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Mets 2017 Season Preview: Who will earn the fifth starter slot?

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Sep 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (65) throws to the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (65) throws to the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Michael Lecolant, Staff Writer

For as much as I would like to see Zack Wheeler earn the fifth starter spot, I think it’s unlikely he will.  It’s been roughly thirty months since he last faced major league hitters, and so far hasn’t gotten off to sort of the flying start the club and fans were hoping for.  Upon reporting for pitchers and catchers, Wheeler promptly provided the club with a scare after experiencing slight tenderness in his elbow.

Once cleared, he finally threw live batting practice for the first time this week.  His Grapefruit League debut is tentatively scheduled for March 10.  At this pace, I do not think winning the fifth spot is the club’s priority.  Moreover, Wheeler will be on a pitch count this season.  Being utilized as a sixth starter in April seems more likely.  Otherwise, making spot starts and pitching out of the bullpen appears to be his lot this season.

Seth Lugo made eighteen appearances last season, but ten were in relief.  Although he is off to a fine start in spring training, the Mets bullpen is pretty much set.  Therefore, it’s perhaps in Lugo’s best interest to start the season at Las Vegas.

Next: Mets prospect Luis Guillorme makes best catch of the game, of a bat

I think it’s safe to say Robert Gsellman owns the inside track.  Gsellman pitched impressively during his brief call-up last season, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.42 ERA and 42 strikeouts through 44.2 innings pitched.

I’m confident Frank Viola has prepared these young pitchers well.

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