Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016 Mets: Resiliency & Character, Part II

OK. Enough dawdling and wallowing in the misery caused by not being able to get to the Giants bullpen. There's a second half of the report card to be done and we must get to it. The Mets used 22 Pitchers over the course of the 2016 season, and if you're surprised and think that's kind of a low number given the amount of injuries, well, you're not the only one. This is down from 26 Pitchers in 2015, and oddly matches the total of 2014. But if it makes you feel better, the 2013 Mets used 29 Pitchers and maybe 4 or 5 of them were any good. The 22 that surfaced for the 2016 Mets were far better than that. Or at least they were when they were healthy.

Thank you. Here's Side 2.

Bartolo Colon - A+
Bartolo will continue to get high grades for as long as he continues to defy logic as far as age and physical conditioning is concerned. There is simply no explanation as to how a 43-year old man who pushes 300lbs can not only win 15 games and lead the team, but also make 33 starts and not miss a single one all season. Viewed as a swing guy at the beginning of the season, Colon wound up being the constant. Never complains, always positive, great mentor for the younger guys. Hit his first Major League Home Run in May in what was one of the great moments of the season. 15-8, 191.2 IP led the team. 3.43 ERA. 128 Ks, 1.210 WHIP isn't great but included only 32BB, and someone who pitches the way he does will give up his share of hits.

Noah Syndergaard - A
Some time last offseason, I was discussing the spate of Pitching the Mets had and I mused that Syndergaard, just based on his performance in the Postseason, could easily be the best of the group. Now, close to a year later, I'd say I was probably right. I would have given Syndergaard this grade even before his outing in the Wildcard game. Yes, he had some uneven moments and a few instances where he simply didn't have it, but that's to be expected when you have a young star Pitcher in his first full season in the Majors. More often than not, however, Syndergaard was brilliant and fully justified the lofty hype placed on him. All business on the mound, totally unafraid to make an ass of himself off the field. Not afraid of the spotlight and slowly gaining the reputation as a big game pitcher. 30 starts, 14-9, 2.60 ERA led the team. 183.2 IP, 1.149 WHIP included 43 walks, 218 Ks also led the team.

Jacob deGrom - B
For a year when he really never looked quite right, deGrom continued to acquit himself as one of the best pitchers in the NL for most of the Summer. His season was slow to get in motion due to some family business, but once that settled and he got his sea legs under him, he was as good as anyone for about 3 months. Still, battled a lot with some lost velocity and mechanical issues that really seemed to bother him more than it should have. But he persevered, which is a testament to just how good a pitcher he is. But, at the end, it caught up with him and his final three outings featured him getting knocked around but good, and he was last seen doing the last thing any Mets fan would want to see him doing and willingly waving for Ray Ramirez. Of course, shortly thereafter, it was announced he was lost with ulnar nerve surgery, which I believe is what knocked Bob Ojeda out of the 1987 season. Not really worried about him going forward since if nothing else, he's proven what he can do with less than his best. 24 starts, 148 IP, disappointing 7-8 record, a 3.04 ERA and 1.203 WHIP more indicative of his late struggles, 36 BB, 143 Ks.

Steven Matz - B
You could probably copy and paste everything I said about deGrom here. After getting bombed off the mound in his first start, ran off two months of total brilliance when I thought he'd run away with the NL's Rookie of the Year. But then stumbled, which I initially chalked up to simple regression, but then it was revealed he had a bone spur issue in his already-troublesome elbow. Gamely tried to pitch through it and reeled off a series of inconsistent starts. Ultimately shut down in August after a shoulder injury flared up after a game in which he took a No Hitter into the 8th inning. Now, the shoulder is healing and the bone spur has been removed. Time to show what you've got. 22 starts, 132.1IP, 9-8, 3.40 ERA/1.209 WHIP, 31 BB, 129 Ks.

Matt Harvey - D
Ugh. Harvey getting cuffed around by the Royals on Opening Night was just a harbinger of a lost season. A year where Harvey struggled with all sorts of mechanical problems ended in July with him getting blasted off the mound by the Marlins and then shelved with a rather disconcerting vascular issue that pitchers haven't exactly had a good track record returning from. Stopped pitching with confidence and often looked confused and uncertain on the mound. Lightning rod for rumors based on his personality and off-the-field behavior, but in reality probably just an insecure headcase that needs to spend some time with a Sports Psychologist. 4-10, 4.86 ERA and 92.2 nasty innings included a 1.468 WHIP, 111 Hits and 76 Ks. 

Logan Verrett -  C-
Woefully unexciting fill-in type who had a great April and was only marginally useful thereafter once the league caught up with him. Was at one point the first option for swing starter but got passed over as the season went on and other options presented themselves. 35 games, 12 starts, 91.2 IP. 3-8 record, 5.20 ERA, 1.560 WHIP. 43 BB, 66 K.

Seth Lugo - B+
There was no particular logic that dictated Lugo would perform as well as he did. A decidedly-fly ball pitcher, this obviously worked for him at Citi Field but he made it translate into success on the road as well. Not a guy on anyone's radar at the beginning of the season but was enormously important down the stretch, winning 3 games and running off a sub-3 ERA in September. Overall 17 games, 8 starts, 64 IP. 5-2 record, 2.67 ERA, 1.094 WHIP. 21 BB, 45 Ks. How this holds up in the future I'm not sure but if nothing else he proved himself a legitimate option in case of emergency.

Robert Gsellman - A-
Lugo and Gsellman might be considered interchangeable just based on how they surfaced with the Mets this year, but while Lugo's sustainability is questionable, I think Gsellman showed he's a bit more the real thing. Consider that his Major League debut involved him getting thrown into a Nieseian Mess in the 1st inning of a key game in St. Louis and all he did was stop the bleeding and allow the Mets to win the game. From there, took a spot in the rotation and ran with it. Yes, I took to calling him "Fake deGrom" because I couldn't pronounce his name. But he showed he can hack it here. 8 games, 7 starts and the 8th may as well have been a start, 44.2 IP, 4-2 record. 2.42 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 15 BB, 42 K.

Rafael Montero - F
He actually made a couple of relief appearances in April. He wasn't very good and was returned to the Minors rather quickly, so quickly that when he returned in late August to take a start against the Marlins, I'd forgotten he had pitched this season altogether. Made 3 starts and again wasn't especially good. Bloom's off his rose, I'm afraid. 9 games, 3 starts, 0-1, 8.05 ERA, 2.053 WHIP, 19 IP, 16 BB, 20 K.

Jeurys Familia - A-
I'm not including his performance in the Wildcard game in this evaluation. Frankly, I'm more inclined to chalk that up to his having a bad night at the worst possible time. Without Familia and the performance he had this season, the Mets probably aren't in that position in the first place. After emerging as a star closer last season, Familia improved on himself this season, not blowing a Save until late July and in several instances pulling himself out of his own hot water. Still, prone to off nights here and there and sometimes he's not quite game enough to fix his own messes. Also one of those closers with a weird non-Save Situation Thing that I can't figure out. But, all that being said, after so many years of dealing with 2nd rate guys filling the Closers role, it's nice to finally have someone with legitimate teeth coming in for the 9th inning. 78 Games, 77.2 IP. 3-4, 2.55 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 31 BB, 84 Ks, 51 Saves set a new club record.

Addison Reed - A
I'm not sure where this season came from, I know Reed closed games with the White Sox and has had some prior success, but he did essentially arrive with the Mets as a castoff last year. I'm not complaining, though. Reed took off with the 8th inning role real early in the season and never looked back. In spite of some occasional hiccups, steadied games and more often than not locked down games in front of Familia. 80 games, 77.2 IP, 4-2, 1.97 ERA, 0.940 WHIP included an eye-popping 13 BB and 91 Ks. And 1 Save.

Hansel Robles - C+
Robles is, as far as I can tell, the antithesis of a relief pitcher. Has great stuff but is a goddamn headcase and you can never tell whether he has it from one day to the next. Would follow up games where he was totally lights out with games where he'd walk 4 guys and give up 3 runs. Very little in-between. Could stand to learn a little more maturity as well, or at least not let the sophomoric behavior of his opponents get in his head. 68 games, 77.2 IP (nice grouping), 6-4, 3.48 ERA, 1.352 WHIP included some bad, 36 BB, and some good, 85 Ks. Also 1 Save.

Jerry Blevins - B
Fine job in general as a lefty specialist. Had some rough moments but also looked really good for most of the season. 73 Games, 42 IP, like a true lefty specialist. 4-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.214 WHIP, 15 BB, 52 K, and even picked up 2 Saves.

Jim Henderson - C-
Started out looking like he was going to be the season's big surprise after a strong start, but ultimately showed he couldn't be depended on multiple days in a row, and then got hurt, which was disconcerting after he'd missed two seasons with major shoulder problems. Came back and was mostly pedestrian. Sort of got lost in a crowded bullpen. 44 Games, 35 IP, 2-2, 4.37 ERA, 1.400 WHIP, 14 BB, 40 K.

Antonio Bastardo - F
Brought in to be a lefty specialist or a swing guy, I guess. Absolutely excruciating to watch. Worked at a pace to rival Trachsel or Matsuzaka. Traded back to Pittsburgh after spending the month of July getting blasted. 41 Games, 43.1 IP, 4.74 ERA, 1.420 WHIP, 21 BB, 46 K.

Erik Goeddel - D
Goeddel is just one of these guys who "Trades high" because he has "Great stuff" but routinely can never get it together on the Major League level. Feels like it's always something with him. I could see him getting either non-tendered, pawned off on some other team, or given one more shot but I have no idea what to expect. 36 games, 35.2 IP, 4.54 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 14 BB, 36 K. 

Gabriel Ynoa - D+
Seemed a bit overwhelmed at times. One decent start in an emergency situation, followed up by a start where he was pulled after the 2nd inning. 10 games, 3 starts, 18.1 IP, 1-0, 6.38 ERA, 1.800 WHIP. 7 BB, 17 Ks.

Sean Gilmartin - F
Feh. 17.2 IP, 7.13 ERA, rest of numbers won't tell you anything redeeming. 

Fernando Salas - A
Appeared in one of those Waiver Trade deadline deals from the Angels. Fine work in a variety of roles. 17 games, 17.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.635 WHIP, 19 Ks and actually didn't walk anyone in his time here. 

Josh Smoker - B
Liked very much what I saw out of him. Fearless, hard throwing guy who seems to have a decent head for pitching. Numbers kind of look uglier than they should due to one bad outing. Probably better than a specialist particularly since he was markedly better against righthanders than lefties. 20 games, 15.1 IP. Won 3 games, 4.20 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 4 BBs, 25 Ks. 

Jon Niese - C
This is another one of those instances where I'm giving someone a better grade than they deserve for snarky reasons. See, Niese was supposed to not be our problem anymore. The Mets traded him away, he made some obnoxious sour grapes comments as he was leaving, and he was now toiling (poorly) for Pittsburgh. But somehow he ended up back here, with a massive egg on his face and the same old noodnick we remembered him being. He started in the bullpen and then had to start a couple of games and was perfectly terrible, pitching to a 11.45 ERA in 11 innings that encompassed 6 games and 2 starts. But in that second start, as he was in the process of handing a 3-run lead back to the Cardinals, he got hurt, left the game, and was never seen again, and as a result the Mets instead got 7 starts from Gsellman, which ended up working out a lot better for them than 7 starts out of Niese would have.

Josh Edgin - D
Convinced he's a lost cause and probably never recovered mentally from that Home Run he gave up to Ryan Howard 4 years ago. Returned from the Big Boy Surgery, yes, but was eminently hittable. 16 games, 10.1 innings, 5.23 ERA, 1.548 WHIP, 6BB, 11K. Take it or leave it. 

And, of course,
Terry Collins - B+
Over the years, I've become more and more supportive of Collins, and really, I'm not sure there's a single more divisive person involved with the Mets right now. Mets fans either like Collins or they can't stand him, and it's a pretty good barometer of just how smart that Mets fan is. If, like me, you realize that a manager is only going to be as good as the players he's got, you realize Collins' value. For 4 years, Collins had virtually nobody on the team and still managed to keep them moderately competitive for parts of seasons before harsh reality set in. Then, last year, he took the Mets from out of nowhere to the World Series, and this season took a team that was just decimated, kept them together, kept them playing hard, got meaningful contributions out of guys fresh off the bus and got them to a Wildcard game. I know that some of this is beyond Collins (and guys like Frank Viola deserve a wealth of credit as well). And I know that Collins has his limits tactically, but the moments I could call a move he's made truly stupid are pretty rare. People may not like it, but a Manager's job isn't to please the fans. As such, the more I started to hear fans yell and scream for Wally Backman because he was going to "Show some fire" and "kick some ass" and "flip over tables," and because he's a beloved '86 Met, the more I began to dislike Backman and support Collins even more. I know that some fans I've spoken with were at least curious as to what Backman could bring to the team, but in reality, he probably wouldn't have been much better than Collins. I had no sense as to whether he'd be an actual improvement. If the other option were someone of the Bobby Valentine ilk, I could see it. The telling thing for me about Backman was that if people really felt he was cut out to be a Major League Manager, someone would have hired him years ago, and that never happened. Even the Marlins, a team who's entire existence is based around pissing off the Mets, never hired him, and they have a new Manager every two years.

Point here is, I think that Mets fans ought to be a little more appreciative of the job Collins has done here over his 6 seasons. It's been far from perfect but at the same time he's kept teams together and kept them playing hard, and even in instances when it seemed like things were completely hopeless.

So, that's that for 2016. Hope you've enjoyed the summation. Now, we have to sit back and watch what should be a completely unbearable NLCS, and I'm saying that before we even know who the Cubs are going to face. We'll always have last year, though.

No comments: