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.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.