Feb 22

Mets Must Make Decision On Wheeler

Zack Wheeler gets the ball tomorrow against the Braves in their exhibition opener. He’ll get roughly 30 pitches or two innings.

It’s one of five appearances he’ll get this spring to prove his elbow is sound enough for him to make the Mets’ rotation. There’s also been talk about trying him out of the bullpen, or him staying back.

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

Frankly, I’m intrigued by the possibility of him working out of the pen. I’m aware of the concern over the up-and-down nature of a reliever being an injury risk, just as the probability of breaking down after pitching on consecutive days.

The biggest chance for injury is if the Mets plan for him to start then switch direction and try him out of the pen. Or, do the opposite in working him in the bullpen during spring training then switching gears during the season.

This is what happened with Jenrry Mejia, who bounced around from the rotation to the pen and back again, only to blow out his arm.

It’s too simplistic to say, “Well, he’s a pitcher, just throw the damn ball.’’

There have been plenty of pitchers to go from the rotation to star in the bullpen. Dave Righetti, Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz all made the transition and starred. Smoltz even went back to the rotation, but the key was it wasn’t done during the season.

I don’t know what the Mets will decide to do with Wheeler, but whatever they do, for this year at least they can’t deviate. Make the decision and stick with it, even if he opens the season in the minors. If they decide to pitch him out of the bullpen, then send him to the minors, he must pitch in relief at Las Vegas.

I’m intrigued by the idea of Wheeler pitching out of the pen. He has a live fastball – his out pitch – and from starting he has a secondary pitch. If he can control his command issues, he could be an effective reliever.

He gets into trouble facing a lineup the third time through when his pitch count rises so maybe being a closer would suit him.

Plus, are you all that convinced Jeurys Familia is a great closer. Both he and AJ Ramos will be free agents in 2019, so it would be beneficial to prepare for them leaving.

Unlike Sandy Alderson, I don’t see the Mets competing this year, so getting some answers would be a good thing.

 

Aug 15

Today’s Question: Why Not Try Harvey As Reliever?

Matt Harvey passed his audition for Single-A Brooklyn in his first rehab start, working one inning for the Cyclones. Undecided is where he’ll throw next.

Here’s an idea: Since the second rehab won’t be longer than two innings, why not have him pitch in the majors out of the bullpen?

HARVEY: Why not the pen? (AP)

HARVEY: Why not the pen? (AP)

Of course, he wants to start, but with the Mets’ bullpen simply awful – I can’t bear to watch Hansel Robles anymore – give Harvey a couple of innings out of the pen.

It could work if Harvey was told in advance what day he’ll pitch. That way:

He could keep his between starts routine and avoid the up-and-down regime of a reliever because knowing when he’ll pitch in a game he can warm up at his own pace.

Besides, he might like it, and if successful, this could lengthen his career. Dave Righetti, Dennis Eckersley and all made the transition, and the latter two ended up in the Hall of Fame.

Harvey’s career to date has been injury filled and disappointing. This could be a revival for him.

The season is lost anyway, so why not try it? It wouldn’t hurt. It is out-of-the-box thinking, and isn’t that what progressive organizations do?

 

Mar 11

Not Trying Matz In Pen Raises Questions

The Mets are saying they won’t consider Steven Matz out of the bullpen, despite Josh Edgin’s injured elbow.

What they aren’t saying is why. This approach leads to numerous questions and maybe a conclusion or two.

MATZ: Why not the pen?

MATZ: Why not the pen?

Do they think Edgin’s injury isn’t as worse as initially believed? Even if he’s ready for the season, what about a second lefty?

Are they that sold on Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin or Scott Rice, Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez? They either have to use Gilmartin or lose him, so he should get the first shot. But what if he’s a bust?

“It’s way too early to say anything about anybody,’’ pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters Tuesday. “We are looking at lefties, so I don’t know. We have been looking at lefties every year, so I don’t have an evaluation right now.’’

What was their reasoning for letting Dana Eveland go? What about not even considering Phil Coke?

There’s plenty of time left, but I want to go back to Matz. If Warthen said he doesn’t have an evaluation, what harm would it do in trying him out of the pen?

The Mets have been telling us they plan to be competitive this season, but that would be hard to do without a lefty out of the bullpen.

More questions.

Is Matz that fragile where he can’t work out of the pen for a while? If he’s that fragile, wouldn’t that be something the Mets would want to know?

If Matz is as highly regarded as the Mets believe, then what is the problem? Would a year out of the bullpen damage him that much? Dave Righetti was able to do it.

If they have reason to believe Matz isn’t capable, I will buy that, but they haven’t said so.

A lefty reliever is vital, and if the Mets are as good as they are saying, then why not roll the dice on Matz? It makes me wonder if the Mets don’t think Matz is good enough, or if the Mets aren’t good enough.