David Peterson was the second-best starting pitcher for the 2020 New York Mets, but he will need to earn his spot in the 2021 rotation. The additions of Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, and a returning Marcus Stroman pushes Peterson to the fifth spot.
"However I can help the team win, that's what I'm here to do…I'm ready to go, excited to be back in camp, ready to compete, and ready to get after it"
– David Peterson on competing for a spot in the Mets' rotation pic.twitter.com/kPyZX9CMuZ
— SNY (@SNYtv) February 20, 2021
“I want to come in here and do my thing and let the rest take care of itself,” Peterson said during Saturday’s Zoom call. “However I can help the team win, that’s what I’m here to do.” Spoken like a true competitor, Peterson does not want something handed to him when he still has more to prove.
Peterson had a 3.44 ERA in 10 games (9 starts) last season, which was far more productive than his competition. Despite the small sample size success, the Mets have seen the same story before. In 2016, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo burst on the scene when the Mets needed pitching. Both had ERAs under 3.00, but Gsellman regressed to 5.03 while Lugo stayed solid at 3.61 over the next four seasons.
No matter how well Peterson pitches, he may end up starting the season in the bullpen. Peterson has never thrown more than 128 innings in a minor league season, and the Mets aim to limit his innings jump. Starting his season as a reliever will allow the Mets to do so without shutting him down towards September and October.
The Mets could also use a six-man rotation when Noah Syndergaard returns. They’ll kill two birds with one stone by conserving innings for both Syndergaard and Peterson. It will also allow Peterson to keep the same role for the entire season and presumably move to the bullpen once the postseason starts. Whether in the rotation or bullpen, Peterson will have a huge role on the 2021 roster. He will be one of two left-handed pitchers and the only one who can pitch multiple innings.