There was a minor stirred caused this weekend when the Indians announced that Corey Kluber might not be starting on Opening Day for the club. "We've told Kluber," manager Terry Francona said, "because we are slowing him down a little bit, if he's not ready for Game 1, we can adjust. And we're more than willing to, because there's a lot at stake over the course of the year. We all know Opening Day is a big deal, but we want him to position himself where he's ready to log as many innings as we need."

Kluber threw 215 regular season innings and then made a franchise high six post season starts leading to a full season total of 249.1 innings. That’s a big number indeed. Same time, Kluber showed zero drop off last season at any point. Plus, it’s not like Kluber is a 22 year old coming off a 90 inning increase season to season. Here are Kluber’s innings pitched marks the last three years – playoffs included.

2014: 235.2 innings
2015: 222 innings
2016: 249.1 innings

Being a bit cautious is fine and understandable, but I really can’t envision a scenario where the Indians wouldn’t use Kluber the first time through the rotation. Honestly, five months after the season ended is throwing 94 pitches on April 3rd really gonna be an issue? Come on.

I’m not downgrading Kluber with this news.

Let’s talk about their bullpen.

Cody Allen and Andrew Miller were aces down the stretch and into the playoffs for the Indians last season. Here are their numbers last postseason.

Allen: 24 Ks, zero runs, 13.2 innings
Miller: 30 Ks, 1.40 ERA, 19.1 innings

So who will be the closer in 2017? It’s going to be the righty.

"Cody is our closer," Francona said Saturday. "For the most part, having him knowing he's there at the end is good. It's good for everybody else. It allows some flexibility for looking at matchups and things. When there's an end in sight for the guys, it's good for everybody."

Here is how Miller was used down the stretch last year by the inning Miller appeared with the Indians.

6th: one time
7th: eight times
8th: 11 times
9th:  five times
10th: one time

Fact is, it seems like Francona would rather use Miller when the game is on the line, and that’s frequently not in the 9th inning.

"There could be times where we'd flip-flop it. It could be usage," Francona said. "I don't know the exact [reason]. I guess the one instance I can think of is like, if Cody hadn't been used for three or four days and we really wanted to pitch him. Well, then you don't wait for the ninth, because you might not have a lead. There's instances like that. But, I do like the idea of Cody finishing and Andrew pitching [against] the meat of the order."

As our Mock Draft Army ADP data shows, Allen is being taken at about the right spot (13th at RP) while Miller’s ADP is sky-high (9th at RP) for a guy who doesn’t seem likely to get a huge workload in the 9th inning. To see how we have them ranked see the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings.

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Jacob deGrom says his elbow is fine. I gave my thoughts on his outlook in this Ramblings piece.

Matt Harvey is coming back from surgery. My thoughts on him can be found in Avoid Matt Harvey.

Noah Syndergaard has gained 17 lbs. of muscle. I wrote about that weight gain in this Ramblings piece.

Steven Matz, well, I don’t know why anyone would be reaching on that guy since his elbow or shoulder seem to be an issue about every three weeks. See this Ramblings piece.

Zack Wheeler is ok after an early hiccup in camp. I really don’t care.

Obviously, there’s a lot of health concerns with the Mets. A LOT.

The reasons, the injuries, are all different for each guy. Perhaps, one of the reasons is that they are simply unlucky. Perhaps it’s bad mechanics? Perhaps it’s bad physical makeups? Perhaps it’s that they throw the ball so damn hard.

The major league average on the 4-seam, straight fastball, was 93.1 mph last season. Here is a list of Mets that threw harder than that last season.

98.2 mph – Noah Syndergaard
97.0 – Jeurys Familia
95.7 – Josh Smoker
95.5 – Hansel Robles
95.0 – Matt Harvey
94.1 – Robert Gsellman
93.4 – Jacob deGrom

Wheeler didn’t pitch last season but his average heater in 2014 was 94.7 mph.

Matz wasn’t mentioned because he doesn’t thrown a 4-seamer according to Statcast, though his 2-seamer came in at 93.9 mph, so he’s clearly a very hard thrower.

I also think part of the issue with the constant injuries with the Mets is their reliance on the slider, and the velocity they throw that pitch. Let’s take a look at each of the top-4 arms according to PITCHf/x.


Career Slider MPH

2016 Slider MPH

2016 Slider Rank - Velocity

Slider Percentage






















Note that Syndergaard threw his slider 21.1 percent of the time last season.

* Note that Harvey didn’t throw enough innings to qualify last season, but if he did hit 88.7 mph slider velocity would have been the fourth highest in baseball.

* Note that deGrom didn’t throw enough innings to qualify last season, but if he did hit 88.6 mph slider velocity would have been the fifth highest in baseball.

* Note that Matz didn’t throw enough innings to qualify last season, but if he did hit 87.3 mph slider velocity would have been the eighth highest in baseball.

That’s a lot of velocity and torque on those arms, yet another reason why caution is warranted with all Mets arms at this point. They throw too hard, too often, and their slider velocity is off the charts. Note that sliders put an awful lot of stress on the elbow, a concern for many organizations that preach caution with throwing the pitch.

Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 7 PM EDT, Wednesday 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 9 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).