Category Archives: Playoffs rotation

IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS EVE….

Baseball’s Showcase or Fall Classic as it has been historically termed,  comes to life beginning tomorrow night. After 162 regular seasonFB_IMG_1445889516448 games and two playoff series, only two teams remain standing. The World Series is also, in many ways, baseball’s last stand before the NFL seizes the attention of sports fans until next February when the cycle renews itself and 30 teams arrive in Florida or Arizona with the sole purpose of being one of the two teams here in 2016.

For fans like myself, it usually doesn’t matter whose playing. MLBtrophyBut this year, it feels like Christmas Eve now because we can anticipate a series of gifts that may leave us gasping for breath – as was the case last year when the Royals took the Giants to the final out of the seventh game with a final score of 1-0.

The first gift I want to see opened is the contest between the Met strike out pitching and the put the ball in play Royals. Remember, the Royals don’t walk a lot – but they also don’t strike out a lot either. In fact, the Royals struck out the fewest number of times of any team in baseball ( beating the next closest team by almost 300 fewer whiffs). 

The other gift I can’t wait to see opened is the one with the image (1)fans wrapped inside. These are two great baseball cities and the players are excited about performing in front of them. You may not realize it but Kansas City is an integral part of baseball history and their fans know it. The Monarchs were the vanguard team in the (then) Negro Leagues. And there is a must stop visit to the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City that is a must for all fans. And the Mets, of course, have New York City as their backdrop. And judging by the newspapers and the amount of ink being used around here, this is BIG!

Indeed, Christmas comes early for fans of baseball……….

GET IT WHILE YOU CAN – OR NOT?

 We can all recall the decision of the Washington Nationals to shut Stephen Strasburg down prior to their Playoff appearance a couple of seasons ago – and we all know the ensuing history whereby the Nationals are still waiting for a return visit. The reason XXX C01 ANDREWS 25 S ALfor their decision was that he was coming back from “Tommy John” surgery performed by the pioneering Dr. James Andrews (left) and they wanted to protect him from another injury.

Unfolding now is a similar dilemma faced by the New York Mets as we await the start of the World Series on Tuesday. Except in this, we have not just one but four tender and spectacularly young arms in play, images-23with two of them (Harvey and Matz) in the rebound year of  their surgeries. Adding to the drama are the events surrounding Matt Harvey and his agent Scott Boras late in the season when both nearly tore the team apart when they declared a 180 innings limit for “The Brat”. Luckily, Doc Gooden and others stepped in to reason with Harvey and the fiasco fizzled out.

Nevertheless, all four of the Mets starting pitchers are approaching or have already surpassed their highestimages-33 inning totals in their brief career. In fact, in Harvey’s case, if he indeed starts game one (probable but not yetimages-38 written in stone), and if the Series is extended beyond four or five games, he will have pitched the most innings ever for a player coming back from surgery, and this includes Tommy John himself. 

As it was for the Nationals, this almost certainly is a lose-lose proposition for the Mets. Because if they play it safe by shutting down one or possibly even more of these young studs and lose the Series, they’ll have all winter to answer to that decision. On the other hand, if they win the Series and one or more of them suffers a career threatening injury, they’ll have all winter to answer to that decision. 

I’m of the mind that they (and in particular Dan Warthen, their underrated pitching coach) should look closely at their mechanics and body language when they are throwing. If one or more of them “looks” different now from the way they looked in July, then that should be a red flag demonstrating possible strain that could lead to injury. In this regard, Jacob DeGrom deserves a close look as he’s seemed a bit “off” in his last two starts, even though in both he was able to grind it out and secure two wins. As with Strasburg, this must be a management decision since all of them are too young to know their own bodies yet. Plus, they’re all bulldogs with a competitive edge and they’ll never shut themselves down voluntarily.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the Mets have two proven and stable starters on call in the ageless Bartolo Colon (left) images-51and Jonathan Niese who bounced back nicely in his last few starts when there was serious discussion about him even being on the Playoff roster. But in the end, it should be a “feel” decision made by the Mets and it should be done individually and not collectively. The Nationals were wrong when they shut Strasburg down even before the Playoffs began. To their credit, the Mets didn’t do that even when they could have when Harvey gave them the chance to. They hung in there and so did Harvey. Now, it’s game on! Continue reading

CC SABATHIA – MANNING UP

Every once in a while we get a jolt that reminds us that the men who play the boys game we love so dearly are just that……men…..who like us all have frailties. We may tend to look at (and want to believe in)  the caricature we see on the playing field day in and day out as though they were some kind of a wind up toy you send out there until the batteries fade or die out completely. That mirage often coincides with the image of baseball as America’s Pastime and pastoral ambiance. It works well until it doesn’t……..

You might recall, for instance, the piece I wrote about Wilmer Flores who was captured on camera New York Yankeesweeping when he thought he was being traded to another team, when in fact all he was doing is expressing his humanity. It is in this same vein that I believe we should look at the events of the past few days pertaining to CC Sabathia.

CC Sabathia is a man who carried the Yankee’s pitching staff on his back from the Championship season of 2009 through last year when a knee injury and resulting surgery virtually left him for dead with many scribes (including myself) wondering if he would ever pitch for the Yankees again. In truth, he probably struggled with his  need to to learn how to pitch again without his 95mph fastball as much as the illness that was challenging him. These are the stories we will never know……the why and the how……and have no right to know (Shame on the story in the N.Y. Post today). 

All we need to know is that CC is taking care of business for his family and loved ones. Are we shocked and disappointed about the timing of his move forward to rehab with the Playoffs looming? Of course we are, but you can be sure that everyone in that Clubhouse supports his decision to a man because they are the “robots” who go out there to perform for us……….and they get it because they know what it’s like to be on stage in “The Show”.  Good luck CC and we look forward to seeing you on the mound next year……….healing and healthy.

“MATT THE BRAT” – A BIG PAIN IN THE METS BRASS

Already at the young age of 26, Matt (“The Brat”) Harvey is at a critical turning point in his career not only with the Mets, but in New York City as well. What has unfolded over the last week and continues to confuse and alarm Metland moving forward towards the Playoffs leaves everyone gasping for breath and thinking…..”You can’t make this stuff up”.

Here’s a quick recap. Throughout all of the previous year while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, Harvey hounded and cajoled the Mets to pitch in Septemberimages-28,images-17 well before the normal recovery time. They wisely refused telling him in so many words….”Shut up and do your work”. This year in the beginning of Spring Training, the Mets brass (GM Sandy Alderson and field manager Terry Collins) got together and came up with a soft number of 180-185 innings for Harvey to pitch before they would turn their stallion stud loose next year.

Then as the Mets playoff possibilities emerged, they decided to skip one or two of his starts to save the innings for October. Harvey balks loudly in the media saying repeatedly “I am ready to pitch not only now but in October and beyond”. Later (much later) he recants agreeing to go along with a six man rotation the Mets can easily afford. So far so good, right? The man’s a bulldog and just what is needed in a Ace.

Not so fast. This week, his agent Scott Boras (the Donald Trump of player agents) comes out swinging and says that Harvey (based on his surgeon’s images-44recommendations) images-35will only pitch 180 innings this year. With 162 already in the books, this leaves open the chance that Harvey will start only three more games ending his season before October even begins. For his part, Harvey announced in a crowded dugout press conference that he is inclined to agree and shut himself down to protect the future of his career (read $$$).

Now mind you, this is the same Matt (The Brat) Harvey who seized every opportunity in the two years prior to this latest episode to thrust himself into the New York media spotlight (the photos above speak for themselves) saying at one point – paraphrasing – “My goal in life is to have more girls than Jeter”.  Say what?

For a time, this was all entertaining and it reinforced his persona as the big man in town, something the Mets sorely needed as they fight for space on the back page with the Yankees. But  first of all, Harvey can’t (and will never) even hold Derek Jeter’s jockstrap on or off the field in New York. Secondly, his career won-lost record in the Majors is a rather pedestrian 24-17. And he’s won the same number of games this year as 42 year old Bartolo Colon………

What the Mets should do (and they shouldn’t wait) is say “Okay big boy (emphasis on boy) , we agree with you……….180 is your limit this year and after that WE shut YOU down!” After all, it’s not like they are hurting for starting pitching. Plus, this would actually solve the problem of whom to move to the bullpen for the playoffs. DeGrom, Syndegaard, Colon/Niese, and Matz sounds more than good enough for me………..in October and beyond. Continue reading