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The New York Mets Rotation Is Fine, For Now

Kodai Senga entered Spring Training as the most important starter in the New York Mets’ remade rotation. But with over a month away from Opening Day, the Mets already must replace him. While many immediately shifted their attention to Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, team President of Baseball Operations David Stearns said he will not yet look outside the organization for reinforcements.

At this moment, this probably serves as the right move. The Mets have several legitimate and inexpensive options to cover Senga’s spot through June or July.

However, as New York learned last year, depth can evaporate quickly. The Mets rotation without Senga features pitchers with lengthy injury and underperformance histories. While Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi, José Butto, and Max Kranick have some upside, they are unreliable figures.

Senga’s injury is a big blow to the team. Although there is enough major league ready depth to cover his spot, one more injury, which isn’t unlikely for this group, will significantly test the depth Stearns proudly built.

The New York Mets Rotation Is Fine… For Now

Last year, the Mets entered Spring Training happy with its pitching depth. Then, Jose Quintana, a mid-thirties veteran signed in part due to his durability, quickly got hurt. A couple of weeks later, the team announced that 40-year-old Justin Verlander would miss the start of the season with his own injury. Just like that, two important offseason acquisitions were out before the season even started.

Health and underperformance in April from Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco further tested the Mets rotation. Megill and David Peterson, two of the high-quality depth pieces, also struggled mightily. New York liked its rotation depth last year but could not overcome sudden injuries and lack of performance.

One year later, the Mets had a group where it was easy to imagine similar issues arising. Stearns revamped the rotation with arms that have a high upside but low reliability. While Senga’s injury doesn’t signal the end of the season, it is a reminder of how fast depth gets tested.

The Mets play their first spring game on Saturday, with Opening Day just over a month away. Can Luis Severino make it through spring without something popping up? If so, how long into the season will he stay healthy?

Adrian Houser has never made more than 26 starts or pitched more than 142.1 innings in a season (both in 2021). Even when healthy, he is not somebody that pitches deep into games. Many evaluators view him best served as a multi-inning reliever, not a starter.

In fairness, Quintana and Sean Manaea have stayed pretty healthy throughout their careers. However, Quintana missed four months last season, and injuries are more common among pitchers in their mid-thirties. You can’t blame someone for wondering if last season started an injury trend for the rest of the veteran’s career.

So, What Should The Mets Do?

Stearns is right not to rush and bring in another arm. Megill, Lucchesi, and Butto all deserve some look in the majors. The Mets will benefit greatly from finally learning what they have in these pitchers. Most importantly, the most significant difference between the Mets rotation depth this year and last year is prospects’ presence.

Pitchers like Mike Vasil, Christian Scott, and Dominic Hamel should be major-league-ready by May or June. Some evaluators even feel Scott or Vasil can succeed in the majors in April. While the youngsters are not guaranteed to succeed as rookies, they provide legitimate options with decent upside if the team needs it. The Mets rotation did not have these extra options last season, which hurt them.

These names justify Stearns’ preference not to sign an established arm immediately. This decision is further justified, considering the team must pay a 110 percent tax on every dollar they spend. At this point, Stearns should focus on waiver claims or potential trades of a player with no minor league options that will likely get cut before Opening Day. It never hurts to stockpile your low-cost depth continuously.

When Should The Mets Consider The Available Free Agents?

One caveat to Stearns’ plan is his established goal of making the playoffs. Many felt that the team’s rotation, even with Senga, was not good enough to earn a Wild Card spot. Those questions have now been enhanced.

If another starter gets hurt during Spring Training, the Mets must act and sign one of the established starters before it’s too late. A team with playoff goals can’t enter the season with two rotation spots filled by depth pieces. The worst-case scenario will see the Mets rotation face injuries in April or May after the established starters have already signed elsewhere.

While the Mets rotation depth can manage for now, one more injury might increase the need for another arm. There’s logic in arguing that Stearns should be proactive and acquire a pitcher now while many are still available.  However, Stearns, rightfully so, will likely remain patient until another serious injury arises.



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