Here’s why we can and should still compete in 2014.
Hi guys, I… I can’t express with words how much of a devastating blow yesterday was to Met fans everywhere, there is… just no way to make people understand who aren’t Met fans the wide range of emotions people (myself included) felt when we got the news on Matt Harvey. I’d just come out of a couple of fun games of League of Legends, and David was the one who told me, my initial reaction was “what, what, WHAT, WHAT!” followed by an immediate jump to murderous rage followed by 7 hours of acting like a preteen girl finding out her crush is married. Everyone copes differently, right? Some people still aren’t ready to rationally discuss what comes next, I fully understand that, believe me. But, if there’s one thing this pathetic franchise has drilled into us over the last 8 years, it’s bouncing back off absolutely back-breakingly devastating events, right? For the sakes of all of what’s left of our sanities, I’m not going to list them all, but you know what I’m talking about.
This article isn’t about that, anyway, it’s about why… despite the loss of arguably the best pitcher in baseball, this team can still compete in 2014, the “Plan” shouldn’t change, shouldn’t change at all, actually. Here’s why. Yes, Matt Harvey is the best pitcher, or one of the best pitchers, in baseball. But did you know, in his rookie season, Zack Wheeler’s been absolutely outstanding? Excluding his first 3 starts up in the majors, this is what you get: 10 gs, 60.1 ip, 55 h, 23/20 r/er, 6 hr, 23/56 bb/k, 2.98 era, 3.71 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 3.43 bb/9, 8.35 k/9. No, those aren’t the ridiculous 1.8/10.2 bb/k per 9s of Harvey, but you know what those ARE? The numbers of a budding STAFF ace, of someone who can anchor a pitching staff.
Jon Niese as a #2 starter is well, WELL above average. Did you know Jon Niese, since opening day 2010, has thrown 103 games? And, excluding his seven worst starts, spanning close to 10% of his sample size, the OVERWHELMING majority of his pitching has been ridiculously great? In those 96 games, all starts, he’s averaged 6.1 IP, and given up 9.06 h/9, 2.64 bb/9, 7.35 k/9, a 1.30 WHIP with a 3.36 era/3.55 FIP. Vastly above average #2 starter, easily. He’s going to keep you in the vast majority of games, and win you a whole bunch of them, assuming a halfway competent offense.
Dillon Gee has gotten progressively better with each season, he started in 2011 with a 4.43 era, shaved it to 4.10 in an injury shortened 2012, and this year it’s at a sterling 3.69 after a ridiculous run from May 30th on. Bordering on 3 months, 16 starts, Gee has a 2.48 era over 109 innings. The FIP is a much less kind 3.73, which is still extremely solid for a #3 starter, right? He’s allowed just 1.98 bb/9 over this 16 start stretch, with a 6.52 k/9 which you expect to trend upwards as he gets further and further away from the blood clot issue/surgery. Oh, and he’s averaging 6.8 innings per start. So pitching deep into games and keeping you in them? Sounds like your prototypical mid rotation workhorse to me.
Assuming health with Jenrry Mejia is stupid and absolutely irresponsible, so I’m going to do it anyway! We all saw the stuff, his first start against the Nationals was electrifying and filthy, and he backed it up with 4 more good ones before the bone spurs became too painful to pitch through. I’m slotting him in #4 because there is no way you can count on him for anything, but as a 4, he’s much more easily replacable than a 2.
Your 5th starter could be Phil Hughes, Scott Kazmir, whatever veteran SP you can sign, etc… so you preserve some pitching depth with Montero/deGrom/Syndergaard in Vegas.
So… what’re we left with? A need for offense, the exact same thing we were all thinking before 3:20pm yesterday when a nuclear bomb was dropped on all of us. Nothing’s changed in that regard. This team is still going precisely nowhere without any offense, but… it’s not doom and gloom. This team can still compete for a postseason berth next season IF we get that offense, and assuming health for the rest of our SPs.
I hope this helps some of you. It helped me writing it. There’s still hope, Mets fans. It didn’t go down for the count yesterday.