In Part 1 of this post, I graded the Mets Opening Day starting lineup but today we’ll take a look at the guys who shaped up our rotation when the year began. For the first time in recent history, the team’s strength is in its pitching as we look ahead to next season. An entire season without Matt Harvey is a step backward but with the right moves between this offseason and next, his return could make the Mets contenders. Good pitching will always beat good hitting and I cant remember a time when the Mets have developed a staff quite like this.
The starting rotation on Opening Day left a lot to be desired but with the season having passed us by, Mets fans should be confident with the direction of the pitching staff. Who knows what’s going to happen with Johan Santana at this point but with the likes of Zack Wheeler & Noah Syndergaard rising through the ranks, the 2015 rotation may already have 3 of its top 4. Let’s take a look at the progress that was made over the course of the 2013 season. Here are my grades for the Opening Day rotation and where I see each of them fitting into the future in Flushing.
Part 2: Starting Rotation
Jonathon Niese -B- With Harvey out, Niese looks like the top candidate to toe the rubber on Opening Day 2014 as well. He really learned how to use his offspeed stuff this season and, although he hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, Niese was able to keep his ERA down to just 3.71. He’ll never be considered the ace but he is now the veteran of the staff and will undoubtedly help the young guns as they rise to stardom. Jonathon will probably end up as the No. 1 or 2 pitcher next season but when the rotation comes full swing, he’ll be slotted as the 3rd or 4th arm. Niese is the most valuable of any of the healthy members of last year’s Opening Day rotation.
Matt Harvey - A- Without a doubt, Matt Harvey is the guy who will be leading this rotation when the time comes for him to return. We saw glimpses of his brilliance at the end of 2012 but in 2013, Harvey proved that he is for real. He was the best pitcher on the team by far, being selected to start the All-Star Game and boasting a 2.27 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and a WHIP under 1. His 9-6 record doesn’t tell half of the story of the offensive struggles behind him but as long as he continues to create those same struggles for opponents, the Mets go as Harvey goes.
Shaun Marcum -F- I didn’t understand his signing when it happened, I didn’t understand it when he was on the field and I still don’t understand it. Marcum was flat out bad for us, posting a 1-10 record with an ERA of 5.29. Unfortunately for himself, he was injured and ended up only making 12 starts before the Mets severed ties. His contributions were certainly not worth $4M but this should be the last of these signings we see for a while; it appears Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard will take over his No. 3 spot in the long run.
Dillon Gee - B- Gee opened some eyes this season including my own. He isn’t a dominating pitcher by any means but he knows how to use his stuff successfully. Gee was 2nd on the team in strikeouts and posted a 3.62 ERA. He held opponents to 2 runs or less in 18 starts and what Met fan can forget that he struck out 12 Yankees? Gee can be a very helpful No. 5 pitcher for years to come and I hope they don’t look to move him.
Jeremy Hefner - D - Hefner just doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter in this league judging from what we saw this season. He doesn’t overpower anyone but has very good command and doesn’t walk a lot of people. Unfortunately, when you don’t throw hard and you hit the strike zone, you’re susceptible to the long ball which has been the Kryptonite of Hefner’s time in the majors. Add injuries to the mix and it is unlikely we will see Jeremy Hefner in the rotation again but perhaps he would make a decent long-reliever in somebody’s pen.
Judging off their performances this season, 3 of these guys deserve to be a part of the rotation for years to come: Harvey, Gee and Niese. Depending on Santana’s health heading into the season, the rotation could already be set for the future. I would be perfectly content with the front office not making any adjustments to the staff because it seems we have a core in place and can finally begin to chase contention. Here’s how I see the rotation shaping up when everyone is back to full health in the event that we’ve seen Johan’s last game as a Met:
- Matt Harvey
- Noah Syndergaard
- Zack Wheeler
- Jonathon Niese
- Dillon Gee
I’m confident that the rebuilding phase is over for the pitching aspect of this team. With those 5, give or take a Johan, and a decent offense the Mets will be ready to contend in 2015. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out Part 1 (Starting Lineup) of this post and look out for Part 3 (Bench & Bullpen) tomorrow.