Anybody who thinks that having “four aces” going forward is the best thing to build a ballclub around, I would tell you that Saturday’s loss to the Rays, along with Friday’s victory, are Exhibit A against your case. You could probably say it about most every start that Jacob deGrom has had this season, but Friday was extreme. Eight innings, one run, and the Mets couldn’t put together enough hits to win a Rays bullpen game before the ninth.
Steven Matz was very good today. Six and a third innings while giving up one run is a very good start and would win most games if he pitched on a team that had a lineup as good as … say … the 2006 Mets. (Steve Trachsel had a 4.97 ERA but was 15-8 that season because he had a team that could give him run support.) Yes, I understand that Blake Snell, who has had an excellent season, was on the other side. But the fact that these kind of games are not only happening to deGrom, but to Matz and Zack Wheeler as well underscores the point that having a rotation that is even close to lights out is no guarantee of championships flowing like water out of a faucet.
I shudder to think of how 2006 would have ended if that team had Matz, Wheeler, deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in that rotation instead of Trachsel, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. The latter two, it should be noted, turned into John Maine and Oliver Perez by the end of the season. and after Game 3 of the NLCS, Trachsel was basically replaced by shorter rest because he begged out of a playoff game.
And yes, I realize that the 2006 team was crushed in the end by a shaky bullpen and hitters that didn’t come through in the clutch (and I’m not even talking about Carlos Beltran … Jose Valentin striking out with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning of Game 7 didn’t help, for example.) But that team limped to the finish with that rotation and still came within one hit of the World Series. The 2018 version, with three pitchers pitching very well, isn’t going to come close.
This is why I say that if there is any chance that the Mets can get some controllable assets for either Matz or Wheeler, the Mets should really think about it. Maybe there isn’t a deal out there that’s fair, and if not then you stand pat with them. Wheeler is a free agent in 2020 and Matz is a free agent in 2022. I get that you don’t want to trade either of these guys only to pay a mediocre starter (like Jason Vargas) $17 million. But keeping these guys with a terrible lineup and a terrible bullpen isn’t going to do any good either. All the starters are being wasted, and having guys like Wheeler and Matz come playoff time are luxuries anyway, and they might not go past four innings in a playoff game anyway.
When it comes to roster construction, balance is key. The Braves had oodles of starters in the 90’s and have one world title to show for it. The Phillies had Doc Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. It was RotationTron 2.0. Zero titles to show for it. Super rotations are no guarantee of major success, and they’re not doing this team any good now. John Ricco said as much, that trading Wheeler or Matz is preferable to trading deGrom or Syndergaard. I whole heartedly agree if it’s the right deal, and I say this as a fan of Matz and someone who has gained a lot of respect for what Wheeler has come back from.
The Cubs, Braves and Giants are all teams that could potentially look for middle of the rotation starters, maybe a Game 3 starter in a playoff series. If some good everyday players who are close to major league ready come back in the deal, then it’s something that the General Managers of the Traveling Pants should seriously think about. Today was a great example why.
Today’s Hate List
- FOX Sports
- You really had to sneak in the final out …
- … of the 2015 World Series during a 13-4 game?
- Because Drew Butera was pitching tonight, and he was behind the plate when they won?
- You know, Drew Butera was traded for Luis Castillo. Ahh, dammit.