The baseball gods giveth, and the baseball gods taketh away.
This morning we hear that the curse of Team Tender strikes again. Steven Matz has been sidelined with a tender elbow. What else is new? This is just a reminder that Steven Matz’s endless battle with arm tenderness will continue to be a thing this season.
The Mets say he’ll miss a start, and then they will re-evaluate the situation.
Translation: The Mets will force him to pitch through pain just like they did last season. Pray for Matz.
Then during today’s Grapefruit League game we see Matt Harvey step on the mound and pitch a nice game. His fastball had some life, he was able to locate his slider, and he was efficient over 6 innings. Sure he only faced a few of the Braves’ regular players, but it was nice to see a solid outing from Harvey especially considering the Matz news.
The Mets pitching situation is really precarious in my opinion. On the surface it looks like they have depth. The “experts” all talk about how the Mets rotation is stacked with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo. Seven pitchers for five spots! Wow. But in reality the Mets could wind up short-handed in no time at all. First of all, teams normally use seven or more starting pitchers during the season. Realistically teams use more like 10 starters over the course of the year.
If the Mets are able to get close to 200 innings from at least three of these starting pitchers the team should be in great shape. But is that realistic? None of the seven pitchers I mentioned above have ever tossed 200 innings. Not one of them. They’ve all had serious arm injuries. Most of them have had arm surgeries. Right now I’m penciling in Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom as our horses. And they aren’t guaranteed locks to be healthy. I’m afraid to rely on Matt Harvey for anything. His thoracic outlet surgery was a serious, career threatening procedure, and it’s not really fair to expect him to return to his 2015 form this season or in the future.
Have you noticed that the Mets are really hyping up Rafael Montero this spring? They love what they are seeing from him. I think in reality the organization is starting to realize what could happen if Team Tender turns into Team DL, and we’re left with Rafael Montero making meaningful starts during the season. They’re preemptively giving Montero a vote of confidence because they can see how close he is to cracking the rotation depth chart.
Just cross your fingers and light your candles for Thor and deGrom. If they can stay healthy we should be able to piece together the rest of the innings from the other starting pitchers. If we are fortunate enough to get a solid full season from one of the other guys (Harvey, Matz, Wheeler, Gsellman, or Lugo) the rotation should be in great shape.
If not, Sandy will likely be left frantically searching for a contingency plan like Montero or worse…Jon Niese.