The first of a five-part series covering the holes the New York Mets need to address in the offseason. First, we begin with the starting rotation.
The New York Mets improved their win total by nearly 10 games in Brodie Van Wagenen’s first season in control. More importantly, that effort should not be underestimated by anyone evaluating where this organization is in regard to gaining a playoff berth in 2020.
The strength of this team is their starting rotation and do not expect the Mets to break it up to address other roster needs. We all know, in Jacob deGrom, the team possesses the absolute best pitcher in the game of baseball as he has combined talent with a mind for the game that few pitchers match.
There is not a single hurler in the sport I’d would rather have on the mound for a big game, and, simply put, has joined great pitchers like Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden in the historical annals of New York baseball.
We all know that teams need more than one ace and Noah Syndergaard has shown that ability in his career. We sometimes forget that the 2016 Met NL Wild Card run was squarely on his shoulders, and despite losing that wild card game to the Giants, he threw a legendary game, providing the team every chance to win it. In my opinion, trading him would be a huge mistake as his skills would be hard to replace.
The third starter in this rotation, Marcus Stroman, has terrific stuff and showed enough to me in 2019 in a Met uniform to realize that he can fill out a trio that would be an absolute nightmare for any NL team to tackle.
Zack Wheeler is a decision the team must make. Despite conventional wisdom, do not count the Mets out on him due to the idea the marketplace for starting pitchers is still evolving. Should the Mets lose him (and I honestly do not think they will) they can pull in a free agent pitcher fo that fourth spot or possibly turn to Seth Lugo for that role, should they add enough bullpen help in the offseason to make that feasible.
I actually think Lugo can be even better in the rotation than he was in the bullpen. He has a wide assortment of pitches that he could utilize in an even better fashion than a one-inning stint in relief. He has a great fastball with late movement, an awesome curveball with high spin-rate and a slider that confuses hitters when utilized in fastball counts. In a full season as a starter, he could give the team a sub 3.50 ERA and that would make a quartet in the rotation pulling those numbers at the very least.
Even if Wheeler is signed, the Mets may want to insert Lugo in the rotation, creating a quintet of starting pitchers that would be the best group we’ve seen in the game since those legendary Atlanta Braves staffs. A big part of maximizing the strengths of this rotation will be improving both the bullpen and overall team defense, which I will address later this week when I talk about other aspects of what the Mets need to do in the offseason.
But make no mistake about it: this staff can lift the Mets in the standings and create massive matchup problems come September and, yes, October.
Next in the five-part series will be the New York Mets bullpen and how the organization should address that area this offseason.