A few weeks ago it was reported that the Mets were interested in John Smoltz for the rotation. The interest hasn’t flagged, apparently, as the Daily News says this morning that “the Mets have been particularly active in dialogue” with Smotlz. That’s a fancy way of saying they’re talking. Smoltz had previously been linked to the Phillies — who reportedly wanted him to come out of the pen — and the Nats.
Not sure what’s taking so long with Smoltz. A guy who went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in eight starts in the AL and then 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts in the NL shouldn’t exactly present a complicated negotiation. “Here’s your one-year, $3 million + incentives contract. Take it or leave it.” If he comes back with a counter and you really like the cut of his jib, sure you settle at $4 million, which is less than Vicente Padilla will make next year.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.