Mets pitching depth could get scary
Mets pitching depth could get scary
No one expects much from the Mets, but the reports of them being a 100-loss team are, in my opinion, greatly exaggerated. Vegas has their over/under at 74.5. I have also seen 70.5 as the number. I believe their offense and bullpen gives them a decent shot at about 75-77 wins, and that number doesn’t include Johan Santana in the rotation. That rotation is exactly where this season could get ugly, especially if it’s hit with the injury bug.
Overlooked by most prognosticators is how healthy the 2011 Mets staring pitching was. They used 6 starters for a majority of the year (Dillon Gee took Chris Young‘s place). D.J. Carrasco made an emergency start for the second game of a double header in April; otherwise it wasn’t until the final weeks they needed Miguel Batista and Chris Schwinden to make 4 starts apiece.
I recently asked a big league pitching coach what is acceptable depth for a big league club leaving camp. He responded by saying “18 pitchers…with 10 having the ability to start.” Clearly, the Mets have the bullpen arms, but what about the rotation? Close your eyes, this might get scary.
Projected 2012 Starting Rotation
Johan Santana? ***
***knowing the severity of Santana’s shoulder injury, I am not counting on many starts or innings from him despite Terry Collins believing that he will start on Opening Day.
Pitching Depth (not counting top prospects like Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Collin McHugh)
Miguel Batista (non-roster invitee)
Jenrry Mejia (?)
Jeremy Hefner (career minor leaguer with WHIP of 1.3)
Armando Rodriguez (spent 2011 in High-A St. Lucie)
Pedro Beato (starter or reliever?)
Chuck James (non-roster invitee, starter or reliever?)
Garrett Olson (non-roster invitee, career big league ERA of 6.78 as a starter)
Robert Carson (starter in minors, but projects as LH out of bullpen).
As you can see, there are tons of question marks after Dillon Gee at #4. If Santana isn’t healthy (very likely) to start the season, who gets the 5-spot? Right now, I see Schwinden (0-2, 4.71 in 4 September starts) as the favorite over the 41-year old Batista.
What are the odds, however, that the Mets won’t need another starter except to replace Santana? Niese has run out of gas the last two seasons, and even went on the DL late last year. Dillon Gee never went for surgery on a rotator cuff injury from a couple of years ago, which could become a problem. Pelfrey and Dickey are good bets to make 32 starts, but that is not nearly enough. It might be hard to go “10-deep.”
The real shame of the Mets financial issues is how it crippled them from spending $5 to 10 million on low-risk/high-reward starters (see Chris Capuano last year). No Jon Garland, Jeff Francis or Bartolo Colon. This is not only unacceptable, but pathetic for a club playing in New York.
The good news is there may be some veterans available towards the end of spring. The new CBA requires a 100k bonus and automatic June 1st opt-out for veterans that don’t make the big league club. This could play in the Mets favor as pitchers may become available either late March or around June 1st, however this is assuming they have the capital to even add that type of player. Also, what are the odds a team allows a viable big league starter to walk for nothing? With the state of pitching, not good.
Again, I think this Mets team will be fun. There are young offensive players that will be fun to watch develop. The nightly interest of Binghamton and Buffalo games when the top pitching prospects are on the mound is something to look forward to. The Mets won’t be as bad as YES’s Michael Kay states, but over 74.5 is a tough bet to take. I am confident in 70.5, but even that could be a push if the pitching situation gets ugly.
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