Tom Brennan - Mets Minors Starters - Sizzle and Fizzle


Tom Brennan - Mets Minors Starters - Sizzle and Fizzle

Some guys...you know how it goes...many of us expected them to sizzle this year in the Mets minors, but have fizzled instead.

Other guys were expected to fizzle, or were coming off a fizzle year, but instead have sizzled in 2018.

May those who have fizzled, sizzle again, and may the current sizzlers sizzle onward.  Let's look at some of them:


A number of pitchers who were sizzlers have become fizzlers. 

Oh yeah, like who?

PJ Conlon – prior to this season, the Belfast baseballer had sizzled, tossing 295 minor league innings, sporting a career ERA of 2.35 and a 20-12 career mark. 

This year, in 85 AAA innings and 8 more as a Met, 80 runs allowed, allowing 162 runners and 20 long balls.  Nostalgic for 2017, no doubt.

Nabil Crismatt – except for midseason swoon last year that led Crimatt to a 3.95 ERA in 26 outings, Crismatt always looked strong.  This season, he was solid in AA in 16 starts at 8-5, 3.58.  Still sizzling, at least to some degree.

On to Vegas and "fizzle city" – 6 starts, 10.20 ERA and 59 runners in 25 innings.  He has also allowed 30 homers in 264 innings in 2017 and 2018, not a promising rate.  Fizzling. (Note: he was solid on Thursday night against Reno after I wrote this, with 6 IP, 2 runs).

Chris Flexen – Flexen was scorching hot in AA in a 7 start stretch in 2017 (6-1, 1.66), earning him a premature call up to the Mets, in which he allowed 44 runs in 48 innings.  One would have figured that was a huge learning experience, which would greatly benefit him this year – wrong.  In the majors (briefly) and AAA this year, Flexen has allowed 66 runs in 108 innings, a "fizzler on the roof" if there ever was one.  Currently on the DL.  My guess is he is done for 2018.

Harol Gonzalez – 2017 was near sizzling, with HG going 9-9, 3.53.  In 2018, he started out with bad luck, going 1-6 for St Lucie and 0-1 for Las Vegas, despite allowing just 25 earned runs in 79.1 IP (2.83 ERA).  Sizzling, except for the win/loss column.

But then he was promoted to AA Binghamton and has fizzled so far (0-4, 10.17, 27 runs and just 15 Ks in 23 innings).  His overall 1-11 record looks good only to Anthony Young.  Of course, a lot of that is on the offense - except in AA.

David Peterson – since he only threw 3 + innings in 2017, let’s ignore that.  He sizzled in Full A ball this season, despite struggling to win (1-4, 1.82 in 59.1 IP in 9 starts).   Promoted to high A, 9 starts of fizzle – 45.2 IP, 2-6, 6.50.  Overall, 3-10 this year, and more fizzle than sizzle for the Mets’ 2017 first rounder.  Hopefully, it is a building-up-innings thing, and the 2019 version of David Peterson will WOW us.


Some have impressed - let's recap.

Drew Gagnon – the 2011 3rd rounder acquired by the Mets this year was a real fizzler in other minor league AAA systems in 2016 and 2017, allowing 98 runs in 141 innings. 

In 2018 with the Mets’ AAA team and a single start in AA, though, he is 5-4, 4.78 with a solid 1.25 WHIP and 142 Ks in 130 IP.  He did have that one bad start for the Mets as a fill in, too, but much more sizzle than fizzle in 2018.  Six starts with 9 or 10 Ks is impressive, and 14 starts with 3 runs or less.  Seems like a legit MLB 6th starter type.

Justin Dunn: former 1st rounder fizzled in his 1st full year in 2017, going 5-6, 5.00 in just 95 innings, with a 1.56 WHIP. 

This year, he has been fine, yea, verily, even sizzling, at that level and in 10 post-promotion starts in AA, totaling 107 innings, 120 Ks, 7-7, 2.93 and a much improved 1.27 WHIP. 

He seems ready to make a bid for a 2019 Mets rotation spot.

Tony Dibrell - last year's debut for the 2017 4th rounder was a fizzler.  But it was short, and just a prelude to a full season.

This year, like bacon on a heating pan, the sizzle is getting hotter and hotter.  A 2.51 ERA in his last 10 starts, improving control (like 4 walks total in his last 5 starts!), and a scintillating 126 Ks in 108 innings for Columbia this year.  One clearly to watch.

Blake Taylor – the about to turn 23 year old lefty former 2nd rounder and member of the crowded Tommy John Club had a horrible season last year 1-9, 4.94 with Columbia. 

This season, he still has had his control issues and occasional bad start, but is 3-5, 4.78 in St Lucie and Vegas, where he is 2-0 in spot starts.  A lot of his bad record the past 2 seasons frankly has been a real lack of run support. 

He has nicely fanned a batter per inning this season, and pitched better of late.  Perhaps not really sizzling, but it feels like sizzle is coming.

Anthony Kay - after missing a whole season in 2017 plus his would-have-been debut season in 2016, Kay was a bit of a fizzler in Full A ball at 4-4, 4.54, but is 2-4, 3.21 in 6 starts since in high A.  The 42 walks in 103 innings needs distinct improvement, but he has fanned 106, giving us hope that a sizzling 2019 will get him close to, or into, the majors. 


Of course, no fizler/sizzler article would be complete without Marcos Molina, who kinda "sizzled" with a 3.21 ERA in 2017, but in 2018 went 1-10, 6.94 ERA and had other...ahem...issues that led the once promising righty to be released recently. 

And 22 year old former 2nd rounder Andrew Church, who sizzled at 12-8 in 2017, but fizzled at just 2-6, 6.35 ERA in 2018, prompting him to hang up the spikes mid-season.  Maybe premature, maybe not.  Life moves on.

Some guys sizzle, and sizzle some more.  Two in A ball are Joe Cavallaro and Jaison Vilera, who both sizzled in 2017 and then have pitched extremely well in 2018, too.

Lastly, some guys defy slotting, like Chris Viall, a very big power pitcher with control issues.  He sizzles in strikeouts, fizzles in other ways so far. 

A winless 0-5 in 2016 and 2017, he is a slightly better 3-7, 5.05 as a starter with Columbia this year.  147 Ks in 108.2 career innings (12.2/9 IP) makes him an intriguing dude. 

Hopefully, the 6'9" righty can mimic a former 6'10" lefty who struggled then extremely excelled, named Randy Johnson.

Subsequent articles with touch on Sizzlers and Fizzlers at the plate and in the pen.  Stay tuned, beloved readers.


Thomas Brennan said...

Looked at another way, the win-loss record of all these guys in 2018 collectively is not heartening.

Reese Kaplan said...

Other than Dunn, no one appears near the horizon to help. Expect another Jason Vargas type added by John Ricco in the off-season.

Thomas Brennan said...

After the way Molina did not bounce back from TJS, I will wait for Humphreys and Szapucki to return to see what they can do (or not do) in 2019. Had they not gotten hurt last year with TJS, the starter prospect picture might look a whole lot different right now.

I still wonder if Gagnon might turn out to be a 5th starter late bloomer.

Reese Kaplan said...

Is Viall the next Leathersich/Smoker -- guys who either strike you out or walk you (leading to bad ERAs)?

Isn't that the pitching equivalent of a Dave Kingman hitter -- launched out of sight or returned to the dugout after strike three?

Thomas Brennan said...

Viall will have managers reaching for a vial if his control does not improve.

Leathersich, by the way, has been released. He was actually pitching well - except that his control was worse than ever. His last 10.2 IP, he allowed 5 hits and a run - but walked 26 in 32 innings. Born to be wild. 517 Ks in 327 career innings, and 195 walks.

Mike Freire said...

I guess the AA "wall" is real, as Mack alludes to.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mike, Mack is right. If your arm lacks firepower, the ramp starts raising up in AA for sure. AAA in Vegas - ramp is WAY UP.

Just ask Conlon, Crismatt, and many, many others. For instance, 2 current mainstays, Gsellman and Lugo, combined to throw 11 innings for Vegas in 2016, going 4-9 and allowing 85 runs. Vegas is RAMP WAY UP. Syracuse, here we come.

Anonymous said...

A lot of good sense from Reese Kaplan today...

I concur with you on a few things.

Justin Dunn really is the only AAA Mets starter close. Sure, the Mets could try to make Drew Smith a starter, I do think that his pitch arsenal and professionalism are suitable for this. But his true calling here may be as a relief specialist. Drew probably could do either one.

Corey Oswalt has impressed me now for awhile. He was pitching another really good game against Miami over the weekend, but then slightly stumbles. But he is a rook. His other prior starts (recently) were wonderful.

I have Corey penciled in for the 2019 Mets rotation already, unless we can get like a Blake Snell or The Unit. Good luck with that! Corey will only get better from this point on. I also like his baseball mound presence, his pitch selection with his location, and his overall pitching acumen. He's a keeper.

I also concur that the Daniel Murphy and Jack Leathersich allure of the past may be gone now. The 2019 NY Mets need to be all about a youth movement, plus two or three veteran leader types to show the way.

Leathersich? Something is just off there. Smoker? No. I'd much rather concentrate now on Daniel Zamora and Dave Roseboom getting up to the Mets team.

For second base, the NY Mets have a bunch of options with the "possibility" of Peter Alonso playing first base next season. Wilmer Flores, I think, could slide over to second base. If you recall, Wilmer came up a shortstop. He can field and throw. Wilmer has really impressed me in the NY Mets lineup daily.

The Mets also have players like Jeff McNeil, Gavin Cecchini (remember him?) and perhaps too Christian Colon, all have some MLB experience. Jeff McNeil could move over to third as well.

The bullpen is still a pretty big issue. To begin with, it has been left-handed deprived all season long. Think about it a minute, if the Mets had even just one or two more really good lefty relievers, how many wins more that could have been added? My guess is maybe eight or nine wins more. This still needs to be scrutinized.

Why else is not having one or two more really decent lefties in the pen hurting this ball club so much?

Because after strong starts by one of the four good righty Mets starters, it makes some sense to transfer to lefties in order to give opposing teams "a very different look" from the left hand side. There is a psychological feature to this.

Anonymous said...

Just a wonderful and terrific NY Mets effort last night by everyone. We have to remember as Mets fans that this really is a relatively young team, one which is finding their mojo, confidence, and consistency.

If you liked to play connect the dots as a kid, back before video games took hold, this would probably be a good way to describe the 2018 NY Mets today. By that, I mean 13-1 to start the season and beating up on the crosstown rivals last night. The two dots. Now all they have to do is fill in the between in a similar fashion and presto.

Very proud of the entire NY Mets team for last night. Keep on.

Anonymous said...

On TB's old post (8/10) mentioning of arm speed for especially starters...

I concur with your assumption that especially starters do need at least a 94-95 mph fastball. But there is possibly more to this as well. Let me describe below.

My favorite starter right now, in all of MLB, is Aaron Nola on the Phils. he has a decent enough fastball, but man that curve pitch he has is deadly good.

What I am eluding to here, is that it isn't always the speed of the fastball, but the actual result of the fastball that is so important. How many times watching the NY Mets over the years, have we seen pitchers who could toss 96-99 mph fastballs, but they got hit hard anyway and consistently too, by opposing teams. They lost the game.

The "more to it" are things like the amount of movement on the pitch, the arc down and dip of those fastballs, the ability of a pitcher to hit precisely his targets set up, and can that pitcher throw a similar looking pitch with a very similar arm motion, that does something entirely slightly so that the batter cannot tell which pitch is actually coming in.

Then there is this as well, how does that starter use his second and third pitches. Can he set-up a strikeout with any one of those three pitches to fool the batter?

So yea, there are these other things to be considered here I think.

Thomas Brennan said...

Pitcher's need a collectively effective arsenal, and the brain and guts to implement the arsenal.

Mack's Mets © 2012