I half wanted to write a post full of frustration after being treated to highlights of the 2006 collapse of the Mets during game 7 of the NLCS, but that would just be too painful for everyone. I apologize for even brining it up, but I had to get it off my chest. Instead, I’m going to be positive and look forward to what looks to be an excellent starting rotation in 2013.
The Starting 5:
First and foremost, the Mets have a bona fide, Cy Young to be (cross your fingers) pitcher in R.A. Dickey. Dickey had an amazing season this year, and if he’s able to repeat or come close to duplicating the same numbers next year, the Mets will have the edge whenever he’s on the mound. An important question for the team next year is; who will be the number two starter. I would stick with Johan Santana for now because of his phenomenal pedigree and how well he has played the first half of last year. I’m still a believer in Santana but his injuries are a continued concern. He has still been able to hit the low 90s with his fastball, and he continues to have a dynamic changeup. I still consider him a solid number-two starter assuming he’s healthy to begin the season. Jon Niese and Matt Harvey are interchangeable as the third and fourth starters in the rotation. Niese has more experience, but Harvey has the raw stuff, and had a successful beginning to his career. Both still have room to develop. Harvey more than Niese, since I think Niese still hasn’t reached his full potential. Both the third and fourth starter spots will be above league average. Last but not least, is Dillion Gee, who will most likely start the season as the fifth starter. There is nothing special about Gee, but he is more than equipped to hold down the fifth spot in the rotation, and will at the very least do an adequate job. I expect even more out of him than mediocrity however. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him have a below 4.00 ERA and FIP along with a respectable WHIP. With this rotation the Mets would also have a nice balance of righties and lefties with different pitching styles across the board. That will change what the batters see from game to game.
The Up and Comer:
As positive as I am on Dillion Gee, Zack Wheeler will ascend to his spot in the Mets rotation at some point next season. The addition of the hard throwing righthander who ranked as Baseball America’s tenth best prospect in their July update, will be a huge boost to the team. Wheeler lowered his walks and polished his secondary pitches in the minors this season and looks like he could step into the starting rotation immediately. However it’s unlikely he will start the year in the rotation because of service time issues. Whenever he comes up, he is going to make a good rotation, great.
Many fans may have heard Darin Gorski’s name, but may not know a lot about him. He’s a 6’4”, 25 year-old lefthander who throws an average fastball velocity and has a good feel for his secondary pitches. He blew through High Single-A in 2011 before slowing down a little at Double-A this season. If the Mets want to retain his services, they will have to add him to the 40-man roster to insure he isn’t chosen in the Rule 5 draft. Assuming the Mets add him to the 40-Man, don’t be surprised if he gets a shot at some point to see what he can do. It may turn out he doesn’t have the stuff for the show but don’t be surprised if he sees success at some point.
The Wild Cards:
Jenry Mejia and Jeurys Familia are the ultimate wild cards. Both have the power stuff to be good starting pitchers. Their lack of consistency is what holds back these two very talented pitchers. Alas, I like many others, feel that Familia and Mejia’s place is in the bullpen, but that is a story for another day. Just keep in mind there is a chance, no matter how slight, that one or both could find their way into the starting lineup at some point.
If the rest of the rotation goes up in flames, Colin McHugh and Jeremy Hefner could be semi-decent fill-ins for a short stint here and there. Hopefully the Mets won’t have to trot McHugh, Hefner or any other low-level free agent to the mound for anything more than a spot start during the 2013 season.
On the Way Out:
The Mets will be non-tendering Mike Pelfrey, according to Mike Puma who said the Mets may still look to resign Big Pelf to a lesser deal. I don’t know what will happen with Pelfre,y but until he shows that he is healthy, and can make any kind of contribution to the team, I’m guessing he won’t be back. So say your goodbyes to the once top pick of the Mets. There were a few good moments, but sadly too many more maddening ones.
To sum this all up, the Mets rotation, barring injury and complete collapse, (which is always a possibility in baseball) the Mets will have an outstanding rotation in terms of both talent and depth. Watching the Giants win this post-season, relying on pitching, gives me some hope that the Mets can achieve some success on the basis of the starting rotation alone next season.