12:10 pm Jul. 11, 2012
It's been a rough All-Star break for the New York Mets, and not because R.A. Dickey didn't get the starting assignment for the National League.
The much more important development involved Dillon Gee, who was found to have a blood clot in his pitching arm.
The 26-year-old pitcher had the clot broken up with a catheter, but he was placed on the disabled list. His timeframe for return to baseball activity is still unknown.
Other pitchers have experienced blood clots; the length of their time out has varied relatively widely. But for most of them, it has been measured in months, not weeks or days.
It's particularly sad for Gee, who has been pitching well, and could be a severe setback for the Mets if he misses extended time.
From April 21, when Mike Pelfrey was lost for the season due to injury, to June 4, the day before Chris Young joined the rotation, the Mets scored roughly as many runs as they allowed, 190-188. But since Young began starting on June 5, the Mets have gotten effective pitching out of nearly every start, and outscored opponents, 151-124. The difference was having five starters pitch effectively instead of four, and the result was the Mets playing like contenders despite subpar defense and relief pitching.
The pitching alternatives to Gee out are the same group that filled in for Mike Pelfrey. There's Chris Schwinden, back from a series of roster moves that sent him to four organizations in a five-week span; Jeremy Hefner, just demoted to Triple-A after struggling out of the bullpen; and Miguel Batista, who has struggled in spot starting and relieving.
The Mets do have Matt Harvey, their 2010 first-round draft pick, pitching well at Triple-A. But Harvey is still very much a work in progress, with just over 200 minor-league innings, and is still working to consistently deploy his secondary pitches (most notably his changeup). If that sounds very familiar to you Mike Pelfrey fans, it does to the Mets brass, too, since they have said that Harvey isn't an option for now.
So the Mets' options are to patch a weak starter into the rotation, rush a top prospect, or try to land an adequate fifth starter by trading some of their assets already earmarked for helping the bullpen, catching and outfield.
It's enough to make the R.A. Dickey snub seem kind of trivial in comparison, isn't it?