Mets pitchersIt sure feels like Christmas for Mets fans with a deep-pocketed, new owner ready to spend and a capable and familiar President of Baseball Operations ushering in a new front office equipped to recognize and harness the talent this franchise needs to get us back to playing baseball in October.

As much as the off-season has gotten off to a slow start, the Mets have been dominating the hot stove discussions. Nearly every big name free agent or trade candidate has had their name tied to Queens in off-season rumors. So far so good, but the heavy lifting is about to begin.

Preparing this Mets team for 2021 will take more than an aggressive free agency; it will require a well thought out approach that puts us a step ahead of the competition. Just as we’ve watched other teams revolutionize the game with the use of analytics, shifts, launch angle, and more, the Mets have a chance to have a secret winning strategy of their own this coming season.

We all know the Mets need to add a new starting pitcher. But MattyMets is here to argue we need at least two, if not three. Prediction: rotation depth will be the key to the 2021 season for all teams.

As it stands, our rotation is led by the best pitcher in baseball, followed by a solid number two. You could argue that we could add one quality starter and patch together the back end between the untested David Peterson, the enigmatic Steven Matz and the miscast Seth Lugo. MattyMets disagrees.

Even if the upcoming season ends up being 162 games with a familiar set of rules, it will be a wonky season. Here’s why. There will need to be innings limits imposed on every single starting pitcher, or else we’re going to see a rash of elbow injuries like we’ve never seen before.

If you give merit to the Verducci effect, pitchers are far more susceptible to arm injuries when there is a significant increase in innings pitched from one season to the next. Going from one 32-start/200-inning season to the next, a pitcher is prepared. But, going from an injury-shortened (or Covid-shortened) 12-start/70-inning season to a full one leaves a pitcher very vulnerable. The leading 2020 innings eater was Lance Lynn with just 84 IP. Jacob deGrom threw 68, Peterson threw 49.2, Marcus Stroman threw zero innings and it’s not yet clear who will fill out the rotation. This is a problem.

Smart teams will be prepared with deep bullpens featuring a few old-school long reliever/spot starter types (where’s Terry Leach when we need him?). Shrewd GMs will stack their triple A affiliate with veteran arms who can step in as needed. Signing former Phillies pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was a good start. Though he struggled recently, he has a live arm and some solid seasons behind him. He’s still 29 so there’s a chance for a bounce back and he’s worth a look. The Mets should look for a few more guys like that.

The smartest and boldest move of all would be to implement a six-man rotation. This way there are reasonable expectations placed on starters, injury risk is reduced, and there’s a better chance of them having some steam left heading into the post-season, which the Mets plan to attend in 2021.

Rather than putting all their eggs in one basket, like say spending $30mm on Trevor Bauer, the Mets might be better served bringing in two $10-$15 million arms, plus taking a flyer on a few guys coming off down years or injuries. The teams that succeed will be the ones that best prepared for the certain uncertainty of 2021.

20 comments on “Here’s how the Mets could outsmart and outpitch the league.

  • holmer

    Agreed 100%. I am not on the Bauer bandwagon and I think 2 FA starters and one more FA reliever would put the Mets in a better position. The 6 man rotation is something teams may start using moving forward-very similar to how they protect their pitchers in Japan.

  • Mike W

    Merry Christmas everybody. My favorite presents this year. Got a 1969 Mets team photo plaque and got a nice Mets pullover sweatshirt.

    I agree with the two starters, such as Walker/Tanaka/Kluber etc….I think we handcuff ourselves if we sign Bauer. Not a lot of money left for Syndergaard, Conforto and free agents next year. Would be great to rid ourselves of the last two years of Cano.

  • Miguel Mercado

    Sign Carlos radon lefty the white Sox released

    • Remember1969

      +1

  • Metsense

    The Mets are are thin in the rotation and need two starting pitchers that are better than Peterson. Like you mention, they also need more depth in the AAA rotation. No team has five starters make 32 starts each. As for Syndergaard, plan to prepare as if he was unavailable and then when he does get back he will be a shot in the arm for the team.

    • Jay Pearlman

      I don’t disagree about reduced innings, or about six starters… And I don’t love the fact that Bauer wants to be a twitter celebrity (don’t like that about syndergaard; I’m a conservative but don’t like it about trump)… That said, don’t fool yourselves: one great player is worth way more than two average ones (one guy that gets 200 hits is worth way more than two guys with 125 each)… So even though he’s a jerk, because Bauer is the best out there, they need to sign him… And if that requires a sacrifice, as good of a player–and teammate–as springer appears to be, sacrifice him! Bauer and Odorizzi!

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  • Rob

    Great shout out to Terry Leach. Never got why that guy couldn’t stick with anyone. Is numbers were pretty decent in starter and relief roles.

  • Chris

    I agree as well. Two solid SP’s, Hand and maybe Hendricks in the pen…drop- trade Familia and Betances. Springer in CF. Maybe the Korean kid for 3b.

  • TJ

    The Mets can afford top quality free agents now, and should not look to cut corners everywhere. That said, I do like the idea of bringing in a couple of SP as well as a couple of quality bullpen arms. This can achieve depth, flexibility, competition for the few remaining spots, and the ability to add later in the season as needed. If depth pushes Peterson and Gsellman into the AAA rotation to start the season, that is win on two fronts. If guys like Matz, Brach, Castro, and Barnes, with limited financial commitment, have to step up and perform from day one, that is a good thing. I’d even apply the same to Famiia and Betances, despite the higher pay. The end goal is to have no weak links in the rotation or the pen, and guys in Syracuse scratching and clawing to get into the show. With a solid offense, the pitching depth will determine how well this team competes.

    • MattyMets

      It’s a Christmas miracle – everyone in Mets360 seems to agree with me. I thought for sure half would think I was nuts. When I started thinking of this notion of implementing a 6 man rotation for 2021, I tried to find some evidence of anyone else pitching this strategy. I follow every prominent baseball writer on Twitter and have yet to see anyone else bring this up nor the post Covid season arm injury concern. Perhaps we could coin this the MattyMets effect.

  • Brian Joura

    Sorry, Matt, I don’t agree with you.

    The Verducci thing has been debunked a few times over. This article links to studies if anyone is interested but the best thing is the conclusion.

    “The problem of the Verducci Effect formulation is that the sample is far too heterogeneous to expect coherent effects out of it. Maybe the real frontier here is in breaking players down into sub-groups based on how they got onto that list to begin with. It’s much more complex, doesn’t fit nicely onto the page of a magazine, and it’s the way that real research is done.”

    https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/19497/baseball-therapy-fact-or-fiction-the-verducci-effect/

    • MattyMets

      The Verducci effect identifies pitchers who increase IP year over year by 30+, a 20-30% increase. This is unprecedented where guys will be asked to triple their innings pitched (a 300% increase from say 65 to 200) from one season to the next. This is cause for concern and this is my point and I stand by it. Mark this page and come back to it next year when we see a huge portion of starters on the IL on teams that didn’t prepare.

      • Brian Joura

        You’ve got to start with a baseline or else it’s meaningless. How many pitchers got hurt in each of the last five years? It doesn’t mean much if you say X pitchers got hurt in 2021.

  • Dave

    I have to agree with you because honestly I don’t think Bauer has done enough to earn such a big payday. He has been an average pitcher his entire career with an era over 4 in most seasons except 2018 and the 2020 short season* in which he pitched 11 games where 8 of them were against lousy teams. To me that is not good enough to earn that big contract. Yeah some will say the stats about his arm angle and speed say he made adjustments and they probably are there to stay. But does an owner take a 30 million dollar a year chance on him?
    I think getting more arms like Odorizzi, Walker, Sugano or any other pitcher with a good track record is the best way to play it. Depth matters,injuries happen. Stock up on pitching get that defense better and watch the Mets go all the way. LgM.
    PD. The six man rotation sounds good to me, but I think over protecting pitchers has made them weaker. I’m old school when pitchers threw 130 pitches and played for 20 years. LoL

  • Ike

    If uncle Steve is serious about the playoffs and going as far as we can sign in Bauer in Ordereze he will be the way to go bring in hand and maybe one of the lefty reliever for the bullpen and maybe now is the time to give Matthew Alan a chance to start a few games I believe the kid has the stuff to be up here let him get his feet wet put Lou go back in the bullpen where he belongs and will not only have a strong starting staff will have one of the best bullpens in baseball

  • Jeff

    My concern is counting on Stroman. He opted out last year because of COVID. What guarantee do we have that he won’t opt out again! We should sign Sagaro and a pitcher like Ororizzi or trade for Snell ( and Berti). We should also sign Hendricks or hand and resign Shreve. Other good signings might include the Korean third baseman and Grossman. That would shore up our infield and outfield and allow us to trade Rosario and Nimmo for Snell. We have many options to consider. Springer and even two of the other options I mentioned would make us a contender. I don’t expect to fill every hole in one off season.

  • Darrell M Noel

    Springer isn’t a necessity, improved defense is. I would trade Nimmo, J.D. Davis and Brad Brach to Tampa Bay for centerfielder Kevin Keirmaier and reliever Nick Anderson. The money they’re trying to give Springer should be used to extend Conforto this year. If he has a 3rd straight good year, Boris will drag 6 or 7 more teams into the bidding next year. It would be a miracle if we got him for less than 28 mil AAV or 6 or7 years. Extending him now for 6 years and 25 mil AAV (front loaded) wouldn’t affect this years budget. Then sign Tomoyuki Sugano (three years /13 per with a fourth option) and Taijuan Walker (2 years/10-12 per). With the money left over, I would overload the bullpen. Brad Hand, Chasen Shreve and either Liam Hendriks OR Alex Colome. If there is any left add Adam Duvall (utility outfield played for Atlanta last year) and a solid backup catcher (trading Gsellman if need be). Also, no harm in sending Alonzo and Rosario to winter instructional league to see if you could convert them to 3rd base (played in high school) and 2nd base respectively. Then Dom smith could play full time at natural position. If Pete could pull this off they could potentially improve defensively at every position.

  • joe C

    Pitching jacob every 6th day is not a formula for success for 2021 . i understand about inning issues but i would get the bullpen involved earlier in games to compensate. Sign sugano, we dont really know his upside but we do know ordorizzi’s.
    jacob, stroman, sugano, peterson, and keep an affordable lugo in the rotation. Matz can be your swingman or injury replacement and you have snydergard lying in the weeds.

    With the $ saved on the other starter you are going to pay $10-15 million i would sign liam hendricks and springer. That will bolster the pen and our offense/ defense.

  • Jim

    I agree with Joe C – while analytics have been kind to Jake regarding the Cy Young voting, almost every pitcher hates a six man rotation, preferring to pitch every week guaranteed. Wins still matter to them. And whoever we sign for whatever money, that number six guy is going to be a regular loss risk. No team needs the NL DH as much as the Mets – get deGrom 3 or 4 runs early and it is easy enough to pull him after 90 pitches both ego and competitive wise. Keeping him off the mound in risky situations (rain delay warmups we all remember) should be sufficient. So Springer feels like the right move; Bauer is going to make gazillions on 73 innings of work and I don’t think Alderson falls for that, remembering in 2019 his full season ERA was 4.48 and even last year he allowed 9 homers in 16 games. Fixing Matz (if it can be done) would be worth $15M……..

  • Jay Pearlman

    Respectfully, wrong twice:

    1. I’m not a fan of six man rotations, but with everyone having pitched just 1/3 of a season, that’s far preferable to shortening outings. Heck, because that silly former Indians pitching coach believed in shortening outings, Degrom won the Cy Young twice, and over those two years was a game better than 20 and 20… Go to six starters and on their scheduled days, make them pitch!!

    2. On Lugo, perhaps due to the torn tendon that he pitches with, he is clearly more effective for two innings every other day than he is starting once every fifth or sixth day. So let’s use him the way he is most effective!!

    LFGM!

    Jay

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