Kevin Kernan of the Post spoke with Jason Isringhausen, one of the original members of the Mets Generation K and had a great one-on-one about how the new crop of Mets young arms compare to the original crew that were supposed to carry the team for many years.
“This brings a resemblance to people that I once knew,’’ Isringhausen tells the Post, “Three guys coming up, there’s a lot of expectation, but with us, there were a lot of injuries. So hopefully these kids stay injury-free and they are able to pitch for 20 years. That would be great. That’s what everybody wants. The reality is you got to take care of these kids.’’
Wilson played one season for the Mets in 1996 and in 26 starts he was 5-12, with a 5.38 ERA, 1 CG, 109 K’s in 149 IP. He was sent to the minors and did not pitch again in the majors until 2000. He returned and played six more seasons and was 35-46 combined with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Cincinnati Reds.
Pulsipher also had a rash of injuries that would keep him from reaching his potential with the Mets. In 1995, he started 17 games, was 5-7, a 3.98 ERA, 2 CG, 81 K’s in 126.2 IP. He would lose the 1996-1997 season when an MRI revealed torn ligaments which required him to undergo Tommy John surgery and he never was the same. He would end up bouncing around from the Mets to several teams before calling it a career in 2011.
Isringhausen’s journey actually fared better even though injuries did get the best of him and detoured his career. In 1995, he started 14 games with the Mets, and was 9-2, a 2.81 ERA, 1 CG, 55 K’s in 93 IP. While battling through injuries, he missed all of the 1998 season. When he returned, he mostly pitched in relief and then it all came together for him when the Oakland A’s turned him into a closer and he saved 33 games in 2000. From that point on, his career took off and he averaged 34 saves from 2000-2007 combined with the A’s and Cardinals. He eventually ended his career in 2012 and totaled 300 saves, which is 24th best on the all-time saves list and tied with Bruce Sutter.
The Mets have been waiting for their new version of Generation K, and Isringhausen understands what it takes, “Nowadays, they do a lot better job of taking care of the young kids with their pitch counts and innings pitched. You draft a kid out of college now and he doesn’t pitch at all. They let him sit for a year and recuperate.’’
The next Mets saviors like Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard are watched very stringently making sure that they aren’t overworked. Harvey and Wheeler were on limited innings watch the first time through the bigs and Syndergaard will also be watched very closely, which may delay his debut to possibly sometime in Late June or early July. In years past, he would have just been thrown out there on day one, but that doesn’t always equal to success.
“You only have one arm, you can only put so many spare parts in an arm. So they really have to watch how many innings they use them in the minor leagues and in the big leagues.” Isringhausen continues, “Our job was to go out there and throw nine innings, it didn’t matter if it took 90 pitches or 140. If we didn’t throw nine innings, it was a bad start. But we thrived on that and we competed with each other.’’
Isringhausen hopes that the new Generation K will be able to stay on the field longer then the original group.
“I don’t want them to fail because they are hurt,’’ Isringhausen tells the Post. “I think these guys feel the same way, and I think the Mets have done a great job of spacing out their innings and things like that.’’
With all the protections in the world, there is no guarantee that a player will not get hurt, case in point Matt Harvey.
“You can’t project what will happen, it’s kind of flip a coin,’’ Isringhausen said. “But now Harvey has a new elbow and from the studies they do, they say that new elbow will last 10 years.”
I Can only imagine what could have been of the original Generation K if their arms were managed better, and if they weren’t expected to do so much in the beginning. Nowadays it seems like pitchers are actually protected too much, and not allowed to really spread their wings, but injuries can happen at any moment and teams just don’t want to take chances with their prized possessions. And the Mets have three of their own again and even though Harvey is down until at least 2015, the hope is that when he returns, we all will finally get to see the new version of the Generation K.
Better times are ahead, but being cautious is also part of the equation. Take care of them now and their careers will be that much better.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org, Brad Barr/USA Today, and Paul Bereswill/Newsday)