Recent news funneling from Flushing and Port St. Lucie is that both Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz are on the mend and could be back in big league uniforms within the next few weeks.
Wagner is ahead of Putz, as he is throwing in actual games. Minor league games in Florida, but games nonetheless. Meanwhile, Putz is tossing bullpen sessions in New York.
One thing noted on MetsBlog was that Wagner would follow a schedule of pitching in a few games a week, and eventually move to a program that includes back-to-back days. It won’t be until he’s proven that he can throw on consecutive days that the Mets will consider adding him to the active 25-man roster.
My question is, why?
First of all, putting relievers into ballgames on back-to-back days is a large part of the reason these former flamethrowers were injured in the first place. The idea that a guy isn’t “ready” until he throw consecutive days is the typical cement-head logic poisoning pitchers throughout pro ball today. Incredibly, the same people who buy into this nonsense also think a starting pitcher can only throw 100 pitches once every five days. Is it me, or is there something screwy here?
Secondly, why would the Mets NEED Billy Wagner to throw on back-to-back days? How about exercising some restraint, and learning a thing or two about PROPER bullpen management? The Mets carry a dozen arms at any given moment, yet Brian Stokes and Tim Redding can go more than a week without getting into a ballgame. And this is termed “management”?
Here’s an idea: bring both Putz and Wags back when they’re capable of throwing 25 pitches in a true “game” situation, experience no pain, and can come back and do the same thing 48 hours later. Then, you use one of them on one day, and the other on another day. Cap each at one full inning. If you’re really lucky, you have yourself a dominant and fresh 8th-inning setup guy every day — what other MLB team can claim that?
This strategy would not put a strain on the bullpen, because a) you’re having one guy instead of two or three get three big outs; and b) you won’t be using 7 relievers every day.
If Jerry Manuel was using those 11th and 12th guys on the pitching staff, maybe I’d look at things differently. But as long as Manuel has to “find innings” for some pitchers to keep them fresh, it shouldn’t be an issue to have two relievers who can’t go back to back.