Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Miserable Mets

Friday, April 28, 2017


The transformation is complete. After chipping away for weeks, the New York Mets have finally become the New York Knicks.

Long losing streaks, injured stars, locker room drama, all that’s missing is the triangle offense. The Mets’ latest loss—a 7-5 defeat to Atlanta Thursday at Citi Field—got so out of hand I half-expected Charles Oakley to be dragged out of the stadium.

Like New York’s widely mocked basketball team that Phil Jackson insists on running into the ground, the Mets have settled into a nice sweet spot between Greek tragedy and reality-show train-wreck. Thursday had elements of both.

The Mets boast three of the best young starters in baseball and none of them can catch a break. Noah Syndergaard, a cannon-armed 24-year-old with hair like early-90s Jaromir Jagr, may be the most talented of the bunch. He’s shown that by posting a sleek 1.73 ERA with a 30/0 strikeout to walk ratio over 26 outstanding innings this season. But as Syndergaard has learned time and again, there’s a price to be paid for such dominance. Thor (as he’s known by Mets fans) has battled blisters for much of the season, even requiring the assistance of a glued-on fingernail in his last start.

Those issues were just the beginning. Syndergaard was scheduled to start Wednesday against Atlanta, but a rainout on Tuesday night pushed his outing back to Thursday. When Thursday rolled around, Syndergaard still wasn’t ready to pitch. The Mets scratched him with biceps tendinitis and immediately sent him for an MRI. It’s a shame that Syndergaard wasn’t able to pitch on Thursday because he would have gone against R.A. Dickey, one of the players he was traded for in December of 2012.

Matt Harvey, who had been planning to start Friday’s series opener against the Nationals, was asked to make an emergency start in Thor’s place. The result was as disastrous as you’d expect. Harvey let in six runs, all of them earned, over 4 1/3 listless innings before giving way to the bullpen. He took his first loss of the season while watching his ERA balloon from 2.84 to 4.25.

“I wasn’t really physically prepared for starting today,” Harvey admitted after the game, while adding that he learned he was pitching at 10 AM. Whoa, whoa, whoa. You mean to tell me the Mets, who were fully aware of the situation with Syndergaard, didn’t bother to clue Harvey in until three hours before first pitch? Not even a quick text message the night before? I wonder if the news was delivered to him by carrier pigeon.

Because he was scheduled to pitch Friday, Harvey put himself through a rigorous workout on Wednesday and was planning to use Thursday as a recovery day. Instead he threw 86 pitches. This would be a bizarre way to handle any pitcher, let alone one with an injury history as vast and complicated as Harvey’s. If you’re going to throw someone into the fire, let it be someone who hasn’t undergone Tommy John and thoracic outlet surgery within the last few years. Harvey was set up to fail and so were the Mets. That’s why they’ve lost six in a row and sit in last place in the NL East.

 

Editor’s Note: Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball: Get in the game and create or join a league today.

 

To be fair, Syndergaard’s surprise absence put the Mets in a near-impossible position. Unlike many organizations where the Triple-A squad plays right around the corner from the parent club, New York pulls its players from Las Vegas out in the Pacific Coast League. Flying a minor leaguer across the country on short notice, especially with an afternoon start, wouldn’t have been feasible.

On Tuesday we saw the Rays, who were trying to make do without injured starter Jake Odorizzi, have success using all relief pitchers in a “bullpen game” against the Indians. It’s a nice thought, but it wouldn’t have worked for the Mets. Manager Terry Collins’ overuse of relievers like Fernando Salas, Hansel Robles and Josh Smoker has bordered on reckless. Adding more innings to their tally in a wild bullpen free-for-all wouldn’t have been the best use of those resources.

Syndergaard wasn’t a happy camper on Thursday, stonewalling reporters who flocked to his locker while chewing out Mets PR director Jay Horwitz for letting the media anywhere near him. Reporters are paid to ask questions and Syndergaard should be used to this by now, playing for a team in the biggest media market in the country, if not the world. But I also understand the frustration attached to this losing streak and the uncertainty Thor faces not knowing when he might pitch again.

Between the Harvey debacle and Syndergaard’s pouting, the Mets had plenty on their dance card without having to deal with another unexpected crisis. But when it rains, it pours. In just his second game back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the entirety of last weekend’s series against Washington, Yoenis Cespedes pulled up lame while legging out a double on Thursday afternoon.

Cespedes was immediately replaced by Juan Lagares on the base paths and diagnosed with a strained left hamstring. He’ll head for an MRI on Friday, his second in as many weeks. Cespedes is certain to land on the disabled list and Collins is under the impression he’ll be out “a while.” Yo will be joining a disabled list chock full of big names including Lucas Duda (elbow), Steven Matz (elbow) and David Wright (shoulder).

Cespedes will likely head to the Mets’ spring training facility in St. Lucie for his rehab. The All-Star outfielder leads the Mets in slugging percentage (.619), OPS (.992) and is tied for the team lead with six homers this year. In other words, he’s irreplaceable. The Mets have dug a sizeable hole for themselves by losing nine of their last 10. Climbing out of it won’t be easy without Cespedes.

The Mets overcame a mountain of injuries to claim a Wild Card berth last season and there’s no reason to think they can't do the same in 2017. For all we know Syndergaard’s injury could be a false alarm and the Mets still have Jacob deGrom ready to throw fire every fifth day as well as a capable Matt Harvey (when used correctly). Last year’s MLB saves leader Jeurys Familia is no slouch either. These are important contributors and players any team would love to have at their disposal. But seeing is believing and right now, the Mets aren’t passing the eye test.


Editor’s Note: Get our MLB Draft Guide + Season Pass ($39.99 value) for FREE with your first deposit on FanDuel! Click here to claim now.

 

 

AL Quick Hits: Dustin Pedroia (ankle, knee) returned from a three-game absence on Thursday and went 0-for-4 in Boston’s 3-0 loss to the Yankees. Pedroia was injured on a hard slide by Manny Machado last Friday… Masahiro Tanaka pitched a Maddux on Thursday. That’s a complete game shutout in under 100 pitches. Tanaka’s gem was the first shutout by a Yankees pitcher at Fenway Park since Mike Mussina did it on August 28, 2002. At just two hours and 21 minutes, Thursday also represented the fastest Red Sox/Yankees game played in almost 23 years… Jose Altuve (head) and George Springer (hamstring) were out of the Astros’ starting nine on Thursday, though Altuve came on as a pinch-hitter and singled in the ninth inning against Cleveland. Both players should be back in the lineup later this weekend… Didi Gregorius will be activated from the disabled list on Friday. The Yankees’ shortstop suffered a shoulder injury while representing the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic in March… Aaron Sanchez is expected to return Sunday against the Rays after missing time with a finger injury. The Blue Jays’ right-hander led the American League with a 3.00 ERA last season… Jose Iglesias was activated from the DL Thursday and went 0-for-3 in Detroit’s loss to Seattle. A concussion kept him out for a week… Roberto Osuna blew his third save of the season in Thursday’s defeat at St. Louis. The Blue Jays lead the majors with seven blown saves this season… Kyle Seager returned for the Mariners Thursday after sitting out the previous three games with a sore hip. He drove in a run and scored another in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory ... Taylor Motter has made a name for himself with his bat this year (five homers, 13 RBI) but he stole the show with his glove on Thursday. Check out his phenomenal game-sealing catch against the Tigers … Sean Manaea left Wednesday’s start against the Angels with left shoulder tightness but will play catch on Friday and is hoping to make his next start Tuesday against Minnesota. Manaea’s fastball usually sits in the 93-95 mph range but he was down around 86-88 mph on Wednesday… Sonny Gray fired six scoreless innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on Thursday. Gray suffered a strained lat early in spring training but should be back in the Athletics’ rotation sometime next week … Kendall Graveman (shoulder) returned to the mound Thursday following a two-week stint on the disabled list. While he wasn’t able to pick up the win, Graveman showed off his ninja skills with this incredible double play.


NL Quick Hits: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts isn’t sure if Rich Hill will return to the starting rotation when he comes off the disabled list. Hill has been battling blister issues on and off since last summer and might be better utilized out of the pen… 20-year-old Julio Urias looked sharp in his first start of the year for the Dodgers. The left-hander scattered four hits, one run and four walks over 5 2/3 innings Thursday in a no-decision against the Giants… Denard Span (shoulder) said his MRI showed “nothing alarming,” though team doctors and a radiologist will look at his results again Friday just to make sure. He’s hoping to be back in a couple of weeks… Matt Carpenter bashed a walk-off grand slam to beat the Blue Jays Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader. It was the Cardinals’ first walk-off grand slam since 2008… Ian Desmond (broken hand) will begin playing in extended spring training games on Friday. The Rockies signed Desmond to be their everyday first baseman but he’s expected to play multiple positions during his rehab assignment… Trea Turner went 11-for-21 with two homers and 11 RBI during Washington’s four-game series at Colorado while raising his average from .214 to .347. The Nats scored 46 runs in the series with 11 of those coming in the seventh inning of Thursday’s 16-5 win.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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