Should Rafael Montero be the fifth starter?

By Ryan Punzalan

Although Dillon Gee is still favored to be the fifth starter in the Mets rotation, can Rafael Montero end up getting that spot?

According to NY Daily News’ Andy Martino, there’s still conversations saying that Montero could earn that job if he pitches well. Montero will take the mound later today, against the Yankees, and will most likely have a few more stints as a starter before the organization decides who gets the call.

Gee pitched well yesterday and compiled a 2.45 ERA this spring. He’s been increasing his pitch count to 75, according to Terry Collins, and has been working later into the game, as evident by his four innings of work against the Astros.

The next step for Gee to take two more starts and get his pitch count closer to 100.

But, what about Rafael Montero?

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Montero has always been a starting pitcher in the minors, with the exception of five games in Rookie and lower A ball and two games in the majors. In four seasons down in the farm, Montero sports a 34-20 record with a 2.69 ERA to go along with 413 strikeouts in 434.1 innings pitched.

When Montero was called up to the majors last season, he struggled initially before turning it around in September, going 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA in his final two starts.

This spring training, Montero only appeared in two games, going five innings and giving up three earned runs. With Gee most likely topping out his spring at around 25 innings, hopefully Montero can get his innings up to around the same number before the Mets make a decision.


Let’s face it. Rafael Montero is turning 25 in October, has a higher ceiling than Dillon Gee, and definitely has more electric stuff. Montero should absolutely be seriously considered for the final rotation spot.

The whole narrative of Gee being a highly respected veteran is understandable, but it shouldn’t get in the way of a former top prospect’s skill.

Sure, Montero may have a slight control and stamina issue, but that surely isn’t going to be fixed with occasional, sometimes sporadic appearances from the bullpen, right? If the Mets are certainly concerned by that, they’re better off having Montero pitch in AAA where he’ll get the starting reps needed to improve.

But, that too is something to be concerned about. Montero has been called up on three separate occasions in 2014 and was asked to change his role from a starter to a reliever during his last two stints in the majors.

If the Mets truly believe Montero is better off as a reliever, don’t put him into a discussion for the final rotation spot. Hand the job to Dillon Gee and let Montero stay in the bullpen for the whole season.

Giving Montero, and fans, hope about a role that might change down the road isn’t the best way to handle a young pitcher. And let’s face it, aren’t the Mets about the future now?

Montero is the future. Gee is not.

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