Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013 Mets: Maybe Someday (Part 2)

Part 2 of the 2013 Mets Report card. Now, the Pitchers, of which the Mets used 29 over the course of the season, topping last year's total by 1.

Jonathon Niese - B-
2013 served as a bit of a regression for Niese, coming off a particularly strong finish to the 2012 season. Niese was given the start on Opening Day perhaps by default, as the only tenured pitcher in the rotation that was healthy at the outset. Niese had a strong outing that day but ultimately pitched rather inconsistently throughout the first half before finding himself on the DL with a rotator cuff injury. Fortunately, this didn't end his season, but his absence created a bit of a void. He returned in August and pitched rather well, going 5-2 down the stretch, including a shutout against Philly, but overall, 143 innings, 1.441 WHIP and an 8-8 record wasn't quite what we were looking for out of a guy who has the potential to be one of the best lefties in the NL when he's going good. The 3.71 ERA and 105 Ks were about in line with the innings, but for a guy whose main issue has been staying healthy and finishing a season, this year was kind of a disappointment.

Dillon Gee - B+
I toyed with giving Gee an A-, but his poor start to the season can't be overlooked. That being said, on May 25th, Gee was 2-6 with a 6.34 ERA and finished up 12-11 with a 3.62 ERA, which underscores just how dramatic his turnaround was. Gee's often been maligned for being, well, pretty boring as a pitcher, but one thing he's always been able to do is eat innings and not kill the Mets. His performance over the second half of the season was brilliant and underscored his value to the team. True, Gee won't be much more than a 4 or 5 starter, but in that role, he's thrived. Additionally, Gee was the only man in the starting rotation who pitched out the entire season, ending up with 32 starts, 199 innings, 1.281 WHIP, 142 strikeouts and 47 walks. Now a year removed from vascular surgery, a healthy, effective Gee really gives the Mets rotation some teeth.

Matt Harvey - A
It's hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe just how good Harvey was this season, but I like to think about it this way: We knew Harvey was good, just based on his 10 starts late in 2012. It stood to reason that he'd build on that in 2013. He certainly did that, but what nobody thought was that he'd make the leap to one of the top 3-4 pitchers in the NL as immediately as he did. Harvey set the tone beginning with his first start of the season, when on a frigid night at Citi Field, he struck out 10 Padres and gave up 1 hit in 7 innings. He only went up from there. Within weeks, he was outdueling Stephen Strasburg, nearly throwing a Perfect Game against the White Sox and starting the All Star Game. His bad outings, which were few and far between, often resembled the best days of lesser pitchers. But more than that, Harvey energized a fan base that was looking for someone to hang their hat on. Harvey's starts routinely became events, like Seaver or Gooden before him. And that's why his elbow injury, which will indeed require Tommy John Surgery and keep him sidelined for all of 2014, is so devastating. The Mets might be able to overcome this, and they might play well without him. But not having him take the ball every 5th day really takes the starch out of the team. Harvey's not only a great pitcher, but you can tell that he was well on his way to being a leader on the team, someone who's going to bring the results, but also inspire better things out of the players around him. His season ended in late August with a 9-5 record that was more a result of poor run support than anything else, plus a 2.27 ERA that was 3rd in the NL and 191 Ks and 31 walks (plus a miniscule WHIP of 0.931) over 178.1 innings, but his injury really took the life out of the Mets down the stretch and undercut what could have been a stronger finish for the team in general. So, he's not going to be around for 2014, and that sucks. The upshot of it is that at least he won't be pitching with the potential for his elbow to go at any moment, and the Mets have plenty of time to plan their season without him.

Zack Wheeler - B+
It's hard not to like what we saw from Wheeler over his 17 starts. Though he didn't burst onto the scene like the comet that was Matt Harvey, Wheeler improved consistently from start to start and by August was really starting to turn into the kind of pitcher he was billed to be. But it's important to remember that Harveys come along only so often and the expectations on Wheeler have to be somewhat realistic. Certainly, the stuff is there and he pitched to a modicum of success as evidenced by his 7-5 record, 3.42 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 100 innings, but there is also room to improve his control and command based on 90 hits and 46 walks. He kind of fizzled out in September, but my feeling is that that was probably due more to his not having pitched out an entire season and simply being tired more than a regression. He's certain to have a good deal of pressure put on him next season with Harvey out; the key for him is to not let that get in his head and just work on being the best pitcher HE can be, and not be Harvey. But I'm looking forward to seeing him build on what were some pretty positive results.

Jeremy Hefner - B-
I give Hefner a B- if only because, much like Dillon Gee, Hefner got off to a particularly lousy start and eventually righted himself. Hefner was 0-5 with an ERA of 5.00 on May 18th, but by the All Star Break, he'd managed to lower his ERA to 3.33 while going 4-1 in the process. Then, of course, he opened up the 2nd half of the season with 4 putrid starts before going down for the season with his own elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Hefner displayed during his hot stretch in June that he's not completely devoid of Major League talent, but what he is is a pitcher that's eminently replaceable. Hefner made the team basically because Santana and Marcum started the season injured and nobody else stepped up well enough to present themselves as a better option. His numbers, 4-8, 4.34 ERA, 99K and 37BB in 132.1 IP included a WHIP of 1.293 that was actually better than Niese or Wheeler, but going forward (particularly since he's going to miss a majority of 2014), I'm hard pressed to believe that the Mets can't come up with a better option at the back of the rotation.

Shaun Marcum - F
Probably the easiest call of the season. Marcum's signing as a Free Agent served as what I believe was the Mets' only signing of a Major League Free Agent during the 12-13 offseason, and will probably rank up there as one of the least-impactful Free Agent signings in team history. Marcum, who'd made a reputation for himself as a serviceable pitcher who could eat innings and win games (13 wins and an ERA in the mid 3s in 2010 and 2011) but with the Mets he did neither. He started the season injured and probably wasn't ever quite right over the course of the season, which featured him routinely taking the mound, looking sweaty and uncomfortable and falling behind 3 or 4 runs. I credit him for taking the mound and pitching several innings in the 20-inning debacle against Miami, but he lost that game, along with several others, starting the year 0-9 before getting hurt again at the All Star Break. 14 games, 12 starts, ended up a putrid 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA, and if you really want to make the poor run support argument, well, every Mets starter had poor run support, and in 78.1 innings had 60 strikeouts, 21 walks and a bad attitude. Show me a Mets fan who will miss him and I will show you someone who needs their head examined.

Carlos Torres - C+
Eminently boring swing man out of the Nelson Figueroa mold who sometimes started, sometimes relieved, sometimes pitched effectively and sometimes got raked over the coals. Pitched better than his career norms would indicate, primarily in a long relief role but had a couple of nice starts. 33 games, 9 starts, 86.1 innings, 3.44 ERA, 1.119 WHIP with 75 Ks and a tidy 19 BB but allowed 15 HRs.

Daisuke Matsuzaka - C
I was almost certain that, after his first 3 starts, giving Matsuzaka an F was too kind, because he proved himself not only incapable of getting Major League hitters out, but because he took an inexcusably long time in doing so. Started out 0-3 with a 10.95 ERA and we were thankful that we'd only have to see him a few more times before we'd be rid of him forever. But something funny happened: Matsuzaka righted himself and his last 4 starts were as good as anybody who pitched for the team this season, at 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA, making him 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.241 WHIP in 38.2 innings. I'm still dubious as to whether or not his strong finish was a mirage or not, but he certainly proved that he's not finished, and, maybe, he's worth considering a flyer on if the Mets need an extra starter next season.

Jenrry Mejia - B+
In limited appearances finally started to look like the high-upside prospect we thought he was back when the Minaya regime wasted a year of his development by rushing him to the Majors in 2010. Only pitched in 5 games before a bone spur problem wiped out the remainder of his season but looked very impressive, 27.1 IP resulted in a 2.30 ERA and 1.171 WHIP, a result of only 4 BB allowed while striking out 27. This success combined with the fact that he's still only 23 years old is certainly reason for some excitement and the fact that he's often overlooked as a definite candidate to win a spot in the starting rotation next season is a testament to the pitching dept that the organization has developed.

Aaron Harang - B-
Hey, 26 Ks in 23 IP in his 4 mop-up starts at the end of the season is pretty damn good for a guy the Mets picked off the scrap heap.

Bobby Parnell - A-
Finally given a definitive role in the bullpen seemed to give Parnell a renewed sense of purpose and he responded with his best season to date. Unfortunately, a neck injury cut that season short and it remains to be seen just how effective he'll be when he comes back, but for the first time, I actually saw Parnell use his great stuff to his advantage. It's as though making him the closer lit a fire under his ass and finally start to pitch instead of throw hard. His 5-5 record was more of a by-product of the Mets lousy offense simply not creating an overwhelming amount of save opportunities for him, but he converted 22 of 26 save opportunities and in 49 games and 50 innings pitched to an All Star-Quality 2.16 ERA and 1.000 WHIP with 44 Ks and 12 BB. Having him healthy next season is pretty key because he's the best the Mets have in the Bullpen.

LaTroy Hawkins - A
At the beginning of the season, I was prepared to have LaTroy Hawkins be one of my #1 flogs. But something funny happened: Hawkins pitched really well and managed to become the only member of the bullpen to pitch out the entire season. A trusted veteran presence, Hawkins eventually found himself pressed into the closer's role when Parnell got hurt and excelled there, picking up 13 saves to go with his 3-2 record, 2.93 ERA and a 1.146 WHIP, that included 55 Ks and 10 BB in 70.2 innings. BUT, the caveat here is that Hawkins, at age 40, likely shouldn't be counted on to duplicate that success.

Scott Rice - B
Rice, a 31-year old Rookie, took the opportunity the Mets gave him and ran with it for a majority of the season. In the great tradition of Perpetual Pedro, Scott "Everyday" Rice took the ball in 73 games and pitched effectively, primarily as a lefty specialist but also saw a decent amount of work as a crossover guy. Season ended due to a hernia in August and the bullpen did take a hit from his absence. 51 innings, pitched to a 3.71 ERA, 1.353 WHIP, 4-5 record and 41 Ks.

Scott Atchison - B-
Holds the distinction of being the oldest-looking 37 year old in team history. Missed a good deal of time with multiple nagging injuries that caused him to grouse about on the mound in some odd-looking scenes. Some scattered bad outings kind of uglied up his numbers but started and ended the season reasonably well. 50 games, 45.1 IP, 3-3, 4.37 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, 28 K. Strikes me as the kind of reliever who toils for many years with little regard and then randomly puts together a great season somewhere along the line, but I don't think last year was that year and I'm not sure that year will come with the Mets.

David Aardsma - C+
Former Seattle closer resurfaced with the Mets after a few years battling arm injuries. Throws hard and still has decent stuff but did not pitch to especially good results. Had a few strong outings after being recalled in June, but the Mets attempted to use him as a closer one evening in early August. He pitched poorly that night, blew the save and that kind of sent him into a funk for a while, moving him out of favor as the season wound down. 43 games, 39.2 IP, 4.31 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, 36 K, 19BB and really appeared the shell of the pitcher that racked up 69 Saves in '09 and '10.

Brandon Lyon - F
Lyon had a disastrous season, particularly considering he was supposedly one of the stronger links in the bullpen. Decent start but fizzled out in June with a number of poor outings and was eventually released in early July. 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA, 34.1 innings produced a nasty-looking 1.631 WHIP, 23 Ks, 13 BB and 43 hits.

Gonzalez Germen - C
First to wear #71 in team history. For some reason I was convinced I'd seen him with the Royals at some point but apparently this season was his Rookie year. Effective enough to earn innings over a majority of the second half of the season in a crossover role. 29 games, 34.1 IP, 3.93 ERA, 1.398 WHIP. Good enough to earn a shot next season.

Greg Burke - F
It's a trademark of a bad team to have a really shitty relief pitcher with a weird submarine delivery who can't hold a job on the Major League roster and yet somehow keeps getting recalled and given repeated opportunities to show how terrible he is (Sean Green comes to mind). I knew Greg Burke wasn't going to be good from day 1, and yet we had to be subjected to him 32 times this season and watch him produce a 5.68 ERA and 1.832 WHIP. If he's on the Opening Day roster in 2014, that'll speak volumes about the direction of the team.

Josh Edgin - C-
Showed some promise late in the year last season before getting burned by Ryan Howard a couple of times, and this season was embarrassingly bad early in the season. Demoted in April after posting a 9.64 ERA early in the season. Returned in June to little fanfare and pitched decently enough to lower his ERA down to a respectable 3.77 but then got hurt and missed the rest of the season. Posits as someone who might K more guys but after only netting 20 in 28.1 IP I'm not so sure that's the case. I'll give him a shot next season but I'm not convinced.

Robert Carson - D
Organizational filler-type who appears to have cut a niche for himself as an emergency innings eater but can't really serve another purpose as evidenced by his 8.24 ERA and 1.424 WHIP in 19.2 IP over 14 games. Remains as a lefty specialist without the Pizza and probably will not get any better.

Vic Black - A-
Not quite complete since he only pitched 13 innings and 15 games, but showed a real competitive attitude to go along with a 95+ MPH fastball. 12 strikeouts and 4 walks, plus went 3-0 with 1 Save against his hated Reds. Having him in front of Parnell could really give the Mets bullpen some teeth, and should Parnell not be ready to go next season, he posits as a strong candidate to close games himself.

Pedro Feliciano - C
With the Mets lacking in a dependable lefthanded arm in the bullpen down the stretch, Perpetual Pedro returned to the Mets after 2 years being injured and I believe he pitched in each of final 25 games of the season, showing how little had changed. Feliciano certainly isn't as durable as he used to be, as evidenced by the fact that 25 games pitched equated to 11.1 IP,  a 1.5 WHIP and 3.97 ERA, but it was nice to see him back, if nothing else.

Jeurys Familia - C
I'll give him some credit for coming back from a shoulder injury that was supposed to finish his season. Didn't pitch especially well, in 10.2 innings had a 4.22 ERA and 1.969 WHIP but at age 23 still has some degree of upside. But he's got a lot to prove before I'm comfortable putting him in an important role.

Aaron Laffey - F
His 4 games and 2 starts provided little for anyone to Laffey about, putting up a 7.20 ERA and a Laffeyable 2.100 WHIP in 10 innings before being released.

Collin McHugh - C
McHugh gets a C not for anything he did in 2013, because he was terrible with the Mets, pitching to a 10.29 ERA in 3 games and 2 starts, but because he had a brilliant 8 strikeout ML Debut against the Colorados in 2012, and somehow the Colorados had the idea that he was good enough to basically hand the Mets Eric Young, Jr. in exchange for him.

Frank Francisco - F
Francisco showed up for spring training out of shape and undermotivated and I was surprised to see him resurface in September because I figured he'd Valdespined his way out of town. Pitched to marginal effectiveness in 8 games and picked up 1 save in the final game of the season, which I think was kind of a slap in the face to Hawkins. Still remembered more for throwing a chair than anything he's ever done on the field.

Tim Byrdak - D
Returned from the same arm injury that felled Santana and Chris Young, which was nice, except that he pitched to minimal effectiveness and was put in games at strategic points only to have the strategy backfire in most instances.

Sean Henn
B-b-b-but he was a Yankee Prospect! That means he has to be good!

Anthony Recker
1 IP in a blowout loss to Washington where he gave up a HR to Ian Desmond that hasn't landed yet. Please stick to Catching.

And last, but not least...
Terry Collins - B
The knock on Terry Collins is that he hasn't improved the team in his 3 seasons here. He hasn't made them worse, but they haven't gotten appreciably better, either. Ultimately, though, Collins isn't the guy building the team, and he can't be blamed for not improving the team if he simply hasn't had good enough players to work with. If nothing else, I think it's a credit to Collins for keeping the Mets competitive over portions of his 3 seasons when they were clearly overmatched and to get 74 wins out of a team that some thought would lose over 90 games this season. Mostly, Collins has kept the team together and kept his players supporting him (except for Valdespin who was beyond reproach). Although that may not win games, what it does do is create an atmosphere that players want to be in, and the hope is that if this becomes his reputation, maybe more players will want to come to the Mets and play for him. That being said, if he's got more of a team to work with in 2014, he's really going to have the pressure on him to get results, because Mets fans are tired of 74-88.

Well, this was exhausting. Usually, I close these capsules out with a short summation, but that will have to wait for a day or two.

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