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Mets/Cubs to play split doubleheader, trade strategy and the need for more starting pitching
The Mets appear to be prioritizing offense over their starting pitching ahead of the trade deadline
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets and Cubs were rained out at Wrigley Field on Friday - they will play a split doubleheader today beginning at 2:20 PM ET
The Mets are eying July 24 or July 26 for Jacob deGrom’s 2022 debut (New York Post)
Pete Alonso says he is suffering from PTSD after his brutal car accident in Florida back in March (Players Tribune)
With deGrom seeming likely to opt out of his contract and so many other pending free agents (Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, Edwin Diaz, and Adam Ottavino), the Mets view their upcoming off-season as a, “fire drill” (Heyman)
The Mets are prioritizing offense over pitching ahead of the trade deadline, meaning it’s unlikely they’ll pursue Reds RHP Luis Castillo this summer (Heyman)
The Mets haven’t ruled out a trade for Royals OF Andrew Benitendi - the Mets are not concerned he isn’t vaccinated considering they wouldn’t play in Canada unless both they and the Blue Jays made it to the World Series (Heyman)
The 2022 MLB Draft is Sunday in Los Angeles - Kevin Mitchell will represent the Mets at the event and the Mets will pick 11th, 14th, 52nd and 75th on the first day
Today’s Games 🗓
Match-up: Mets (56-34) @ Cubs (34-55)
Where: Wrigley Field — Chicago, Illinois
Gm 1 - RHP Taijuan Walker (7-2, 2.63 ERA) vs RHP Marcus Stroman (2-5, 4.91 ERA)
Gm 2 - RHP Max Scherzer (6-1, 2.15 ERA) vs LHP Drew Smyly (2-5, 4.43 ERA)
When: 2:20 PM EDT, 8:05 PM EDT
Where to Watch: Game 1 - WPIX, Game 2 - SNY, MLB Network
The Mets shouldn’t make assumptions with their rotation 📝
Pitchers break. That’s what Terry Collins would say repeatedly during his pre and post game press conferences.
And the Mets know all too well about broken pitchers.
Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Johan Santana, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson. And for most of them, repeatedly.
And they’re still waiting for one of those pitchers to be fixed after a year-long (literally) absence.
The list goes on and on.
It’s why the Mets can make no assumptions with the immediate future of their starting rotation. Yes, Scherzer is back, deGrom should be back within ten days or so. That alone is as tantalizing as any 1-2 punch in the sport. And certainly, the arms behind them in Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Carrasco would paste together one of the finest rotations in the sport down the stretch.
But again, pitchers break. There are no sure things here.
Earlier this week, Jon Heyman in the New York Post said the Mets are less likely to pursue Luis Castillo in a trade ahead of the August 2 trade deadline with a need to upgrade their bullpen and designating hitter potentially taking a priority over pitching.
That strategy is a little presumptuous considering deGrom hasn’t thrown a single major league pitch since July 7, 2021 and Scherzer has made just ten starts for the Mets so far in 2022.
Castillo, 29, is under team control through the 2023 season and is arguably the best arm to be made available ahead of the trade deadline this summer. He is 3-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 starts for the Reds in 2022, having allowed 27 walks and just five home runs to go along with 82 strikeouts in 78 innings.
He would do several things for the Mets, both now and in the immediate future:
Assuming everyone is healthy, he would join Scherzer and deGrom as the best three-headed monster at the top of rotation in the game and create a wall of pitching for a postseason run
He would provide top-tiered insurance against an injury down the stretch to any one of their five top starters
Procuring Castillo would hedge the club for 2023 in the event deGrom, Walker, Bassitt and Carrasco leave via free agency (the Mets simply cannot let deGrom go, by the way, but we can talk about that later)
The cost in trade will unquestionably be considerable, especially since both the Yankees and the Dodgers are likely to be in play for his services and can unquestionably pay the price in prospects to get him. That alone could inflate the price, not to mention the other contenders who are likely to pursue Castillo.
Look, I’m not saying the Mets can sacrifice the prospect currency likely necessary to net someone like Castillo. He could easily come at a cost of two of their top five prospects as the basis for a deal, and after trading so much away in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Canó deal as well as the Marcus Stroman and Javier Báez deals, the Mets might be understandably gun shy to trade away so much to get only a year and a half guaranteed out of a player. And I’m not even saying they match up well with the Reds in a trade to get him, or Tyler Mahle for that matter (who, when you look at his peripherals, has pitched a lot better than his 4.48 ERA would suggest, for what its worth).
But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at least be at the poker table at a minimum. Besides, the best teams and the richest teams should always be in the conversation for the best players.
With the Mets having two picks in the top 20 and four in the first 75 in the 2022 draft, the Mets maybe in a better position to fork over what is required to land a young, elite, inexpensive and (kind of) controllable starting pitcher.
But whether it’s Castillo or someone else, the Mets trade deadline strategy must include the augmentation of their starting rotation.
That’s because pitchers break. It’s just a matter of when.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Carlos Cortes (OF, No. 15 Prospect, Double-A): 1-for-4, HR, 3 RBI
Ronny Mauricio (SS, No. 3 Prospect, Double-A): 2-for-5, HR, RBI, 2 R
Carson Seymour (RHP, Single-A): 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 11 K
Around the League 🚩
Mariners rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez hit a grand slam, sending the Mariners to their 12th win in a row
The Rays snapped the Orioles ten-game winning streak with a 5-4 win over Baltimore at Tropicana Field
Clayton Kershaw fell six outs shy of a perfect game in the Dodgers’ 9-1 win over the Angels
The Red Sox came back from a three run deficit to edge the Yankees 5-4 in the Bronx
Austin Riley homered for the fifth time in seven games in the Braves 8-4 win over the Nationals
The Phillies scored two runs in the seventh inning to edge the Marlins 2-1 in Miami
The Padres will be looking for outfield help before the August 2 trade deadline (MLB.com)
MLB has made its latest proposal to the MLBPA regarding an international draft, although their offer of a $181 million bonus pool is the same as that of their previous offer - the players are seeking a $260 million pool (Athletic)
MLB will pay $185 million to more than 20,000 players in a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by minor league players, who were seeking better pay, benefits, housing and working conditions (ESPN)