By Jerry Del Priore
Last season had the makings of a disastrous year for the New York Mets, as most of their starting pitching rotation—Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz—all suffered arm aliments during the 2016 campaign. In addition, Zach Wheeler was sidelined in 2015 and ’16 due to Tommy John Surgery.
Somehow, due in large part to admirable fill-in pitchers Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, the Mets managed to scrape together an 87-75 record, and capture the first wild card in the National League.
New York will go into 2017 with Noah Syndergaard as it ace, along with deGrom, Harvey and Matz taking the other three spots. Wheeler will have to prove he’s healthy before the Mets can fully rely on him for the fifth spot.
Worse case scenario, New York has starting pitching options in Gsellman and Lugo. Gsellman posted a 4-2 record with a 2.42 ERA in 44.2 innings of work while Lugo went 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 64 innings.
That type of talented starting pitching depth gives the Mets the option to go with six hurlers if the need arises, to give the young guns’ arms an extra day of rest at various points of the campaign.
That’s a high-class problem to have for any baseball organization, as New York’s 2016 MASH pitching unit proved you can’t have enough quality arms on the team.
As for successful years, Syndergaard, 24, fired a 14-9 record with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts. With more even run support, Syndergaard could conceivably reach the 20-win mark this year.
deGrom, convalescing from surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage in his right elbow, went 7-8 with a 3.04 ERA before missing the end of the end of the season with the injury. The 28-year-old right hander will be reportedly ready for the start of the year come April. If healthy, deGrom has proved he can pitch with the best in baseball.
Harvey is a question a mark, but goes into 2017 with a lot to prove. After having season-ending surgery in July to address thoracic outlet syndrome—in which a rib near the right shoulder was removed to alleviate numbness in his right hand—his agent, Scott Boras, said that he completely expects Harvey to return to 100 percent by the start of Spring Training, according MLB’s Anthony DiComo.
Harvey’s 2015 numbers, 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA, gives Mets fans hope for the upcoming season.
Matz, who went 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA over 22 starts and 132.2 innings last year, had surgery to remove a bone chip in his left arm. But he should be ready for Spring Training, Jamie Stuart of Newsday reported on Twitter in December.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, New York could pitch itself into its third straight postseason appearance with one of baseball most formidable starting rotations ever. But as Mets fans have learned from last year, anything could happen.