Most Mets fans are upset after their starting pitcher did not give the team a chance to win last night. Five runs in the first three frames will make any team frustrated, and newcomer Wilmer Font making his second spot start certainly deserves the criticism. He was so ineffective that a team fresh off a four-game win streak seems back in the doldrums. And this attitude is also certainly understandable as the Mets fell back below .500 and lost an important game against a division foe. What isn’t a reasonable conjecture is the notion that Wilmer Font should be passed over the next time this team needs a spot start.
On his fourth team in two seasons, Font has proven to be undesirable in the past; however, one man’s trash might be another man’s slightly more usable trash. It all depends on what that second man has for replacement.
Now calling some of these pitchers trash is harsh and simply not accurate. The 28-year-old Font is not considered a prospect, but he has had recent success as a starter in professional baseball. In 2017 he posted a sub-3.00 FIP in the PCL for Oklahoma City with a K/9 of nearly 12. His pitches have a chance to compete against big league hitters with a fastball in the mid nineties and three secondary pitches he can throw comfortably. While nothing really stands out, he projects to be a “good guy to have” and we should give props to the Mets for scooping him from a team loaded on pitching depth.
Last night’s start was terrible, but we know the tools are at least still there to be a spot starter. The other side of this equation, and the greater side, is who else would the Mets be able to throw out there?
Just a hint, the answer will not be Dallas Keuchel.
Internal options Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt haven’t had any more AAA or MLB success than Font, and neither of them seem to possess better stuff than Font as well. They may be more familiar names to us, but not reliable fill-in options at this point.
Other alternatives would have to come from the Mets bullpen, but this approach has been proven to be too risky in the past. It would be great if Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, or Drew Gagnon could step in and fire five solid innings, but even if they could it would set back the fragile bullpen days and maybe even weeks. They simply cannot afford to have their most trusted set up men be pressed into starting duty for one game at the expense of many more with no off days in the near future.
Not only does Font represent a decent option, he very much so represents the best option. Hopefully Steven Matz and Jason Vargas can come back and prevent him from starting again, but the Mets shouldn’t let this one slip up make them look to another arm just yet. Font showed Mets fans a lot of promise in his first start, and as hard as it may be, we have to hold on to that promise until it becomes a treasure piece, or until another promise overshadows it.