Mets Starting Pitching Depth: A look at the cavalry in the minor leagues
By Tim Boyle
We take a look at the minor league starting pitching depth for the New York Mets heading into the 2020 season.
The New York Mets can consider them lucky last year with how healthy the starting pitching staff was. Not every year includes the kind of luck only seven rabbit’s feet stuffed with four-leaf clovers can provide.
In 2020, the Mets may inevitably have their starting pitching depth tested beyond the original five. They should have at least one arm in the big leagues stashed in the bullpen already—this role likely going to Michael Wacha.
Beyond him, we could always see the Mets turn to Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman for help. If things get really bad, the team can always dip into the minor leagues. The organization actually does have a few arms who have started before in the major leagues. While none are superb, they do provide starting pitching depth.
I think Walker Lockett will be the first man up if the Mets need an emergency starter. The 25-year-old year righty hasn’t had much luck in the major leagues yet, but did show potential in 2019 down on the farm.
Lockett came to the Mets last winter in the Kevin Plawecki trade with the Cleveland Indians. This should provide us with an idea of what scouts think Lockett is capable of. In no way a long-term rotation solution, we may see him at least keep the Mets in games.
The 2020 season may be Lockett’s last opportunity to show the organization what he can do. It may take a few injuries for Lockett to get regular playing time in the big leagues. When he gets those chances, he must capitalize.
Also 25, Stephen Gonsalves is a lefty similar to Lockett. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2018 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. The results created a 6.57 ERA in 4 starters and 3 relief appearances.
Believe it or not, Gonsalves was actually well on his way to possibly becoming a notable big leaguer. His minor league numbers prior to his MLB debut are quite outstanding with every year including an ERA at 3.27 or lower. The November 2019 waiver selection is someone to keep a close eye on, more likely to become a bullpen piece in the future if he stays around long enough.
As a southpaw, there’s always a spot for young arms like Gonsalves in Triple-A. The Mets should already be in the market to find another lefty considering Justin Wilson is in the final year of his deal.
I’m just about ready to give up on ever seeing Corey Oswalt become a successful big league starter. On the other hand, I’m not ready to release all faith in him having a productive big league career.
Previously, I profiled why it makes sense to groom Oswalt for a future bullpen role. The Mets relief corps has plenty of veteran arms in it. Developing even one guy is essential to sustained success. You can only buy so many arms.
Right now, Oswalt looks caught in between Triple-A and MLB. He pitched well last season on the farm but continued to put up poor numbers when given a shot in the majors. While I personally believe Oswalt makes sense as a reliever in the future due to timing and the results, the Mets may still view him as starting pitching depth.
Finally, there’s David Peterson to consider. The only man on this list who is a legitimate prospect right now should have an opportunity to compete for a rotation spot in the next two years. For now, the franchise needs to let him continue developing.
Peterson spent all of last year in Double-A with mediocre results. He was 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 24 starts for Binghamton. These aren’t the numbers you want out of a noted prospect. Because he didn’t flash fantastic numbers, I think he falls way behind the others on this list in terms of depth.
That said, a hot year from Peterson could change everything. Depending upon the length of any pitcher’s absence could change how the Mets feel about the replacement. One thing I do believe is that the Mets can’t hold themselves back. If Peterson truly is the best option, they need to promote him quickly and not worry about starting his major league clock too soon.
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Hopefully, the Mets don’t have to dig too deep into their minor league system for starting pitching depth. These four, plus a few arms on the big league roster in the bullpen, should supply them with plenty of help.