Time for the Mets rotation to step it up

The Mets front office spent the off-season beefing up their roster. The 2018 team struggled to score runs, so Brodie Van Wagenen brought in more bats. Last year’s team struggled to overcome injuries, so the GM added more depth to the roster. And he bolstered a week bullpen with more quality relievers. However, the rotation was seen as the strength of the team with five proven starters and Van Wagenen was content to go to battle with the five arms in place. You can call his decision not to add more insurance into question, but given the track records of the five starters, it’s hard to argue with his level of confidence in the group.

Led by the reigning Cy Young award winner, backed up by three powerhouse pitchers in their prime and a proven fifth starter, we all expected great things of this rotation and figured the improved offense and bullpen would put this team in the playoff hunt. The bullpen hasn’t been at full strength, but the offense has shown signs that it can sustain effectiveness. The problem no one could have seen coming is that our vaunted rotation has been a major disappointment.

The five mainstays have been reasonably healthy, missing just a few starts collectively, but none have been great. Mets starters have an ugly 4.47 ERA and have averaged under 5.5 innings per start. The former stat puts additional onus on the lineup, while the latter strains and exposes a taxed bullpen. The lineup is starting to look good now that Todd Frazier is hitting and the team has found a way to get Dominic Smith at bats. Reinforcements are coming as Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil are not expected to miss a lot of time. Eventually, Brandon Nimmo and even Jed Lowrie will join the hit parade. The bullpen will get bolstered by the return of Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan who are all nursing minor injuries. But there’s no cavalary coming to bail out the rotation. Even if Van Wagenen shocks us by signing Dallas Keuchel or trading for Mike Minor or other available starter, that’s just one arm.

The hopes of this team and the fate of our season rest on the production of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom. These guys all have great stuff but have all been too hittable. Maybe they’re adjusting to their new catcher. Maybe their pitch selection is off. Maybe they’re tipping pitches. They effectively have two pitching coaches on board to help them sort it out. Matz, Wheeler and Jason Vargas all seem like they’ve turned the corner of late. deGrom and Syndergaard need to follow suit, or this season will very quickly spiral down the drain.

7 comments for “Time for the Mets rotation to step it up

  1. May 31, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Beat Snakes 3 in a row and come home Mets in good shape to face anyone but the Dodgers, easily best NL team.
    If Mets can get to 2-3 games out by end of June, no problem, with some key guys getting back > Lugo, McNeil, Cano, maybe Lowrie, they will be fine. If BVW can add an arm or two at the trade deadline in July and let’s go !

    Keep the faith Mets fans, remember 2015 and 2016, both years Mets were meddling around .500 at midseason as well.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  2. jennifer
    May 31, 2019 at 10:07 am

    I find it interesting that Jake’s performance last year was superfluous to the team’s success, considering he won the Cy Young and the team was under 500 in his starts and the Starting Rotation was pretty good overall last year. But, they sucked. So, maybe this is just the year it’s the opposite. Sign of a bad team, pitch when they can’t hit, and hit when they can’t pitch.

    • MattyMets
      May 31, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Jen – that’s what RJ always says. Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite Met back in the booth soon. No updates yet however.

    • May 31, 2019 at 11:22 am

      I’m not a fan of blaming your best player when you don’t win. It’s important to note that I’m not accusing you of doing that. But you certainly hear people say variants of, “We finished last with you, we can finish last without you.”

      You want to collect as many great players as you can.

      I don’t believe superfluous is the right word for your graph. Superfluous — unnecessary, especially through being more than enough. If Jake was throwing shutouts on nights when the offense scored 20 runs – then his performance could be considered superfluous. His outstanding performance did not have the expected correlation with team success.

  3. MattyMets
    May 31, 2019 at 11:13 am

    What’s the common thread among Mets pitcher struggles? Could it be Wilson Ramos? It’s been well-documented that deGrom has pitched better with Nido. Is the same true of Syndergaard and Wheeler? Lefties seem to work well with the buffalo. Maybe somebody better adept at utilizing FanGraphs to its fullest can show me the evidence.

    • TexasGusCC
      June 1, 2019 at 4:32 am

      The Buffalo didn’t have a problem with Scherzer or Strasburg… Nido is a nicer receiver, but even the best catcher only steals 3 strikes more per game than the average one. I don’t see Ramos being a problem in this area. Movement and location are what have made Thor and JdG much more hittable this year, and even with Nido receiving the results have been similar overall.

      • MattyMets
        June 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

        Gus – there’s more to being a good battery mate than pitch framing. Pitch selection and sequencing is critical. Is Ramos calling for the right pitches at the time and in the right order? This is a big part of developing trust and comfort. I was listening to a podcast interview with Ron Darling where he discussed early struggles adapting to Gary Carter. In their first game together Carter put down one finger, Darling shook him off. Carter put down one finger again and Darling shook him off again. Carter then held out the back of his mitt with no signal meaning Darling had no choice but to throw a fastball. Last night I noted a few examples where Wheeler was not growing the right 2-strike pitch. Syndergaard has struggled with this all year.

        Aside from this, Ramos is not controlling the running game and has too many pass balls and wild pitches. Now that he’s hitting, it’s a little easier to overlook the mediocre defense. But it’s not like he’s Piazza hitting 40 homers.

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