The Mets have called up their top 2 preseason prospects to fill their most glaring hole, swinging a bat. Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have each earned 0.2 oWAR (BaseballReference). That's in 26 PA & 12 games combined. Steven "Bats" and Noah "swing it hard", like most Mets pitchers, don't issue many free passes. The Mets do a great job of targeting and molding pitchers who throw strikes from the draft up the ladder to their occasional free agent.
If the Wilpons were willing to spend big on a pitcher this off-season they could trade some young pitching for young hitting. This off-season would be the time to buy pitching, there will be many, quality starting pitchers to choose from. David Price, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and Jordan Zimmermann are headlining a deep class of 2015-2016 pitching, all available for only $. Matz or Syndergaard would command a nice package in return from Chicago or Texas. I'd lean towards keeping Matz, if only because of his left-handedness. I can understand not wanting to move those two, their stats and scouting reports suggest future number 1's or 2's.
From a purely upside perspective, it'd be easier to swallow moving 27 year old Jacob deGrom or even selling lower on the injured pair of Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero. San Diego could be looking to move Justin Upton, who has hit 11 of his 14 HR's in Citi Field west. Oakland would be an interesting partner with Ben Zobrist. Cincinnati has a nasty lefty in Aroldis Chapman that would transform NY's bullpen. The Cubs make almost too much sense on a Mets trade with Addison Russell, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara all being middle infielders. There are a few options if NY doesn't sit on their hands this trade deadline.
We all get the feeling Sandy Alderson would rather keep his low-cost MLB pitching, even if he's hinted otherwise lately. This option could be the smartest play for the Mets. Wheeler and Matt Harvey are perfect examples of how young pitchers have Tommy John surgery too. Pitchers, they break. You can never have too much top of the rotation pitching. You know all the traditional sayings I could spew out. Despite all of the justified criticism that myself and others have thrown New Yorks way for being cheap, I really like the idea of a 6 man rotation. If Alderson were to add just one free agent pitcher the Mets could have a 6 man rotation with tons of talent and lower their risk of injury for the entire staff.
We only need to look across the pacific to see the benefits of a 6 man pitching staff. Japanese pitchers do very well in a 6 man rotation, both Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka have experienced elbow problems since converting to the MLB 5 man rotation. Eno Sarris wrote a great piece about this last season. 6 man rotations will become the norm eventually, it's the natural progression of the game and it can only be delayed, not stopped. MLB team expansion isn't likely soon and players unions would welcome teams adding an extra roster spot to the MLB level.
The two newest members of the Mets rotation bare striking resemblances to LA's top two pitching prospects, Julio Urias and Jose De Leon. On the surface, Matz and Urias look like peas in a pod. Both are 6'2", 200 LB, lefties, with plus, mid 90's fastballs and plus change ups (some scouts grade Urias curve better than his change, I'm not sold). Noah and De Leon are two righties with plus fastballs and plus breaking pitches (De Leon's slider, Syndergaard's curve), as well as underrated change ups. For the sake of my comp, I find Matz and De Leon a better match, mostly for their similar age VS level and prospect rankings. Urias and Thor match up well for the same reasons.
De Leon was a late round college arm and made an adjustment in 2014 that drastically changed his results. His stand-out traits are a lot of movement and elite deception from hiding the ball behind his elbow. No source agrees on his best pitch and I think I've seen him throw a killer curve in Rancho, or he throws his change to same sided hitters. He climbs the latter for the K regularly and isn't afraid to throw any pitch in any count. His slider seems to be his hardest pitch to harness and he would likely dominate in a major league bullpen right now. His only roadblock in dominating on a major league staff is having at least 3 pitches working on the same night and handling the innings load. Here's Casron Cistulli (Jose De Leon's number 2 fan) with some hypnotizing GIF's. Here's the meat and potatoes: (age, level, run prevention, time on the mound, & H, HR, BB, K rates are all you need for a solid comparison).
Matz started late because of arm injuries he was a 2nd round high school pick and has some of the best stuff being thrown by a left-handed pitcher anywhere in the world. Unless you're Chapman, Price, Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale you can't say that you have better pure stuff from that side of the rubber. Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester, and Cole Hamels almost throw as hard, you can be the judge of their off-speed stuff. Matz has better run prevention numbers than De Leon but way less K's. He also dominated in Las Vegas with the high elevation, dry air, strong winds, and dirt infield. In LV everything in the air is a home run risk and on the ground a hit. Who wants to run, shag fly balls, or even breathe in 110-degree weather? Night games don't help much, I've been to Vegas a lot and seen it triple digits after dark. 108 at 10 PM would make you doubt the casino's sign thermometer if you weren't also standing outside. Not conducive to pitchers success is the point.
With Noah, you see high K's and low BB's at an extremely young age for his level of competition and it's obvious the stats say future MLB ace. Then you see it coming out of his 6'6" frame when he's on the mound and it makes you wonder what his ceiling may actually be. It's the type of frame that makes MLB hitters take notice when he's throwing 99 MPH in the 8th inning.
Julio Urias has Matz' fastball and his breaking pitches are on par with the top lefties in baseball too. Their's also his stat line, it looks like minor league Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Jose Fernandez. He has done all of it at an age VS level that is historically unprecedented. For 99% of his pitches thrown, he was the same age as American's in high school. MLB.com has been speculating he's ready for two years now. The only thing holding him back is, working up to a full season of innings. This year the Dodgers provided him with a month off in-season on a cosmetic surgery that could have waited. I'm hoping the breather means he'll be able to transition to the MLB bullpen in 2015. MLB.com has an interesting update on his first rehab start. Pitching out of the Dodgers' bullpen this year would help limit his innings and I hope he gets that shot before September so we can get a good look before the playoffs. You'd expect to see Urias pitch no more than 130 innings based off of most teams philosophies of modest increases year to year. My guess was 120 before the season, but I didn't foresee a mid-season break, he's at 38 right now. The prevailing theory de jour is that injury risk increases with pitches during games, more than any other factor. Why waste his bullets when we could use him this season.
Syndergaard has been great, but Julio has been way less hittable with more K's every step of the way. Most prospects are wild and their BB's decline with age, if they can harness that power. I generally see a minor-league pitcher's future as an ace most predictable by his H/9 and K/9 (Kershaw), being left-handed is always a plus. If LA doesn't want to trade for Cueto then they should pull back the reigns on De Leon and Urias now. Let Zach Lee have a shot when he reaches full health. If Lee proves incapable and Brandon Beachy isn't ready for the job, he didn't look it last night, why not use a monster righty/lefty tandem of Julio and Jose? Imagine the match-up problems of a team that goes 3 innings against a LHP who has a career .183/.254/.247 slash vs LHB and a RHP with a 2015 .183/.254/.247 against RHB for the next 3 innings. After that, you can just bring in Aroldis and Kenley Jansen to handle the 7th, 8th, and 9th. Try stacking your line -up on that day?
It's just a dream right now, but LA has the prospects to get it done. If LA offered Cincy a switch hitting, 2B/CF Darnell Sweeney and either Zach Lee or top 50 prospect, Grant Holmes for Chapman, I bet they have the best-named bullpen in baseball. I wouldn't usually like to give up a AAA position prospect and big SP for a RP but Chapman is 6'4", lefty, and throws 101 MPH. He should be a starter, even if his stuff ticks down 4-5 MPH, it's faster than every lefty starter in baseball. Keeping Chapman in the pen is like making Randy Johnson your closer, at least let him pitch 2 or 3 innings. Chapman is also controllable past this season.
Don't let these top 25 pitching prospects pitch in the notoriously, pitcher unfriendly, PCL. Teams are skipping AAA for their best guys more and more. Kershaw and Fernandez jump out as recent examples with success stories. We're not the Mets, we don't care about the extra cost of starting their clocks young. They say you learn the most when you play against the best. Let's bring up the skill level of MLB hitters by showing them what two of our best 4 pitchers look like. In 9 combined PA, Urias and De Leon have the same triple slash as hitters, .333/.333/.333. They just started hitting this year.
Warning, these songs may be NSFW depending on how they feel about art with curse words.
It might be the last time I stamp that on my blog, but it always applies to the music. It's silly to get upset over words but even sillier when it's art. At least I won't post their Funny or Die video with Nick Offerman (Park's and Rec's Ron Swanson) peeing everywhere, I'll link it. This morning's set of songs is from LA Skate/Surf Punks FIDLAR. Their name is, subjectively, the worst band name ever. It's a skate acronym for Fuck It Dog, Life's A Risk. It works well for them though. Growing up in Southern California, we all know the FIDLAR type of kid. The first song is about their drummers failure to surf, love of dubstep and Del Taco. The second features a buidling fire in LA. "I'm Ch-ch-ch-chugging all my roommates wine, cause your t-t-t-taking all your time". Love it.