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Mets will need a lot more from Rick Porcello than originally believed

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Rick Porcello #22 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Rick Porcello #22 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Rick Porcello’s role with the New York Mets in 2020 is a lot more important with the loss of Noah Syndergaard.

A lot has changed in this world since late January when I wrote on Rising Apple about what the New York Mets needed from starting pitcher Rick Porcello. The season will undoubtedly be shorter. And whenever baseball does return, the Mets will be without Noah Syndergaard.

Originally, I believed Porcello needed to do nothing more than give the Mets competitive baseball as often as possible. Thanks to the potent offense, he could get away with a less than stellar year.

This was possible if Porcello was the number four starter. Now the man will need to look more like a number three and there’s far less wiggle room for error.

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Porcello is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. He got battered around in the American League to the tune of a 5.52 ERA. Though he still finished with a good 14-12 record, he can thank the Boston Red Sox bats for bailing him out.

Throughout his career, Porcello has been an up-and-down arm. His 2016 Cy Young season was an outlier as much as his poor 2019 campaign was.

Heading into this year, you could predict anything from dominance to dread. Most likely, Porcello was and will still be headed toward something close to his career total where he finishes above .500 with an ERA in the low 4.00s.

The Mets will need more than this from Porcello with Thor off the board. The same is true for each of the starting pitchers, but Porcello is a guy who has done it before.

Working in his favor, Porcello gets to call Citi Field home in 2020. It’s a much kinder place to pitchers than Fenway Park.

The switch from the American League to the National League will help him. He’s out of the typically powerful American League East, too, and now placed in a ballpark where home runs in the other league are now long fly balls.

We cannot expect Porcello to outpitch Jacob deGrom and become the team’s ace. I also think it’s a stretch to believe he can be better than Marcus Stroman.

Porcello does, however, need to differentiate himself from Steven Matz and Michael Wacha. Those two were believed to have a spring battle going on for the fifth spot. For Porcello, he needs to remove any question about why he was brought to New York.

Next. What if Jose Reyes never left New York?

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The Mets starting pitching depth will be put to the test this year. Porcello is one of those guys who needs to have a better year than originally anticipated.

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