Lesson #1: Starting Rotation Depth Is Important
Going into Spring Training this season the Mets were praised for building starting rotation depth in the offseason with the additions of veteran starting pitchers Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. There was even a point in time where we were debating whether Michael Wacha or Steven Matz would be the fifth starter as there was almost too much starting pitching on this team.
All of that would be for naught as the Mets Achilles heal this season ended up being their depth in the starting rotation. Noah Syndergaard ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery in March, and Marcus Stroman would end up opting out of playing this season due to Covid-19 concerns, which put the Mets down two quality starting pitchers at the top of their rotation. That left a starting rotation behind Jacob deGrom with little room for error.
Unfortunately, Steven Matz had the worst statistical season of his career and heads into the offseason with more questions than answers. Both Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha were unable to give the team quality innings this season and taxed the bullpen many times during each of their starts. Fortunately, our hulking rookie southpaw David Peterson was able to provide the organization with a glimmer of hope after posting a 3.44 ERA over nine starts this season and one appearance out of the bullpen.
The lesson to be learned here is that the Mets had no quality options to turn to within the organization after realizing the starting rotation was struggling. Yes, the Mets did turn to hybrid reliever Seth Lugo to make some starts down the stretch that came along with a large mixed bag of results and weakened the Mets bullpen in general. Robert Gsellman was also inserted into the rotation from the bullpen and largely struggled before going down with a season-ending injury.
Most of the Mets’ upper minors pitching depth has been depleted by trades over the past two seasons, and besides David Peterson, the Mets don’t have a young starting pitcher ready to take the reigns of a rotation spot in the short term. This is an issue that needs correcting.
You can never have too much pitching, and of course, the Mets could’ve never predicted both Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman both missing the season. But there was no depth built in the minors after David Peterson and there were no other starting-caliber pitchers brought in as reinforcements during summer camp to strengthen the rotation depth, especially when Stroman went down with a calf injury.
The front office this offseason is tasked with rebuilding not only the starting rotation but the depth that comes along with it to build a contender.