Zack Wheeler on Bryce Harper: “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring”

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper recently offered his reaction upon learning that that the team added right-hander Max Scherzer to the fold. Naturally, he was positively giddy about the signing.

“To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing. I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.

Harper isn’t wrong. You could make the case that the Nationals had the best rotation in the game even before signing Scherzer. He has every reason to feel confident about their chances. However, comments like that aren’t going to be very popular with other teams. Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler heard what Harper said and believes that they can make things interesting this season. Here’s what he told John Harper of the New York Daily News:

“I guarantee you we all saw what Bryce Harper said,’ ” Wheeler said with a smile. “He said, ‘give me my ring,’ ” Wheeler continued. “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring, I’ll guarantee you that.”

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “It’s like, ‘they’ve got a good staff, but I wonder if we can go out there and sort of put them to shame. A bunch of young guys against the older guys; put ’em to shame, you know.

“Obviously they’re a good team, but that’s baseball. We’ve got a good pitching staff, so do they. We’ve got good athletes, so do they. Who cares? Let’s go.”

While it’s not on the level of the Nationals, the Mets project to have a very good rotation this season, as Wheeler will be joined by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon. Colon doesn’t quite fit the “young guys” line that Wheeler offered, but the Mets also have prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Steven Matz waiting in the wings. They have enough talent to compete for a Wild Card spot this season, but a lot would have to go right for them to make a run at first place. The Mets were just 4-15 against the Nationals last season, so this won’t be much of a rivalry until they can begin to turn that around.

Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season

Kopech has opted out
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Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.

The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”

Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.

Now, however, Kopech has opted out.