When Matt Harvey was diagnosed with his UCL tear my initial reaction was the sad resignation to an even longer wait for relevance. I wondered, with all our pitching depth, whether any rotation could absorb the loss of Harvey. Oddly enough, the Mets as currently constituted are in perhaps one of the best positions in baseball when it comes to absorbing the loss of a starter, even, apparently, a front of the rotation starter.
I was watching Zack Wheeler the other day … it’s funny because we think of Harvey as this bulldog competitor, but I swear if I were a member of an opposing fanbase Wheeler is the guy who’d tick me off. He is nasty and he appears to have a thing for kneecaps … the hitters were not comfortable. I actually think his wildness works in his favor. You have to love it as a Met fan. The Mets, wins and losses be damned, have nevertheless been able to employ a two and sometimes three starter combination pitching at an ace or close to ace level for much of this season, and, are well-positioned to absorb the loss of Bartolo Colon.
Are we there yet? Have we reached the promised land, that “critical mass” that triggers a tipping point, a steel ball rolling down a chute? The short answer is that, yes, we may in fact be seeing the early returns on the strategy as articulated by Paul DePodesta — namely stockpiling starters of all sorts and sizes system wide.
Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, yes Matz! The bottom line is that the NY Mets have a ton of pitching and are deep at every level in their minor leagues at a time when pitching is at an even greater premium. You couldn’t have scripted it any better if you tried.
Sandy Alderson stockpiles a commodity that a rash of elbow injuries makes even shorter … Aren’t there laws about that sort of thing? I mean, was it arranged? You know, like how you might take out your competition’s supply so that you can boost your prices on the street … isn’t that how the drug cartels do it in the movies? But then that would imply that Sandy Alderson is behind this rash of TJ injuries which I’m afraid might be beyond even his own substantial powers.
If my calculations are correct, my friends, and if the stars align and the ashes fall as I believe they will. We are, by several indicators, poised for a bit of a run. It’s this idea that good second half teams (the Cardinals come to mind but the Mets last year weren’t bad either) resist the natural attrition of a 162 game slog with good organizational pitching depth. The deeper the team’s pitching, the greater the likelihood that team will outperform it’s competition in the second half.
At a time when most teams are scrambling to fill rotation spots, we have two of our converted starters setting up and closing games, while another is being shopped. The bullpen, in line with the notion that organizational depth and bullpen effectiveness tend to be convergent, is yet another indicator that we may have in fact reached “critical mass.” Our bullpen with a lead has been a death knell to opposing offenses from the 7th inning on. It’s been one Mejia hulk stomp after another lately. And the arms just keep coming.
It’s early and wildly presumptuous but I’m calling it …
Hold onto your seats folks, it’s about to get interesting in Flushing.