Mets Rotation: Stick with Steven Matz, don’t pivot to Robert Gsellman

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 04: Steven Matz #32 of the New York Mets pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 04: Steven Matz #32 of the New York Mets pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Moving Seth Lugo to the New York Mets rotation was good, but taking Steven Matz out of it was not.

The New York Mets just announced that Seth Lugo would be making his return to the starting rotation. I believe strongly that Lugo is needed in this rotation a lot more than he is in the bullpen, so that was a good move. However, for now, he is taking the spot of Steven Matz. This, I don’t like. I believe Matz is a better fit for the rotation now, and a better fit long term as well.

The 2020 season has been a strange one for Matz. Going into spring training, Matz was fighting for a spot in the rotation with new Mets Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. He was likely going to be the fifth starter in this rotation.

Then during spring training, Noah Syndergaard, the teams presumed second starter, tore his UCL and is now out for the year. Following Syndergaard’s injury, Marcus Stroman, the teams presumed number three starter, tore a muscle in his calf and then proceeded to opt-out of the season.

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This left the rotation on opening day to include Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, and David Peterson. Matz went from fighting for a rotation spot, to the second starter in the Mets rotation.

Matz had a very successful first start of the year pitching six innings allowing one run and striking out seven Braves batters. But since that start, things have gone horribly wrong.

Matz has allowed 24 runs in just 17 innings in his last four starts and is sitting at an ERA of 9.00. Obviously, this is not good and Matz has proven he cannot be relied upon.

However, nobody in the rotation not named Jacob deGrom can be relied upon. Porcello has pitched pretty well his last couple of starts but was very bad to begin his season. Wacha is currently on the injured list and wasn’t pitching well prior. Peterson, the only guy who was pitching well, is now on the injured list as well.

Following Wacha’s injury, the Mets inserted Robert Gsellman into the rotation. Gsellman came up as a starter in 2016 and pitched well. But in 2017, he really struggled in that role and has been in the bullpen ever since. In his first start back in the rotation, Gsellman allowed three runs in two innings against the Nationals. His second start was not much better, as he allowed 1 run in just an inning and a third. Yes, Gsellman needs to be stretched out but the results in the short time he’s pitched have not been great.

The reason I believe Matz should be in the rotation over Gsellman, is because of that very reason. We have no idea how long it will take for Lugo and Gsellman to get stretched out. Since the rotation with the exception of Jacob deGrom is horrible anyways, the Mets could use some length. While Matz has not been good at all, he certainly can give more length than Gsellman can. Any innings the Mets can avoid using the bullpen is a win.

I also believe that Matz has more value in the rotation long term than Gsellman does. Matz has had good stretches as a Met and was at one point a highly touted prospect in their minor league system. While he has not been able to put it all together for a full season, Matz has been a pretty average major league starting pitcher. In his career, Matz is 31-40 with a 4.26 ERA as a starter.

Matz has had two big issues in his career. One is the home run ball. So far this season Matz has allowed 3.5 home runs per nine innings. An absurd amount that is completely unacceptable.

The second issue he’s had is getting out of innings after allowing runs. When Matz gives up a run or two, he often gets very frustrated and shows it. He tends to lose his mechanics and never recover. Last season, there was one start he made in Philadelphia when he did not record a single out and allowed eight runs. I believe if Matz can ever get that under control, he can be a solid back end of the rotation arm.

Matz is under contract through the 2021 season, and there is no reason for the Mets to get rid of him. The only starter penciled in to the 2021 rotation is deGrom and the Mets need Matz to be a solid arm they can depend on. While he may not be that guy quite yet, he certainly is more dependable than Robert Gsellman is.

Hopefully, Matz can replicate his performance in the second half of last year when he went 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA. If he were to be close to that, he’d easily be that number two starter he was expected to be following the Syndergaard and Stroman injuries.

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It simply doesn’t make sense to have two guys in the rotation at the same time who need to be stretched out and overwork your bullpen, for production that probably won’t be better from Gsellman. Matz should still be in this Mets rotation and hopefully, he will return to that role for this year and next.