The Mets are promoting Triple-A righty Tyler Pill to join their pitching staff, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports (Twitter link). It’s not clear exactly what role Pill will have with the club, though DiComo does note that Jacob deGrom is healthy and is making his start tonight, so Pill won’t be stepping directly into the rotation. Pill, who turns 27 this weekend, has done a nice job keeping runs off the board in a tough Las Vegas environment this year, tossing 46 innings with a stellar 1.96 ERA. His secondary stats aren’t as encouraging, as he’s averaged just 4.5 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 with a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate. Pill isn’t on the Mets’ 40-man roster, meaning New York will have to make some type of move in order to formally select his contract from Triple-A.
- The Mets have told manager Terry Collins to stop discussing injury timelines with the media, reports John Harper of the New York Daily News. Specifically, a source tells Harper that Collins was instructed not to discuss whether Yoenis Cespedes would require a minor league rehab assignment — an order that left Collins “furious.” As Harper notes, when asked yesterday about the timeline for some of his returning players, Collins informed the media: “I’m not at liberty to discuss the injury situation.” It’s been an injury-plagued season for the Mets, although as Harper points out, Collins was not the one behind the decisions to allow Noah Syndergaard to refuse an MRI or to keep Cespedes off the disabled list with his initial hamstring injury (only to land on the DL for a presumably lengthier stay upon returning to the lineup after just a few days off).
- Also leaving his game with a seemingly minor injury was Mets outfielder Jay Bruce, as Christian Red of the New York Daily News reports. Bruce is dealing with lower back tightness, though he says that “hopefully it’s just an isolated incident.” With the Mets still trying to scramble back into contention, the team will surely hope that’s the case. The resurgent Bruce has been one of the club’s most productive players, slashing .250/.331/.513 with 11 home runs over 181 plate appearances.
The Mets announced on Tuesday that they’ve optioned right-hander Hansel Robles to Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s a somewhat surprising and definitively unfortunate measure for the team to resort to, as Robles has emerged as a solid relief option for the Mets over the past two seasons. However, the 26-year-old has been shelled for 12 earned runs in his past three outings (2 2/3 innings), causing his ERA to balloon from 1.42 to 6.23. He’ll hope to sort things out in what will be his first minor league stint since early 2015. Robles’ struggles, paired with the loss of Jeurys Familia for the next several months (and possibly the rest of the season) have rapidly thinned out an already overworked Mets relief corps. The Mets’ bullpen entered play Tuesday tied for seventh in the Majors with 157 2/3 innings of work on the books, and the team has already gone outside the organization to bring in righty Neil Ramirez as a fresh arm. Addison Reed is currently closing in Queens, with Fernando Salas, Paul Sewald and Jerry Blevins among the top setup options. The Mets recalled lefty Josh Smoker in place of Robles, giving manager Terry Collins another option.
Here’s more on the Mets…
- MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo provides a few updates on the injury front. Slugger Yoenis Cespedes is still a few days away from returning, as the Mets have decided to send him on a minor league rehab assignment once his running program is wrapped up. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, meanwhile, is catching Steven Matz’s rehab game in Las Vegas tonight and should be ready for activation in the very near future. Both Matz and right-hander Seth Lugo require another rehab start before they’ll be cleared to return to the big league roster.
- However, even with d’Arnaud’s return imminent, he’s not guaranteed to reclaim his role as the starting catcher. As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News writes, Collins over the weekend voiced a desire to keep Rene Rivera in the lineup. “Rene Rivera has earned a spot, has earned a job catching. We’re going to play him as much as possible,” said Collins. “By no means are we going to sit Rene Rivera down and not have him play much anymore.” On the other hand, one team source suggests to Ackert that d’Arnaud won’t be losing his starting role as long as he hits well upon his return. The 33-year-old Rivera entered play today hitting .308/.337/.410 through his first 83 plate appearances. d’Arnaud was hitting .203/.288/.475 with four homers in 66 plate appearances when he landed on the DL.
The Mets may welcome back lefty Steven Matz sooner than later, David Lennon of Newsday reports on Twitter. Indeed, if he has a strong outing tomorrow at Triple-A, the club may allow him to make his next start at the major league level. That would obviously represent welcome news for the beleaguered Mets staff. Whether Matz can stay on the hill the rest of the way will no doubt go a long way toward determining whether New York can climb back into the postseason picture.
Mets third baseman David Wright made progress last month in his recovery from a shoulder impingement, but the latest update on the seven-time All-Star isn’t nearly as promising. The Mets have halted Wright’s throwing program, assistant general manager John Ricco said earlier this week (via Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com; h/t: MetsBlog). It’s unclear when Wright will resume throwing, but Mastracco notes that it’s unlikely to happen in the near future. For now, he’ll continue working with the Mets’ physical therapists.
This is the second time since February that the Mets have had to shut down Wright from throwing, and it’s yet another setback for a player who has barely seen the field over the past two-plus seasons. After combining to make just 75 appearances from 2015-16, a stretch in which back and neck issues sidelined him, Wright could once again be on track to miss the majority of a campaign. Notably, if the 34-year-old doesn’t return before the 60-game mark, the Mets will recoup 75 percent of his contract for as long as he’s out, per Mastracco. New York purchased an insurance policy on Wright back in 2015, thereby enabling the club to recoup a large portion of the money it owed him over his past couple injury-truncated seasons. Wright is on a $20MM salary this year and is due another $47MM over the next three seasons.
The lengthy absences of Wright and a slew of other injured Mets, including Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Jeurys Familia, Steven Matz and Travis d’Arnaud, have contributed heavily to their 18-23 start. Unlike the previous two years, when the Mets earned postseason berths and several players filled in admirably for Wright, the team has gotten little from third base this season. The four-man contingent of T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Matt Reynolds entered Saturday with an unappealing .230/.292/.364 line in 345 plate appearances.
The Mets have not resumed contract extension talks with second baseman Neil Walker, and it’s doubtful they will before the offseason, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). New York would rather enter the winter with flexibility at various positions than commit to Walker, with whom it discussed a three-year deal in the $40MM range before tabling talks in February. Walker, 31, is on a $17.2MM salary after accepting a qualifying offer last fall, and has returned from a season-ending back injury in 2016 to post a decent .255/.327/.423 line in 168 plate appearances this year.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick takes a deep look at the Mets’ medical procedures and protocols in the wake of their injury woes. Crasnick notes on Twitter that he spent two weeks and conducted nearly 20 interviews for the piece, and the thoroughness is apparent in a must-read column that is rife with industry opinions and quotes on the Mets’ hierarchy. As Crasnick writes, he was told on multiple occasions that the Mets have a sub-optimal command structure that causes routine problems to become serious issues. Crasnick was also told that the Mets’ lack of a true point person for the medical operations creates too much of an opportunity for COO Jeff Wilpon to insert himself into the picture. “Jeff gets in the middle of everything that’s going on, and he ends up doing more damage,” someone who has been involved of the Mets’ internal operations told Crasnick. “He meddles. I can’t come up with a more appropriate term.” Strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Barwis’ methods were also questioned by multiple people to whom Crasnick spoke.
GM Sandy Alderson stressed to Crasnick that, ultimately, coordination of medical and rehab protocols is his responsibility. The general manager also acknowledged that there’s been plenty of second-guessing when it comes to the notorious refused MRI from Noah Syndergaard. “Would that have shown the lat was subject to a potential tear? We’ll never know,” says Alderson. “…We try to go back and see if there needs to be some systemic change in what we’re doing. That certainly has happened over the last few weeks.” Notably, Alderson adds that the team has considered hiring a director of performance sciences (or a similar title) — something that organizations such as the Astros and Pirates have recently added.
Crasnick’s lengthy column is fascinating, well-crafted and revealing. I strongly recommend a full read, especially for Mets fans. And when you’re done with that, a few more notes out of Queens…
- Newsday’s Marc Carig spoke with Curtis Granderson about his struggles at the plate this year, and the 36-year-old at least conceded that his age could be a factor in his troubles at the plate. However, Granderson wouldn’t use his age as an excuse and spoke with confidence about being able to turn things around at the plate. Carig spoke with hitting coach Kevin Long and a scout from another club about Granderson’s approach at the plate, with both stating that he’s taken good at-bats that haven’t yet produced results. As Carig points out, though, the window for Granderson to right the ship is closing, as Yoenis Cespedes is nearing a return. At that point, Granderson could face a significant reduction in playing time.
- The Mets’ decision not to promote top prospect Amed Rosario when Asdrubal Cabrera hit the disabled list frustrated some fans, but as Mike Puma of the New York Post points out, that decision likely wasn’t driven by a desire to avoid Super Two status for Rosario. The promotions of Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, Puma notes, both came in May during their respective rookie seasons. The Mets knew full well that both would likely be Super Two players and promoted them anyhow due to need. Puma spoke to evaluators from other clubs, with one telling him that Rosario could be ready to play for the Mets but another suggesting that his approach at the plate still needs a lot of work. “He’s an above-average shortstop who can really hit, but he’s not really disciplined at the plate,” said the evaluator. “He definitely needs to improve his [pitch] recognition. In an ideal world you would want to have a guy like this come to a contending club and be a piece rather than coming up and being the center of attention right away.”
Though a potential ownership change has many Marlins fans hoping for an increased payroll, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal argues that any new owners should operate in familiar fashion and tear down the organization with an aggressive rebuild. Miami’s farm system is barren, and the team already has as much as $95MM committed to players in 2018. Rosenthal suggests that the Marlins should prepare to deal some relief pitching and market breakout outfielder Marcell Ozuna — while perhaps also beginning to think about what to do with the massive contract of Giancarlo Stanton.
- Plenty of other National League East competitors are struggling as well, with the Mets in particular playing well shy of expectations. As John Harper of the New York Daily News writes, there’s no easy solution for an organization that has been beset with injuries. The club’s short-term veteran assets are all fairly expensive, and all but Jay Bruce have had their own issues with injury and/or performance downturns. Having dealt from the farm in recent years, the upper ranks are somewhat depleted; and with needs set to arise in the near future, dealing from what’s left (particularly given the poor start) may not be advisable.
- New Mets reliever Neil Ramirez discussed his recent signing with reporters including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, who tweets a video of the righty’s comments. Ramirez says he feels he was throwing well with the Giants despite some poor earned-run results. When the Blue Jays claimed and then outrighted him, he elected to test the market in search of “an opportunity to stick” with another team. His deal with the Mets came together in very short order.
- With the Nationals still struggling to find reliable relief arms, the team has moved top pitching prospect Erick Fedde into a bullpen role, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets. While it seems likely that the organization still views Fedde as a starter in the long run, the consensus top-100 prospect may be of greater use in the near term out of the pen. He has impressed thus far at Double-A, throwing 42 2/3 innings of 3.16 ERA ball with 7.4 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9, and could conceivably function as a multi-inning option in the majors. While a deadline deal or two remains all but inevitable for the division-leading Nats, utilizing Fedde in that manner might provide a boost while limiting the need to part with young talent later this summer. Of course, the team tried something similar last year with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez with less-than-ideal results, though both were still able to return a big piece in Adam Eaton over the winter.
The Mets have placed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. His active roster spot will go to reliever Neil Ramirez, whose signing was made official, with the 40-man spot cleared by moving Jeurys Familia to the 60-day DL.
[Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart]
Cabrera has a sprained left thumb, per the club announcement. The specifics of that injury had caused some confusion recently. While Cabrera seemingly believed there was a ligament tear, the club stated that the issue with the thumb is limited to the joint.
It’s not immediately clear just how long Cabrera will be down, though perhaps there’s some cause for optimism. After all, he had been trying to play through the injury, so it may be that a sufficient rest will allow it to fully heal without a long layoff or rehab stint.
What does seem apparent is that the Mets won’t immediately dip into their farm to call up top prospect Amed Rosario. Though he has performed admirably at Triple-A, reports suggest that the club isn’t interested in bumping Rosario to the majors in the near-term.
Cabrera, 31, has been hitting somewhat below his recent levels through 33 games of action. Over 127 plate appearances, he owns a .257/.339/.381 batting line with three home runs. While that’s a big step back from his power numbers from last year — 23 total long balls and a .474 slugging percentage — Cabrera had ticked up in the plate-discipline department, with just twenty strikeouts against eleven walks.