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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Green Shoots

We’ll begin with the bringdown portion of today’s recap.

  • Matt Harvey lasted five innings, threw his fastball around 93, and got a grand total (if I’m remembering the broadcast correctly) of one swinging strike from a position player.
  • The Mets won consecutive games … for the first time in nearly a month.
  • Juan Lagares, Matt Reynolds and Harvey all turned in at-bats at important junctures that left you wondering if they were actually familiar with baseball.
  • Wilmer Flores is (see if you can guess) OUT FOR THE SEASON.
  • If you’re looking farther afield for hope, well, Noah Syndergaard had a pretty meh rehab start for Brooklyn and is basically out of places to pitch in the minors.

Did Harvey look better than he did in his return against Houston? He did — his victory over the Reds is being billed as progress, and it undoubtedly was.

But we need to ask the larger question: progress towards what? It’s somewhere between possible and likely that the Harvey of 2015 is gone, with thoracic outlet syndrome having reduced him in a way that a torn elbow ligament couldn’t.

Harvey no longer has the stuff to miss bats, and he’s competing for a job in a baseball era in which guys who throw 95 grow on trees. Will that swing-and-a-miss stuff come back? Perhaps, but there is no pitcher who’s had sustained success at his trade after the operation to repair thoracic outlet syndrome. Harvey could be the first, it’s true. But it seems more likely that he will be the latest in a line of cautionary examples.

That means Harvey’s ceiling may now be a back-end-of-the-rotation arm, one who wins when he misses bats and gets run support and doesn’t when he doesn’t. He’s headed for this third arbitration year in 2018, slated to make north of $5 million. Is that where the Mets want to spend their money, particularly given their signals that they’re not going to spend as much of it? I’m not sure it is.

If you wanted signs of hope, though, you did have them Thursday. Josh Smoker‘s slider was nasty as he turned in his best inning of the year, Jeurys Familia looked much better in a clean inning, and AJ Ramos closed out the game. Meanwhile, Brandon Nimmo socked two homers, Lagares hit one, Dominic Smith drove in a run and Kevin Plawecki collected another hit.

Nimmo may never hit two home runs in one game again, but his sense of the strike zone is preternatural — he almost always sees Ball 3 in an at-bat. If he can keep that discerning eye (and there’s no reason to suggest he can’t) and slash enough hits off pitchers who try to exploit his patience by going after him early, he can be a valuable big-league contributor.

Lagares’s batting eye is more of a question — he’s never shown sustained ability to lay off breaking pitches out of the zone — but his superlative defense means he has less to do to prove himself useful. Smith looks like a smart hitter and a helpless one on consecutive at-bats, which is just a fancy way of saying he’s a rookie. But Plawecki has looked far more competent in his most-recent go-round with the Mets, and could prove a perfectly able complement to Travis d’Arnaud, at least until d’Arnaud inevitably a) steps on a land mine; b) contracts river blindness; c) is drilled in the knee by a meteorite; or d) all four at once. Going by TdA’s unfortunate chart, I’d predict at least one of those things will happen by Tax Day.

Anyway, the Mets won and won handily, and while Harvey got most of the pixels, the real signs of hope were elsewhere. Which, ultimately, may be more important to the Mets’ prospects in 2018 and beyond.

* * *

Our famous Faith and Fear numbers shirt is back, now featuring Mike Piazza’s 31, the same order you’ll see at Citi Field, and even a more accurate font. For men’s styles, go here; women’s styles are here. Either is $24.08 from T-Shirt Mojo, with proceeds helping us pay our server costs. Available for fans of all ages, perceived ceiling and DL statuses.

12 comments to Green Shoots

  • Eric

    Syndergaard may as well continue his rehab on the same schedule alongside the minor leaguers on the big league club.

  • Seth

    Hey just a little non-baseball nit here, but you keep hawking the numbers shirt. It seems that all sizes are not available, though. I’m a tad hefty so I really need an XL, but it’s not happening.

  • Guy Kipp

    Actually, in a year that has produced a voodoo-level of widespread injuries of all manner of severity and unthinkably bizarre circumstances (separating shoulders on swings, fouling balls off one’s face, etc.), Travis d’Arnaud has managed to stay largely injury-free.
    …And in remaining injury-free, he has established that his ceiling is that of a thoroughly mediocre catcher who does nothing especially well either at bat or behind the plate.

    • Tom C.

      Totally agree. The Mets have got to do better behind the plate. Every good Mets team has had a solid backstop to captain the squad out on the field (Grote, Carter, Piazza). Td’A not so much.

  • Gil

    deGrom and Blevins were pretty much the only other guys to not get hurt. But there is still time.

  • NostraDennis

    Yes, gentlemen, put me on the XL alert as well. I love the attention to detail of the new FAFIF shirt. All fonts matter.

  • eric1973

    Plenty of time left, Gil. deGrom is wearing down with each start, and remember when Blevins slipped off the curb, and broke his arm.

  • dmg

    i think degrom is already hurt, but just not talking about it.

  • […] you want to find green shoots that could grow into strong trees — and really, what else is a September of a lost season […]