We live in an era where baseball players are bigger, faster and stronger, in better shape than ball players have ever been. Yet not a day goes by where we don’t hear of a player suffering a season ending injury. The most notable of the bunch is a UCL tear, which leads to the infamous Tommy John Surgery. A study done in 2013 showed that 1/3 of the all pitchers in MLB have undergone the surgery at some point in their careers. That is a staggering number that should not be deemed the “price of doing business.”
When Dr. Frank Jobe performed the first surgery on pitcher Tommy John in 1974, I’m not quite sure he knew the impact he would be making on the game of baseball. The surgery is revolutionary, having saved hundreds of careers throughout the years, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest advancements in sports medicine in the last 40 years. But did anyone think we would see the day when parents are pushing their teenage sons to undergo the surgery to “get it out-of-the-way.” Well, that’s what’s happening out in the world today and I’m not sure how Dr. Jobe would feel about that.
The first month of the baseball season isn’t even complete and we already have many high-profile pitchers going down. The list includes Atlanta’s Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, Oakland’s Jarrod Parker, Arizona’s David Hernandez and Patrick Corbin, Tampa’s Matt Moore, The Mets’ Bobby Parnell and The Yankees Ivan Nova could be added to the list any day now. That isn’t even counting the dozen of pitchers who are rehabbing from their surgery and dozens more that will undergo the procedure as the season progresses. Last year, the White Sox alone saw eight, yes eight, pitchers in their organization go down with this injury. It’s a scary thought knowing one of your pitchers could go down for the year at any moment without any warning. Continue reading
Zack Wheeler makes his much-anticipated home debut today against the Nationals. This will be his third career start but his first in front of the flushing faithful.
A lot has been made of Matt Harvey’s starts, with each one being labeled “Harvey Day” and rightfully so. They have become an event of sorts to see what the young ace will do next. Now with the recent promotion of Zack Wheeler, the Mets hope a similar trend will begin to take place.
We have already seen signs of greatness, despite the mixed results in his first two starts. In his major league debut, he threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts against the division leading Braves in route to earning his first career win. It was a terrific debut as he lived up to the hype that had been surrounding him since the Carlos Beltran trade was made two years ago.
His second start didn’t go quite as smoothly. Wheeler lasted 5.1 innings allowing four runs with just one strikeout. Although this wasn’t a terrible start, it wasn’t great either. He was all over the place with his pitches and it has been reported that he was tipping his pitches. Both of which are things that I would be worried about if he were a veteran, but I won’t stress after just two starts.
What I took away most from Wheeler’s starts are his ability to get by without his best command. Wheeler has walked eight batters in his first two starts, but has only allowed eight hits as well. This give you an idea of how good his stuff is. Besides the one hanging breaking ball White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers took him deep on, you don’t see batters squaring up on the ball against him. This could be a telling sign that once Wheeler gets the full command of his pitches he could quickly become a dominant pitcher.
I expect the nerves might get to him again today, making his first start in front of the home crowd and all. But I look for him to settle in sooner rather than later and attack the strike zone. With the ability to throw in the high 90’s, he has no need to be pitching around the plate with the swing and miss stuff he possesses.
One thing I always enjoy doing at Mets games that I don’t think enough fans take advantage of is to head down behind the bullpen while the starting pitchers warm-up. It’s right in front of the center field entrance and gives you a great view of warm ups. You get an up close look of just how hard these guys throw and how incredible their breaking balls are. I’m looking forward to grabbing a spot early and watching Wheeler throw a bit before heading to my seat.
Today could mark the first of many “Wheeler days” at Citi Field, as he and Harvey are making at least two games a week must watch TV. With it being a Sunday afternoon game, David Wright bobble head day and Wheeler’s first home start, I expect a good crowd to be in attendance today.
Happy Wheeler Day? Hopefully something more trendy will come about.
The legend of Matt Harvey continues to grow as last night was his best performance yet. Harvey pitched nine innings while allowing only one hit, which was an infield single with two outs in the 7th, on his way to retiring 27 of the 28 batters he faced while striking out 12. This was on of the most dominant games ever thrown by a Mets pitcher and in my opinion, more impressive than Johan Santana’s no-hitter.
From the very first inning , you just knew the White Sox had no chance against the phenom. Ron Darling said it early on that as a hitter, walking up to the plate there has to be something unsettling about looking out at a guy with blood running down his face with that type of demeanor and power out on the mound. The blood did eventually stop but Harvey did not. He was overpowering with his fastball and had complete command of his slider and change-up. I know the White Sox are a weak hitting team but with the groove Harvey settled into last night I don’t know if any team would have had a chance.
It was disappointing the Mets were unable to earn him a win, the Mets offense looked nearly as bad as the White Sox early on. Thankfully the Mets were able to win this game in the 10th with a Mike Baxter walk-off hit to drive in Ike Davis, salvaging Harvey’s dynamic start. The Mets are now 7-1 in games that Harvey pitches and he could very easily be 8-0 himself. This team is not talented enough to squander starting performances like this and they need to win these ballgames. It was great that they found a way to win, it is important that the team wins first and foremost, but Harvey deserved to earn a win as well. The team certainly owes him one, hopefully it will come on a day that he isn’t at the top of his game.
You’re missing out if you aren’t following Doc Gooden on twitter during a Matt Harvey game. He is zoned in on each and every pitch he throws and makes sure to let his feelings known. Doc has started what could become the new age version of hanging a “K” for each strikeout in a stadium by tweeting out each one using the hash tag “#MattHarveyKCount” and I simply love it. It’s great to see that Gooden is still emotional invested with this team and has developed a friendship early on with Harvey, who is attempting to captivate this city the way he once did.
Hopefully the stands will begin to fill up for his starts, if there is anyone player that should make fans want to buy tickets, it’s Matt Harvey. If he is able to continue to pitch this way and the Mets earn him some more W’s along the way, starting the All-Star game in Citi Field is a very real possibility. Now that would be something special for this franchise.
Robin Ventura, and let’s not forget about “Super” Joe McEwing, return to New York tonight as the White Sox are here for a quick two game series. Ventura is in his second full season as manager while McEwing serves as his third base coach. With these two coming back tonight I can’t help but think about the 1999 and 2000 team that I enjoyed watching so much. To this day those are still my two favorite Mets seasons.
Ventura only played three seasons with the team but left his mark as an all-time fan favorite with moments such as the grand-slam single in game 5 of the 1999 NLCS and when he impersonated Mike Piazza during a rain delay at Yankee stadium. He was a fantastic fielder at third base and was part of the infield that Sports Illustrated famously referred to as “The Best Infield Ever.” It felt like every time the Mets had the bases loaded he was up. He hit 5 grand slams with the Mets, it would have been 6 if not for Todd Pratt.
I always felt Ventura was a crucial part of the roster as he seemed to help ease some of the tension for Piazza at a time when so much pressure was put on his shoulders. I was shocked when I read the White Sox had hired him as a head coach last season while having no real coaching experience. But so far so good for Ventura and the White Sox, I wish him the best of luck going forward, except for these two games against the Mets.
Joe McEwing was a utility player that I never fully appreciated during his time.What I remember most about McEwing was his ability to hit Randy Johnson who was in the prime of his career. Every time the Mets faced Johnson you just knew McEwing was going to be in the line-up. He hit .302 against the lefty while with the Mets, which might not sound all that impressive but you have to remember how dominate Johnson was at that time and that McEwing is only a career .250 hitter.
Although I still feel Bobby V played him too often, as he was a personal favorite of his, McEwing was a very versatile player who was capable of playing just about anywhere on the field. I’m not surprised to see him on a coaching staff as he was known for having a high baseball IQ, he could very well be coaching a team himself one day.
Jay Horowitz had joked on twitter that Todd Pratt would be throwing out the first pitch tonight with Ventura as the catcher. I wish that were really happening as I would love to see Pratt lift him up in the air for old times sake. I only hope this team will come together and be every bit as exciting as those teams were in the near future.