Oddly enough, the most talked about lefty arm on the New York Mets this offseason has been…Steven Matz? This is the case because Matz reupped with the team after settling for a $5.2 million contract at the arbitration table. Other than that Matz, whose career has been marred by injuries and inconsistencies, has seen his popularity amongst fans tumble. Other than some of the stellar work he has done in the community, which shouldn’t go unrecognized, Matz hasn’t brought much to the mound for the team. In other words, unless James McCann brings some serious magic to his game, Matz shouldn’t be the lefty we’re talking about.

That title belongs to David Peterson. The lefty from California had a solid rookie campaign, pushing a 3.44 ERA and 1.208 WHIP, with 40 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched. Peterson recorded a WAR of 1.5, the second-best of the entire Mets pitching staff. At only 25 years old, Peterson should be in position to be a perfect candidate to round out the Mets pitching rotation for the upcoming season.

The main question surrounding Peterson is whether he should be the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation, given that Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, and Marcus Stroman will all take their turn ahead of him. The answer is completely dependent on who the team signs. There’s been reports that Steve Cohen isn’t ready just yet to close his wallet to splash signings, which is a welcomed feeling for Mets fans. This could mean that the Mets still make a splash and sign Trevor Bauer. That expensive scenario would guarantee that Peterson receives the five spot in the rotation until the return of Noah Syndergaard, at which point he could line up to be a long man out of the bullpen that provides rotational depth.

Looking past the Bauer wildcard, there are tons of veteran options out on the market that make the question of where Peterson fits into the rotation more difficult, or whether or not he’ll get bounced from the rotation when Syndergaard returns. Although it has been reported that the thought around the MLB is that Masahiro Tanaka will return to Japan to pitch, Tanaka is also a pitcher that could bump Peterson when Syndergaard returns to the rotation.

Other options though, like Jake Odorizzi  and James Paxton would pose a more difficult decision. It was tough sledding for those two veterans last season, as they combined for a WAR of -.4, and battled through slews of injuries that prohibited them from ever getting comfortable on the mound during the season.

For a more accurate picture of what the pitchers can bring to the table, a look at their collective resumes does the trick. Odorizzi pitched himself into an All-Star appearance in 2019, throwing a 3.51 ERA on his way to recording 15 wins. Paxton held a 3.82 ERA over 150.2 innings in 2019 for the Yankees, and pitched two complete games in 2018. As for Kluber, his two Cy Young awards do all the talking. But would any of them pitch well enough in 2021 to supplant Peterson in the rotation once Syndergaard returns?

The one advantage that all of them hold over Peterson is experience. The two veterans combined have pitched 1,795.2 career innings. With all of the duels and big situations they’ve been in, including a deep postseason run from Paxton, it could be a great idea to have a veteran anchoring an already strong front of the rotation. Looking at the innings pitched from the opposite side of the spectrum, that is a lot of miles on the tank for two pitchers who are returning from injuries. Signing any of those veterans also comes with the risk of signing a player who just doesn’t know their tank is out of gas yet. Peterson is healthier than all of them, and is less likely of a candidate to break down at the end of the season when innings start to feel heavier.

Acquiring Carrasco was a great move for the Mets, as it began to plug the holes of last year’s swiss cheese rotation. While acquiring a veteran starter should be on the to-do list, that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Mets have a quality starter in Peterson who should not be ignored. In the 2020 season he was the second-best pitcher on the Mets staff, and while he will understandably take a backseat to pitchers like Stroman and Carrasco, it should come as no surprise if his game improves even more during the 2021 season.

18 comments on “David Peterson should not be overlooked

  • Remember1969

    Anybody ever looked at his hitting? He had a .774 OPS in 2019 in AA with a triple and three sacrifices! 🙂

  • Metsense

    Right now Peterson is the 4th starter on the opening day roster and he earned it. In his 9 starts he had three quality starts and two of them were in his last two starts of the season. I would not be surprised if improves his game in 2021.
    Signing a quality veteran pitcher isn’t a slight on Peterson. It is an indictment on Matz and the uncertainty of Syndergaard’s health and the owner’s mandate to win a championship.
    I’m confident that Peterson will be a fixture in the Mets rotation. Things work out.

  • Woodrow

    There is no doubt that they need a starter that they can reasonably expect to be competent. To be on the safe side they should also sign a guy that they can cross their fingers on and hope he can do a decent job if called on, a signing like last years Wacha or Porcello.

  • TJ

    Peterson was a pleasant surprise in an otherwise unpleasant 2020 Met season, on the field. What was noticeable was his ability to battle, bear down, and not give in. As a lefty, his stuff is not overwhelming but it look major league, with upside given his age and overall innings pitched in college and minors. But…he clearly needs more fine tuning, and it is very common for young pitchers. Many have to take their lumps and return to the minors to hone their craft.

    He has most certainly earned the right to be in the mix to crack the opening day rotation, but not to the degree of holding a default spot on a now team. Likewise, Matz’s history with the team and 2019-20 performance earns him the right to compete for a 2021 spot despite the brutal 2020 season. Competition is very healthy in sports, and especially for the bottom spot(s) in a rotation.

  • MattyMets

    Assuming Peterson reports to camp healthy and in shape, I think he’s earned a rotation spot. Matz, on the other hand, needs to prove himself again. I like that the Mets signed Jared Eickhoff as AAA veteran depth. I’d like to see us pick up another few guys like that. Given the other holes we have to fill and how much money we reportedly have left to play with, I don’t think we can expect to go after Tanaka or Odorizzi. I wouldn’t mind Lester or Wainwright at the right price. Even Porcello. His numbers would have been a lot better last year with a decent defense behind him. He pitches to contact, but he throws strikes and generally stays healthy.

  • Mike W

    Everybody is penciling in Peterson to be a starter in the rotation. Yes, I would love to see him get off to a fast start and do well. But, what if he gets off to a slow start. What do we do if after five starts he is not cutting it? Do we send him down? If we do that, we are down a starter.

    That’s why I think it is really important that we pick up another starter. And please, not Porcello.

  • Woodrow

    Porcello? Lindor would help him, so would Wong if they would sign him….

  • Henry1105

    Mets fans really need to stop with the “We need a veteran presence on our staff” argument. Whether as merely a “veteran presence” or to “set an example to the Mets’ staff,” neither makes any sense. deGrom is a 2-time Cy Young winner heading into his 8th season. Syndergaard, Stroman, Carrasco are all established veterans as well. I can understand stashing veterans in AAA for depth but the argument that the Mets “need” to sign another veteran to “anchor” the staff is ludicrous. We need good young pitchers to get themselves established, like Peterson. So glad the author of this post recognizes this fact.

  • Chris F

    Everyone can see the reason to be high on Peterson. But there is room fir the enthusiasm to be tempered. Here is a guy basically from AA with < 200 IP above A and he’s going to be wearing the mantle of very high pressure from unrealistic expectations. He may turn out to be as he showed, but it still is important to let this guy grow and gain experience, even if that means Syracuse time. We don’t have. A stellar record bringing people from AA to the show with high success, and have placed a lot of hope on special debuts including Gsellman and Lugo.

    I’m not saying Peterson isn’t a big league starter. I think it is worth going easy on a guy promoted too quickly out of desperation. If we have. A normal season in 21, it will be easy to envision that things could have a different outcome.

    • TJ

      Exactly. It’s not a knock on Peterson if they bring in another big league starter.

    • Remember1969

      I completely agree with you, Chris. While he certainly showed promise last year, there are a couple things that are worth noting,
      (1) You pointed out his lack of innings thrown. With less than 50 innings last year, and his max at 128 in 2018, it is rather unreasonable to expect him to be able to throw 150 or 180 this year. I am not sure what the correct approach should be, but I’m pretty sure he cannot be penciled in to throw every fifth day from April to September at any level.
      (2) He was a #1 draft pick (20th pick overall in 2017). He should have that type of promise and it is probably time to find out if he was worthy of that pick.
      (3) His 2020 4.3BB/9IP walk rate is scary. He limited the number of hits last year to keep the WHIP down to a decent 1.2 area, but the walks need to be reduced or they will bite him over time.
      Overall, I hope he continues to pitch to the way he started last year and moves up to be a solid #2 or 3 starter (as a #1 draft pick, that seems reasonable) and I hope he gets that opportunity this year, but the hope must be tempered by points above.

  • Name

    So… What happened to all the love for Seth Lugo? Brian wrote an article on him on October 4th and i don’t think he’s earned more than 3 mentions since.

    Last year he was all the fad. People were outraged he wasn’t starting! We were trying to manipulate the rotation so we could maximize his starts. He was hailed as the rotation savoir.
    Oh how quickly the bandwagon fans have flip flopped on him. Heck, we even have people ok with bringing back Rick freaking Porcello.

    • TJ

      I was “on the bandwagon” to start Lugo last year, basically because it made sense. His performance was all or nothing and somewhat disappointing. Anyhow, last year was weird and like Matz, I’d give him a shot again in spring training to start. Clearly to date, he has been much better in the pen. But, we all expect the Mets to sign another quality pen arm, and if by opening day Lugo shows he is one of the best five starters, he starts. If not, back to the pen. I see it as situational and a win win at this point, but I’d bring in another decent starter for depth.

      • TJ

        Just one additional point on the Porcello issue, I do think there is an equation that would make sense to add him to the mix. Yes, there are multiple contingencies and he would not be the top choice by any means. I would not rule him out at this point, but other issues need to conclude first.

        So, should the Mets land bother Hand and Springer, and priortize staying below the lux tax, that would almost certainly rule them out of the Paxton/Tanaka/Santana market. The AAV cost of that group will set the price for the next tier, which includes guys like Porcello. At a base of $3 million or so, he becomes appealing as another option to compete for the bottom of the rotation. While his record and ERA were atrocious last year, he was killed by BABIP and hits. His HR and walk rates were solid, his FIP was actually strong, and a case can be made that with a better defense and defensive catcher his overall results could improve. Matz at $5.2 million can be cut late in spring training for only a fraction of that pay. Lugo can land in the pen, where his track record is much better. A low cost short term bet on a Porcello to increase options prior to opening day could make sense in that scenario.

  • Bob P

    I was similar to TJ with wanting Lugo to start but the difference in his numbers as a starter and reliever are pretty huge. In his career he has roughly the same number if innngs as a starter and as a reliever but his relief numbers are so much better. It just seems to me that he’s shown he has more value as a reliever. I’d love to see him get some more 2 and 3 inning relief outings and maybe crack 100 innings in relief.

  • Myles M

    I know most people here think David Peterson should be give a chance to a starter. I look at it a little different. I think he should maybe start the season in AAA & have him in reserve for injury. We we should be looking at signing maybe Gio Gonzalez. yes he is older but he could be a starter until Noah Syndergaard returns he could be moved to the Pen since he has pitcher in the pass out of the pen. Plus he pitched last year to McCann. Also like I read someplace earlier this year it my not be a bad idea if the Mets used a 6 man rotation to help reduce on injury’s or arm problem this year or next. At least start out with it or move to it a little later in the season.

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

  • Edwin e Pena

    Mets are probably playing the budget game right now. Not being cheap, but not wanting to go over the $210M luxury tax. I don’t see them adding a pricey starter at this stage. They may just go with Degrom, Carrasco, Stroman, Peterson and Lugo until Thor returns. Matz to the BP to get straightened out and possibly back as a SP option. I believe the team is trying to add Springer and Hand, stay under the luxury tax. This may be that they have to trade or drop a salary somewhere (Familia?). Bauer is not coming to Queens.

  • Eric Ohlson

    He should definitely start the season in the rotation. It doesn’t really matter if you designate him as 4 or 5. since those designation don’t have much importance these days with bullpens sucking up so many innings!

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