Yesterday the Yankees and Mets each had a starter return to their respective rotations. Masahiro Tanaka, the ace of the Yankees staff, made his much-anticipated return to the mound. While Dillon Gee, who has become more commonly known as the odd man out, returned to the Mets.
Tanaka: 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 9 SO
Much has been made of Tanaka’s health since a small tear of his UCL in his right elbow was discovered last season. Rather than undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Tanaka chose rest and rehab. While some rolled their eyes at his decision, he was able to return to form late in 2014. However, it took less than a month into the 2015 season for another setback to occur. Although the two aren’t believed to be related issues, Tanaka spent the past month on the DL with a right elbow strain. Leaving many to wonder whether or not Tanaka made the right decision to forego surgery and was putting off the inevitable.
In the four starts Tanaka made before hitting the DL he did not look like the Cy Young candidate from last season. His fastball was sitting in the high 80’s as he was clearly holding himself back on the mound. I’m not sure what exactly happened in the month since his last start, but Tanaka seemed to have returned to form yesterday. His fastball was clocked as high as 96 MPH along the way to dominating the Seattle Mariners. With the AL East up for grabs, if Tanaka can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, the Yankees 1-2 punch with Michael Pineda and himself anchoring the rotation could make the Yankees the team to be within the division.
Gee: 4 IP 8 H 7 R 4 ER 1 SO
It’s been an interesting start, to say the least, for Gee’s season. Here’s a little rundown on his year to date:
- After being considered an expendable arm, he was openly shopped around the entire offseason
- Reluctantly awarded a spot in the rotation when Zack Wheeler underwent Tommy John Surgery in spring training.
- Then forced into a battle, for that same spot, with emerging young arms Rafael Montero, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard for most of March.
- After suffering an injury that landed him on the 15-day DL, he was then replaced by Syndergaard in the rotation.
- Syndergaard seized his opportunity and excelled in his first few starts, causing the Mets front office to overly extend Gee’s minor league rehab assignment to buy Syndergaard more time at the major league level.
- Gee was recalled as part of the Mets plan for implementing a six man rotation, that will last for the foreseeable future, in an effort to limit the workload on the young arms.
There is a buzz that has surrounded most of this Mets rotation throughout the season. When Matt Harvey takes the mound, it’s an event in NYC. Jacob DeGrom, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, is as cool as they come and he’s picked up right where he left off. Syndergaard, who has lived up to his “Thor”nickname, strikes fear into batters with his 6’6” 240 lb presence on the hill to go along with his fastball that flirts with 100 MPH at times. Even Bartolo Colon, who leads the staff in wins, has become must watch TV for the pure entertainment value (especially at the plate) he provides.
Then there’s Gee. When he’s listed as the probable starter, the game really has no feel to it. He gives fans a kind of “blah” feeling when he takes the mound. Sure he will keep the Mets in the game, for the most part, but he doesn’t provide any extra excitement that entices you to tune in. Yesterday didn’t help his cause in arguing against that point. He struggled in his return to get through his four innings of work. “It wasn’t as bad as it looked” said manager Terry Collins. I’m not sure which game you were watching, Terry, but yes, yes it was. With Steven Matz patiently awaiting a phone call, Gee is on a short leash to turn things around if he wants to hold onto his spot in the rotation.
At the end of the day, it was only the first start back for Tanaka and Gee. But each fan base was left with completely different emotions by their end results. Yankee fans were given hope that maybe they can put a strangle hold on the AL East, with no team differentiating themselves so far, if Tanaka can stay healthy and returns to form. While Mets fans were left scratching their heads as to why Gee is still hanging around.
We’ve all read and heard the praise of the Mets young starting pitchers, but not enough has been said regarding the arms in the bullpen. The Mets have quietly put together a young core, that has become a force, late in ballgames.
Sandy Alderson’s goal all along was to build this team around their pitching, and in 2014, that goal is becoming a reality. The starting rotation is stock full with young pitchers such as Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Jacob deGrom. Now add in future pieces Noah Syndergarrd, Rafael Montero, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, who will return from his Tommy John surgery next season, and you have an abundance of arms to build your rotation around.
When you look back on playoff team success in recent years, there is always a common trait, a shutdown bullpen. It isn’t always the dominant offenses, but rather the teams that are able to shut down games by the 7th inning, that make deep runs. That is what the Mets are looking to put together. When closer Bobby Parnell went down, a major concern remained as to who the Mets would use to finish off ballgames. However, the combination of Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, has stepped up and answered that question.
- Josh Edgin (27) 25 GP – 1.76 ERA
- Vic Black (26) 22 GP – 1.77 ERA 1.77 ERA
- Jeurys Familia (24) 44 GP – 2.11 ERA
- Jenrry Mejia (24) 25 GP – 2.42 ERA – 9 SV
In what was an otherwise abysmal weekend in Colorado, the Mets were able to avoid being swept with a win on Sunday. Dillon Gee led the way, pitching 6+ scoreless innings in the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field.
The Mets came into Colorado riding high, going 15-11 in the opening month of the season. After exciting the fan base with their early play, things quickly changed against the Rockies. The first two games of the series were a complete wash, as the Rockies offense dominated Mets pitching and the bats went cold. In game three, the Mets offense came to life, but the pitching continued to struggle. After Juan Lagares put the Mets ahead by one run late, Kyle Farnsworth blew the save opportunity as the Mets suffered a crushing loss.
This made Sundays game all the more important. It wasn’t just that the Mets lost those three games, but how they lost them. Someone needed to step up and stop the bleeding, cue Dillon Gee. With yesterdays win, he improved to 3-1 on the year with a 2.51 ERA. The starting pitching has been the Mets strength, but do they have a real ace on this team? This rotation has been strong across the board, but none of them have taken that next level of dominating the competition. There isn’t anything wrong with that as long as they keep winning, that’s all that really matters. But when it comes time to win that one game when the Mets really need it, who is that arm going to be? Gee is making a case that he is that guy. Continue reading
Well I had the pleasure, I guess, of going to yet another Mets Opening Day yesterday. What did I take away from the day? Some things never change. Continue reading
The Mets have set their Opening Day roster and there were few surprises. Notably names who won their battles to earn a spot on this roster are Gonzalez German, Andrew Brown, Omar Quintanilla and Jenrry Mejia.
When Vic Black was demoted earlier this week, it was made pretty clear that German would earn the last spot in the bullpen. German doesn’t exactly do much for me, and will probably spend most of his time in mop up roles and in the middle innings. Assuming Black will eventually turn things around in AAA, German will have to produce to keep his spot on this team.
Brown and Quintanilla are two players I am most disappointed to see on this roster. It’s not that I overly dislike these guys, but we have all seen what these two are capable of and it’s not impressive. Neither has ever produced at a high level and both are questionable big league players. Eric Campbell and Anthony Seratelli would have been my choices to win these battles. Neither are spring chickens themselves, it’s not like they had to be sent to AAA to play every day and gain more experience. They are what they are and both could have provided new energy to this roster. It wouldn’t surprise me to see one of both of these guys promoted sooner rather than later.
The biggest surprised would probably be Mejia, who beat out Dice-K for the final spot in the rotation. It seemed as though the Mets would start the season with the veteran Dice-K, especially once his $100k bonus was picked up. But the Mets made what many felt was the right decision and went with the young option. They both had a nice spring training, but the Mets need to see what exactly they have with Mejia. This isn’t his first time rodeo, he has been up and down now for a few years, spending time in both the rotation and bullpen. Putting him in the rotation gives him a real opportunity as a starter and allows the front office to make a final decision on where his future is best suited.
Here is the complete Opening Day roster:
Eric Young Jr.
The Mets made it official yesterday and announced Dillon Gee as their opening day starter. There had been grumblings about this for about a week or so now, so this news comes as a shock to no one.
Opening Day is all about a fresh start for a team and their fan base, a new beginning with endless possibilities. No matter how bad your team was last season, everyone comes into Opening Day with a glimmer of hope. For the Mets, our hope relies on our young starting pitching. Obviously this start we have been given to Harvey if healthy, but he’s not. Syndergaard became the story of spring training, but he won’t be seeing Citi Field until the summer. Dillon Gee, while reliable and effective, does not represent one of these talents, Zack Wheeler dos.
Wheeler, the prized return in the Carlos Beltran trade, has been looked upon as a building block since his arrival. Wheeler showed signs of his potential dominance and had us thinking he could be a major factor in leading this team back to the playoffs. This is the man who brings that promise and excitement with him each time he takes the mound, Wheeler needed to be given this start.
I’m not trying to knock on Dillon Gee, I’m actually a big fan of his. I believe he is a great piece to go along with the young power arms of Harvey, Syndergaard and Wheeler in the future rotation. If he can slide in as the team’s future #4 or #5 starter, I couldn’t be happier with that situation. Gee reminds me of a young Rick Reed, he doesn’t throw overly hard, but he moves the ball around and changes speeds to keep batters off-balance. Gee always keeps the Mets in the ballgame, but his style doesn’t exactly rile up the fans.
The Mets really missed the boat on this one, Wheeler’s presence alone would have been significant with one of our “big three” leading the way in 2014. In any case, this won’t matter in the long run of the season, but it would have added to the anticipation of what could come this year.
Jonathon Niese reportedly has two rehab starts remaining before he is ready to rejoin the team. The 26-year-old lefty has been on the DL with a partially torn rotator cuff since June 21. His health, and return to form, are going to be crucial for the Mets success going forward.
Niese is part of the young core of starting pitchers that Sandy Alderson is looking to build this team around. The Mets signed him to a five-year extension after going 13-9 with a 3.40 era in 2012. He appeared to be reaching his potential and looked to be a front of the line starter for years to come.
But, Niese got off to a rocky start in 2013, posting a 3-6 record with a 4.32 era. This was looking more and more like a regression season, leaving many to question just what do the Mets really have in Niese? Then his shoulder issue became public. It was feared intially that he would need surgery. Thankfully, for his own and the Mets sake, it would only require rest to heal his partial tear.
Now Niese will look to prove his early season woes were due merely to injury. These next two months will be important for the Mets to see if their core rotation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and lets trow Dillon Gee in there as well, can come together down the stretch. With the recent promotion of Jenry Mejia, there is no lack of youthful talent on this roster.
Rafael Montero, despite his recent AAA struggles, could be looking at a September call up as well. Noah Syndergaard, who was an after thought of sorts in the Dickey trade, is also getting more and more high praise with every start he makes.
However, all of these young arms are right-handed, except Jon Niese. That is what makes him so important to this team. It is not necessary, by all means, that you have a lefty in your rotation. But it certainly does help to have one or two on your staff throwing from the other side to give teams a different look throughout a series.
I expect Niese to bounce back when he returns. He has come a long way since he was first called up to the majors and possesses all the stuff to make him a quality pitcher. It was unknown early in his career just what his ceiling is as a starter, I see him sliding back in as the teams number 2 upon his return. But as time goes on, and some of these other young arms develop, I believe Niese will slot himself right in the middle of the rotation.
The Mets may not be making a playoff push this year, but these next two months could be a telling sign of where this rotation can take this franchise in the years to come.