D.J. Short

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Team Roundup: Mets

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


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New York Mets
2017 Record - 70-92
Fourth Place, NL East
Team ERA: 5.01 (28th)
Team OPS: .755 (13th - tied)

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What Went Right

Can we just skip to the next category? There weren’t many positives in Terry Collins’ final season as manager. While the rest of the rotation crashed and burned, Jacob deGrom managed to stay healthy while posting career-highs in innings pitched (201 1/3) and strikeouts (239) to go along with a 3.53 ERA. His strikeout percentage (28.9 percent) ranked ninth among qualified MLB starters. He has a strong case to be drafted as a top-10 fantasy starter next spring. It wasn’t even a sure thing that Michael Conforto was going to be in the majors to begin the season, but he batted .279 with 27 homers and a .939 OPS over 109 games and earned his first All-Star selection along the way. We’ll save the bad part about Conforto for later. It’s challenging to find real positives beyond that, but Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, and Curtis Granderson all provided value prior to being traded during the second half. Asdrubal Cabrera enjoyed a strong finish for a second straight year. Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki also looked good down the stretch while Wilmer Flores showed that he might be more than a platoon player.

What Went Wrong

How much time do you have? The Mets’ season was pretty much cooked in the span of a couple of weeks from late-April to mid-May as injuries mounted to key contributors. The most severe injury was to ace Noah Syndergaard, who infamously tore his lat muscle on April 30 after refusing to take an MRI for biceps tendinitis. He made it back for a couple of brief appearances in late-September. The Mets ended up posting their second-highest staff ERA in team history. Only the original 1962 club — you know, the won that lost a record 120 games — was worse. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz combined for an unfathomable 6.01 ERA. Robert Gsellman was a huge disappointment and Seth Lugo was out for a long stretch in the first half with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. After missing the start of the season due to a domestic violence suspension, Jeurys Familia required surgery for a blood clot in his shoulder. Yoenis Cespedes was limited to 81 games due to continued leg issues. Michael Conforto tore his shoulder in late August and required surgery. David Wright missed the entire season, recently undergoing surgeries for his rotator cuff and lower back. Oh, and Mr. Met flipped the bird to a heckler.

Fantasy Slants

**As noted earlier, Noah Syndergaard suffered a torn lat muscle in late-April only to make a couple of brief appearances in late September. His return was more about peace of mind going into the offseason than anything else, but Syndergaard at least showed his normal velocity. I expect there to be some caution about him in early drafts next year, but the upside is obviously through the roof if he can stay healthy. He should again find himself drafted inside the top-10 starters if he looks good in Grapefruit League action.

**Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse for the Mets this year, Michael Conforto tore the posterior capsule in his left shoulder during a swing on August 24. The 24-year-old underwent surgery in the early part of September and isn’t expected to resume baseball activities for six months. This puts his status for the start of 2018 in question. And who knows what impact the surgery will have on his performance upon his return. It’s a bummer. Fantasy owners will have to track Conforto’s progress as spring approaches, but the Mets would do well to bring in some insurance over the winter.

**What happened to Matt Harvey? If anything, he’s the latest data point to suggest that the road back from thoracic outlet syndrome is a troubling one. Harvey looked lost on both sides of a stint on the disabled list with a stress reaction in his shoulder, missing fewer bats than ever before while posting a career-high walk rate. He also gave up a career-high 21 homers in just 92 2/3 innings. His previous career-high (18) was in 189 1/3 innings in his first year back from Tommy John surgery in 2015. Sure, 2017 was the year of the home run, but the alarm bells are ringing here. The Mets are saying that they plan to tender a contract to Harvey for his final year of team control, but he’s a complete wild card going into 2018.

**For the second straight year, Yoenis Cespedes was hampered by leg problems. He missed about six weeks with a left hamstring injury during the first half before being shut down with a right hamstring injury in late August. Cespedes was one of many players (Noah Syndergaard included) who worked with controversial strength trainer Mike Barwis. That’s not expected to change, but Cespedes plans to adjust his routine. Hopefully he’ll also learn to like to drink water. The 31-year-old was productive when healthy in 2017, batting .292/.352/.540 with 17 homers and 42 RBI in 81 games, but I expect his ADP (average draft position) to take a bit of a dive in 2018. The continued leg issues can’t be ignored at this point, but also his power doesn’t stand out in the current environment and he hasn’t stolen double-digit bases since his first season in the majors.  

**The Mets moved into sell-mode leading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but they surprised everyone when they acquired A.J. Ramos from the Marlins. While Ramos has amassed 99 saves dating back 2015, the idea is to essentially move him into the set-up role that Addison Reed previously occupied. He’s also insurance for Jeurys Familia in the closer role. Familia initially looked quite rusty upon his return in late August, but he was more like his usual self over his final handful of appearances. Familia should go into spring training as the strong favorite to begin the year as the closer.

**We saw a sampling of the future as the Mets were playing out the string, with shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith each getting their first taste of the majors. The results were mixed. Rosario swung at just about everything while batting .248/.271/.394 with 12 extra-base hits (including four homers), seven steals, and a 49/3 K/BB ratio over 46 games. According to FanGraphs, only three players swung more often at pitches outside of the strike zone. Rosario doesn’t turn 22 until next month, so he’s not a finished product yet. The speed was pretty impressive and at least gives him a path to fantasy relevance in the interim. As for Smith, he batted .198/.262/.395 with nine home runs and 26 RBI over 49 games. We saw more power than expected, but his defense was a disappointment. Odds are he’ll be the Opening Day first baseman next year, but Rosario’s spot would appear to be safer. Either way, I don’t see Smith standing out in mixed leagues just yet.

Key Free Agents: Jose Reyes

Team Needs: The Mets appear likely to exercise their 2018 option on Asdrubal Cabrera, but they could still make an addition at third base or second base. It would be a good idea to add an outfield bat as an insurance policy for Michael Conforto. Depth for the rotation is imperative, as the Mets can’t possibly expect to rely on the same group of starters and expect different results health-wise.



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Email :D.J. Short



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