Archive for the 'Noah Syndergaard' Category

The Climb Back To .500

The Mets have won their last four out of six games on this road trip with one game left tonight in Atlanta weather permitting.  In doing so, the Mets have moved back to three games under .500 at 12-15.  So the quickest route to the .500 mark is three more wins in a row.  But that is not often easy especially how inconsistent the Mets have been, especially their pitching.

The good news is that the Mets are finally scoring runs and last night they scored 16 of them while not hitting one home run.  They have scored a minimum of five runs in every game of the trip so far.  With their highly touted pitching, it would be easy for someone just returning from a European vacation to assume the Mets had won all six games played on the trip so far.  But two games have been lost. In one, Mets pitching gave up 23 runs and in the other they gave up 9.  That has to be concerning. What’s also alarming is the Mets have given up more runs than any other team in the National League.  Mets pitchers have yielded 147 runs compared to the Dodgers league leading mark of just 105 given up.  What is happening?

One simple answer for the starting staff is health.  Matt Harvey is still getting his act together after missing more than half a season when he had surgery to remove a rib. Steven Matz has still not thrown a pitch this year because of a balking elbow.  Zach Wheeler is pitching again for the first time in two years and it’s been a slog for him so far.  Noah Syndergaard left Sunday’s game with a lat tear that could have the ace out for as long as three months.  That leaves Jacob deGrom, the guttiest pitcher on the staff.  He didn’t pitch bad last night but only lasted three innings throwing close to 100 pitches and giving up five runs.  So if you don’t think things are out of wack with Mets pitching, consider this… The Mets big winner so far is Hansel Robles with a 4-0 record.  Granted he benefited from circumstances working in his favor but it’s just kind of weird that he has 4 wins and the most wins from Mets starters is 2 shared by deGrom and Harvey.

Of course no one really knew how the Mets pitchers would do in 2017 considering their medical history.  Harvey, Matz, and deGrom all had surgery last season (or the end of last season).  Wheeler had setbacks after Tommy John surgery and their was concern for Syndergaard although nothing was needed surgically speaking.  This whole thing is beginning to make me wonder.  Is it really prudent to stack your rotation with such hard throwers when hard throwers seem to be so susceptible to injury?  This is one reason why a pitcher like Bartolo Colon is so important (regardless of his not so great start this season). A guy that can change speeds, command the strike zone, and not reach 97 on the speed gun can be a good thing. Where are the Greg Madduxs in the major leagues these days?  If I were a GM, I would demand that my scouts find guys in the college ranks that can pitch, not necessarily impress by throwing the ball through a wall.  This is why I believe Steven Matz can be so important to this pitching staff if he can ever stay healthy.  He’s a lefty and he has some stuff in his arsenal that the others don’t, especially a great curve ball when it’s working.

So here’s the problem as I see it in regard to the Mets getting back to .500.  They are scoring a lot of runs right now but that will stop at some point. No offense in baseball can consistently put up 7 to 9 runs a night.  If the Mets only score two or three runs, the Mets pitchers will need to step up and hold the lead. So far they have not been able to do so.  When the Mets score three runs or less, their record is 0-10.  That’s not good.  The short answer is it will be up to the pitching staff for the Mets to get to .500 and then move up from there.  Until the pitching woes get straightened out, I don’t care how many runs the Mets score, they’re not going anywhere.

 

Easy To Rant Today But…

Let’s look at the bright side.  After losing six in a row, the Mets won the first two games of the Washington series in crisp fashion.  It would have been great had the Mets returned the favor and swept the Nationals but the key is to win series which they did.  Now it’s on to Atlanta where they will have the opportunity to leap frog over the Braves and move up in the standings.  Also, and fortunately, the Mets are in a division where the second through fifth team is under .500.  With a hot couple of weeks, the Mets could find themselves at least in wild card territory pulling closer to the Nationals.

Rose colored glasses?  Perhaps, but it’s still early so why get crazy?  After a 23-5 loss, you just have to shake it off.  Yes, that was an absolute embarrassment on top of the fact that Noah Syndergaard is likely out of commission for at least two months.  Did you honestly expect the Mets rotation to remain intact for an entire season?  Steven Matz, where are you?

Okay, okay, enough with the Pollyanna.  After all I am a Mets fan.

This certainly was not how it was drawn up.  The Mets finish the month of April 10-14, the worst opening month since April of 2013 when they went 10-15.  The Mets only won 74 games that season.  Since then, the Mets have not had a losing April until this year.  So what is going wrong?

There are a lot of things going wrong, the number one item again being injuries.  It’s a recurring theme every season that many Mets players get hurt.  They either end up on the disabled list or the Mets play shorthanded, a habit that I find perplexing.  So for those who are counting, the Mets are without Yoenis Cespedes (10 day DL, likely longer), Lucas Duda (had a setback in rehab assignment), Wilmer Flores (could be back sooner than later), and Noah Syndergaard (as stated above, will be gone for a long time).  Matz, Seth Lugo, and Brandon Nimmo are still mending and have yet to make an appearance in 2017. Let’s not forget David Wright whose career could realistically be over.  What a shame for such a franchise player, Wright could very well be our Don Mattingly.  The Mets just cannot stay healthy and while every team suffers injuries, the Mets usually seem to have it happen to key players.

Performance is also an issue.  Curtis Granderson is off to yet another horrendous start.  While Travis d’Arnaud has shown some good signs lately, he’s not lived up to being the offensive catcher he was billed as.  Jose Reyes woke up but his start was just awful so who knows how long his hot streak will continue.  Asdrubal Cabrera is playing hurt and Neil Walker has struggled so far this year too.  Certainly letting Daniel Murphy go to the Nationals before last season is looking bad today.  There are just too many automatic outs in the Mets lineup.

The Mets are missing a prototypical leadoff hitter.  Reyes has one stolen base this year and neither he nor Granderson get on enough to be heading the lineup.  Michael Conforto is the one pleasant positive this season.  He doesn’t have the speed you would associate with a leadoff hitter but he gets on a lot because he hits well and can take a walk.

The Mets bullpen, as if yesterday’s performance didn’t show, has also been a problem.  But what came first, the chicken or the egg?  Is the bullpen really that bad or is it bad because the highly touted starting staff is not going deep into games?   Syndergaard leaves with an injury in the second inning on Sunday, Zach Wheeler doesn’t make it through five on Saturday but Jacob deGrom did pitch 7 innings on Friday night.  Fact is however, the bullpen is beat and perhaps the Mets will miss Bartolo Colon more than they ever expected.

It looks as if the current rebuild is falling flat.  A few years ago we heard a lot about getting younger and more athletic.  Certainly Conforto fits that profile and no one is questioning the signing of Cespedes who is 30, not with his tools.  But some of the other Mets players are simply unreliable, specifically Duda and d’Arnaud.  Meanwhile the other team in town quietly rebuilds never having a season under .500 and looks to be poised for a brand new dynasty.   So some blame must go to the Mets front office and their scouting staff.  We always here so many wonderful things about Mets prospects—okay so where are they?

In 23 games at Las Vegas, highly touted shortstop prospect Amed Rosario is hitting .404.  Yes the Pacific Coast League is a hitter’s league but hitting over .400 is great no matter what league.  Could the Mets use a better shortstop right now?  Ah… yes they could.  Dominic Smith, first baseman also with the 51s, is hitting .337 and has driven in 15.  Could the Mets use a new first baseman?  Ah… yes, perhaps.  So what is the problem here?  The Mets could get younger tomorrow at two positions but yet we continue to wait.  Are the Mets too conservative or are these players really not as good as the hype makes them sound?

One idea I heard isn’t so bad.  Move Cabrera and his balking legs to third and put Reyes back at short.  If the Mets refuse to promote Rosario, perhaps that’s a way to go.  But again, the Mets hierarchy never likes to upset the applecart so expect to see little if any change moving into May.

Whatever the Mets current woes are, there is a very long way to go.  I guess if the Mets didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all.  But at some point, this team better get its act together or 2017 will turn out to be a very disappointing season.

Now about getting shellacked 23-5.  A loss is a loss.  As I said, the Mets won the series and clearly that is a step in the right direction.  Regardless of Sunday’s forgettable game unless you are a Nationals fan, the Mets ended the month on a good note.  Historically it was the Mets second worst drubbing in franchise history.  The first came back in 1985, the Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling, Mets.  On June 11 of that season, the Mets lost in Philadelphia by a score of 26-7.  Davey Johnson told his players afterwards to never forget that game.  Hopefully Terry Collins did the same yesterday afternoon before boarding the charter to Atlanta.  Oh and in that ’85 season, that was one of just 64 losses to the Mets’ 98 wins, still not enough to take the division from the Cardinals.

Update: Just as I am posting this, it has been announced that Syndergaard has a partially torn lat and will likely be out until the end of June or early July.