With the Mets struggling out of the gate, especially as far as the bullpen is concerned, there’s an early feeling of desperation surrounding the club. However, the immediate answer to that feeling of desperation is not Rafael Montero.
Mar 7, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Rafael Montero (50) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Montero, 23, was stellar Thursday night in his season debut for Triple-A Las Vegas. He tossed six scoreless innings, allowing four hits, walking no one, and striking out five. He threw 79 pitches – 55 of which were for strikes. He was removed after the sixth inning because the Mets are intentionally – and wisely – keeping his innings down in an effort to get him through the whole season.
After Montero’s performance, the clamoring for him to be called up began almost immediately. Fans were pushing the issue, and Mets broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt got in on the action as well.
While Montero is clearly ready for the big leagues, now is not the time for him to be called up. There are two reasons why.
The first reason is that the Mets don’t have a current need in the starting rotation.
In Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee, and the soon to be activated Jon Niese, the five spots in the rotation are filled. If there was a need, the thought of calling up Montero to fill it would be there, but the club would likely opt for Daisuke Matsuzaka first. Why?
If the Mets wait until after April 11th to call Montero up, they will have secured an extra year of team control. Calling him up before then would be foolish.
It remains to be seen if the Mets will call Montero up before the Super-Two date in June, but it’s at least plausible.
There are those who feel that with the way the major league bullpen has performed so far, Montero should be called up and used out of the pen. That brings us to the second reason why now isn’t the time to call up Montero.
Rafael Montero threw a shade over 155 innings in 2013. In 2014, the Mets want him to increase his innings to around 185 or so. That would allow him to be basically unrestricted innings-wise in 2015.
If the Mets were to call Montero up now and stick him in the bullpen, they would be throwing his innings plan out the window – something they simply shouldn’t do.
Using Montero in the bullpen later in the season in order to curtail his total innings makes sense. Doing it now would be both reactionary and short-sighted.
Montero will be up, sooner rather than later.
However, now is not the time.