Steven Matz or Noah Syndergaard: Who’s called up first?

Steven MatzAh, Spring Training! The time when managers, scouts and fans get to see prospects and veterans compete in an exhibition season. As Mets fans, we know the future is bright when looking at prospects the team will call up in the next couple of years. Michael Conforto had a great game against the Atlanta Braves, going 3 for 4 and driving in three runs. Jacob deGrom also put together a nice start in the game, going three innings and allowing one run. Even with these performances, there has been a lot of focus placed on Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard. Although there is not currently a spot open in the starting rotation, it is exciting to see what the Mets have in their system.

The current rotation seems to consist of Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler. With a surplus of starting pitchers, Dillon Gee will most likely serve as a long reliever, and Rafael Montero may join the bullpen or be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas. If there is a point in the season where the pitching staff gets spread thin, there may be debate within the organization (and amongst fans) of who to call up first. Who do the Mets call up first in the 2015 season if the options are between Matz and Syndergaard?

After performing nicely for Single-A St. Lucie last season, Matz got called up to Double-A Binghamton, where he made 12 starts, posting a 2.28 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 71 innings. He capped a solid season with an unbelievable start, pitching 7.1 innings, striking out 11 and allowing a run in the Double-A Championship game. With this performance under his belt, it made Dan Warthen’s comparison of Matz to Clayton Kershaw somewhat realistic. Frank Viola told John Harper (of the Daily News) that Matz reminds him of Madison Bumgarner. When pitching coaches are comparing a pitcher to Bumgarner and Kershaw, it has to mean something special.

Rated as one of the top prospects in baseball, Syndergaard projects to be a 1A or 1B type of pitcher. With an intimidating presence on the mound, a mid to high 90’s fastball, and a decent curveball, the projections do not seem too farfetched. This may not have been transparent last season, as he pitched to a 4.60 ERA and had a WHIP of 1.481 over 133 innings, but his stuff was apparent, as he struck out 145 batters. Recently, Noah has made headlines because he was eating lunch during an intrasquad game, and was not sitting on the bench during the game. This should not be a problem going forward, and it should allow everyone to focus on his pitching. During Spring Training, he has pitched two innings and allowed two runs, while striking out two. There is undoubtedly pressure placed on Syndergaard to become the next ace for the Mets, and Terry Collins’ strategy this Spring Training (as John Harper reported for the Daily News) of pairing Syndergaard with Matt Harvey should help the top prospect improve on his poise throughout the spring and the season.

It seems that both of these pitchers could warrant big league call-ups sometime this season, but as of now, it seems that Matz is on the fast track to Queens. With Syndergaard starting in Triple-A Las Vegas, the head start will most likely put him first in line to get promoted over Matz. The past three seasons have been fortunate to the Mets’ starting rotation, as we saw Matt Harvey in 2012, then Zack Wheeler in 2013, and Jacob deGrom last season, and this season should be no different.

13 comments for “Steven Matz or Noah Syndergaard: Who’s called up first?

  1. Peter Hyatt
    March 8, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    oh, the problems we have!

    Interesting comments yesterday regarding Matz from a man who, in spite of English being his second language, knows how to express himself: Matz the real thing.

    I so much want to see them both make the trip North!

    Excellent article, James. Fun to read while watching Spring training all the way up here in Maine.

    • James Newman
      March 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you for the kind words Peter! Matz seems like he can put all his tools together quickly and excel more and more as he progresses through the system. I’d love to see both go North as well, but as of now it seems like the rotation is set.

      I hope Maine is treating you nicely, this winter hasn’t been too kind!

  2. Name
    March 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    No one has concerned this yet (because it’s really early and might not happen), but there’s a good chance that if the Mets are in a playoff hunt Matz might be called up to be another lefty in the bullpen.

    Normally, i don’t really like the see the top pitching prospects getting called up to get their first taste in the bullpen unless it’s September or if it’s clear it’s only temporary.

    My concern is of course with our beloved manager TC. So far, all the top prospects that have come up have all been lefties so we haven’t had this problem, but i can easily see TC abusing Matz as a LOOGY in September, which terrifies me.

  3. Scott
    March 8, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Harvey,Wheeler, DeGrom,Syndergard, Matz. That might be a helluva starting rotation! And you still have Montero backing them up. C’mon Shady let’s find a deal for Neise and Gee.

    • Peter Hyatt
      March 8, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Scott,

      I’m with you. I think Neise and Gee could bring back talent.

      My concern (or perhaps impatience) is discouraging Noah or being overly cautious with talent in keeping them down in the minors.

    • March 9, 2015 at 12:17 am

      Excellent point Scott. And with Fred begging for payroll relief you can add Colon ASAP and apply a portion of the 24 million dollars for a proven quality major league SS.

  4. Matt Netter
    March 8, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Pitching depth is a wonderful problem to have, but we currently have 6 veteran starters, plus 3 high level prospects who are either ready or close to it. At some point Sandy will be forced to trade at least one. Also, Torres has done well as a spot starter giving us even more depth.

  5. Chris F
    March 8, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    All other things being equal in AAA, the fact that Matz is a lefty gives him priority as either a starter or as a pen promo. However, I read somewhere recently that the Mets do not favor promoting starters through a big league pen intro.

    • James Newman
      March 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Great point Chris. I think with the Mets only having Niese as their main lefty horse in the rotation gives Matz an advantage to be promoted. I don’t understand why the Mets are against doing that. The Cardinals have done it before, and it has not damaged their pitchers. Plus I’m in favor of going all-in for a World Series, that is if we are in contention this year.

      • Name
        March 9, 2015 at 5:53 pm

        “The Cardinals have done it before, and it has not damaged their pitchers”

        Proof other than Waino (who ended up having TJ)?

        I mean, Lance Lynn was in the pen for 2 months in 2011 and made the transition back to SP in 2012 quite successfully.

        But the Carlos Martinez experiment has been a disaster and Trevor Rosenthal’s potential is unrealized because he’s stuck in the pen now.

        The Rangers have done it before, and it has damaged their pitchers.

        Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando.

        Look at the top pitchers in the game today, and you’ll find that none of them spent more than September in a major league bullpen.

  6. Joe Vasile
    March 8, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I’d imagine that Syndergaard is the most likely to get the call up first, but the more I see and hear about Matz, the more excited for him I get.

  7. Metsense
    March 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    The one who is pitching the best should be the one called up first.
    Matz will be 24 this May so the 22 yoa Noah should not feel slighted if Matz out pitches him and gets the call first. Noah will get his chance but Noah should make it his mission not to let Matz pass him on the depth chart.
    In the summer of 2016 the Mets could have a rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz unless Tulo is their shortstop.

  8. James Preller
    March 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Joe Janish of Mets Today really sounded the alarm today about Syndergaard’s poor mechanics.

    It’s going to take some convincing before I’m ready to believe this guy is able to win regularly in the MLB.

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