John Smoltz raised some eyebrows recently when he did what no old ballplayer — especially no old Hall of Famer — ever does: he said the kids today are better than he and his teammates were!
Smoltz, talking to the Daily News about the Mets’ young arms Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler and how they compare to the Braves’ core of 1990s aces:
“They’re way better,” Smoltz said of the Mets in comparison to his Braves rotation, which featured five elite pitchers all under the age of 30, including Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. “They’ve got more talent than we could ever have.”
Smoltz noted, of course, that talent isn’t everything and that health is a huge factor which determines whether a talented pitcher becomes a great pitcher. And of course how you adjust matters too. If Greg Maddux tried to pitch when he was 33 like he did when he was 23 he would’t have had the same sort of success. And no one, of course, is suggesting that the Mets pitchers are as good, overall, as three Hall of Fame pitchers eventually were. This is a talent assessment.
Still, pretty notable and admirable to see an old guy give props to young guys like this. It’s so rare to hear baseball players do that, even though in every single athletic pursuit, the raw talent and physical ability generally improves with time. It’s a fact that no one on that Braves staff — and hardly anyone in baseball history — had the kind of stuff that Jacob deGrom has, for example. Whether that turns into a great career, it’s too soon to say. But you gotta recognize talent.
Mets starter Matt Harvey helped his own cause during his start on Saturday against the Diamondbacks. He put himself in a 2-0 hole after surrendering a two-run home run to David Peralta in the first inning, so he decided to get both runs back with his own stick.
With a runner on first base and two outs in a 2-1 game in the fifth inning, Harvey slugged a first pitch, 93 MPH fastball from Patrick Corbin over the fence in left-center field at Citi Field. Peralta, in left field, immediately waved to signal for a replay review, as a fan had reached over the railing above the fence to catch the ball. However, Harvey’s home run stood upon replay review, giving the right-hander his first career home run.
Harvey is the second Mets pitcher to have gone yard this year, joining Noah Syndergaard. He wound up with the win as well on Saturday, improving to 8-6 with seven innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits and four walks with nine strikeouts.
UPDATE: So much for “not serious.” According to Matt Ehalt of the Bergen Record, the Mets confirmed that Matz was diagnosed with a partial tear of his left lat muscle. He was given a platelet-rich plasma injection and will be shut down from throwing for three weeks before being re-examined. Brutal news for the Mets, who will likely face questions about why they let Matz pitch after he complained of symptoms after his first start.
8:12 p.m. ET: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York hears that Matz’s injury is “not serious,” but that he’ll miss his next scheduled start on Sunday. That’s encouraging, but the Mets haven’t had the best track record with injuries recently.
8:05 p.m. ET: Mets rookie left-hander Steven Matz has 1.32 ERA over his first two starts in the majors while driving in five runs, but it will be a while before we see him again.
According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Matz will miss “several weeks” due to a sore lat muscle. As Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes, Matz dealt with some lat tightness after his major league debut against the Reds on June 28, but he received treatment and was cleared to pitch against the Dodgers last weekend. The 24-year-old pitched six scoreless innings in that game, so it didn’t have an impact on his performance, but apparently things have gotten worse. It’s a bummer.
With Matz down, the Mets will presumably go back to a more traditional five-man rotation with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese. They still have Dillon Gee with Triple-A Las Vegas if they want to go back to a six-man rotation, though they’d have to add him back to the 40-man roster.