This is why people always say you can never have enough pitching, folks. Just last week, we talked about how the Mets would eventually need every last bit of their perceived starting rotation depth throughout the year.
I didn’t think they’d need to dip into it three weeks before Opening Day, but such is life in spring training.
Jose Quintana was set to leave for the World Baseball Classic this week. That won’t be happening now thanks to a small stress fracture on the fifth rib of his left side. And unfortunately for the southpaw, he also won’t be ready to suit up for the Mets on Opening Day.
Quintana was slated to be the Mets’ fourth starter. But now, it’s wide open for the taking. Based on how New York’s rotation depth chart is constructed, two hurlers have the inside track: David Peterson and Tylor Megill.
The Mets didn’t have to sign three starting pitchers (Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, and Quintana) to fill out the rotation behind Max Scherzer and Carrasco this offseason. Hypothetically, general manager Billy Eppler could’ve left one spot open. New York wasn’t looking for a good old-fashioned rotation competition, but they’re getting one anyways.
Peterson and Megill have combined to make just three Grapefruit League appearances (two starts, one for each) so far this spring. It’s not like one of them has been favored more than the other right out of the gate.
Peterson hasn’t allowed an earned run and has struck out four hitters in four innings pitched. Megill has no strikeouts and a 4.50 ERA in two frames. If we look back to 2022 performance, Peterson posted a 3.83 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 105.2 innings of work. Although Megill started hot in April, a trip to the injured list slowed him down. He finished with a 5.13 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 47.1 innings.
It’s too early to tell who exactly has a leg up on the other as we progress toward Opening Day. As long as Peterson’s current injury is minor and he’s back on the mound in a regular amount of time (which is the expectation), it should be neck and neck.
If I had to pick my preference, though? Assuming neither one blows the other out of the water, I’d rather see Peterson taking that open spot with Megill being the first wave of New York’s depth.
Part of the reason why I liked the Quintana signing was that he provides a different look. If we take a peek at the other four starters (Scherzer, Verlander, Senga, and Carrasco), they have a lot in common. They’re all right-handed hurlers, and outside of Carrasco, they all throw hard. Having Peterson in the mix throws a different look at opposing hitters when he’s scheduled to pitch.
But then again, this could all be a moot point. Remember, when discussing the Mets’ rotation depth, we also touched on New York’s desire to use a six-man rotation. It won’t be a constant, all-year-kind-of-thing. But still, it will keep the top five starters fresh and their depth guys stretched out.
Peterson and Megill were already going to rack up more starts than we were initially realizing this year. That number has just gone up with Quintana’s injury. But to start out the year, I think this could end up being Peterson’s spot to lose.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.