Mickey Callaway and his new pitching coach, Dave Eiland, are already working on a plan to keep the Mets' pitchers healthy.
According to Marc Carig, the two have sent the staff an offseason throwing plan that the players will have to be diligent about following.
Manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland have sent Mets pitchers a detailed offseason throwing program. Progress will be monitored.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 16, 2017
Carig has been all over the story about how the new Mets staff plans to improve their pitchers' performance and health, and it has me really optimistic.
In 2016, I felt like the Mets should have gone with a six-man rotation at least to start the season. My rationale was that with all the extra workload on the pitchers' arms from the 2015 postseason, they would benefit from the extra rest. But that never materialized, and -- coincidence or not -- by the end of the year, the Mets were ravaged by injuries and ended up leaning heavily on call ups Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo to push them toward a Wild Card berth.
In 2017, the narrative was all about keeping the pitchers healthy, but it seemed more like wishful thinking than anything prescriptive. How was that going to happen? A different workload? Beefing up the bullpen? There wasn't any action besides a lot of lipservice to how important health was. Predictably, wishing and hoping didn't work, and Mets fans endured a 92-loss slog through the season.
But things are different now. The Mets have a plan. They're going to be conservative with their starters, and if they're not named Syndergaard or deGrom, opposing batters are not going to see them a third time through the order. To compensate for that, Sandy Alderson seems intent on landing a late inning bullpen arm or two to compliment Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, and Jerry Blevins.
And now the offseason pitching program, which could be a game changer. On the surface, it may not seem like one, but it reflects the kind of forward-thinking insight this organization needs right now.
On his media tour this week, Callaway spoke about how the Indians identified just how dangerous a pitcher loosening up their arm with light tossing can be, and changed the way his staff threw during warm ups. The Indians also had players give urine samples to check their hydration levels, and would not allow a player on the field until he was properly hydrated.
Maybe that sounds silly, but Callaway's Indians staffs were notably durable. And we're coming off a season where Yoenis Cespedes says he doesn't like the taste of water, so he doesn't drink enough. Dehydration can lead to and/or exacerbate muscle pulls and tears. I think we can draw a straight line to his reoccurring hamstring problems.
Syndergaard and deGrom are legitimate aces under team control that don't come around that often. Even without Matt Harvey never becoming The Dark Knight again, this staff should be the strength of this team. If Callaway and Eiland's new program is the beginning of a new way of doing things at Citi Field, I'm very excited that maybe the Mets are finally figuring out a cure to the constant injury woes.
It's certainly better than a hope and a prayer.