D’Arnaud’s Injury Opens the Door for Kevin Plawecki

On Tuesday, the New York Mets placed starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud on the 15-day disabled list. D’Arnaud has a right rotator cuff strain, an injury he obtained on Monday night in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Although the injury is unfortunate, it gives Kevin Plawecki a chance to show everyone what he can do.

Plawecki, 25, was considered the backup catcher going into this season. A former first-round draft pick, he made his Major League debut on April 21, 2015, just over a year ago. Ironically, the reason he was called up then was because d’Arnaud was placed on the disabled list after suffering a broken hand. The Mets were not planning on promoting Plawecki until later on in the year, but they needed an everyday catcher.

He did an adequate job serving as the Mets starting catcher until d’Arnaud returned on June 10. D’Arnaud’s return was short-lived however, as he suffered another injury ten days later. He was placed on the disabled list again, this time with a sprained left elbow. He did not return until July 30. Because of all of these injuries to d’Arnaud, Plawecki got a chance to start 66 games in 2015. In 233 at-bats, he collected 51 hits while batting .219 with three home runs and 21 RBIs. Defensively, he only committed one error and threw out 11 baserunners attempting to steal. He allowed 32 stolen bases while behind the plate.

From what we’ve seen so far, it seems as though Plawecki is a better defensive catcher than d’Arnaud. Last season, d’Arnaud started 64 games, two less than Plawecki. He allowed 29 stolen bases and committed three errors, while throwing out 14 baserunners trying to steal. Before landing on the disabled list this year, he had already allowed 14 stolen bases. Plawecki has only allowed four. Runners clearly do not hesitate to run on Travis d’Arnaud.

We’ve seen a lot more of d’Arnaud than Plawecki. That being said, the former has put up better offensive numbers than the latter. D’Arnaud batted .268 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs last season. He also did well in the postseason, starting every game the Mets played. Plawecki just hasn’t gotten the opportunity to really prove himself however. While it’s true that he got plenty of starts in 2015, he was basically just acting as the placeholder for d’Arnaud. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

If Plawecki can put up decent offensive numbers over the next couple of weeks, he has a chance to overtake d’Arnaud as the Mets starting catcher. Especially considering that he was struggling before being placed on the disabled list, d’Arnaud’s job could be in serious jeopardy. He was only batting .196 with no homers and just one RBI. There are certain players who are guaranteed their job back after spending time on the disabled list. However, d’Arnaud just hasn’t hit enough to earn that status. He hasn’t been consistent enough. Additionally, he isn’t the best defensive catcher in the world.

Kevin Plawecki has a real chance to prove himself. Opportunities like this don’t come around all the time. We’ll see if he can capitalize on this situation.

Are the Mets Establishing Themselves as a Legitimate Contender?

(Photo Courtesy of New York Daily News)

Strong starting pitching leading the way

Matt Harvey made his return from Tommy John surgery in game three of this season, and has not missed a beat on his way to a 3-0 record in his first three starts.  Bartolo Colon earned the opening day start for the Mets this season, and he has been fantastic as well in his three starts for the team.  Jacob deGrom has also been great for the Mets, even though he lost a pitcher’s duel in his first start of the season against the Washington Nationals.  Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have also helped to contribute to the Mets’ winning streak, that they ran all the way to eight games with their win on Sunday over the Miami Marlins.  Star third basemen David Wright, is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury that he suffered during the Phillies series.  This has not stopped the Mets however, as their depth has been strong enough to cover this unfortunate early season injury to one of their best players .  Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell have done a nice job so far filling in at third base defensively for the Mets, along with contributing by adding right handed power hitting ability to the lineup.  All of this adds up to the Mets establishing themselves among the National League contenders early in 2015, and a further look at the talent they have on their roster will help to determine if they are going to remain in this conversation.

Offense key to the Mets’ success

The Mets entered the 2015 season with the expectation that they would contend for a National League playoff berth on the strength of their solid pitching staff.  The performance of the Mets’ offense will determine whether or not they are able to make a run at the National League East division title this season.  So far the Mets’ offensive performance has been good this season, behind some players who started to emerge as key contributors for the team in the second half of last season.  Top prospect Travis d’Arnaud was sent to the minor leagues late last season due to his offensive struggles at the MLB level, but after a huge offensive showing at triple-A, he was quickly promoted again to stayUnfortunately for the Mets, Travis d’Arnaud’s breakout season has been put on hold for right now after he was hit by a pitch that broke his hand in the seventh inning of Sunday’s win .  The Mets once again turn to their offensive depth by calling up Kevin Plawecki to replace d’Arnaud in the starting lineup.  Meanwhile they continue to rely on last season’s biggest breakout star for the team, in Lucas Duda.  The Mets’ starting first basemen produced a 30 homerun season in 2014 for the first time in his career, and he could be headed for his second straight 30 homerun season after getting off to a strong start in 2015.  These key contributors can work together to give the Mets pitching staff the run support needed to maintain their strong play throughout the season, but for right now others will have to step up in order to weather the storm of early injuries that hit this team.

Injuries do not have to slow down this Mets team however, as they  have their biggest free agent signings from the past two off-season’s still healthy and in the everyday lineup.  Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are no longer young players in Major League Baseball, but they are capable contributors from the corner outfield positions for the Mets.  Defensive star Juan Lagares, plays centerfield between the two of them, and his strong start to the season has proven he can be a capable contributor for the Mets at the plate.  With David Wright only likely to miss three weeks of play, the Mets should soon have their best hitter return to the lineup.  This could allow the team the opportunity to establish themselves as a formidable offense in the National League, with hitters who can produce runs up and down the batting lineup.  With the team scoring 4.4 runs per game through the first 13 ballgames of 2015, the Mets have put themselves in great position to continue their success with veteran contributors picking up the slack in the absence of key members of their core .  The timing of these injuries have been unfortunate, as they threaten to slow the Mets’ strong early season start, but for a team that has recently focused on building their farm system, the necessary depth is there for them to play good baseball over the next few weeks.

Will the Mets finish the season with the same five in their starting rotation?

With Bartolo Colon at age 41 being one of the oldest opening day starters in recent MLB history, the possibility exists that the Mets could see some turnover in their starting rotation before the season’s end .  Twenty-six year old Matt Harvey is the team’s most talented starter currently, but another young pitcher could join the Mets’ MLB rotation midseason to make a strong starting staff even stronger.  Noah Syndergaard at 22 years old is the Mets’ top pitching prospect, and his status as a nearly MLB ready starting pitcher should open a rotation spot for him as soon as the team decides he is ready for a promotion .  Adding another big right handed power pitcher to the rotation, could be just the right addition that the team needs in order to maintain their early success throughout the summer.  With the news of Mets’ reliever Jenrry Mejia being suspended 80 games for PED use, combined with the injury to Jerry Blevins on Sunday, the Mets could bolster their bullpen by moving one of their starters into a relief role in order to make room for Noah Syndergaard after his promotion.  The current roster construction of the New York Mets suggests that they could finish the season with a different starting five in their rotation, and that would likely mean the team was headed toward clinching a playoff berth with more talent than they started with in the starting rotation.

Are the Mets a legitimate contender?

With Matt Harvey already establishing himself as one of the better pitchers in the game of baseball, the Mets’ pitching staff appears to be very strong with veteran starters mixed in to complement their young emerging stars.  By showing the ability to play good baseball against a formidable early season schedule, the Mets appear to be a contender as they are working hard to overcome multiple injuries already suffered at this point in their 2015 season.  Zack Wheeler was lost for the season in spring training with a torn UCL, as one of the Mets’ most promising young starters at the MLB level.  David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud will make their returns this season, but their absence has forced the Mets to turn to depth players early on in the 2015 campaign.  Fortunately for the Mets, they have quality depth to turn to in former first round pick Kevin Plawecki at the catcher’s position .  If the Mets are able to weather this early season test caused by injuries, moving forward they will have a deep roster that features plenty of experience in many areas for the rest of the 2015 season.  Injuries have derailed the Mets’ seasons many times in the past few years, but this Mets team is a legitimate contender because they have the depth necessary to keep playing good baseball when some of their best players spend time on the disabled list with injuries.

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