The last few years have been a turbulent time for the New York Mets. Caught in limbo between contention and rebuilding, many players have recently gone through the revolving door that is Citi Field. From onetime franchise staples to free agent busts, many former Mets players are now scattered across the country, some experiencing never before seen success while others continue to struggle.
Easily the most notable of these former Mets is starting pitcher Steven Matz. After years of failing to remain healthy and productive, Matz was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays following a terrible 2020 season (9.68 ERA). Long thought of as a head case, many felt that a change of scenery could be exactly what Matz needed to get his career back on track. Two starts into 2021, this assumption might actually turn out to be true.
Matz was phenomenal in his season debut against the Texas Rangers. In 6.1 innings, he racked up nine strikeouts vs. only one walk and two hits. Matz then followed up this performance with another gem, firing six innings of one-run ball against the LA Angles. While it’s bittersweet seeing him do this for another team, it’s heartening watching him finally pitch to his full potential.
Regarding Mets position players, catcher Wilson Ramos is doing quite well for himself in Detroit. The Tigers’ new catcher is off to a hot start with the bat, slugging six home runs through nine games. For someone who hit only five all of last season, Ramos’ resurgent power is an unexpected surprise. Defensively, he’s still performing below average in pitch framing, though, not quite as severely as he did with the Mets. Likewise, he hasn’t had a chance to show off whatever arm strength he has left as there’s been but one stolen base attempt on him so far. Time will tell if the 33-year-old has what it takes to perform like this deeper into the season.
Lastly, shoutout to Andres Gimenez who’s showing Gold Glove talent with the Cleveland Indians. While his skills at shortstop were already apparent, Gimenez has taken it up a notch. Having to replace Indians’ icon Francisco Lindor, arguably the best defensive shortstop in the league, is no easy task. Yet, Gimenez is doing just that, accumulating 4 DRS and turning six double plays in seven games. While his bat is lacking (.174/.208/.348), he’s actually been hitting the ball well, just right at defenders. If everything clicks, Gimenez may become a bona fide star.
Sadly, it’s not going well for fellow Indians shortstop Amed Rosario. In four mediocre years with the Mets, many chalked up his struggles to his youth and inexperience, saying that in time he would put it all together. Now on his second team, Rosario is running out of time to do so.
Like Gimenez, Rosario is off to a slow start offensively, recording just five hits in 24 plate appearances. On the bright side, he has walked three times, one shy of his total last season. On defense, he hasn’t necessarily been bad, just unremarkable. He’s still lagging behind Gimenez at short, while his abilities in center field aren’t fully clear yet. In 20 innings in the outfield, only one flyball has been hit to him. Rosario better hope he gets more chances to prove himself in center because that may be the only way he stays on the Indians.
As for the pitchers, Michael Wacha is certainly having a rough time of it in Tampa Bay. The Mets took a chance on him in 2020, hoping that some semblance of the former All-Star was still in there. After that experiment failed, moving on to the Rays seemed like the best choice. After all, if anyone could fix Wacha, it was the pitching gurus in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, things aren’t going as planned. With one disastrous start (four runs and five hits in five innings) and an even worse relief appearance (three runs and three hits in four innings), Wacha’s days in Florida may already be numbered.
The In Between
Unlike the others, things are harder to nail down for these last two guys. The first is pitcher Chris Flexen. After three unspectacular seasons with the Mets, he took his skills to Korea in 2020 and lit up the KBO. Having returned to MLB with the Seattle Mariners, things got off to a promising start. He went five shutout innings in his debut, recording six strikeouts in the process. His second start, however, was less impressive as he gave up five runs over six innings. Granted, this walloping was at the hands of a formidable Minnesota Twins lineup, so Flexen deserves some slack.
Last but not least is Matt Harvey. Things haven’t been easy for the former ace ever since injuries derailed his career. Spending the winter reinventing himself, he wound up making the Baltimore Orioles roster on a minor league contract.
Harvey opened this season on a promising note. Flashing mid-90s speed on his fastball, he held the Red Sox scoreless through the first 3.1 innings before surrendering two runs over the next inning and a third. It didn’t go quite as well in his second outing against Boston, though, as he gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings. On a positive note, he did keep the Red Sox off the board from the second-fifth innings. Though the jury is still out, at the very least Harvey is looking serviceable so far. That may be enough for him to stick around in the majors a little while longer.
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