Hernan Perez

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 25: Jacob Degrom #48 of the New York Mets pitches during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 25, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Jacob Degrom

Jacob deGrom dominates to help Mets snap seven-game losing streak


Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom played the role of stopper this afternoon against the Brewers, tossing eight scoreless innings as part of a 2-0 victory. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for New York.

The Mets had 10 hits this afternoon, which is akin to an offensive explosion for them. They didn’t get anything against Taylor Jungmann, who fired five scoreless innings before exiting, but Wilmer Flores hit an RBI double in the sixth inning and Lucas Duda plated an insurance run with an infield single in the seventh. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for deGrom on this day.

DeGrom cruised for the most part, allowing just four hits while walking none and striking out seven. He allowed a leadoff single to Scooter Gennett in his final inning of work, but managed to induce a double play grounder from Hernan Perez before getting Carlos Gomez to fly out. He threw exactly 100 pitches over his eight innings of work. Jeurys Familia, recently bothered by a groin injury, followed with a scoreless ninth inning for his 20th save of the season.

DeGrom has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight straight starts and now owns a 2.15 ERA and 100/18 K/BB ratio in 100 1/3 innings over 15 starts this season. He’ll almost certainly be representing the Mets in Cincinnati for the All-Star Game next month.

It’s not just about Kris Bryant: let’s fix the option rules, too.

Darin Ruf

That Kris Bryant will begin the season in the minors for financial purposes is a subject that should rile up fans. The way teams are encouraged to send down prospects so that they can control them for 6.9 years, rather than 6.0, is a problem, one that lacks any sort of obvious fix. Others have tried ways around it. But it’d take a major revamping, as well as a players union willing to make concessions on behalf of players often not currently part of the union.

So, don’t hold your breath.

My purpose today, though, is to address a different sort of roster problem, one that affects more players. And whereas the Kris Bryant-type situations tends to affect players likely to make tens of millions of dollars in their careers, mine affects the fringe players, the ones who probably won’t ever get the big payday.

I speak of option rules, and the need to change the system.

This right now is the time of year that teams are settling their final few roster spots. Frequently, those spots come down less to performance and more to who can be easily sent to Triple-A and who can’t. When it comes to relievers and the bench, teams would rather preserve their organizational depth and keep players without options remaining

(For those unaware, out-of-options players have to go on waivers, and thus can be claimed by any team, before they can be sent to the minors. Players typically have three option years, which kick in once they are added to the 40-man roster (players with fewer than five seasons of professional experience can be awarded a fourth option year). Players can be sent down many separate times in a season, but it still only accounts for the one option year.)

My problem with the option rules is that age plays no part in the process. A 16-year-old kid signed out of the Dominican Republic can be added to the 40-man roster at 20-21 and run out of options at age 23-24. The Mets’ Wilmer Flores is this year’s best example; he’s just 23, but the Mets won’t be able to send him down if he gets off to a lousy start as their shortstop. The Tigers’ Hernan Perez turns 24 on this very day. Detroit would almost surely prefer to send him down to play regularly in the minors, but they know there’s a good chance he’d be claimed on waivers.

On the other hand, a 22-year-old player drafted out of college doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until he’s 25 or 26. He might not run out of options before age 29. The Phillies’ Darin Ruf is 28. He’s spent time in the majors the last three years, hitting .251/.339/.466. If he were placed on waivers, he’d surely be grabbed by some team looking for a right-handed hitter with power. The Phillies, though, can and probably will continue to jerk him around between Triple-A and the majors, perhaps because they’ll want to carry 24-year-old Cesar Hernandez, who is out of options.

The Pirates’ Jared Hughes is 29, and he had a 1.96 ERA in 64 1/3 innings last year. However, he has an option year left, whereas fellow bullpen options Radhames Liz, Stolmy Pimentel and Arquimedes Caminero don’t. There’s no way the Pirates would choose any of those guys over Hughes given a level playing field, but since it isn’t, there’s the chance Hughes could be optioned out.

It can be even worse for late bloomers. The Blue Jays sent down 31-year-old Steve Delabar on Thursday. Since he’s a former indy leaguer, he still has the option year. Judging from his anger, he’d much rather be on waivers and get claimed by another team. The Reds are counting on 31-year-old Jumbo Diaz as a big part of their pen this year, but if he struggles for a couple of weeks, he can be sent down.

I’d like to see option rules altered to account for age of players. I don’t think a team should be able to send down a 28-year-old another team could use, and I don’t think a team should be forced to keep a 24-year-old who isn’t ready for the majors. There should be a compromise available somewhere, right? The owners would go for it, since they’d just as soon play the best players. It might be a bit tougher sell for the union, since the younger players being held back have more long-term earnings potential than the older fringe players. Still, I would hope the union would rather see players judged on merit than on how many options they have remaining.

My compromise wouldn’t be too drastic. I’d leave the 40-man roster and Rule 5 draft rules intact and simply propose that no player by allowed to run out of options before his age-25 season and that players would automatically go on the out-of-options list at age 28. Whether a player has options at age 25, 26 and 27 would still be governed by he’s used up his three options years or not.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath for this kind of alteration, either. Change comes very slowly, unless it’s a change that translates quickly and obviously into dollars gained. This doesn’t really do that. It just makes things a bit more fair for the non-Kris Bryants in the game.

Quote of the day: Buck Showalter predicts the future

Buck Showalter

Via Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post:

There were no questions asked — only orders given and statements made. “We’re going to walk this guy,” Buck Showalter said to the six Baltimore Orioles he had gathered on the Comerica Park pitcher’s mound in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the American League Division Series. “The next guy’s going to hit into a double play, and we’re gonna go home.” The whole thing was less a prediction than an edict.

Lo and behold, pinch-hitter Hernan Perez hit a weak grounder that became the game-ending 5-4-3 double play that sent the Orioles to the ALCS.

Not bad, Buck. Not bad.