Mike Friere - Is There Trouble On The Horizon?


The title of this article certainly sounds ominous, right?  Sort of like the early scenes from Independence Day when alien spaceships started showing up outside of the major cities across the country.  I am not trying to sound like "Chicken Little" and the sky is most certainly NOT falling.  However, after removing the "rose colored glasses" and coming down off of the high of the Mets fantastic start to the year, I do think there may be some turbulence ahead for our favorite team.

The Mets are currently 17-9 as of this writing, winning two out of three games against a mediocre Padres club in San Diego over the weekend.  The listed record is good enough for first place and they have a one and one half game lead over  the Phillies and Braves within the NL East. I think it is a bit early to worry so much about standings and leads when we have only played 16% of the schedule, but a good start is better then a poor one.

The 17-9 start equates to a winning percentage of .653 and if the Mets were to keep that pace going across the entire season, they would finish with a record of 106-56.  That would only be two games off the pace the legendary '86 Mets put forth, so it is unrealistic to expect that level of success to continue with this year's team.

If you look at the Mets' last ten games, the team is playing .500 baseball (5-5), so the "slow down" or the regression to the mean has already begun.  Furthermore, they have a positive run differential of only fourteen runs, which is low for a winning percentage that high.  Using the proper metric, that run differential should equate to a winning percentage of .567 or at least a couple of wins below the current pace.  In short, they have overachieved a bit early in the season.  

Before we totally geek out on stats, just know that even the lower winning percentage listed above would still generate a final record of 92-70 which would be good enough for a playoff berth in most seasons, so all is not lost if that were to occur.

The "trouble" that I alluded to in the beginning isn't so much about the statistics as it is the state of the starting rotation. Instead of the "Super Rotation" that we were all hoping for, we have ended up with a "Dynamic Duo" in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, followed by a collection of pitchers who are doing their best "Jekyll and Hyde" impersonation.......sometimes from one inning to the next within the same

Consider the following;

1. Steven Matz has been horrible so far and now he is potentially injured again.

2. Matt Harvey is a shell of his former self and is now in the bullpen, trying to figure things out, when he is not sparring with the media of course.

3.  Zack Wheeler is still erratic at best and cannot be counted on to contribute more then four or five shaky innings per start, unless the Marlins are the opponent which is really weird.

4.  Jason Vargas has been out of action due to a freak injury until this past weekend, when is first start with the Mets didn't go as planned, which is putting his Hindenburg style performance nicely.

The question becomes, can the Mets continue to play successful baseball if your team is at a disadvantage on the mound 60% of the time? 

Of the current options listed above, the Mets will be hard pressed to make any major changes short of the pitchers themselves improving as the season moves along.   I think Jason Vargas will be OK as he shakes off the rust, but can we trust Zack Wheeler and/or Steven Matz to suddenly become more accurate with their pitches when history says otherwise?

If Matt Harvey takes to his new role in the bullpen, then MAYBE you can move either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman back into the rotation in place of an incumbent starter (likely Steven Matz once he goes on the DL, which you know is the next step in this story). 

Short of a trade or two, are there any pitchers in AAA or even AA that can make the leap to the parent club and provide a reliable arm in the rotation?  Can any of the youngsters pitch better then what we have been getting?

Despite obvious issues behind the plate, shoring up the starting rotation is the biggest objective for Sandy and company going forward.  If things remain status quo, I think the last ten days are much more representative of the teams' chances for the rest of the year as opposed to the blazing start that suddenly feels much less convincing.


Thomas Brennan said...

We have reached the horizon, and trouble is an understatement.

Jake was our cornerstone. If he is out a prolonged period...

Heck, if he is out a short period...

Hitting malaise...Cespedes nothwithstanding...

Braves look like really tough competitors...

Nats not going to stay down forever....

Buddy, we got trouble.

My guess is the Mets call up Flexen or Tim Peterson to fill Jake's spot. Neither is Jake...and the Mets have only won 6 of their last 16 WITH Jake.


Mack Ade said...

The Braves look very exciting, very young, and very talented.

They, like other teams, seem to draft and sign young players much better than we do.

Where do we get our talent eval dudes? The Fuller Brush Company?

Mack Ade said...

My guess is either Flexen or Oswalt.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack, I got an article on OUR PROSPECTS AND THEIR PROSPECTS at 10 AM.

To answer your question, the Fuller Brush Company would have fired them, with no severance package, due to incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Taking into account all the writer's opinions here today...Here are my possible call-up rewards and possible send-downs for more instruction, and then why:

1B PETER ALONSO - Hitting Ted Williams .400 BA. Should be enough for here let's hope. He jumps AAA Vegas in this three week trial. 2B ARSDRUBAL CABRERA - Despite a cool down period (snow maybe ice) of late, Cabrera is the engine that drives this locomotive up hills when on. His "pose thing" batting hypnotizes my dog actually for 45 minutes. SS GAVIN CECCHINI-Deserves a three-week window too for his play so far at Vegas.

The question was asked in the off-season here..."Which NY Mets player concerns you the most if a let down were to happen with him?" (Something like that) I said Amed Rosario. It was mainly because perhaps "too much was being expected of him" and he had not been up here long enough to fairly assess. Amed just needs to work through in AAA Vegas, on a nice quiet three-week slow boat. See how Gavin is playing up here in that same time period. I think Amed will be fine and Cecchini should admirably hold the boat. Gavin could be one of those sparkplugs I mentioned recently here too that this team needs. 3B TODD FRAZIER - Todd has surprised me a lot so far, excellent glove on third too. I don't think we fans have yet seen the very best of Todd. LF YOENIS CESPEDES - But with more days off to keep him fresh over this long season. i.e., Zach Borenstein takes a game in left every four or five games. (And Yo, maybe try cubic zirconia?) CF Brandon Nimmo. Just is a true lead off batter, maybe the only one on this team too. The guy is instant energy. He and Lagares man CF. Hottest batter starts. RF Jay Bruce. Jay's impressed us all thus far, even with the Planter's Peanut heel thing going on. BRUCE! His trench warfare button has been activated and I like that about him a lot! C Johnny "Goat Boy" Monell. Johnny is a smart veteran backstop and we need that here right now. Plus, he is hitting quite well right now in Vegas. Maybe keep one from the Lobaton/Nido combo to backup up the "Goat Boy?"

SP: Probably something like this...1. NOAH 2. JAKE (with Ligament) 3. SETH "NOLAN RYAN EXPRESS" LUGO L. 4. ZWHEELS 5. PJ CONLON - Some may wonder if PJ is really ready for here, or not. But know this...Who do we have any better right now that you can think of? PJ has shown "when on" that he is very good, and he has done that already in ST. And PJ is a lefty starter too. I think that maybe with some MLB fine tuning (here game to game) that PJ will be more than up to this challenge. It's a little bit of a risk, true, but what is life really without the occasional risk?

RP: Maybe something like: GSELLMAN, CRISMAT, BLEVIN, TIM PETERSON, AJRAMOS, DREW SMITH, and JEURYS FAMILIA. Why these seven relief pitchers? Because it's a younger and potentially better pen actually. Bench: REYES, BORENSTEIN, LAGARES, GONZALES, and one of the two catchers here between NIDO and LOBATON.

This all actually changes the face of the team, makes it younger, gives chance to those deserving from MiLB who have played very well thus far, and allows struggling veterans a chance to regroup down in AAA and work on things.

Thomas Brennan said...

Anonymous, great perspective. I am not throwing the towel in on Matz yet. He can still be very good, and soon.

What bothers me about Rosario is he had years to work on plate selection, and his current never-walk mentality - he gets an F for that. Would 3 weeks change anything? I would love to send him down until September, and tell him his JOB 1 is pitch selection. Come back with that fixed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Thomas!

I really like Steven Matz, but he does get injured a lot, and he is from LI too, which makes me question him some. (LOL)

On Amed Rosario, I like him overall too, but (call me whatever here) that loose back right foot walking thing in the box with the pitch coming in...I have just never seen that sort of thing workout longer term for a batter. Have you? It may make his perception on any one pitch coming in, not be from a fixed and steady visual point of view.

Maybe my take on this is dinosaur pooh, granted it could be here, but I would much rather have him set in the box with his back right foot so that he can tell when a pitch is coming in four inches outside or low in the dirt.

Hey, if it can be corrected I think that it would be a good thing for Amed and the Mets to do this now. If it takes four or five weeks down at Vegas then fine. The Mets have potentially available for shortstop in this plan...Cecchini, Reyes, and Flores too.

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