The New York Mets are currently enduring a horrific season in terms of what they initially expected prior to the season and considering the lack of experience the rotation possesses it should’ve been expected. The Mets were blinded by the media gratifying their rotation before they even managed to walk the walk.
The head of the rotation was developing a big head as Noah Syndergaard openly discussed a new training regime that would help build more muscle thus leading to throwing even harder. Syndergaard was and still is a big part of the new wave of the current Mets era, but when things didn’t go his way, he proved he was not equipped to deal with off the field issues properly. Take the example of Syndergaard refusing to talk to the media about his sore arm after he turned down an MRI. Syndergaard reportedly took issue with the longtime Mets PR agent Jay Horowitz and reportedly going off on him for allowing the media to approach him. It seems accurate to say the fall from grace is steep and swift as Syndergaard is currently enduring as he remains on the shelf with no timetable for his return.
Matt Harvey has never shied away from the spotlight ever since he came on the scene in 2012, but sadly the next five years would be scarred by injuries, missed practices, high pitch counts, and inconsistency. This year alone Harvey found himself in a negative light as he no-showed a game in Citi Field and was suspended by the team, which led to an unexpected call up of an inexperienced Adam Wilk in a game the Mets went on to lose 7-0. The strange occurrence was the second time Harvey no-showed his team, and this time his excuse of a migraine and reports of a split with his girlfriend only caused Mets fans an even bigger migraine. Harvey is coming off major surgery to fix thoracic outlet syndrome last season and this year was set to be a clean slate for the 28-year-old, but it just so happens that he cannot seem to either remain consistent on the mound or get out of his own way off the field. Harvey’s history even before the season should’ve had him as a question mark at best entering the season, but instead fans were quick to relish the idea of having a young rotation of hard throwers with long lists of injuries. Harvey’s association with agent Scott Boras almost guarantees he won’t be a Met after the 2018 season when he is eligible for free agency.
Speaking of injuries, nobody has dealt with injuries quite as often as Steven Matz. Matz has been battling injuries since before he even made it to the big leagues. Drafted in 2009, Matz was initially viewed as one of the Mets top pitching prospects even before Harvey and company, but underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010. Two years later he was able to pitch professionally as a Met, but when he finally got his call up in 2015 it was followed by a torn lat muscle that took him out of action for two months after six strong starts. The 2016 season started off strong for the lefty, but his struggles in June were due to an issue with his elbow, which led to a DL stint in August and eventual elbow surgery in late September to remove bone chips from said elbow. This season Matz started the season on the DL with elbow discomfort, which he stated was diagnosed as a strained flexor tendon, but he is scheduled to make his 2017 season debut next weekend. The injury history should’ve been an indication that despite the Mets believing they had all the starting pitching depth in the world to start the season, they were dead wrong.
Part of the depth was the pleasant surprise in the World Baseball Classic, Seth Lugo, but unfortunately a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear in his pitching elbow caught the Mets off guard even more prior to the season. Lugo was once in line for the final spot in the rotation, but now he is viewed as the potential stopper of a series of shortened starts by the battle-hardened Mets rotation. Lugo’s inclusion in the rotation was never set in stone due to Robert Gsellman’s astounding spring training performance, but we were quick to forget that Gsellman is still a rookie and currently facing adversity for the first time at the major league level and it couldn’t happen at a worst time. Gsellman is sporting an ERA above five although his last two starts since pitching out of the bullpen have been encouraging.
Jacob deGrom is currently experiencing Dr. Jeckyl Mr. Hyde syndrome, but two consecutive bad starts shouldn’t be a cause of concern since deGrom doesn’t appear to be dealing with an injury.
“I feel fine. That’s what’s frustrating about it,” deGrom said following his start against the Rangers, after giving up 8 runs.
He continued, “I feel good. Just don’t know where the ball is going right now.”
The extra day rest appeared to have done more bad than good, but unfortunately when the season is going as bad as its going the pressure is on to get out of the funk sooner than later. On a positive note, the Mets most consistent pitcher thus far is unexpectedly Zack Wheeler who has his fair share of injuries coming into the season.
Last season was a frustrating one as the final piece of the Mets young rotation experienced setback after setback following Tommy John surgery before the start of the 2015 season. Although it might be pessimistic to expect another injury from Wheeler heading into this season considering he was questionable at the start of the season. The Mets knew entering the season that they will be careful in handling his innings limit coming off major surgery. Surely the Mets would have some sort of plan heading into the latter portion of the season. Sadly, an already depleted bullpen will only worsen as Wheeler’s starts are closely monitored in a few months.
It’s okay to be hopeful with the return of Yoenis Cespedes, Steven Matz, and Seth Lugo becoming a reality, but what is important is to hold the Mets accountable for their arrogance heading into the season. It’s true that on paper the Mets rotation is rich in talent, but we don’t live in a perfect world and if history has taught us anything it’s that injuries, front office shenanigans and young Mets pitchers will always coincide with one another.