With all the negative press I’ve given him and with the disastrous start by Matt Harvey (0-3 ,5.71 ERA, with just 9K’s in 17 innings), you might be thinking I would be gloating right about now saying, “See, I told ya “.
But I’m not gloating. Instead, I’m disappointed because anytime a staff is put together like the one the Mets have now, it should be an opportunity to see something very special happen. Something that happens rarely in baseball when you could conceivably have three starters challenging for the Cy Young and two or even three 20 game winners. And when there is no designated “Ace” on the staff because they’re all aces.
For most fans, including myself, there is nothing more exciting than to hear the sound of the crash of the bat on a ball and watching it soar into the night for a home run. And usually , it takes a more cerebral fan to appreciate a crafty pitcher getting 27 outs against a lineup of good solid hitters. And because pitching represents the offense in baseball where everything begins, I am still hopeful that these guys do put it together and make this staff one that will be talked about for years to come.
With the Nationals looking like they have something to prove from last year’s debacle, the Mets are stumbling and as Yogi said, indeed “It does get late early out there “, even in April when the games count just as much as they do in September.
Because the Mets do have a lights out starting staff, there is no need to push the panic button just yet. But somethings gotta give soon and chances are it will not be their abominable batting averages. So, where do they go here………
For starters, they’re going to have to beat Washington in every series they play them just to make up the precious ground they have already lost. To do that, Matt Harvey has to be Matt Harvey when he faces Max Scherzer – and he can’t lose the game 3-2 and say he didn’t pitch well enough to lose. Same with Syndergaard when he squares up against Steven Stratsburg.
The other thing that seems to be haunting the Mets now is all those innings that were amassed by their young arms last year. Terry Collins appears to have his finger on that pulse when he recently said (paraphrasing), “There comes a time when you’ve just got to go out there and pitch “. No excuses……holding nothing back. You don’t, for instance, lose 6mph off your fastball if you’re Jacob DeGrom in just four months if something isn’t bothering you ……..unless you are holding something back for fear that something will bother you if you don’t listen to the naysaying pitch counters.
John Smoltz , the recent Hall of Fame inductee, talks about this all the time. Paraphrasing again, he sensibly states that, “You don’t build up arm strength by resting, you build it by pitching on a regular basis until your arm falls off.” Maybe I exaggerated a bit there, but you see his point. After all, doctors tell us all the time to exercise our heart to keep it strong. And maybe for the same reasons we don’t listen to our doctors, pitching coaches and pitchers themselves don’t bother to listen to a guru like Smoltz, who by the way had his share of injuries along the way. But, he always came back stronger……….
Interestingly, it was also Smoltz who said in a recent New York Daily News story that the Mets staff is “way better” than the Brave’s staff of the 1990’s adding that they have “more talent than we could ever have “. Mmmmm…….
So, it goes without saying that is the reason I root for the Mets this year. I want to see that staff have the kind of year that the Brave’s staff of the Nineties regularly put up on the board. Maddox,Glavine, and Smoltz……..you could set your alarm clock by them and have it ring at the end of September knowing that the Braves were on their way to another first place finish. These guys simply went out there and pitched……….. And with the exception of an occasional outburst by Smoltz……they were throwing under 90 on the gun………they were boring as hell………..all they did was win.
Now, if the Mets staff needs to average 95 to get batters out there’s something drastically wrong, not only with them, but with Dan Warthen (below left) and his staff as well. Sure, your arm is going to feel dead if you constantly need to dial it up in the first inning just so you can say, “I feel good today “.
A better choice might be to learn how to hit corners and change speeds. After all, a 85mph change up grounded to short, maynot be as glamorous as a 97 heater fired on a full count……..but guess what……they both count the same as one of 27 outs your team needs to win the game.
Pitch counts do count. But not in the way we are brainwashed into thinking about them. If Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux had more than one full count in a game, that was news the next day. Both regularly threw complete games using 90 pitches and sometimes even less. Now, that is a plateau often reached by the fourth inning. It’s no wonder there’s nothing to reach back for when they really do need a strikeout.
Perhaps it would be fitting and maybe a lesson could be learned if the Mets staff put up records like 13-13, or 12-14, and 13-12. Maybe it’s me……but I just don’t get it……….