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.