As we approach spring training the Mets have had very little offseason action to cover. Most of the work accomplished this winter by Sandy Alderson was keeping his own players by resigning Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker accepting the qualifying offer and exercising Jay Bruce’s option. The remaining work to be done this offseason should involve the team signing a couple more relievers and trying to unload an extra outfielder. The main question marks that should remain involve the healthy return of the four starting pitchers returning from injury.
Jacob deGrom is coming back from surgery to remove an irritated nerve in his pitching arm. This condition affected him towards the end of last season affecting the velocity of his pitches and the outcome of his starts. Eventually it led to the team shutting him down for the season. If he comes back healthy from surgery to alleviate this problem, he should be a force to reckon with in the new season. deGrom has been a dominant starter with good strikeout numbers and low ERA while healthy. His healthy return would be a shot in the arm for the Mets rotation.
Matt Harvey is returning for thoracic outlet surgery that involved the removal of a rib. He much like deGrom has been a dominant starter while healthy throughout his career. This surgery has been a bit of mixed bag with the results of pitchers the year after this procedure. If he can return to form and regain his ability to avoid hard contact and finish batters off it would also be huge for the team.
Steven Matz was eventually shut down last season with a bone spur in his left elbow. He tried to pitch through the injury with mixed results before being shut down as well. Bone spur removal is not a historically difficult procedure to recover from. This is good news for the Mets although with his history of injuries Matz is far from a sure thing.
Zach Wheeler is the wild card of the bunch. He is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery after missing the last two full seasons. The Mets are likely hoping to slot him in as the fifth starter, but a pitcher in his position is anything but a sure bet. The odds of him being able to go every fifth day for an entire season are probably not great, but there is a chance the team could utilize him out of the bullpen and see what they can get. In either case, he will most likely be kept on a strict pitch count, which will keep him out of the running for team ace.
I believe the strongest candidate to emerge from these four to be the be the number 1A to Noah Syndergaard’s 1 is Jacob deGrom. With a proven track record and the mental toughness to dominate, I believe he will have the biggest season of the four starters returning from injury.