Coming into this season, the New York Mets pitching staff was expected to be one of the best in the business. Yet again, we see another harsh example of why the game isn’t played on paper. The injury bug was hungry and it bit hard. It took a sizable chunk out of the Mets’ pitching staff and the supposed depth it was to have.
It’s no surprise that the Mets sport the highest team earned run average in the major leagues. Little has gone right, and the revolving door of starters/relievers the team has tried to bring in to fill the void has not worked. Therefore, here’s an internal look at what options the team has at this point.
We’ve been there and done that with guys like Sean Gilmartin, Adam Wilk, and Rafael Montero. The first move from the minors to look at is the most recent one that occurred on Friday. The Mets sent Montero down to Triple-A Las Vegas, placed Seth Lugo on the 60-day disabled list and called up to the active roster Tyler Pill. You can read about Pill’s call-up here from our Mets Beat Writer, Dan Yanofsky.
What are some other possible Minor League options you may be wondering? No, we’re not going to mention Kevin Plawecki who just went down to Las Vegas in favor of Travis d’Arnaud. I don’t ever want to see Plawecki near a mound, unless he’s in his catcher’s gear.
Wilfredo Boscan is a 27-year-old career minor leaguer equipped with only 15.1 innings pitched and one start in his major league career. In the minors his ERA is a shade under 4, generally throws strikes but surrenders a lot of hits. He was originally signed by the Texas Rangers from Venezuela in 2006. This season, he’s 0-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 7 starts. Over those 7 starts he’s pitched 28.2 innings and is holding true to his high base hits allowed form, allowing 37 for a .322 average against him. He is throwing strikes however, sporting a 20/8 K/BB ratio.
The high hit totals and opposing batters average would scare me a bit. With that though he is pitching in a hitter friendly Pacific League in Las Vegas. In the same light I’d point out that Seth Lugo was far from having a stellar season at Las Vegas before his call up and success in the majors last season. For example, in 73.1 innings pitched last year in Triple-A, Lugo surrendered 103 hits and a .329 average against him. Yet when Lugo reached the Mets those numbers drastically improved. So maybe there is something about the thin air out there in Vegas…
Let’s travel out to Binghamton, New York now and visit the Double-A affiliate for the Mets, The Rumble Ponies. Yes, that’s really what they’re called now. There’s a young man by the name of Corey Oswalt who’s been making some a rumble this season, pun intended. Corey was a 7th round draft choice of the Mets in 2012 out of James Madison High School in sunny San Diego, California. This kid is a converted infielder with a strong arm and has spent his time in the minor leagues developing into a pitcher.
The 23-year-old Oswalt was asked this past Spring Training by Metsminors.net about his conversion into a pitcher. He stated:
“After the first season I was like ‘alright I can really do this’ I mean I had glimpses of it, but I didn’t really know like how to pitch or do exactly – so the first few seasons till Brooklyn I was more just a command guy, just because I didn’t want to walk anybody. That’s always been my big thing, not walking guys, but now that I’ve gotten older and stronger now I’m turning more into power and starting to strike guys out more. As my body’s developed I’ve become more of a pitcher, it just took a little bit of time.”
That time learning how to pitch and commanding his fastball seems to have paid off. This season he’s rocking a cool 2.25 ERA in 8 starts over 48 innings pitched. If those numbers weren’t impressive enough, check this out this stat. Over those 48 innings he’s only allowed 40 hits for a .225 opposing batters average. He also has a k/BB ratio of 41 k’s/13 BB’s. As Stuart Scott used to say, those numbers are as cool as the other side of the pillow.
There’s also another kid in Binghamton who’s impressed, PJ Conlon. Like Oswalt, Conlon is 23 years old but he was drafted just two years ago in the 13th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
Conlon is 5-2 this season with a 3.02 ERA. He’s started 9 games this season spanning 53.2 innings, allowing 49 hits and a .244 opposing batters average against him. Now, if you thought Oswalt’s control was spectacular, check out Conlon’s. He’s struck out 48 batters and has only issued free passes to 7 hitters this year. Now that’s pinpoint accuracy.
Wilfredo Boscan may be the only one of these three pitchers with any major league experience, but if things continue to go sideways for the Mets I’d be tempted to look further down in the minors to Oswalt or Conlon. Accuracy has been a problem for Mets pitchers this season, uncharacteristically. These two kids have proven that they can throw strikes and get ahead with their fastballs. As a result, it allows them to utilize their off-speed pitches to disengage hitters.
The duo of Oswalt and Conlon seem like they’re on a good trajectory towards the majors, and it may not be a bad thing to get the pair of 23-year-old San Diego kids some major league experience.