How deep is this Mets pitching staff?

Mets imageFrom the rotation to the bullpen, to reserves in Las Vegas, this is shaping up to be the deepest Mets pitching staff in a very long time. Regardless of which 12 or 13 guys make the opening day roster, the number of available arms runs about 20 deep.

Assuming health, the rotation will begin with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, with one of three of Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, or Seth Lugo taking hold of the fifth spot. The remaining two will provide rotation depth. Likely, one will stay in the bullpen to serve as a long man/sixth starter with the other keeping loose in Las Vegas in case of injury. While last year’s spat of injuries was more than normally expected, it’s rare that a team makes it through the season with just five starters the way the Cubs did last year. Odds are, all seven will get major league starts. If more are needed, Rafael Montero and Marcos Molina will be ready for call up from the Las Vegas rotation.

In the bullpen, Jeurys Familia (once he’s served his likely suspension), Addison Reed, Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, and Hansel Robles form the core of the late inning staff. One or two more will join them from among a deep group that includes righties Erik Goeddel, Paul Sewald, lefties Josh Edgin, Josh Smoker, Sean Gilmartin, Tom Gorzelanny, Adam Wilk, and P.J. Conlon. Other arms getting a look this spring include Chasen Bradford, Cory Burns, Chris Flexen, Donovan Hand, Ricky Knapp, Kevin McGowan, Tim Peterson, Kyle Regnault, David Rosenboom, Ben Rowen, Corey Taylor, and Logan Taylor. None of that group has a realistic shot of making the big league club but they’ll provide some more depth down in the minors.

Pitching injuries are inevitable, as are in-season struggles. It’s nice to know the Mets are well stocked with the quality arms needed to keep them competitive all season. Hopefully, the lineup will keep up its half of the bargain.

22 comments for “How deep is this Mets pitching staff?

  1. March 17, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I’m intrigued by their first seven SP options, and a little curious about the much-balleyhooed prospect that is Molina, but I’d be OK never seeing Montero in Flushing again.

  2. March 17, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I never thought it possible, but Rafael Montero’s stock dropped faster than Jordany Valdespin’s…

  3. DSchulps
    March 17, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Just for the record, it’s David Roseboom, not Rosenboom or Rosenbloom.

  4. MattyMets
    March 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Just when we were all starting to say nice things about Montero, he had a 4-walk outing. His arm slot looks low to me, which can reduce velocity and especially movement. A few years ago, when I was high on him, I compared him to Ramon Martinez. He never threw as hard as Harvey and Syndergaard, but he had some terrific movement on his fastball and used to have good control. Not sure if the issue is just mechanical or if something else is also going on, but he’s another project for Warthen.

  5. MattyMets
    March 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

    best guess on Opening Day staff:
    Syndergaard/deGrom/Harvey/Matz/Gsellman
    Reed/Salas/Robles/Blevins/Edgin/Lugo/Rowen

    I think Wheeler will get extended spring training and won’t join the rotation until May. Then, if everyone is healthy, either Gsellman or Lugo will get sent down for a while. Given early season cold weather I think this is the prudent approach.
    I think Edgin gets the call over Smoker because he’s out of options. Rowen provides a different look with the sidearm but will get bumped for Familia in 20 or 30 days.

    • Metsense
      March 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Instead of Rowen it could be Wheeler if he is healthy and it appears that he is healthy. He could be used in the second tier of the bullpen to begin with and pitch 2-3 innings an outing in low pressure situations. He would be part of the team and closely monitored by the coaching staff. If Wheeler and Lugo pick up two or three innings every time they pitch out of the bullpen then the remainder of the one inning bullpen arms should remain fresh.

      • Matt Netter
        March 17, 2017 at 10:52 pm

        Metsense, that sounds like something the Cardinals might do. Few teams are that progressive in their approach. It’s funny but with all the sabermetrics, there a still a lot of old school coaches who play by the old book. It’s been proven that you have a better chance of winning if you put your best reliever in the game with the bases loaded in the 7th or 8th, but most coaches will still save him for the 9th. Why? Because he’s the closer. All season long coaches like to stick to rigid guidelines that are largely self-imposed and then they throw the book out the window come playoff time – that’s when coaching finally gets interesting.

        • Jimmy P
          March 18, 2017 at 8:59 am

          I’m am going to disagree, Matt. I mean, yes, in theory you are correct. But over the course of a season, in the real world, pitchers are creatures of habit. They are human. They benefit from fixed roles, regular responsibilities.

          In terms of bullpens, we are not seeing “old school” usage — like we did in the 60s and 70s, but a fairly modern approach, pioneered by La Russa, etc.

          Francona got a lot of deserved praise for his bullpen use in the postseason for the Indians, but part of that came from some unique circumstances: Andrew Miller came over late in a trade, so wasn’t established in a specific role; he was all-in when it came to the flexibility of his postseason role. But Francona himself was very clear in his estimation that you couldn’t keep this up over the course of the regular season. Players tend to perform best when they are relaxed and comfortable in their roles, and part of that comfort comes from the routine, the regularity.

          Some numbers people like to act like being a closer is not a specific skill — an out is an out is an out — and yet time and again we’ve watched players fail in that role, and we’ve seen the results when a team has a true (and rare) slam-the-door closer.

          My feeling is that this is a case where the theory is nice — it sounds swell — and it plays well in Strat-O-Matic — but it’s just now how the world works.

          • March 18, 2017 at 10:31 am

            I was going to write something similar to your first two paragraphs in reply to Matt last night. Then I remembered that they’re playing 80s music on oldies stations now.

            You have to manage differently in the playoffs than you do in the regular season. In the playoffs, everything is short term but you can’t do that in the regular season. Shoot, Terry Collins tried, using Byrdak in something like 12 out of 14 days. Then he broke down. But I can’t go your next step – that we are employing optimal regular season bullpen usage today.

            Just from a thought exercise. Say we had some other bullpen usage now. And someone tried to advocate for our current 21st Century usage, where we have a half a dozen guys who can do it year after year. Then we have another dozen or so guys who can do it for 2 or 3 years successfully. Then the rest do kind of sort of okay or flame out quickly. Would we jump for joy for that system?

            There’s safety in doing it the way everyone else does it, regardless of what “it” is. The vast majority of teams will go through a stretch where their closer blows multiple games. In an 8-game stretch last year, Familia blew three games and he’s about rock solid as they come. The difference is that the Mets didn’t panic and they let him ride it out and he got straightened out. When was the last time a manager committed to a non-single closer for an entire year? Not one where they replaced one guy with another but a system where it wasn’t one guy designed to get every save? I want to say Jim Leyland with the early 90s Pirates. That’s around 25 years where every single team has been committed to doing it the same way. That’s a lot of learned fear conditioning to overcome.

            We see closers replaced every year. Shoot, the World Series champs dumped their closer when they were 20-something games over .500 in late July. The playoff-bound Nats dumped their closer. Without going through every team, I’d guesstimate that somewhere around one-third of the teams finished the year with a different closer than they started with and the vast majority of those were not injury related.

            My opinion is that there’s a better system out there.

          • MattyMets
            March 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

            I agree that there are roles, but I don’t think they should be 100% rigid. Look at how it cost Buck Showalter in the wildcard game. If everything is on the line, you can’t have your guy sitting there in case they get that far.

            • Jimmy P
              March 20, 2017 at 11:53 am

              Totally agree. Buck blew it, failed to recognize the moment.

              TC, to his credit, has used Familia in similar situations even during the regular season.

  6. Ron
    March 17, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Syndergaard/deGrom/Harvey/Matz/Gsellman
    Reed/Salas/Robles/Blevins/Lugo/Smoker/Rowen

    Edgin may be out of options, but he sucks.
    Rowen’s spot could go to anyone …. it could be Montero, it could be Edgin …. it doesn’t really matter because when Familia comes back, that spot is gone.

    Question I have is once Wheeler is done with extended Spring Training, who goes to make room for him or do Mets add him and go with 4-man bench?

    • MattyMets
      March 17, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Assuming everyone is healthy (god, I hate saying that), then either Lugo or Gsellman would get sent down and join the Vegas rotation and stay ready for the first injury. Between the inevitable injuries and Wheeler’s innings limit, I think Lugo and Gsellman will both see plenty of starts. Plus, in September when the Mets have a 15 game lead over the Nats, they’ll want to rest the big guns for the playoff run. 🙂

  7. Jimmy P
    March 17, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Besides the very serious question of Matt Harvey, the issue of 2017 will be how to maximize zack Wheeler’s cap of 120 innings.

    And let’s put aside for the time being of what’s an “inning” exactly, and/or how throwing in Florida for 4-6 weeks would or wouldn’t count toward that cap.

    I feel like he could be tremendous in the pen.

    Or, I guess, give the club 20 starts.

  8. John Fox
    March 17, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    It may not have been quite as deep as this staff but the ’69 Mets staff was close. Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Gary Gentry all had 32 or more starts, and Don Casrdwell and Jim McAndrew each had 21 starts. Bullpen use was much different then, but the Mets had Ron Taylor and Tug McGraw as late inning men. Then was a kind of hybrid who had ten starts and 15 relief appearances, guy by the name of Nolan Ryan.

    • MattyMets
      March 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      John – baseball was so different then, especially in the National League. Most teams were still using 4-man rotations and kept just a few extra guys in the bullpen as starters routinely went the distance. Interestingly, arm injuries were less common. In 1969, Seaver threw 270.1 innings, Koosman 241 and Gentry 233.2. The big three combined for 40 complete games, including 14 shutouts!

      • Jimmy P
        March 17, 2017 at 5:19 pm

        Gentry lost his career to arm injuries and Koosman lost his great fastball, but had the savvy and lefthandedness to still make it work for years to come.

  9. Eraff
    March 18, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Harvey and Wheeler are going to be delayed or limited…or both. That leaves you with a high likelihood of at least 30 starts from Lugo/Gsellman combined… we love them, but we really don’t know them!!! Montero is “next up” behind them….and he has not one shot of succeeding—sorry Raphee!

    The biggest question is how many starts you’ll need “outside the big 5 Names”…. Depth??? I’m more concerned with Health.

    • Jimmy P
      March 18, 2017 at 9:12 am

      I think “depth” and “health” are inexorably linked, there’s really no point separating the two. You only discuss depth because we know — we know, in caps — that no team makes it through the season perfectly healthy.

      I agree that the sample sizes on Lugo and Gsellman are quite small. We might think they are going to perform adequately, but it could also be that they are real weak links if handed the ball every 5th day.

      I’m glad that Wheeler is coming along. And I also understand why the Mets have to be a little undefined in terms of his role at this point. It’s a finger puzzle. Everything is interconnected. They might need him as a starter, if Gsellman/Lugo struggle, and/or if Harvey fails spectacularly (he might). Or otherwise, he might be best used in the pen. With only 120 innings, this will be really interesting to see how it works out. Personally, I’ve always felt that the stress on a reliever’s arm, given the erratic usage, can be far worse than on a starter.

      Again we come back to the fallacy of the innings limit. What’s an inning? What does it mean? Are we counting pitches? Why not? When a reliever throws 80 IP, we are worried about overuse and abuse. So I really don’t know what to make of Zach Wheeler and how this will all turn out. Plus, of course, he hasn’t pitched in two years and he was still very much in the process of development at the time. This isn’t a fully formed Venus riding in on the clamshell. He’s evolving and there will be bumps in the road.

      • Eraff
        March 18, 2017 at 11:51 am

        Well, Health and Depth are Linked…. if “The 5” arrived healthy and ready, I’d feel pretty good that there was depth behind them. Right now, Wheeler and Harvey are nothing more than “Hope Ifs”….. they simply do not count as depth on This Day.

        Your 5 starters Today are Syn, DeG, Matz, Lugo, and Gsellman…. Harvey and Wheeler are still in Rehab…that’s reality, and it doesn’t feel deep to Me.

  10. Chris F
    March 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Yesterday on MLB network radio, Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden were in Mets camp. If you have sirius/XM its worth the listen – about an hour of good interviews and reasonably informed commentary.

    couple highlights. They both love the staff and the present state of going into the season healthy. The only worry at face value is Harvey. Syndergaard of course is considered very highly and so is deGrom. Also like Matz and Zack. Bowden reported that during the off season, Gsellman was a major target of interest by quite a few ball clubs. They considered the SP depth as one of the best in the game.

    They also had high praise across the diamond. Nothing crazy great defensively, but the starters are all very solid at the plate and the bench depth is high quality, noting Lagares, Flores, TJ etc as excellent depth. I was surprised that they liked TdA as much as they did, although they noted Mets fans dont share that feeling.

    As far as the pipeline looks, they absolutely raved about Rosario. Loved his whole game. Superstar projection. Bowden went on a limb and said post-season game 1 will have Rosario starting at SS. Very high on Dom too.

    Prediction. Bowden = 94 wins, Mets take NL E
    Duquette = 92 wins, Mets take NL E

    Caught me by surprise.

    • Jimmy P
      March 19, 2017 at 10:56 am

      That’s encouraging.

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