The season did not get off to the best start for the Miami Marlins, as they dropped their first three games against the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth carried the Nationals past the Marlins with their bats. The Nats were able to outscore the Marlins 11-1 in the series.
On the other hand, the New York Mets are coming into this series coming off an impressive series win against the San Diego Padres. The Mets pitched extremely well in their series, including a really impressive start by young and up-and-coming starter Matt Harvey. Luckily, the Fish will get to avoid Harvey, which is a huge bonus, considering the team cannot currently hit the broad side of the barn.
To preview the second series of the season, I had an email chat with Matt Musico, the editor of Rising Apple, the Fansided New York Mets site. Matt and his staff do an excellent job of covering the Mets.
Matt and I chatted about everything from the early injuries sustained by the Mets pitching staff to why he believes Jose Fernandez will have a big day in his major league debut Sunday.
Without any further ado, here is my chat with Matt:
Feb 15, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana during spring training workout at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
Ehsan Kassim: The season has just started and injury prone Johan Santana and Shuan Marcum are already out for the Mets. What do either of these pitchers have left? Are either of them going to pitch again this season?
Matt Musico: Unfortunately for Johan Santana, his Mets career is over, and possibly his major league career. He went under the knife on Tuesday for his second shoulder capsule surgery, which took him 19 months to recover from the last time. With one guaranteed year left on his contract with the Mets, Sandy Alderson will pay the $5.5 buyout instead of exercising his $25.5 million option for 2014. So, Johan plans on trying to make a comeback and pitch in the major leagues again, but if he does at all, I highly doubt it’ll be with the Mets.
As for Marcum, it’s a lot less serious, and I’m hoping he’ll only be out of the rotation for a few starts. He went on the disabled list with bicep tendonitis and has been diagnosed with neck inflammation. He’s been given the proper shots to help inflammation go down, and will not be doing anything for 48 hours. It will take him a while to get back into game shape since he hasn’t thrown in a game since March 16th, and by the time he gets back on the mound, I wouldn’t be surprised if don’t see him for about a month.
Ehsan: With the latest injury to Santana, is he now officially the worst contract in NY Mets history?
Matt: I wouldn’t say so, but only because when he was healthy, he was productive. Although he only started 109 games during his six-year contract, he went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Plus, he threw that no-hitter last season, so even if some people say his deal was nothing but a waste of money, I wholeheartedly disagree. I hold a different opinion for a few reasons, but what he did on June 1, 2012 takes the cake. Plus, when it comes to the worst contract in Mets history, Jason Bay will definitely be in that conversation instead of Santana, if he’s not at the top of that list.
Ehsan: The Mets, like the Marlins, re-bolstered their farm system this past offseason, in a trade with the Blue Jays. How soon should we expect to see those prospects playing for the Mets?
Matt: The prospect from the offseason trade we’ll see first is Travis d’Arnaud. He was the centerpiece of the deal that sent R.A. Dickey north of the border, and I think we’ll see him around the beginning of June. If d’Arnaud spends 20 days in the minors, the Mets will gain another year of organizational control, and if he spends more time in Triple-A, New York will prevent him from gaining Super-Two status in arbitration. If you couple that with the good start John Buck is off to at the plate along with his veteran presence behind it, that will allow New York the comfort of taking their time with d’Arnaud. The other significant prospect Alderson gained in this deal was Noah Syndergaard. Once Zack Wheeler gets promoted, he’ll likely be the organization’s top pitching prospect. However, he’ll be starting the season in Single-A St. Lucie, so it will probably be at least a couple years before we see him in the big leagues.
Ehsan: Gut feeling right now, which team will finish in the basement of the NL East: Marlins or Mets?
Matt: I have to go with the Marlins finishing in the basement…sorry man! I do think this team is stronger than people are giving them credit for. Despite the injuries to the rotation, it’s a strong unit (if the first three games are any indication). I think the bullpen will show vast improvements, which will be the biggest variable in watching how they end up in the win-loss column. I’ve been predicting around a .500 finish, and as a fan, I have to be as optimistic as possible, especially in April.
Ehsan: Can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Marlins will face this series? (Side note: Glad we don’t have to face Matt Harvey)
Apr 3, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a MLB game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Matt: I was at Harvey’s start Wednesday night, and I’ll tell you what, he lived up to the lofty expectations everyone has for him…even if it was just for one night. As for who Miami will be facing this weekend, they’ll be dealing with Jeremy Hefner, Jonathon Niese, and Aaron Laffey. None of these three have overpowering stuff like Harvey, but Hefner has the reputation of being a strike-thrower; if Marlins hitters decide to try and work a deep count, they may end up behind in the count more often than not. Niese is fresh off his Opening Day win against the Padres and is showing his growth as a pitcher. He is working both sides of the plate nicely, and is using his secondary pitches very well. Laffey is taking Marcum’s place in the rotation; he had a solid spring, and was labeled the first backup in case someone in the rotation goes down, and he’ll be called up from Triple-A specifically for this start. Again, not overpowering stuff, and he’s been known to give up a lot of hits, so Miami could nickel and dime him for some runs.
Ehsan: Who is going to win the series? Who will step up for the Mets?
Matt: I’m going to pick the Mets here at home to take two out of three, and I’m looking for Jeremy Hefner to step up and get a win tonight in advance of Niese taking the mound tomorrow afternoon. Laffey is the wild card for me right now, so I wouldn’t put my money on him until I see everything unfold in a game situation. At the plate, I’m going to say Ike Davis breaks out, as he’ll get on track with plethora of right-handers taking the mound for Miami this weekend.
Ehsan: Bonus question- How do you think Marlins top prospect Jose Fernandez will do in his major league debut?
Matt: by how the Mets normally do against rookie pitchers they’ve never seen before, I think he’s going to pitch very well. I don’t have solid statistics on it, but it seems like every time an unknown commodity makes a start against New York, they have their number for that afternoon/evening. That combined with my uncertainty with how Laffey will fare leads me to believe Fernandez could walk away with a victory on getaway day.
A big thank you to Matt for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Mets fans the best of luck in the upcoming series. If you get a chance, please check out Rising Apple, it is one of the best Mets sites on the internet.