It seemed like a brilliant plan just a few years ago
Build up the Mets with strong young arms, and they’ll have a deadly starting rotation. The other pieces around them would then just fall into place. As we now all know, this worked for one season before everything started to fall apart. The question now is, “What do we have left?” As far as great young pitching talent goes, the answer is “not much.” At least as of right now.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Mets choose to use their draft picks in the upcoming seasons. Do they go back to square one and try to collect young arms again? Or do they learn from their mistakes and balance things out a bit more with some young defensive and offensive talent? Just when we think we know what the Mets might do going forward, they take a sharp left turn and try to have it all make sense.
There are however, what seems like two bright lights still on their way up for the Mets. P.J. Conlon has been putting up some pretty good numbers in Double-A Binghamton all season. On the year he went 8-9 with a 3.38 ERA.
According to Fangraphs, Conlon relies more on his creativity with his pitches, rather than the typical fastball we’ve been used to seeing. Maybe that’s a good thing. Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom are the guys that can hit 99 and 100. Conlon’s fastball will top out somewhere around 90-91.
In recent years, it’s been common for most teams to go after pitchers who will throw fire over the plate. The problem is, these arms can tend to fizzle out just as quickly due to stress injuries. If Conlon can remain consistent with his approach, lack of velocity shouldn’t keep him out of the Mets rotation.
Then of course, there’s Thomas Szapucki. On paper, his numbers look great so far, posting a 2.27 ERA overall in his short minor league career. Scouts raved about him in 2016. He struck out 86 batters in his time with Kingsport and Brooklyn. I would compare him to Steven Matz, but only in the sense that he’s a lefty who cannot seem to keep himself off the disabled list.
Szapucki was shut down yet again this season in early July in order to have Tommy John surgery. But despite these setbacks, the Mets still consider him to be a top prospect, placing him number six overall. Only time will tell how Szapucki will pitch upon return from surgery. Maybe it’s better for the Mets that it’s out of the way so early in his career.
If the Mets want to continue building their future around arms, Conlon and Szapucki are both a great place to start. As far as the 2018 season is concerned, the hope is that finally that young rotation will all be healthy enough to give them one more great season.