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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Why Matt Harvey’s spot in Mets’ rotation isn’t completely safe

Both Mickey Callaway and his pitching coach, Dave Eiland, insist they have not yet contemplated what they will do if all the members of their rotation are available to them. Around the Mets you learn quickly — even in Year 1 in charge — not to plan too quickly on having too many starting pitchers.

But we also have learned this rather fast about the new leadership. They were not brought in to rebuild. That fervor to go for it now only has been heightened by the exquisite opening to this season.

Which brings us to Matt Harvey and his place in the Mets rotation. It would be overstating things to describe it as in peril. But it would be underselling it to term it perpetually safe.

For Harvey’s spot to be in jeopardy, Zack Wheeler is going to have to do more than make one eye-opening start. Jason Vargas is going to have to be fully ready to return. The others — Jason deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz — are going to have to stay healthy. But that is not as farfetched as it was even 10 days ago.

Neither Callaway nor Eiland wanted to touch that third rail about their current No. 4 starter. But Eiland did say about how decisions will be made, “We are here to win.”

Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 15, 2018 at 10:36 AM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. The Ghost of Logan Schafer Posted: April 15, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5654090)
Vargas to the bullpen. He was a tomato can in the second half last season.
   2. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 08:37 AM (#5654453)
Harvey hasn't looked great, but I don't think he's looked so terrible he should be tossed aside yet.
   3. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 16, 2018 at 08:53 AM (#5654463)
I'll defer to Met fans on this one but reading this then looking at Harvey's numbers so far I don't see how this is a question. He hasn't been good but he hasn't been any sort of disaster either. To toss him aside for a 35 year old guy who had an ERA over 6 after the ASB last year seems like it would be insanity.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5654472)
4.82 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 3.74 xFIP is nothing to panic over.
   5. zack Posted: April 16, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5654493)
To toss him aside for a 35 year old guy who had an ERA over 6 after the ASB last year seems like it would be insanity.

Well, Harvey is a guy who hasn't been healthy in 3 years and had an ERA over 11 in the 2nd half last year...

Not that I think it's time to throw him out necessarily. The walks have at least been under control so far, though it doesn't seem like he has much of an idea what the ball is going to do when he lets go of it. He's been essentially a two-pitch pitcher so far, and I think it's more likely he finishes the season with an ERA over 5.5 than anywhere near that xFIP.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5654500)
He's been essentially a two-pitch pitcher so far, and I think it's more likely he finishes the season with an ERA over 5.5 than anywhere near that xFIP.

If BRef still had sponsorships, I'd take that bet.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: April 16, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5654506)
Yeah I think the big thing from his first few starts is that his control seems to be OK. It seems like that's the last hurdle for guys coming back from Tommy John or other long term absences.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5654528)
Yeah I think the big thing from his first few starts is that his control seems to be OK. It seems like that's the last hurdle for guys coming back from Tommy John or other long term absences.

Agree. The peripherals are solid. 1.8 BB/9 is excellent. He's just been homer prone.
   9. Conor Posted: April 16, 2018 at 11:43 AM (#5654549)
The numbers don't look awful, but from watching him, it looks pretty bad. His FB velocity is now below 93 MPH. He's not getting the swings and misses he used to. I think part of the reason he's been homer prone is because he doesn't have the stuff he used to. Time will tell, but I'm very down on him
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 16, 2018 at 11:51 AM (#5654557)
Fangraphs shows hitters have a high contact percentage against him and are hitting the ball hard. 5.5 does looking quite possible.

He is throwing a low percentage of pitches in the zone, so his BB/9 could easily rise.
   11. formerly dp Posted: April 16, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5654571)
Agree with Conor on this one, but also this highlights the issue with nabbing Vargas for 2 years: he doesn't profile as a guy who would do well out of the bullpen, so they're basically stuck with him in the rotation. The Mets do need another leftie, Blevins can't pitch every game, but it shouldn't be Vargas.

The nice thing about the Vargas injury is it gives them another couple of starts to audition Wheeler. I'd say it's essentially a toss-up as to who from Harvey, Wheeler, and Vargas has the better 2018. I'd guess Wheeler just based on that last start.
   12. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 16, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5654579)
I agree with the other Met fans here about Harvey although I think an ERA between 4.50 and 5.00 is where I think his talent level is right now.
   13. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5654588)
I would like to repeat - disagreeing somewhat with the other Mets fans here - that Harvey, while looking exceedingly average, does not look bad enough to toss aside for Vargas.
   14. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 16, 2018 at 12:46 PM (#5654595)
Vargas isn't exciting but the guy has put up a 100 ERA+ since 2010. Sure, he finished the season poorly last year but he was also great in the first half. Neither is true of his talent level. His track record is of a guy who can be a solid back of the rotation starter.
   15. formerly dp Posted: April 16, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5654601)
Re: Vargas: He's also at the age where the ability to be a back of the rotation starter goes south quickly. I think that's where some of the concern is coming from.
   16. formerly dp Posted: April 16, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5654604)
Unrelated but: Wilmer needs to start working out with a catcher's mitt.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:01 PM (#5654607)
the Mets just signed Vargas to a 2-year, $16M contract.

I thought it was dumb, too, but they aren't paying him to pitch in long relief.
   18. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5654614)
FWIW, I'm googling Jason Vargas to get an injury update and the best I've done so far is an article from March 18th that said he'd only miss five days.

Anyone else able to do better on the Vargas timetable for return?
   19. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5654615)
He's just been homer prone.


And the 3-run job he gave up Saturday night was definitely helped along by the wind.
   20. Conor Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:14 PM (#5654617)
Vargas may not be all that good, but has Harvey been a good pitcher since 2015?

Since the start of 2016, he's made 38 starts with an ERA of 5.71.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5654621)
Vargas may not be all that good, but has Harvey been a good pitcher since 2015?

Since the start of 2016, he's made 38 starts with an ERA of 5.71.


You can't just look at the downside. Vargas is fully capable of putting up a 5.50 ERA as well.

But, the absolute best case for Vargas is league average innings eater. Harvey, Wheeler, and Matz all have the ability to be well above average.
   22. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:19 PM (#5654625)
You can't just look at the downside.

Don't tell me how to live my life.

/PF
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5654627)
Don't tell me how to live my life.

Fine. Your 12-2 team is doomed, DOOOOOOOMED!

Better? :-)
   24. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5654629)
I'm like the only Mets fan here optimistic on Harvey!

I'm still wondering when Vargas is allegedly returning.
   25. Conor Posted: April 16, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5654644)

You can't just look at the downside. Vargas is fully capable of putting up a 5.50 ERA as well.

But, the absolute best case for Vargas is league average innings eater. Harvey, Wheeler, and Matz all have the ability to be well above average.


My take is more anti Harvey than anything else, really. But Vargas has been a steady league averageish guy for a while now. I think Harvey is totally shot. Wheeler was way more impressive than I hoped for in his one start, so I kinda have some hope for him.
   26. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5654665)
.262/.309/.476, 13 hr, 37/17 k/bb with a .259 BABIP. That's what Wilmer Flores has done against righties since the beginning of 2017. That's not bad at all.

I'd love to see what he could do given the opportunity to be an everyday player. Also, is the Mets best lineup include Nimmo in CF, Conforto in right, and Bruce/Smith/Flores at first?
   27. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5654670)
I think Harvey is totally shot.

This seems needlessly negative, and not (yet) supported by any of the numbers he's put up this year.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5654672)
But Vargas has been a steady league averageish guy for a while now.

He pitched a total of 55 combined innings in 2015-16. 2017 is pretty much all the relevant data we have on his current level of ability. And his 2nd half was worse than putrid.
   29. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5654673)
From 2014-2017, Jason Vargas pitched 421.2 IP and posted an ERA+ of 110.

That is decidedly above average.
   30. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:13 PM (#5654674)
   31. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:15 PM (#5654677)
Since 2016, Harvey is 9-18 with a 72 ERA+. He had a surgery that very few (if any) have come back from with good results. How he did before the injury might have less relevance than most pitchers.
   32. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5654680)
4.82 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 3.74 xFIP seems the very definition of "good". It's certainly no BETTER than "good", with "good" being admittedly lukewarm, but again, after three starts, I'm ready to see a few more before I'm convinced he's totally shot.
   33. bunyon Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:23 PM (#5654684)
It's the big leagues. No one's job is totally safe. If Harvey pitches well, he'll pitch a lot. If Vargas pitches well, he'll pitch a lot. Given the various histories, neither Vargas nor Harvey are in a position to claim an undisputed spot in the rotation.
   34. Swoboda is freedom Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5654688)
the Mets just signed Vargas to a 2-year, $16M contract.

I thought it was dumb, too, but they aren't paying him to pitch in long relief.


Given the Mets health history with the staff, I didn't think it was a terrible signing. The second year is also a team option with a buyout for $2 million. Of course, they signed him and he is the one who is hurt. Freak accident, but hurt.


Oops, I see know it was a 2 year with an option for 3rd year. Not at a break the bank price tho. At his age, a little questionable.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:30 PM (#5654695)
From 2014-2017, Jason Vargas pitched 421.2 IP and posted an ERA+ of 110.

That is decidedly above average.


The fact that he missed 2 seasons out of the 4 makes it below average. The guy is 35 with a career 96 ERA+.
   36. Conor Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5654710)
This seems needlessly negative, and not (yet) supported by any of the numbers he's put up this year.


He's been awful the last 2 years, and his velocity is down this year. I think it's going to catch up to him before too long. It's very possible Vargas is no good either.

Vargas was awful in the second half of last season, no doubt. But Harvey was even worse for the entirety of his 2017 season. 6.70 ERA!!
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 16, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5654716)
He's been awful the last 2 years, and his velocity is down this year. I think it's going to catch up to him before too long. It's very possible Vargas is no good either.

Harvey is still throing 92-93 MPH. Plenty of guys have been very good starters with that velocity.

And if velocity is all that, Vargas was barely breaking 85 by the end of last year.
   38. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 16, 2018 at 03:01 PM (#5654720)
The fact that he missed 2 seasons out of the 4 makes it below average.

!!!LOL!!!

   39. Lassus Posted: April 16, 2018 at 03:08 PM (#5654727)
I'll put the over/under on Vargas's return as May 1st.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: April 16, 2018 at 05:23 PM (#5654808)
"Average" is of course difficult to define if we want to combine quantity and quality. The simplest way to do that is WAR and in those 420 innings, his bWAA is 3.4, well above-average when he's pitched (more in a bit). But even with bWAR it's not that simple as his 420 innings leaves about 300 innings for somebody to pitch. Taking that replacement as replacement-level and 300 innings of replacement-level works out to somewhere around -3 WAA. So roughly speaking, those 420 innings of Vargas and 300 innings of replacement works out to the same as 720 innings of average, give or take.

bWAR loved Vargas's 2017. Apparently he faced very strong offenses, with poor defense and did give up just 1 UER. B-R puts his RA9 more than a run better than what an average pitcher's would have been. I don't know how those numbers break down by 1st/2nd half but even an RA over 6 vs an expected RA of 5.3 is not necessarily tragic.

I don't know how he does it with such a low K rate but that was not a UER fluke. For 2012-17, in nearly 800 innings pitched, the guy has given up just 9 UER. Harvey's not bad himself with 11 in his last 390. Just to grab a guy, Andrew Cashner gave up 12 in just 167 innings last year. Mike Leake gave up 12 in 186.

Vargas has pitched much better (or at least gotten better results) than his ERA and ERA+ would lead you to believe. There were only 26 qualified pitchers last year with an RA9 of 4.25 or better (not park-adjusted). Of those, Vargas had the 3rd worst ERA+. By RA9, he was more Darvish or Cobb, arguably better than Carlos Martinez. He was better than Jake Arrieta (123 ERA+ but 16 UER) and Sonny Gray (124 but 15 UER). Cashner was a little bit better despite all those UER but not 138 vs 108 ERA+ better.

I don't know how he does it, I don't know if he's responsible for it, I don't know if it's a "skill" that will disappear overnight but ERA and ERA+ understate how well he's performed.
   41. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 16, 2018 at 08:16 PM (#5654899)

I don't know how he does it, I don't know if he's responsible for it, I don't know if it's a "skill" that will disappear overnight but ERA and ERA+ understate how well he's performed.


Thanks for that post. Could it be because he's an extreme flyball pitcher?
   42. Walt Davis Posted: April 16, 2018 at 11:20 PM (#5655036)
Could it be because he's an extreme flyball pitcher?

Probably, few RoEs on fly balls. So at least relative to a pitcher with a similar BIP% but high GB rate, he'd probably give up fewer UER. The extra BIP should still cost him relative to a high-K, high-FB pitcher though and no shortage of those around.

By the way, I never had any idea Vargas had this "skill", I was just surprised to see him with 3.9 WAR last year and wondered why.
   43. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: May 04, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5666461)
Harvey to be DFAed after refusing to report to the minors . . .
   44. Conor Posted: May 04, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5666463)
Stand by my Harvey take
   45. Stormy JE Posted: May 04, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5666465)
He gone.
   46. Voodoo Posted: May 04, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5666477)
Wow. It seems like this type of #### happens to Mets more than other teams, no?
   47. Adam Starblind Posted: May 04, 2018 at 06:14 PM (#5666513)

Wow. It seems like this type of #### happens to Mets more than other teams, no?


Not since Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, I reckon.

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