Mets Minors: Corey Oswalt and a rotation’s worth of depth

In 2017 the Mets looked to succeed with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler leading the charge and depth coming from Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. They didn’t need to bring in depth starters like Bartolo Colon or Doug Fister from free agency because they were overstocked to begin with. Then the Mets pitchers showed what happens to the best laid plans. The Mets wound up looking to their lesser known minor leaguers and acquiring middling talent like Tommy Milone to fill the gap.

In 2018 the Mets may be looking at the same seven players in their starting rotation equation but the depth behind this crowd will be much deeper than it was last season. The Mets are likely to have five pitchers in AAA Las Vegas with the ability to provide quality innings for the rotation if the need should arise.

Rafael Montero – With a 5.52 ERA and 0.1 WAR you might not agree that Montero, who started 18 games for the 2017 Mets is much of an option for 2018. If one dives deep into his splits from the season, though, you come away feeling a little different. His K/9 for the year was strong and his WHIP got better after some early season explosions. His issue will always be walks but the Mets have someone with experience ready to step up right away.

Chris Flexen – The Mets, scraping the bottom of the barrel in AAA pegged Flexen to come to the majors from AA. As one might expect, this transition wasn’t smooth. His 7.88 ERA in the majors is pretty unsightly, but for a player who began the year in Port St. Lucie, I believe that’s worth a pass. His AA numbers for Binghamton were excellent and I would expect the Mets to give Flexen a proper look in AAA in 2018.

Corey Oswalt – A year older than Flexen, Oswalt pitched for Binghamton the entire year. While his K/9 dropped from 9.0 to 8.0, Oswalt’s numbers were very effective throughout the year. More importantly, his numbers appear thoroughly dominant if you only remove his 10 starts in April and May. Oswalt has the potential to be a major league pitcher and has the stuff to back up the numbers he’s produced on his way through the minors.

P.J. Conlon – The Irish born lefty made a dip into relief at the end of the year but the Mets have little reason to force that change on Conlon at the moment. With Jerry Blevins coming back for another year in the bullpen, Conlon will look to get his shot in AAA. The numbers on Conlon aren’t as impressive as those for Flexen or Oswalt as he lacks the power arm but his control and movement make up for his lack of pitching power.

Mickey Jannis – Despite his 21 starts for Binghamton and solid 3.60 ERA, the ceiling on Jannis wasn’t particularly high. Then the knuckleballer went off to the AFL and in 4 starts turned a number of heads. Giving up only 7 hits and 4 walks in 17 innings (with 14 strikeouts) was pretty darned impressive and the fact that he only gave up 1 earned run is also pretty interesting. Interesting enough for this older prospect to have a chance to help his big league club if an injury should arise.

The Mets look much better prepared for 2018 with 12 starting pitchers and many fans, this one included, would like to see the Mets target Lance Lynn, or Alex Cobb to help push the rotation over the top. Either way, I feel better about our pitching prospects and depth this season.

15 comments for “Mets Minors: Corey Oswalt and a rotation’s worth of depth

  1. November 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    It was disappointing to me that the Mets moved Conlon so quickly to the pen last year. I hope he’s back in the rotation at the start of 2018.

    I’m curious to see who the team views as the sixth starter. Assuming Noah, Jake, Harvey, Matz and Wheeler as the first five – who gets the promotion when the injury happens? Will Gsellman, Lugo and Montero be viewed as “too valuable” in the pen to move to the rotation?

    A strong start in Triple-A by Flexen or Oswalt might make them the choice.

    One guy I find curious by his omission is Marcos Molina. He didn’t have great numbers after the promotion to Binghamton but he recovered nicely after a very poor start in Double-A. In his last 8 games, he had 6 Quality Starts and he limited batters to a .614 OPS.

    • David Groveman
      November 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      I predict that Molina and Crismatt headline in AA to start the season.

  2. TexasGusCC
    November 13, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    David, Montero is out of options. Instead it should be Gsellman and possibly Lugo in AAA, but Molina needs to go also as he is taking up a 40 man spot and needs to be chastened.

    Montero can start out as the fifth starter as Wheeler is worked in slowly with longer relief outings. Then, he can step in the spot in mid-June or the All-Star break.

    The preference would be to keep the starters starting and the relievers in the MLB pen, but let’s see who wins the jobs in March.

  3. Metsense
    November 13, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Montero is out of options so if he is waived he will surely be picked up by another organization in this pitching starved world called MLB. He will not be in AAA for the Mets.
    If all the other starters are healthy then Lugo and Gsellman will also be in the pen as the second tier of middle relief and with Montero will all be capable of multiple innings. To me that is a good thing and would make a very formidable bullpen especially if Alderson goes out and signs a Shaw type reliever also.
    I agree with you David that they target Lynn and Roth and to make room for one of them in the rotation they should trade Harvey.
    Adding Molina (instead of Montero) to the rotation along with others mentioned in your analysis makes the AAA rotation very encouraging.

    • Name
      November 13, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      Montero is like a drug. Just because others would pick him up and use him doesn’t mean the Mets should.

      He is a piece of (expletive removed), and i have no idea why last year didn’t prove that to everyone.

      • Chris F
        November 13, 2017 at 10:54 pm

        Stockholm Syndrome is about the only answer I can think of.

        Hey, heres a good sounding team.

        1B. Smith/Flores
        2B. Flores/TJ
        SS. Rosario/Reyes
        3B. Cabrera/Reyes
        C. TdA/KP
        LF. Ces/Nimmo
        CF. Lagares/Nimmo
        RF. Conforto/Nimmo

        Love them all. This team is rock solid.

        • November 14, 2017 at 8:01 am

          Well, I guess if this is the offense then the $30 million they have to spend will all go towards pitching. Not necessarily the way I would do it but I could see it working.

          • Chris F
            November 14, 2017 at 8:58 am

            Fair enough. I see a team of 80 wins at the most. Slow, sloppy, fundamentally bad. Say you go with Arrieta and some middling OF, I cant see anything good of it.

            In personally blow this group up. Only a few folks are worth keeping around.

            • NormE
              November 14, 2017 at 11:45 am

              Chris F,
              I understand your frustration. But let’s be specific. Who do you get rid? Who are the replacements and, if they are external, how do you get them? Blowing off steam is healthy, but that is only a short-term personal fix.
              Trades are difficult because the Mets, outside of a few bodies, have little of market value. The middle-market budget does not leave much room to get proven upgrades.
              Blowing it up is easier than improving it. Good luck!

              • Chris F
                November 14, 2017 at 2:09 pm

                Id listen to any team about any player. No one would be “off limits”.
                This team is not heading to the postseason, so pretending it is by adding some mid-level talent is fantasy. Why worry about it? I only understand trying to win it all, or tearing it apart so you can in the future. The Mets Malaise of talking big but playing small is tiring. Sandy-ball overall has been a wild disappointment.

            • Eraff
              November 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm

              Chris… your Words::::: “Love them all. This team is rock solid”……….”…..blow this group up. Only a few folks are worth keeping around”


              • Chris F
                November 14, 2017 at 2:05 pm


                1. Love them all = sarcasm
                2. Blow up the team = how I feel personally
                3. likely outcome = somewhere in between

    • David Groveman
      November 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      If the Mets were able to have a rotation of:

      Noah Syndergaard
      Jacob deGrom
      Lance Lynn
      Matt Harvey
      Steven Matz

      a Lineup of:

      Amed Rosario, SS
      Travis d’Arnaud, C
      Michael Conforto, RF
      Yoenis Cespedes, LF
      Mike Moustakas, 3B
      Dominic Smith, 1B
      Wilmer Flores, 2B
      Bandon Nimmo/Juan Lagares, CF

      I’d be pretty darned psyched

      • TexasGusCC
        November 14, 2017 at 6:37 pm

        David, rather than Moose and Smith, give me Bruce and Cabrera and let’s go to war!

  4. Eraff
    November 14, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Harvey is not being traded (now)…he has zero value.

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