The Mets and bad luck go together like a horse and carriage. Or, is the Zack Wheeler injury just another case of poor management…
Mets bad luck or Mets mismanagement? How many times have we been down this road? Whether we like it or not, the question has raised its ugly head again with the announcement that Zack Wheeler, the team’s number one trade chip, has landed on the 10-day IL with shoulder issues.
Mets Bad Luck – Or Something Else?
First, let’s start with a couple of assumptions that ring true. One, the Mets noticed that Wheeler had a string going of starts in which he pitched six or more innings. On June 6, the streak ended at eleven, a mighty achievement in this age of baseball. (Source: Baseball Reference)
Each time Wheeler added to the string, his value automatically increased with teams worried about stretching their bullpen too far.
Second, the Mets realized they had no choice but to trade Wheeler or risk losing him with no return when he reaches free agency at the end of this season.
The Mets also saw too that their only option at that point would be to offer Wheeler a qualifying offer of around $18 million, a mark that supersedes his value on the open market. No way the Mets would spend that kind of money, even for a first-round draft pick from the team signing Wheeler.
Hence, the decision was made to keep running Wheeler out there with hopes that he would continue adding innings and value before the deadline.
The strategy seemed to be working well as Wheeler responded with successive starts of six or more innings, beginning on June 17 and extending to July 2. He went 2-2 over that span, lowering his ERA from 4.87 to 4.42.
In Wheeler’s final start on July, before landing on the IL, he pitched five innings surrendering six runs in an 8-3 loss to the Phillies. It took Wheeler 104 pitches to get through those five innings.
This is the point at which things become a bit murky, and the question of bad luck or poor management comes into focus.
If you recall, July 7 was the final game played by the Mets the Sunday before the All-Star Game. Hence the question – why not hold Wheeler back from that game – thereby giving him the four days before that start, plus the upcoming five-day break – a total of nine days of complete rest?
In the overall scheme of a lost season, which Brodie Van Wagenen finally admitted to when he surrendered and said, “They came and got us,” what were the Mets thinking?
We’ll never know because no one associated with the Mets will never tell us. But it remains a salient question. Perhaps, we’ll hear from Wheeler after he is traded, but what will it matter then?
Only One Conclusion Is Viable – Again!
The damage is done. Teams that were bullish on Wheeler before the injury may or may not continue that path. Inevitably though, the Mets are now casting a snarled fishing line into the water from here forward to the deadline.
Mets bad luck? Would you argue that any number of teams had the choice of holding back their starter on that Sunday? And their starter didn’t wind up on the IL. Pretty lame.
No, the awkward truth is that Van Wagenen (right) came late to the party or, in this case, the funeral for the Mets season.
The Mets tried and tried to live up to the boss’s machismo about the team being “the team to beat” in the NL East. Eight games under, ten games under before the break, what did it matter?
In all likelihood, the Mets will still be able to convince a willing trade partner that this is only a hiccup. Wheeler will be okay, and the rest he is getting now is just what he needs. But the fact remains, the momentum and advantage the Mets once held are evaporated.
“The Baggies,” who like to come to the ballpark for their five seconds of fame when the cameras pan to the bags over their heads, this is just another notch in their armor.
But for the bulk of Mets fans, this is just another time when all they can say is, “How can this happen to us”? Is there a black cat someone planted hiding in the clubhouse? Did someone spike Wheeler’s Gatorade?
Brodie, It’s Still On You
Nope. Don’t think so. Not on this one. The Mets pushed the envelope too far with Zack Wheeler, and now they are going to pay for it.
Just as they’re paying for Robinson Cano, whose bat has awakened only in time for the games that don’t matter. Also, for the tired arm, the Mets inherited from the devil may care, Mariners, a team who overworked Edwin Diaz for three successive seasons.
Add the disastrous signing of Jeurys Familia and their insistence that Amed Rosario is a major league shortstop. Or, that their bullpen didn’t need immediate resuscitation.
No, there’s a pattern here, and it has nothing to do with the Mets bad luck. The ball remains in Van Wagenen’s court to fix the mess he created. Frustrated Mets fans can only hold onto their wishlist, and sit by and wait.