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Mets 2013 Pitching: On the Boulevard of Broken Arms

Wow. Where to begin, Mets fans. I was perusing on my phone when I saw the headline. To say that this is the worst possible news that could happen to the franchise at this particular point in the season, would not be an overstatement (outside of a real tragedy of some sort). In terms of “normal” course of baseball, the word that Matt Harvey’s season was abruptly ending because of a partial ligament tear in his elbow crushed the majority of hopefulness that had crept into the psyches of Mets fans. It swiftly destroys the visions of 2014 relevance. The words “Tommy” and “John” likely coincided with millions of Mets fans muttering a related two-word sentiment. “We’re.” “F-ed.”

What struck me after absorbing the Harvey news was the season it’s been for Mets pitching arms. Despite all that, the Metros staff has been above respectable. They’ve been solid. And I will always claim that pitching — the sheer force and physics of a body that puts absurd amounts of stress on the fragile arm — just defies any sort of logic anyway. But as you review the full season, it’s really incredible to document. Maybe this is happening on most MLB teams, and we’re just hyper-sensitive to woe-is-me stories and conspiracy theories. Regardless, think about this for a few minutes.

Remember Me?

Remember Me?

Player: Johan Santana

Last Seen on Major League Hill: August 17, 2012

Affliction: Torn Anterior Shoulder Capsule

Anticipated Return: Your Guess is as Good as Mine

Remember Johan Santana? The former Cy Young award winner? The guy who tossed the Mets first no-hitter in franchise history last year? We almost forgot too. Santana has been silent this season after being shut down following his second tear of an anterior shoulder capsule in the past three seasons. The latest “setback” took place amid a soap opera-worthy back and forth during the spring over rehab regimen, throwing routines and the like. The result is undeniable, though. Santana hasn’t touched a Major League mound since, and whether he ever will again remains quite a legitimate question. For what it’s worth, Johan says he’s coming back.


Player: Frank Francisco

Last Seen on Major League Hill: September 16, 2012

Affliction: Bone Spurs, Elbow Issues

Anticipated Return: Couldn’t Care Less

This post is more about illustrating a point around the arm issues surrounding this 2013 Mets campaign, but can we digress for a moment? What an awful, awful signing. The Mets gave Francisco a two-year deal before the 2012 season for $12M. He largely stunk in Flushing in 2012, posting 23 saves in 26 chances but sporting a pathetic 5.53 ERA and 1.61. WHIP. He had offseason surgery to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow. Here we are…in late August of 2013…no FrankFrank. He’s pitched at various levels of the farm system. He’s experienced various levels of pain and inflammation. He’s expressed various levels of give-a-f*&k. Mets fans will shed no tears when he fades quietly into that good night. Thanks for stopping by, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Player: Shaun Marcum

Last Seen on Major League Hill: July 6, 2013

Affliction: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (a condition that causes cold and numbness in the hand/fingers, impacting ability to grip ball, etc.

Anticipated Return: Maybe 2014 with another team

We Barely Knew Ya

We Barely Knew Ya

The Mets took a flyer on Marcum. No issues with that. Low risk, high reward. The whole high reward part didn’t pan out. So be it. Marcum had moments where he looked like he could fit the desired fifth starter-type role. Unfortunately, his 1-10 record and 5.29 ERA in 78.1 innings wasn’t the upside vision.

Then, he too fell to an arm injury. July 6th was Marcum’s final start for the Mets. Days later he would opt for surgery to address Thoratic Outlet Syndrome. I’m sure we will look back on Marcum’s career as a Met with great fondness.

Player: Jonathon Niese

Last Seen on Major League Hill: Tonight, a complete came win against Philly coming off a previous start where he went seven innings and gave up one earned run while striking out nine

Affliction: Partially torn rotator cuff

Anticipated Return: N/A

Niese is back in the rotation following a one-month hiatus from mid-June to mid-August on account of a partially torn rotator cuff. The diagnosis then was rest and rehab. They’ve done that and Niese has been better than he’s been all season long since returning in August. Sorry, can we just pause a second? HOW DO YOU PITCH WITH ANY SORT OF TORN ROTATOR CUFF? Thanks. Just had to get that out as an ex-high school pitcher who tore something in their shoulder and watched a “fastball” flutter to home plate in what more resembled an eephus pitch. Anyway, doctors know best. Let’s just hope Niese keeps hurling and get through the season OK. We could use a full-year of top-of-his-game Niese next season. You know, given this entire post.

A Fleeting Glimpse

A Fleeting Glimpse

Player: Jeremy Hefner

Last Seen on Major League Hill: August 9, 2013

Affliction: Partially torn MCL and bone spurs

Anticipated Return: 2014? 2015?

Word as recently as this afternoon is that Hefner will be getting Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow. Hefner was one of baseball’s hottest pitchers in the month or so prior to the All-Star break. As we mentioned right here, Hefner had a least begun to change my perception from “fringe Major League pitcher” to “serviceable back of rotation guy.” So much for that, for now.


Player: Jenrry Mejia

Last Seen on Major League Hill: August 17, 2013

Affliction: Bone spurs in elbow

Anticipated Return: 2014?

Ahhh, those pesky bone spurs! Mejia was part of this wicked stretch where promise and hope were dashed by arm injury after arm injury. Mejia was the anecdote to the crappy Hefner news — for an instant. The former Mets phenom and white-hot prospect had sort of been a bit forgotten about following a meteoric initial rise. Mejia had made the Mets 2010 Opening Day roster becoming the youngest Met (at age 20) to do so since Doc Gooden. Mejia then bounced between reliever and starter and between the minors and the big club. In April of 2011, he suffered a complete tear of his MCL. Bye-bye Jenrry and big expectations. So, it was kind of like found gold when Jenrry returned to the Mets earlier this summer. People forgot that he was still only 23 and a few good initial starts had our minds dancing with visions of Harvey, Wheeler and Mejia powering a young and dominant staff! But, alas, it was a short-lived big league campaign for Mejia who left his August 17th start after only three innings and elbow discomfort. Apparently surgery was always part of the plan. Yay, knife!

And then there was this...

And then there was this…

Player: Matt Harvey

Last Seen on Major League Hill: August 24, 2013

Affliction: Partially torn UCL in elbow

Anticipated Return: 2015? April 1, 2014?

Do we need to talk about this one? Talk about the topping on a nice, juicy FU cake to Mets fans. The NL All-Star starter. Our dominant ace. The strong-armed, strong-bodied horse that was brightest light of a shimmering hope for Metros faithful. Who knows when Harvey will return, but it capped a dreadful August for Mets arms…and a staggering season. (side note: Bobby Parnell gets a pass with his “neck injury,” but I can’t recall another campaign where the hurlers’ arm body count piled up so voluminously).

There’s always next year. Or is there?

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