Yunesky Maya named top pitcher in Dominican winter league

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Yunesky Maya signed a four-year, $6 million contract with the Nationals after defecting from Cuba and found himself in the majors following just five starts in the minors, but the 28-year-old right-hander struggled with an 0-3 record and 5.88 ERA in five September outings.

Maya headed to the Dominican Republic to pitch winter ball and get some more work in before likely joining the Nationals’ rotation for Opening Day, and he’s been named the DWL’s pitcher of the year.

Maya had a 1.32 ERA and .193 opponents’ batting average in eight starts, posting an excellent 42/9 K/BB ratio in 41 innings after managing a sub par 12/11 K/BB ratio in 26 innings for the Nationals.

Obviously dominating in winter ball hardly guarantees big-league success, but the Nationals must feel better about having Maya penciled into the Opening Day rotation and he’s at least shown some of the form that made him an elite ace in Cuba.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.