If the 2020 version of the New York Mets taught us anything, it is that you simply can’t overstate the importance of quality starting pitching. Starters for the Mets last season compiled an ERA of 6.07. This is not the standard that we are used to seeing from the Mets rotation, as for the past few years we have been dazzled by excellent performances. Save for Jacob deGrom and David Peterson, there was nothing to write home about in terms of starting pitcher effectiveness. Sure, the rotation lacked the presence of Noah Syndergaard, but there was still no excuse for how low quality of a rotation was presented. For that reason, it is extremely important that the Mets bring back Marcus Stroman.
The “Stro Show” came into town on July 28th of 2019, and put up solid numbers for the Mets, pitching to a 4-2 record with an ERA of 3.77. Prior to the 2020 season, Stroman tore his calf, which sidelined him. He then announced on August 10th that he would forego the rest of the 2020 season, causing many to speculate on whether or not his short tenure with the organization had come to a close. If you look back at the team starting pitching stats for the Mets, you’d hope it wasn’t the end of the “Stro Show” in Queens.
The Mets could use all the depth that they could get when it comes to starting pitching. While Stroman does not provide eye-dazzling numbers, he is at least a quality pitcher. He is a quality pitcher that on the occasion, can put together a number of excellent starts as well. He will never be the stud of a starting rotation, especially a Mets rotation that features deGrom, but he is certainly an excellent complement to that. With a healthy Syndergaard added to the mix, the Mets would have a very potent top three punch in their rotation, with the flexibility to add a pitcher via free agency. Throw in Peterson at the back end, and you are looking at a rotation that might be able to pitch competitively.
When people debate against the idea of signing Stroman, they usually lean on the fact that he relies heavily on contact to make outs, and that the Mets don’t have enough infield talent to be able to support a pitcher like that. While Stroman does rely heavily on groundballs for outs, (he had a groundball rate of 54.6% in 2019, and the MLB average was 42.9%) that argument is simply not valid anymore. To start, he’ll have elite talent up the middle in Andres Gimenez. Gimenez was always known to have an elite glove, but his bat gave more reason for Luiz Rojas to start him moving forward. With more starts, Gimenez showed off those outstanding defensive skills, registering an OAA of 6, good enough for 16th in the Major Leagues.
Alongside Gimenez at second is Robinson Cano, who proved to have a renaissance season. His bat and mitt looked young again, which means the middle will be covered for the Mets. Once they figure out what to do at third base and at center field in terms of defense, the team should be ready to field at least a competent defense.
Should Steve Cohen assume ownership of the Mets, the prospect of resigning Stroman should be too lucrative to pass up. His asking price should be lower than it normally would be, considering he missed the entire truncated 2020 season. In addition to that, the glaring hole from the 2020 season was that the team lacked starting rotation depth. You don’t need the new analytics team that Cohen is bringing in to know that things need to be switched up there. Stroman seems like a natural fit to help plug that hole. If this rotation can be quickly rebuilt, the Mets can realistically return to prominence in the NL East. After all, the Mets had the highest batting average in the major leagues in 2020 with a mark of .272. In addition to the increased offensive production from the lineup, the Mets also saw a resurgent year from Edwin Diaz, who pitched to the tune of a 1.75 ERA, and had more than half the number of strikeouts than he did last season, and he did it in 40 less games. Bringing back the electricity that Stroman brings to the team, as well as the consistency that he provides on the mound, would push the Mets a bit closer to contention in 2021.
The ERA of Mets starting pitchers last season was 6.07
Stroman had a roundball rate of 54.6% in 2019
The Mets team batting average in 2020 was .272