Some teams, as currently constructed, have to scramble to find three or four solid starting pitching options. However, the New York Mets made sure that happened to them.
They entered the offseason with the certainty that Zack Wheeler was going to walk. With four starters in Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz, they knew they had to go to the open market to secure the services of a fifth starter.
They did that, and then some. They signed Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello within hours of distance between each other. That gave the Mets enviable depth, but also, a notorious problem.
Both Wacha and Porcello are established veterans that signed to be starters, not relievers. In fact, there are reports suggesting that both were promised starting gigs. Given that it is unlikely that the Mets deploy a six-man rotation, who will be the odd man out?
The New York Metsâ€™ ace
If there is a safe spot for someone in the rotation, it is for Jacob deGrom. A two-time Cy Young winner, he has been the leagueâ€™s best pitcher in the last two years.
Metsâ€™ fans saw deGrom finish with a 11.25 K/9 and 1.94 BB/9 this season, not to mention his 2.43 ERA. He put up a 7.0 WAR season after finishing with 9.0 in 2018.
The sure things
Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, if they are healthy, will be in the Metsâ€™ rotation. Period. The former is a strikeout artist with a powerful arsenal that is coming from a somewhat down 2019, but has dominated in the past. He finished with a 4.28 ERA and a 3.60 FIP in 197.2 frames last season.
Stroman, meanwhile, doesnâ€™t rely on strikeouts to be successful. Instead, he uses a deep arsenal to produce groundouts at very high rates (53.7% in 2019.) Last season, he had a 3.22 ERA (3.72 FIP) between the Blue Jays and Mets. He is a rock-solid, mid-rotation performer.
Three guys for two spots to round out the Mets’ staff
Stephen Matz (4.21 ERA, 4.60 FIP in 160.1 innings) Michael Wacha (4.76 ERA, 5.61 FIP in 126.2 innings with the Cardinals) and Rick Porcello (5.52 ERA, 4.76 FIP in 174.1 frames with the Red Sox) will vie for the fourth and fifth spots.
Matz was a solid back-end starter for the Mets and is â€œhomegrown,â€ but Wacha and Porcello, especially the latter, will want to start. The former Cardinal has lost some of the luster that made him a top prospect, while the former Cy Young winner is well-removed from his spectacular 2016 season (22-4, 3.15 ERA.)
Wacha will make a base salary of $3 million plus incentives, while Porcello will be paid $10 million with further add-ons. Porcello may occupy one of the two spots left for these three arms, leaving Matz and Wacha to compete for the fifth starter job.
Spring Training will tell us a lot. For now, it would appear that Wacha will pitch out of the bullpen if the season started today. Unless there is a trade, of course, or an injury to one of the Mets‘ more stable starters.