The Mets had a chance this season to trade their talented starting pitching for a mountain of minor league talent. There were teams salivating over Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard but the Mets stayed firm and held onto their “Twin Aces”. There were teams who would have loved to have Zack Wheeler or Steven Matz but the Mets refused to move their rotational depth. Now, going into 2019 the Mets have their four rotational locks as well as Seth Lugo, Jason Vargas, Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen and others to round things out, but could they be greedy and look to have a higher ceiling prospect grab hold of the last rotation spot?
We have covered the phoenix-like season of Justin Dunn throughout 2018. A player we couldn’t say anything good about in 2017 redeemed himself in a big way and is currently poised to ascend to AAA in 2019.
It isn’t a stretch to think the Mets might look to Dunn, should he perform well in Syracuse, to take up the last rotational spot. One could even argue, if not for the fabled tight finances of the Wilpons, that Dunn could earn a job during Spring Training. Yet, how can we have such expectations of a player after his roller coaster numbers.
It’s fair to ask which player is the real Justin Dunn. After all, the walks seem to be a problem regardless of the year but his power numbers give plenty of reason to hope. Last year’s season left me wondering if Dunn had an MLB future. Now, my question tends to be if Dunn’s future is in the bullpen.
Back in 2006 another talented young pitcher had been brought up to the majors. The consensus on Adam Wainwright was that he’d be a future starter but the St. Louis Cardinals had the tall righty pitch as a reliever in his first year in the majors. During that year he pitched 75 innings and one memorable playoff at bat winning himself some major league confidence that would carry him through the next seven sparking years of his career.
The Mets have two players who I could see cutting their teeth as relievers this well. Both Dunn and recent acquisition, Franklyn Kilome have the power to their pitching that seems to translate, in theory to a relief role. With the Mets having lost Jeurys Familia and with a number of bullpen question marks staring at them, there are worse thoughts than giving one or both of these pitchers a chance this spring to make their mark in relief and earn a spot with the team.
My money is on Dunn eventually landing in the rotation and Kilome finding his home on the back end of a bullpen as a setup pitcher or closer, but in 2019 both seem like prime candidates to get a look.
That said, the Mets could simply opt to shuffle both pitchers to the Syracuse rotation and let them progress as normal. That strategy works particularly well if the Mets sign one of the available Free Agent closers but we’ll have to wait and see.