Goodbye to Figgy?
One must wonder if Monday’s game is the we’ll see of Nelson Figueroa for a while.
It’s not just that one game, of course. The Mets have lost all of Figgy’s last four starts, and his ERA has swelled to over five after a nifty 2-1, 3.90 start to the season. But beyond the stats is the economics of the situation.
On Wednesday, the Mets will need to bring up a spot starter from the minors. The Mets can do one of two things: bring up a kid with options — such as Adam Bostick — and then return him immediately after the game, or bring up a veteran such as Tony Armas, Jr., with the idea that he’ll remain with the club for a while. Here’s my thinking: Armas has pitched pretty well in AAA thus far — a 3.02 ERA and 1.06 WHIP through 42 innings — and if he pitches well in a spot start on Wednesday, he might not pass through waivers on the way back down (the Yankees, for example, would be crazy not to consider picking him up). If that’s the case, the it might make sense to send down Figueroa to make room for Armas, and if Armas pitches well, he could take Figgy’s next turn.
Looking at the schedule, however, that might not be for a while. Saturday’s doubleheader seriously screwed up the rotation, so the spot starter on Wednesday will push Mike Pelfrey to Thursday, and allow Johan Santana to open the Subway Series on Friday night. That means we’ll see Santana on Friday, Oliver Perez on Saturday (skipping Figgy), and John Maine on Sunday. Monday is an off day, so Pelfrey gets the start on Tuesday with regular rest, and Santana comes back on Wednesday with regular rest, and so on, until that spot comes up again on Saturday May 24th — 11 days from now.
With all that time not in need of a fifth starter, it wouldn’t make sense for the Mets to send down, say, Joe Smith (who has options), because he can’t be brought up again for ten days — and those are the ten days the Mets would be better off with an extra reliever, rather than an extra starter. If you keep Smith on the roster and send down Figueroa instead — gambling that his fast-swelling ERA will allow him to pass through waivers — then you’ll have a spot starter for Wednesday who can stick around as a long reliever until at least the 24th (and possibly get a second start).
There’s an extra piece to this puzzle we haven’t yet addressed: the Matt Wise factor. Wise is healthy and should have been added to the 25-man roster a week ago. However, Willie Randolph’s baffling love affair with Jorge Sosa has precluded that from happening. Somehow, some way, Sosa will survive through this, I’m sure. And I won’t be surprised if moves are made around the idea of keeping Sosa around.
Here’s what should happen: Figgy goes down, gets a start at AAA to stay sharp, and Armas comes up in his place. If Armas does well, you keep him around for long relief and consider giving him the next turn on the 24th. In that case, you then release Sosa and activate Matt Wise. If Armas does not pitch well, you send him back down on Thursday, activate Wise in his spot, and keep Sosa until you need Figgy to start on the 24th (at which point you release Sosa to make room for Figgy).
This is what will happen instead: Joe Smith is demoted, a spot starter (Armas? Adam Bostick?) is promoted for one game. After the game, regardless of the performance, the spot starter is sent down, Matt Wise is activated to take Smith’s spot in the bullpen. Figueroa remains the long man and waits for Oliver Perez to have a meltdown on Saturday against the Yankees. Sosa survives and pitches in 10 of the next 11 games while Joe Smith toils in triple-A.