No team pampers its pitchers more than, or as much as, the New York Mets. Limits on innings, games, pitches, skipping starts, giving them an extra day of rest between starts – the Mets do it all. Yet all of the Mets’ starters get hurt, spend time on the disabled list, even have surgery and miss entire seasons.
As if on cue, on the Mets’ second day of spring training last week – the second day! – Zack Wheeler, who missed the past two seasons following what has become popularly known as Tommy John surgery, sat on the sidelines, not throwing with the other pitchers.
The Mets didn’t seem concerned, suggesting Wheeler’s problem was only scar tissue, which pitchers who have had surgery often encounter. The incident, however, clearly signaled to the Mets how fragile their starting rotation could be.
Except for Bartolo Colon, the Mets’ oldest and fattest pitcher, who has since defected to Atlanta, the Mets had only one pitcher last season who started 30 games. That was Noah Syndergaard. Jacob deGrom started 24 games, Steven Matz started 22 and Matt Harvey 17.
Harvey, Matz and Wheeler have all had Tommy John, a.k.a. elbow ligament transplant, surgery, all when they were in the Mets’ organization.
With all of the unwanted experiences they have had with pitchers’ injuries, I asked Sandy Alderson, the Mets’ general manager, on the telephone, have the Mets figured out a way to avoid them?