Mets: Will David Peterson get a shot to start again in 2021?

Sep 19, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets pitcher David Peterson (77) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets pitcher David Peterson (77) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

How will David Peterson fit in with the New York Mets in 2021?

Everyone is eager to see the New York Mets load up on talent this offseason. Steve Cohen’s takeover as the owner changes the game and moves them from a big market team playing small market baseball to a franchise expected to spend a lot more money this winter and each thereafter.

For free agents, this is great news. For those hoping to win a job in 2021 through skill and maybe a little bit of grit, it’s a small hurdle they face.

One of those players is pitcher David Peterson. Easily the second-best starter on the team in 2020, his role with the club in 2021 is a little less known.

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The Mets will already have Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman in their 2021 rotation. Assuming Noah Syndergaard is healthy at some point, he’ll also join the starting five.

Like many, I also think the Mets land at least one more starter via free agency. There’s also the possibility of a trade, but more realistically is the chance of seeing New York sign a player. This leaves the club with only one hole in the rotation to fill. Does it go to Peterson?

Peterson was somewhat rushed to the majors last year out of need. When the deepest rotation in baseball got a little too shallow, he was the man to get the call to join the starting five. He outperformed the expectations of many, going 6-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 9 starts and an appearance out of the bullpen.

At 25, Peterson is a good age to get regular starts in the big leagues. He’s not a kid in his early 20s where you can have patience. He also isn’t getting close to his 30s where we have to start calling him a late-bloomer. Peterson is actually right on track and poised to have another good year in 2021.

Not yet known is what his exact role will be. Allowing him to fight for a rotation spot seems simple. His performance last year certainly deserved it. Depending on how this offseason shapes up, Peterson may need to fight to win a job rather than keep the gig he seemed to earn in his rookie campaign.

The Mets pitching staff is one of those elements of the roster I’m not so sure people have discussed enough in this early part of the winter. Focus has been on what they will add and not so much on what they already have or where some returning players fit in. The bullpen isn’t losing much at all in terms of warm bodies. With Steven Matz’s future also in limbo, the club could have yet another arm joining the relief corps.

Peterson has never thrown a baseball at the Triple-A level which certainly makes him a candidate to begin 2021 with the Syracuse Mets. But why push him back?

You can never have enough pitching—a lesson the Mets seem to learn every year but don’t always fix. Peterson appears to be a likely candidate for the fifth starter role with the possibility of becoming a short-term roster casualty when all other options are healthy. Given the choice between starting Syndergaard and Peterson, I think the Mets are going with the former.

Peterson showed us that he does have a legitimate big league future ahead of him. His 2020 performance warrants more innings as a starter.

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The numbers game may, unfortunately, make him a victim to a limited roster and some hard choices. In either case, Peterson should get some innings for the Mets in 2021. Whether it’s as a starter or reliever will depend on what the offseason plan looks like, how healthy the other starters are, and exactly how much faith they have that he can do it again.