The Mets pitching staff was ravaged by injury and underperformance in 2018. Could a new shift in organizational thinking help the staff return to prominence?
The Mets pitching staff was terrible in 2017, ranking 28th in the major leagues in staff ERA. It’s no secret the organization’s hopes for 2018 will live and die on the starting rotation. Newsday’s Marc Carig recently reported that the Mets will be rethinking how they use their starting pitchers. Specifically the team wants to limit starting pitchers not named Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom to keep them from facing lineups a third time through.
It is an interesting strategy to say the least, one which will require the team to bolster bullpen which was also awful last season. There are many options available in the free agent market, but questions still surround the teams payroll going into next season. It remains to be seen how far the Mets will go to add to their bullpen group, considering they have other numerous holes to fill and roughly $30 million to spend.
When you look at the numbers of the Mets starters a third time through the order in the Newsday article referenced above, the difference between starters not named Syndergaard or deGrom is striking. Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo all had OPS against over .900 a third time through the lineup, just to name a few. When you add the fact that the Mets have had trouble keeping their starters healthy, limiting them might be advantageous.
There are plenty of issues that could arise if the team does go forward with this plan, however. It remains to be seen if bullpenning can actually work over the course of a 162 game schedule, the biggest one being the strain that it can possibly cause on the relief pitching.
In the end, the franchise needs to try something new with this pitching staff. They can no longer cross their fingers and hope for the best. It is refreshing to they are at least willing to do so.