Branch Rickey was undoubtedly the greatest and most important baseball executive of all time. He turned two teams into perennial powerhouses, he invented the farm system, was a peerless judge of talent and, oh yeah, he managed to integrate MLB despite the unanimous opposition of the other owners. Rickey was once asked his thoughts on pitching, and he replied “My ideal pitching staff is intelligent and seasoned.”

The Mets starting rotation heading into spring training certainly fit the Rickey mold. It is about as seasoned as you can get, consisting of 40 year old Justin Verlander, 38 year old Max Scherzer, about to turn 35 year old Carlos Carrasco, 30 year old Kodai Senga, and 34 year old Jose Quintana. That was surely scheduled to be the oldest Mets rotation ever, and probably one of the oldest ever in MLB.

Of course, after ST started we did have an alteration, due to the rib stress fracture Quintana suffered. He may well be back in the rotation in a few months, and his likely replacement, 27 year old David Peterson, while younger, is not exactly a newbie. Either way, it is a very seasoned staff. From what I have seen, the pitchers seem to fit the intelligence criterion as well.

What might we expect from this rotation this season? Verlander is coming off an absolutely dominant Cy Young season in 2022 with 28 starts, an 18-4 record, a 1.75 ERA, an opponents BA of .184 and a microscopic WHIP of 0.83. It’s probably unrealistic for him to be that good again this year, but even if he pitches to his lifetime ERA of 3.24 with as many or more starts as he had last year he’ll be a big help to the team.

Scherzer had only 23 starts last year due to an injury. He did have an excellent ERA of 2.29 and WHIP of 0.91. Opponents could only manage a .204 BA against him. If he can avoid injury and pitch close to last year’s performance, he’ll be a big contributor.

Carrasco is one I am worried about. His record was good last year at 15-7, with a 3.97 ERA. He faded for the latter part of the year though, his ERA from September 1 to the end of the season was 4.21. Although he was decent overall last year, he was not very effective in his first year with the Mets, 2021. He may have more trouble than some of the others in fighting off father time.

Quintana of course will be set back by his injury. He put up good numbers last year with a 2.93 ERA and 1.21 Whip in 32 starts. His average fastball velocity was 91.3, thats not going to overwhelm big league batters but it is around his lifetime mark, so he is more of a finesse pitcher. He actually did even better in the second half of the season last year with a 1.67 ERA, but of course it figures he will lose at several months this season due to his injury.

Senga will be pitching in his first season in the Majors after a career in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. His does have some in intriguing stuff, with a mid to upper 90s fastball and a so-called “ghost forkball” that apparently made batters look silly in Japan. He has plenty of upside but he is not used to pitching as often as pitchers do in MLB, so endurance could be a problem for him. With those filthy pitches iin his arsenal, he certainly has the potential to be a difference maker.

We’ll take a quick look at Peterson as well. He had 19 starts for the Mets last year with a 3.83 ERA and opponents batted .233 against him. The former number one Mets draft choice might have worked his way into the rotation even without the Carrasco injury, but his path is even clearer now.

Historically the Mets have not typically followed the Rickey model of veteran starting pitching. The champion 1969 team had all their games started by pitchers in the their early to mid 20s, except for the 21 starts by Don Cardwell, aged 33 that year. The ‘86 World Series champs had a five man rotation of hurlers all in their 20s. The more recent 2015 pennant winning team had a young rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, with greybeard Bartolo Colon in the mix as well.

Rickey did not follow the veteran pitcher rotation religously, it was more like a guideline. For example his pennant winning 1949 Brooklyn team had two 23 year-old starters, Ralph Branca and Don Newcomb. Rickey also did have thoughts on the position players, he favored young, speedy athletic everyday players. The 2023 Mets do not fit that mold, with a starting outfield of players all north of 30.

4 comments on “Branch Rickey and the Mets’ starting rotation

  • Denis Engel

    Let’s be compassionate human beings first: thank goodness that Quintana’s diagnosis is not what it could have been. I’m
    Sure his family is relieved, and we should be thankful that he will be all right.

    • Brian Joura


      It was nice to see Peterson put up four shutout innings today after missing 10 days or so with the toe. He looked ready to start the season.

  • NYM6986

    Petersen and MeGill did not fail to impress last year and thus far in ST. One will be stepping In to Quintana’s spot and the other ready to go as needed. I believe they are both ready to join our rotation but will have to wait a bit longer. We have to remember that Carrasco was finally mostly healthy last year and I don’t see why we won’t get 165 innings and 13 wins out of him in 2023. Senga will be the big difference this year but has the pressure of filling Basset’s big shoes from 2022.

  • David_Hong

    Unfortunate about what happened with Quintana. But it could’ve been worser. Hope he has a smooth recovery and can be ready to pitch for us after the All Star break.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 100 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here