With pitchers and catchers already reported to the Mets spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida, manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson will have some decisions to make about the constitution of this team, and what roles each player that heads north with the team will take on. One of the most important decisions that the Mets brain trust will be tasked with will be the starting pitching rotation out of the gate. This is how I see it taking shape this April:
1) Jon Niese (Left-Handed). 2013 stats: 24 GS, 143 IP, 8-8, 3.71 ERA, 1.441 WHIP. Niese will not be the ace of this staff, but I ist him at number 1 because I believe he will be the Mets Opening day starter. It is likely that in reality he will be the team’s #3 starter throughout the season, behind the two men who follow him in this list.
2) Bartolo Colon. 2013 stats (Oakland Athletics): 30 GS, 190.1 IP, 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 1.166 WHIP. The veteran Colon joins the Mets staff as a stop gap in the wake of the injury to Matt Harvey last season. Colon, a three time all-star and the 2005 American League Cy Young award winner, has been a work horse in his career, throwing 150+ inning 11 times in his 16 year career and the Mets would love for that trend to continue this season. The 40 year old will be looked at as the de facto “ace” of the staff to start the season but if the Mets are going to be contenders this year they will need the young man at #3 on this list to rip that title rip him.
3) Zack Wheeler. 2013 stats: 17 GS, 100 IP, 7-5, 3.42 ERA, 1.360 WHIP. In my opinion Wheeler’s progression will be the most important storyline coming out of camp this year (only because I don’t think Noah Syndergaard makes the big club out of spring training). Wheeler becoming a dominant front end of the rotation pitcher is crucial for the Mets future plans. If he can come in to his own this season, coupled with the development of Syndergaard and the return of Harvey, the Mets staff going forward will be viewed as one of the best in baseball.
4) Dillon Gee. 2013 stats: 32 GS, 199 IP, 12-11, 3.62 ERA, 1.281 WHIP. There was a long stretch of last season where Dillon Gee was the Mets best pitcher, no offense to Dillon, but that can’t happen again this year if this team wants to make a run towards respectability. Gee is a very good back-of the rotation pitcher, but he should not be your best. The 27 year old had easily his best year as a pro last year and should provide stability to the back end again this year. He does not have the nastiest stuff, but he’s a battler on the mound.
5)Jenrry Mejia. 2013 stats: 5 GS, 27.1 IP, 1-2, 2.30 ERA, 1.171 WHIP. Another young arm in the Mets system, this is the year I see Mejia finally sticking with the team. He will open the year as the team’s #5 starter, edging out veterans Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan for the final rotation spot. He may begin here, but I wouldn’t get used to seeing him in the first inning too often. He will likely not make his first start until April 14th against the Diamondbacks and once the team deems Syndergaard ready for the big leagues he will take the 24 year old’s rotation spot, probably in June or July. Mejia will likely be moved into the Mets bullpen at that point.
If the Mets are going to be successful this year it will be because of their starting pitching, it is without question the Mets biggest strength and an area in which they have good organizational depth. If what Mets fans have been hearing in recent years about their prospects coming through the pipeline is true they will have a dominant starting pitching corps for many years to come, this year should be the beginning of that bright future.
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