7-5, 4.04 this season in 17 starts.  His control has improved in 2017 (35 walks in 100 IP, vs. 76 in 141 IP last year), showing that he is progressing with the knuckler. 

We'll see if Dickey II shows up in Queens in 2018 or 2019 - if he in fact can make the bigs - but his 2017 progress seems to indicate that could be a real possibility, whether with the Mets or another big league team.

PJ CONLON: the crafty lefty was brilliant in rookie ball in 2015 and in A ball in 2016.  In AA, he has had some ups and downs (including 13 homers in 115 innings) but stands solid at 7-7, 3.68 with 3 shutouts.  Not a hard thrower, he nonetheless shows every sign of at least being a capable big league bullpen piece if he can not achieve a starter's role in the bigs.  I did an article a few years ago, where many decent minors relievers were cut or retired - a knuckler for marginal guys like Jannis can be the great equalizer.

CASEY DELGADO: the 27 year old undrafted Delgado, signed by the Mets out of Indy ball in 2015 at the age of 24, has struggled in 2017, going 6-5, 5.71 in 76 innings with a 1.82 WHIP.  Those #s don't shout "major league caliber."   Maybe adding a knuckler could help him get over the hump.

SUMMARY: Some intriguing quality starters in Binghamton this season.  If you don't agree with me, let's rumble, dude.

Oh, and Steve Matz stunk again last night against San Diego.  He's pitching worse than he did when he was in AA.


Reese Kaplan said...

To think that the opening projected rotation was Thor, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Harvey.

Now they will go to battle with deGrom, Lugo, Flexen, Montero and...I can't see them letting Matz continue without declaring him injured again.

Thomas Brennan said...

Matz said he feels fine - he should have zipped the lip. Harder to put him on DL, I'd think.

But relax - Tommy Milone could step in :)

Actually it could be Tyler Pill.

Mack Ade said...

You've got 2 pitchers scheduled to come off rehab in the next 5 days... Milone and Missel-man

Thomas Brennan said...

Is Missel-man a description of what has happened to Gsellman's pitches this year?

Eddie Corona said...

When someone comes unheralded I have a hard time believing in (a la Gsellman but was dead wrong about Degrom) so you never know... Worse is we need Flexen since the other magnificent 7 Pitcher cant seem to settle on a solid 5...
So let go Flexen, Degrom needs someone who can run with him...

Thomas Brennan said...

Flexen was very highly thought of, but injuries have challenged him. His minor knee surgery in March was a blessing in disguise as there are no concerns for him re: innings limit.

He pitched very well in every start this season in AA. Better than Gsellman pitched, better than Lugo. I think he could be really good.

Mack Ade said...

What all Mets writers are missing when they write about Flexen is the difference in him this year has been the prgess on his changeup and curve.

The writers simply do not do their homework.

Thomas Brennan said...

And his vastly improved control, Mack. Far fewer walks per 9. He has improved night and day from 2016.

Thomas Brennan said...

AA starters rumble, AAA starters grumble.

The team is called the 51s because Vegas allows 51 runs per week.

Mack's Mets © 2012