You can never have too many pitchers. After one injury, the New York Mets’ once-prided starting rotation depth is no more.
Five pitchers isn’t enough, anymore.
The New York Mets had six true Major League starters for 2020. With Noah Syndergaard undergoing Tommy John surgery, they are down to five. In other words, the Mets are one more serious injury away from being in serious trouble.
Syndergaard had the worst season of his career last year — despite a career-best, 197.2 innings pitched, his 4.28 ERA was by far a career-worst, as were his 1.23 WHIP and 2.3 BB/9.
But from his rookie year to the end of 2018, Syndergaard pitched to a 2.93 ERA while striking out almost 10 batters per nine innings. He was the lone winning pitcher for the Mets in the 2015 World Series and earned the start in the 2016 Wild Card game as well as the Opening Day nod in 2017 and 2018.
Syndergaard was the ace before Jacob deGrom became a back-to-back Cy Young Award winner.
But now, Marcus Stroman is the No. 2 starter. While Stroman has shown flashes off greatness — an eighth-place Cy Young Award finish in 2017, and a 2.96 ERA before being traded to the Mets last season, he has shown inconsistencies.
While left-hander Steven Matz has made 30 starts in each of the last two seasons, he has an injury history, as well. He has seemed to find himself over the last two seasons, despite a rough first half last year.
But there is a big difference in Matz being a third-starter who needs to stay healthy and him being on the trade block and not guaranteed a spot in the rotation.
Rick Porcello had baseball’s worst ERA among qualified arms last year. Michael Wacha has a 4.39 ERA in his last four seasons and has made 30 starts just once in that span.
All of a sudden, the Mets are riding and dying with huge question marks.
And, because it’s baseball, at least one of these pitchers will get hurt.
The next man up would be one of Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, or minor leaguer David Peterson.
Lockett owns a career 8.84 ERA in 13 games, seven of them starts. Oswalt pitched in two games last year, allowing nine earned runs in 6.2 innings. Peterson has yet to see time in Triple-A.
What if deGrom lands on the injured list for a third-consecutive season and misses more than one start?
Syndergaard’s injury is more than a potential Cy Young Award candidate missing the next year-plus.
The backups—and the backups’ backups—are now playing vital roles for what they feel is a championship contender. That is a recipe for disaster.
*cough* Matt Harvey is available.