Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Met-pocalypse

Friday, June 16, 2017


Remember when 50 Cent threw out the first pitch at Citi Field a few years ago? With the way things are going, he might end up in the Mets’ starting rotation.

 

Say what you will about 50’s technique (spoiler: it’s awful), but at least he’s healthy. Every team battles injuries, but never like this. The Mets seem to have unlocked a portal into some other dimension where bad luck is the only currency.

 

What’s been especially cruel about New York’s recent wave of injuries is that just a few days ago, it looked like everything was looking up. The prodigal son Yoenis Cespedes returned from the disabled list Saturday, as did left-hander Steven Matz. Both made their presence felt immediately with Cespedes cranking a grand slam in his first game back while Matz scattered five hits and one run over seven dominant frames in his season debut against the Braves. Seth Lugo enjoyed similar success on Sunday, returning to throw seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. The Mets had their best hitter back along with two capable starting pitchers—what could go wrong?

 

The first domino fell Tuesday when a sprained thumb landed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on the 10-day disabled list. Matt Harvey will soon join him after laboring through shoulder soreness in an abbreviated outing Wednesday against the Cubs. As if the DL wasn’t overpopulated enough, the Mets would have to make room for one more after Neil Walker suffered a partially torn hamstring on Wednesday. To recap, in less than 48 hours the Mets lost one of their best starting pitchers (in theory, at least) and both of their starting middle infielders (I almost typed middle finger. Must have had Mr. Met on the brain).

 

If only that had been the end of it. Noah Syndergaard, already shelved with a partially torn lat muscle, got more bad news Thursday when the Mets announced that he’ll have to rest at least four more weeks before he picks up a baseball again. By the time he finally does, the Mets might already be out of the pennant race. At that point, shutting Syndergaard down for the year would probably be the correct course of action, not that it would help fantasy owners any.

 

Michael Conforto has been a quiet savior for the Mets, a rare bright spot in what has otherwise been a lost season. But even he hasn’t been immune to the festering injury bug that has taken over Citi Field. Conforto hasn’t started a game since Sunday while nursing a stiff back, though his pinch-hitting appearances on Wednesday and Thursday suggest he could be back any day now. The Mets will probably need him after losing another outfielder on Thursday night.

 

Juan Lagares was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning, mere minutes after a trainer was called out to check on him in center field. X-rays showed a fractured IP joint in his left thumb, which happens to be the same thumb he had surgery on last summer. Matt Reynolds was scratched from his game Thursday night at Triple-A Las Vegas, which would seem to indicate that he’s heading to New York to replace Lagares.

 

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Even Cespedes has been a bit of a head-scratcher since coming off the disabled list. Thursday was only his fourth start in seven games. Clearly the Mets are looking to ease Cespedes in, which might not be the worst idea given how fragile he’s been in recent years. Either way, it’s concerning that Cespedes has essentially been a part-time player since coming back, though the Mets plan to rectify that this weekend by playing him in three straight games. He’ll rest Sunday before hopefully resuming his role as the Mets’ everyday left fielder. Even with his hamstring and heel barking, Cespedes has shown no signs of rust at the plate, collecting seven hits in 16 at-bats since coming off the DL.

 

Having Matz and Lugo back in the rotation lessens the blow of losing Harvey, but his innings still need to be accounted for. The Mets have been rolling with a six-man rotation and it looks like they’re going to stay with that alignment, even with Harvey sidelined. Rookie Tyler Pill, who was up with the team earlier this month, could be called back when the Mets need a sixth starter Tuesday against the Dodgers. Another possibility is Rafael Montero, though he hasn’t shown much in his 14 outings this year (7.15 ERA, 2.21 WHIP over 22 2/3 innings).

 

With Cabrera and Walker both sidelined, this would have been the perfect opportunity for the Mets to finally promote Amed Rosario to the big leagues. Scouts have salivated over Rosario for years, anxiously awaiting his arrival in Flushing. The 21-year-old has nothing left to prove in the minors—he’s hit a convincing .336 with seven homers, 47 RBI and 12 steals for Triple-A Las Vegas this year—and currently holds the No. 3 position on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. But for some reason, GM Sandy Alderson is still reluctant to let him loose in the big leagues. Often teams will keep a prized prospect in the minors to delay their free agency but the Super Two cutoff has already passed, so service time wouldn’t be an issue for Rosario. So what’s the hold-up, Sandy?

 

“We view Rosario as a possible long-term answer for us. We don’t necessarily view him as a short-term fix,” Alderson explained. “It’s broader, little more multi-faceted question for us. And to this point, what we felt and what we continue to feel is that he will benefit from more time in Las Vegas.” Watching Rosario, the crown jewel of New York’s farm system, strut his stuff at Citi Field would have been a great consolation prize for a season seemingly headed nowhere. But Alderson has said from Day 1 that when Rosario does get the call to the big leagues, he won’t be going back to the minors.

 

Most organizations agree that it’s better for a prospect to develop by playing every day in the minor leagues rather than wasting away on a major league bench and that seems to be the thought process here with Rosario. With Alderson intent on stashing Rosario in Vegas, it looks like Jose Reyes will man shortstop in Cabrera’s absence while T.J. Rivera fills in for Walker at second base. With David Wright still out indefinitely, the hot corner will belong to utility man Wilmer Flores.

 

After all that, the Mets had to play the first-place Nationals on Thursday night. It went about as well as you’d expect. Bryce Harper almost took Jay Bruce’s head off with the ricochet from his home run off Robert Gsellman while Daniel Murphy tormented his ex-team with three hits including a two-run triple in the fifth inning. The Nats coasted to an effortless 8-3 win, increasing their lead to 9.5 games in the NL East.

 

Thursday the Mets also announced their plan to install additional safety nets along the first and third base lines by the All-Star break. That way at least fans won’t have to go on the disabled list.

 

AL Quick Hits: The Red Sox announced that Tyler Thornburg will undergo season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Thornburg was acquired this offseason in a trade that sent Travis Shaw to Milwaukee. He’s expected to be ready for the start of next season … In other Red Sox news, Brian Johnson was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder impingement. Hector Velazquez will absorb his spot in the starting rotation … Chris Sale yielded just one run in a complete game loss Thursday against the Phillies. He allowed his only run in the eighth inning, which came minutes after he crushed a double over the head of Phillies left fielder Daniel Nava. Thursday was Sale’s first loss since April 27 … A’s third base prospect Matt Chapman made his big league debut Thursday against the Yankees. He went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks in Oakland’s 8-7 victory. To clear a roster spot for Chapman, the A’s designated Trevor Plouffe for assignment. That had to be a pretty crummy 31st birthday present … The A’s fired pitching coach Curt Young on Thursday and replaced him with bullpen coach Scott Emerson. Young had been the team’s pitching coach since 2012 … CC Sabathia landed on the DL with a strained left hamstring. The injury could cost him up to four weeks. Chad Green, Domingo German and Luis Cessa are candidates to replace him in the starting rotation … Greg Bird was pulled from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after fouling a ball off his right knee on Wednesday night. He’s headed back to New York to visit team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmed … Carlos Gomez (hamstring) and Mike Napoli (back) participated in rehab games for Double-A Frisco on Thursday night. Both players are hoping to be activated Friday against Seattle … Miguel Cabrera slugged a walk-off home run in Thursday’s win over the Rays. Cabrera admitted that his back has been bothering him recently but you wouldn’t know it by the way he’s been hitting. The 34-year-old has posted a .409 average during his five-game hitting streak.

 

NL Quick Hits: Tom Murphy made his season debut Thursday after sitting out the first two months with a fractured wrist. He went 0-for-3 with a walk as the Rockies held on for a 10-9 win over the Giants … Buster Posey and Eduardo Nunez both left with injuries in Thursday night’s loss to Colorado. Posey exited with ankle soreness after hitting a home run while Nunez felt his hamstring tighten up after legging out an infield single. Both are considered day-to-day … Keon Broxton mashed a 489-foot homer in Thursday’s victory over St. Louis. It was the longest home run in the 11-year history of Busch Stadium and the second-longest in the majors this year behind Aaron Judge’s 495-foot blast Sunday against Baltimore … A triceps strain sent Kolten Wong to the disabled list on Thursday. The 26-year-old has had a productive season for the Cardinals, slashing .301/.393/.444 over 153 at-bats … Julio Urias was placed on the disabled list at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He’s dealing with minor shoulder inflammation, though his MRI ruled out any structural damage. 



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