Outside of phenom Matt Harvey, starting pitching has not been the New York Mets’ strong suit in 2013. From Aaron Laffey to Shaun Marcum, nobody has been anywhere near as consistently reliable as Harvey has. This poses a lot of questions as to who will start Opening Day next year, or in the games following for that matter. Here’s my prediction for just that.
1. Matt Harvey – I don’t think this one comes as much of a surprise here. The 2013 National League All Star Game starting pitcher doesn’t look like he has much competition for the nod on game number one. Harvey’s 7-2 record is only being held back by a lack of run support and his 2.35 ERA is good for fourth in all of baseball, ahead of veterans like Adam Wainwright and Felix Hernandez. His 1.9 walks per nine innings pitched is phenomenal, which leads to a WHIP of 0.92, second best in the bigs.
2. Zack Wheeler – Though he has proven to be shaky at times, Zack Wheeler is still Zack Wheeler, the top pitching prospect in baseball. The Mets didn’t keep Wheeler in the system because he was a potential number four starter. They kept him because he’s an ace or at least has the potential to be. Wheeler has shown he can be overly dominant at times, such as his Major League debut, in which he allowed four hits and recorded seven strikeouts in six innings of work in Atlanta. Or his last outing before the break against the Giants where he gave up only three hits in seven innings.
3. Free Agent – Jeff Wilpon recently announced that the Mets would in fact spend money during the upcoming offseason, and with over $42,000,000 to spend, that seems entirely possible. Most have suggested that money be spent on a big name outfielder such as Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Elisbury, or Shin-Soo Choo. But if the three of them decide they don’t want to take their talents to Queens due to team’s talent, it would make sense to spend that money (or a part of it) on starting pitching. Since the Mets rank near the bottom in the majority of categories related to pitching stats, someone like a Jason Marquis, a Roy Oswalt, or a Paul Maholm could absolutely help that.
4. Jonathon Niese – According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, a scout said that due to all the Mets young pitching, Niese could be the number four starter not too far in the future. With that being said, let’s go ahead and say that Niese will start the fourth game of the season next year. And there’s good reason behind that. Niese’s 3-6 record and his 4.32 ERA isn’t exactly what Terry Collins, or the entire Mets fan base, envisioned out of their Opening Day starter in 2013. Along with that, Niese has been sidelined with a partially torn rotator cuff since June 20.
5. Jeremy Hefner – Unlike most Major League teams these days, the Mets fifth starter next year should not be in question. Jeremy Hefner has been outstanding as of late as he could provide some much needed depth at the back end of the rotation in 2014. Hefner has completely turned it around as of late, having not been tagged with a loss since June 11. Another key stat is that Hefner has not given up three runs or more since May. That June 11 game was also the last time Hefner had two strikeouts or less. Hefner should definitely be the front runner for the number 5 slot in the 2014 New York Mets rotation. Though his recent success shows hope, Hefner seems like a better option than Dillon Gee. This is due to to Gee’s history of inconsistency and history of being injury prone. Look for Gee to be the first starter called from Triple A if such a pitcher is needed.
In conclusion, this rotation looks solid. If Matt Harvey pitches like Matt Harvey in 2014, there’s no question he can solidify his position as one of the top pitchers in baseball. Zack Wheeler hasn’t reached his full potential yet so having a veteran backing him up is what a young team like this needs. Niese and Hefner can provide a strong back end of the staff and help win games that teams wouldn’t expect to win with their number four or five guy taking the hill. Do I think this rotation is going to win a World Series. No. But just wait until the 2015 rotation…