Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Mets crumbling over pitching dysfunction

NY Times News Service, MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin

The Milwaukee Brewers’ Keon Broxton follows through with a throw back into the infield after the New York Mets’ Michael Conforto lined out during the fourth inning on Saturday at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Photo: AP

The New York Mets returned to baseball prominence thanks to the talent and dominance of their starting rotation. A fearsome stable of starters helped them reach the 2015 World Series and weather injuries to reach the playoffs last season. Their starters gave them swagger.

It took six weeks of the 2017 season for that once-vaunted group to deteriorate into the worst in the major leagues.

“It’s been shocking to me,” manager Terry Collins said after struggling rookie Robert Gsellman turned in another rough start in a 11-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. “We should be pitching better.”

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Friday had essentially conceded that the starting rotation that had been the team’s foundation could no longer be counted on.

The team needs to be realistic about its expectations, including the belief that the rotation — now a shell of what it was expected to be heading into the season — could right itself and pitch deeper into games, he said.

“I think it would be foolish for us to say that the starting pitching is going to have to go deeper,” Alderson said. “It would be nice if it goes deeper. I don’t think we can count on that consistently over time.”

The numbers paint a grim picture.

Even with injuries to Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz last season, the Mets’ starters finished the year with a 3.61 ERA, third best in the majors. After Saturday’s game, their 5.13 ERA was the worst.

Injuries — including a latissimus tear that will keep their ace Noah Syndergaard out for months — have not been so easily overcome this year. Elbow injuries to Matz and Seth Lugo near the end of spring training robbed the Mets’ rotation of depth.

DeGrom (3.80 ERA) is the best able-bodied Mets starter now, but has piled up unusually high walk totals. On and off the field, Harvey (5.63 ERA) has had problems, but he has insisted that he has felt better mechanically of late despite the results. Backup starter Rafael Montero’s struggles led the Mets to pick up Tommy Milone, who had a 6.43 ERA at the time, off the waiver wire.

There has been at least one hopeful sign: After two years away because of injuries and rehabilitation, Zack Wheeler (4.18 ERA) has been surprisingly effective.

Gsellman’s problems are understandable; he is still technically only a rookie and is learning his craft at the highest level.

However, it has been an abrupt change from the sensational pitching he displayed late last summer in helping save the Mets’ season. After Gsellman was charged with six runs (five earned) over four-plus innings on Saturday, Gsellman’s ERA stands at 7.07.

Gsellman pitched out of jams over the first four innings, surrendering only two runs, but after teetering on the edge with uneven command in that time, he tumbled over in the fifth.

After all four batters he faced in the inning had reached base, Gsellman was pulled for reliever Hansel Robles as the Mets clung to a 4-3 lead.

Robles has pitched well lately, but he quickly stumbled.

He gave up a two-run single to Orlando Arcia, a two-run double to Jesus Aguilar and finally a three-run homer to Travis Shaw.

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