The New York Mets will need top performances from their starting rotation in 2018 and may need to make changes to the staff to do so.
Grass is green, water is wet and if the New York Mets are going to be a force in 2018, they will need their rotation to be the team’s backbone. It’s beyond evident that the Mets will live and die with the health and production of their pitching staff. However, moving to a six-man rotation could better their odds of maintaining success.
Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have never started in consecutive fashion. The five who were supposed to dominate the National League for years to come have been accustomed to multiple trips to the disabled list, long weeks of rehab and underperformance. Yet, there’s still hope for a rotation that doesn’t have any one player over the age of 30. Let’s add Robert Gsellman to the rotation and move the “fab five” to the “stunning six.”
The Mets need good health from their rotation. You know it. I know. Everyone knows it. Adding a sixth man to the rotation makes that all the more achievable. The extra day of rest should help over the course of a long season, even if manager Micky Callaway decides to take his starters out of the game after only five or six innings.
Sure, players will have to adapt to new routines in between starts, but they won’t need to perform open heart surgery on their extra day off. Good health is so paramount to contention for this team, so they might as well rest their starters for an extra day. They certainly have the depth to implement such a strategy.
Moving to a six-man rotation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Let’s not forget that the Mets deployed this strategy in 2015 en route to winning the National League pennant. Sure, they only used four starters during their postseason run, but a 90 win regular season was achieved largely in part due to the success of the staff.
Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo both are capable of being back end of the rotation arms. The Mets could also add an inexpensive veteran through free agency to give them more depth. If Callaway and the training staff are so concerned with maintaining health, they should look to giving their starters ample rest to recover and compete.
Creates Positive Competition
Matt Harvey doesn’t like the six-man because it limits his starts, thus damaging his free agent value? Well, if he stays on the mound for a full season, that alone should help his case when he looks for his next contract. As long as he and the staff have success on the mound, they’re going to get paid when the time comes.
If someone like Wheeler struggles, then maybe he gets sent to the bullpen and someone such as Lugo takes his spot in the rotation. Outside of deGrom and Syndergaard, most of the staff hasn’t earned the right to stay in the rotation during times of extended adversity. This isn’t meant to be a disrespect to any one player, but if the struggle is persistent, the Mets have enough depth to send a starter to the ‘pen until they find themselves. If that’s unpopular, then the only solution is to pitch your way back into a crowded rotation.
Having seven or eight starters fight for six spots isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have.