Niese’s elbow paves way to see Mets’ pitching depth

Jonathon NieseShould the MRI prove that Jonathon Niese’s elbow is “A-Okay” later today, the Met front office cannot rejoice.  Niese, thus far, has proven his arm is a liability in 2014 and sooner or later we will be waving goodbye as something will need to be done to fix the issue.  While that remains a possibility, it also represents an opportunity to players who are on the cusp of joining a major league rotation.

Pitching depth is sure to be relevant to the Mets in 2014.  Today, I’m going to take a peak at the 2014 Met depth charts in pitching to see how many contingency plans we have.

Zack Wheeler – With Matt Harvey injured and “The Mighty Thor” set to start 2014 in Las Vegas, this is the chance that Wheeler has been waiting for.  With the injury issues for Niese, Wheeler is looking at a two pitcher battle for the opening day start.

  • Key Spring Stats: 10.2 IP, 0.94 WHIP
  • Ceiling: Ace
  • Floor: #3 Pitcher
  • ETA: Already Up

Dillon Gee – Gee has gone from a distant thought as a #5 filler piece to becoming a legitimate arm in the majors.  He doesn’t have “Ace” stuff but his success is far better than those of a typical #5 pitcher.  It’s little wonder that he’s the other name being tossed out to start opening day.

  • Key Spring Stats: 1.69 ERA, 1.69 WHIP
  • Ceiling: #3 Pitcher
  • Floor: #5 Pitcher
  • ETA: Already Up

Bartolo Colon – The Mets spent a lot of money on Colon, who has recently seen a late-in-life resurgence in his career.  I’m not particularly sold on Colon being worth $10 Mil in 2014 or 2015, but he should give the Mets some quality innings.  I think there are plenty of fans who would have preferred to sign Stephen Drew with that money and added a lesser starter.  His Spring results don’t mean everything but should keep him from throwing the ball on opening day.

  • Key Spring Stats: 8.2 IP, 12 H
  • Ceiling: #4 Pitcher
  • Floor: $20 Million Mistake
  • ETA: Already Up

Daisuke Matsuzaka – He’s not a phenom and he’s not particularly fun to watch but in 2013 and, thus far, in 2014 he can keep you in games.  Matsuzaka was brought into camp to give the Mets an option other than the farm for the back of the rotation.  His role on the roster now seems a forgone conclusion.

  • Key Spring Stats: 3.52 ERA, 7 K
  • Ceiling: #4 Pitcher
  • Floor: AAAA Pitcher
  • ETA: Already Up

Jenrry Mejia – The good news?  The Mets aren’t toying with Mejia pitching out of the bullpen.  The bad news? He’s not making the most of his opportunity to join the 2014 rotation.  He should start the year in AAA even if certain more “prospect-y” pitchers need to be in the majors instead of him.

  • Key Spring Stats: 4.1 IP, 2.08 WHIP
  • Ceiling: #3 Pitcher
  • Floor: Forgotten
  • ETA: June (Been up but I see him starting the year in AAA)

John Lannan – Who has been the Met’s second best pitcher this Spring?  The same guy that Terry Collins seems devoted to sending to the bullpen.  Lannan will be on the major league roster either way, but if Niese is injured, it might open a well-deserved door to Lannan joining the rotation.

  • Key Spring Stats: 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
  • Ceiling: #4 Pitcher
  • Floor: LOOGY
  • ETA: Already Up

Rafael Montero – It says something that the Mets have 6 names ahead of Montero in a depth chart that lacks both Harvey and Niese (or Jeremy Hefner, for that matter).  The Mets are currently being stupid and thinking of putting Montero into the bullpen for the start of the season.  This is dumb for lots of reasons but let’s start with that after one injury, the Mets will need to demote Montero to AAA to stretch him back out to starting.  Add that his repertoire lends itself far better to starting and however many more reasons that the Mets should either start him in the rotation or AAA.

  • Key Spring Stats: 9.0 IP, 0.89 WHIP
  • Ceiling: #3 Pitcher
  • Floor: #5 Pitcher
  • ETA: June (Unless in the bullpen)

Noah Syndergaard – The third head of what the Mets are hoping is a devastating pitching staff monster in 2015.  Syndergaard is already in minor league camp but the injury to Niese adds fuel to the fires already burning to see him pitch in Queens.  I think the benefits of Syndergaard waiting til June or July outweigh the benefits of him pitching in April and May, but I’m a “big-picture” guy.

  • Key Spring Stats: 1.67 Opp Avg, 10 K
  • Ceiling: Ace
  • Floor: #3 Pitcher
  • ETA: July – August

Carlos Torres – I could have listed him higher on the list, and maybe I should have.  Torres has been good thus far and he’s got major league success.  It’s still my belief that Torres looks better as a spot starter than a rotation pitcher.  Based solely on his spring results, he should be in the rotation.

  • Key Spring Stats: 1.00 ERA, 8 K
  • Ceiling: #5 Pitcher
  • Floor: Long Relief
  • ETA: Already Up

Jacob deGrom – the 10th pitcher I’m listing here, who I believe would be a solid choice to be a starter for the Mets in 2014.  deGrom comes in as 10th on the depth chart without some impressive names who are (or may be) injured.  His results in spring training were very good and his stuff has more zip than Gee or Montero.  He’s already in minor league camp and he needs to refine his offerings in the minors a little, but were he promoted today, he’d be a pitcher worth watching.

  • Key Spring Stats: 1.67 Opp Avg, 4 H
  • Ceiling: #3 Pitcher
  • Floor: Middle Relief
  • ETA: August – September

The Mets have quite a lot of depth on their roster, which seems to point to Sandy Alderson doing a good job with building (or at least not emptying) the farm.  Should the Mets look to trade for Nick Franklin, Chris Owings or Didi Gregarious, it would seem that the rotation could survive the loss of a prospect like Montero or deGrom, even with Niese being out for the year potentially.  With a lack of improvement on offense, seeing some of these names coming up from the minors might be worth the price of admission for Met fans who are still suffering through years of tight-fisted and miserly management.

10 comments for “Niese’s elbow paves way to see Mets’ pitching depth

  1. March 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I disagree with your rating of Met pitchers Mr. Groveman. First of all you completely forgot Wheeler.
    I see no advantage to losing Niese, the Mets ideally would have two lefty starters. As some teams are overbalanced with left handed hitters. If JN is sidelined, they will be forced to use Lannan as a starter. Which offers no guarantees, he never really got a chance to show what he could do. There is also Maltz in the minors who needs a little seasoning.
    I also feel you are underrating Dillon Gee, I feel good season from him and Wheeler. Will lead to a good season for the Mets.
    Your assessments of Montero and Mejia are totally out of wack. Both have had enough time in the minors and deserved a shot in the majors.
    I agree the Mets definitely should make a deal for one of the three shortstop’s mentioned. Unfortunately they will have to probably they will have to give up either Montero or Mejia to make the deal. Both Seattle and the D-Backs need pitching. Either of these guys can be a 3rd or fifth starter for them.

    • David Groveman
      March 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Firstly, Wheeler was the first name mentioned… so, there’s that.

      There is no advantage to Niese being hurt. That’s not the point. The idea is that, with the Met offense pretty equivalent to 2013, Niese being hurt would pave the way to seeing some more names from the impressive depth chart.

      You see Dillon Gee as more than a #3 pitcher? That is quite something.

      Mejia has not had a good spring. Matsuzaka was brought in to compete with him for a job and he has not won. He can go to AAA and be called up later.

      Montero has been great and gone up in my esteem. I simply said I don’t want him in the bullpen. Because that would not help him develop. Maybe I wrote unclearly.

      I am glad we agree that the Mets can afford to trade a pitcher for a quality young shortstop.

      • Jerry Grote
        March 17, 2014 at 11:48 am

        not a good spring? 4 innings is “not giving him even any sort of shot”. Mejia was doomed by TC before he laced ’em up.

        • David Groveman
          March 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

          You are right. Mejia to AAA is not the end of the world though. At least it isn’t Mejia to the bullpen.

  2. Jerry Grote
    March 17, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Lots of good stuff, David. couple things …

    I’ve got no room on the squad for Didi. Waste of space; if you want a 600 OPS and a good glove, move up Tovar. Franklin has a lower fielding percentage than a hit-first SS you have in house (although, I am infatuated with NF). The correct trade is for Owings.

    Lannan to the bullpen is absolute idiocy. Absolute. First, he doesn’t have the experience. Second, he’s not particularly effective against Lefties. Third, he can eat innings as a SP.

    Colon’s ceiling – six months removed from completing a 6 ?notlookingitup WAR season – is a #4 pitcher? Perhaps your standards are a touch high.

    Torres – again, a bit high on the standards. His starting numbers match up with just about any #4 pitcher in baseball. But I’m quibbling.

    • March 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

      I would also not want Didi (Ruben Tejada with a bit more pop) Gregarious, but I name him as he’s one of the trade candidates.

      Lannan in the bullpen will not happen if Niese is hurt but seemed to be what TC wanted. Again… I think he’s earned a starting spot regardless.

      I don’t like Colon. I see nothing but failure, but I like players to look more in shape than I am. I hope I’m just being biased.

      Quibble away!

  3. Patrick Albanesius
    March 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I agree with your caution about Colon, but with hope that he can repeat what he did in Oakland, while he was roughly the same size mind you. Ownings does look like the logical fit, and the Mets can afford to give up some arms to improve the infield. I unfortunately don’t see it happening though. Great summary of the Mets options.

  4. Joe G
    March 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    They need to sign Hanrahan and Guerra for their Pen right now! Dont Wait.

  5. Name
    March 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    If Niese can’t go, I’d stick Lannan in that 4th spot and give the 5th to Mejia, where we can limit his innings by having him just pitch 3 times in April.
    Please no Dice-K, can’t stand that guy.

  6. Metsense
    March 18, 2014 at 7:40 am

    The Mets signed Matzusaka and Lannan as non roster spring training invitees to assure some starting pitching depth in case of injury to a starter. This was a wise and prudent move. You never have enough pitching.
    These two veterans were immediately placed ahead of Mejia, Montero and Syndergaard on the depth chart. I don’t agree with this thinking. I realize that Montero and Syndergaard will not make the team because of financial reasons and I have no qualms with that. Mejia should be in the 5th spot to start the season with Montero ready to take the next available spot in the rotation in May. This is the future of the Mets, not Matzusaka.

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