Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Why Zack Wheeler will not pitch for the Mets in April

Mets manager Terry Collins reiterated Tuesday that despite all the injuries to the rotation, Zack Wheeler is not a consideration to slide into the Opening Day rotation.

“There’s a reason why we sent him out,” Collins said. “He needs to go to Triple-A. He needs to face hitters in Triple-A. … He needs to go work on his stuff, and he needs to be able to do what he did toward midseason [last year], and that is pound the strike zone. Thus far, in the games he’s thrown over there, they said he’s been a little wild.”

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The unspoken reason, of course, is service time. Should Wheeler accrue enough of it to become a Super Two player after the 2015 season, he would suddenly become eligible for free agency after the 2018 season as opposed to 2019 — at a time when the Mets could be highly competitive.

What’s more, Super Two status would give Wheeler four years of arbitration eligibility as opposed to the usual three. Should he develop into the type of ace that everyone expects, that would ultimately cost the Mets million of dollars and increase their starting point for free agency negotiations (which, of course, would begin a full year sooner). It’s an escalating factor, because arbitration salaries are based heavily upon what players made the previous year.

A prime example is Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, who made $4.2 million as a Super Two player in 2009. By his fourth year of arbitration eligibility he was up to $15 million, blowing away MLB’s previous arbitration record. He and the Phillies then had a higher number to use as a reference when Hamels signed a $144-million megadeal last summer.

In other words, starting Wheeler in April as opposed to June could damage the team’s future payroll flexibility, at a time when they might otherwise be highly competitive in the free-agent market. The counterargument is that increased ticket sales in April and May would make up some of that money. The reality is that they would not come close.

It’s an awfully high cost for a team projected to lose close to 100 games, just for a few extra starts from Wheeler — who may not be 100 percent big league-ready anyway — in 2013. So criticize the Mets for being cheap on numerous occasions over the past few years if you want, but do not blame them for it here. This move is not cheap; it’s simply prudent.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Examining R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young candidacy

R.A. Dickey continued padding his statistics Monday against the Rockies, falling short of victory but shuffling ever closer to a potential National League Cy Young award.

Assuming the Mets do not alter their rotation in any radical way (a slim possibility) between now and the end of the season, Dickey should have eight starts remaining to prove he is Cy-worthy at age 37. As it currently shakes out, he will face the Marlins (29th-ranked offense) three times, and the Astros (28th), Phillies (23rd), Nationals (13th), Braves (9th) and Cardinals (4th) all once. So despite Dickey needing to win five times in eight games to reach 20 victories, the schedule is set up nicely for him.

That said, there are plenty of other fine candidates pursuing a Cy Young. With eight starts remaining, here’s a look at how Dickey stacks up against the other leaders:

*Note: Wins Above Replacement is omitted from the comparison due to the significant differences between accepted systems. But Dickey ranks third in Baseball Prosectus’s calculations and fifth in those of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Clayton Kershaw is the only other NL pitcher to rank in the top five in all three systems.

R.A. Dickey, Mets
ERA: 2.82 (4th)
Record: 15-4 (T-3rd)
Strikeouts: 181 (1st)
Innings: 175.1 (3rd)
WHIP: 1.03 (4th)
K/BB: 4.53 (5th)
FIP: 3.10 (7th)
xFIP: 3.11 (4th)

Dickey also leads the National League with four complete games, and is tied for the lead with two shutouts.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
ERA: 2.87 (7th)
Record: 11-7 (T-16th)
Strikeouts: 175 (2nd)
Innings: 178.2 (1st)
WHIP: 1.00 (2nd)
K/BB: 4.17 (7th)
FIP: 2.84 (4th)
xFIP: 3.21 (6th)

The reigning NL Cy Young winner, Kershaw is 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 39 strikeouts and four walks over his last five starts.

Johnny Cueto, Reds
ERA: 2.44 (1st)
Record: 16-6 (T-1st)
Strikeouts: 135 (18th)
Innings: 169.2 (6th)
WHIP: 1.13 (8th)
K/BB: 3.65 (13th)
FIP: 3.04 (5th)
xFIP: 3.63 (T-15th)

Cueto would have ranked second in the NL in ERA last year had he amassed enough innings to qualify.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants
ERA: 2.83 (5th)
Record: 14-7 (T-5th)
Strikeouts: 160 (6th)
Innings: 171.2 (4th)
WHIP: 0.99 (1st)
K/BB: 5.00 (3rd)
FIP: 3.26 (11th)
xFIP: 3.23 (7th)

Bumgarner, who recently celebrated his 23rd birthday, has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since the All-Star break.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds
ERA: 1.35 (N/A)
Saves: 29 (3rd)
Strikeouts: 110 (T-35th)
Innings: 60.0 (T-93rd)
WHIP: 0.72 (N/A)
K/BB: 7.33 (N/A)
FIP: 1.03 (N/A)
xFIP: 1.39 (N/A)

Chapman, a reliever, will not pitch even half the innings necessary to qualify for the ERA title and other rate stat leaderboards.

***

Those are probably the top five in some order, and you can make a legitimate case for every one of them. Cueto leads the league in ERA. Bumgarner has been more or less unhittable since July. Kershaw is trending in the right direction and could easily finish with the league’s best overall resume. Chapman is the most-feared and most-successful reliever in baseball. Dickey may have the most well-rounded stat line of any of them.

At this point, you could certainly make an argument to rank Dickey as high as first. I’d listen. But with fractions of points separating almost everyone on this list, there is a lot that can still happen over the next five weeks, including late runs from the second-tier group of Cole Hamels of the Phillies, Matt Cain of the Giants and Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg (if he does not get shut down) of the Nationals.

All that’s clear is that with eight starts remaining, Dickey is on the short list of legitimate Cy Young contenders in one of the most crowded fields of contenders in years.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

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