The New York Mets enter the trade deadline in an unusually strong position this season, not because of their spot in the standings or how well they’ve played, so much so that one could argue this recent stretch is the best baseball the team has played up to this point.
Instead, the strong position is that almost every contender in the National League needs to upgrade at something the Mets already have. That is a complete five-man rotation with two co-aces that will see its completion tomorrow when Jacob deGrom makes his season debut.
The Mets have the best starting pitching situation of any team in the National League and can focus their energy elsewhere
Assuming deGrom stays healthy and returns to vintage form, the Mets rotation will be the hardest to beat come October. Max Scherzer has the championship pedigree to dominate in October. deGrom is one of the most trustworthy pitchers in a win-or-go-home scenario, regardless of how far off his “A” game he can be (see Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS), Chris Bassitt’s arsenal of pitches make it hard for the opposition to predict, and Carlos Carrasco, when right, can go deep into games.
The Mets also have four proven and reliable arms that can back them up if they go down too. Taijuan Walker is currently in the rotation (he’d be the odd man out in a short series), but also David Peterson, Trevor Williams, and Tylor Megill. They all have starter experience and can work as viable substitutes.
Simply put, no team has a deeper cast of starting pitchers than the New York Mets.
With the trade deadline looming, the Mets can expend prospects for their catcher situation and their bullpen if they so choose to upgrade.
Consider what the Seattle Mariners had to give up to get ace Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. They had to give up three of their top five prospects, including two top 100 overall prospects in Noelvi Marte (No. 17 on MLB.com’s list) and Edwin Arroyo (No. 92). That trade felt like a death blow to the teams that are lacking a championship caliber rotation because of how much Seattle had to give up.
There are very few starting pitchers available on the market this season, mainly because the contending teams have most of the best starting pitchers, and it is perhaps more costly to get a top of the rotation pitcher than any other place on the roster.
If the best arms available include Frankie Montas of the A’s, Tarik Skubal of the Tigers, and Tyler Mahle of the Reds, that’s a problem for starter-needy teams. The Marlins could also trade Pablo Lopez before the 4 p.m. deadline on Tuesday as well.
Now, look at the other six contending teams in the National League, and compare their rotation situation to that of the Mets.
The Dodgers’ rotation has been excellent, but they’re missing Walker Buehler, who isn’t expected back until September. That’s the biggest threat to the Mets when it comes to the playoffs.
The Braves rotation has been good, but their big three (Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Wright) can’t match up against the Mets’ big three (Scherzer, deGrom, and Bassitt).
The Phillies starting pitching has three healthy and reliable arms, and they’ve even checked in on the Angels regarding Noah Syndergaard. That’s how desperate they are for another rotation arm.
The Cardinals desperately need a third arm to back up Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas with Jack Flaherty out with another injury (Cardinals fans will tell you the team rushed Flaherty back the first time).
The Padres rotation has been solid, but given they just coughed up a ton of talent to acquire Josh Hader from the Brewers. And they still have more needs on offense and a return to prominence for Fernando Tatis, Jr. this season isn’t guaranteed after the motorcycle incident this spring. Their rotation of Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, and Sean Manaea is good, but not as good as Scherzer-deGrom-Bassitt-Carrasco.
And lastly, speaking of the Brewers, they have a deeper farm system now to acquire a fourth starting pitcher that they would need in a seven-game series. However, they desperately need more offense than pitching to get them to win a playoff series (they’ve only won two playoff series in the past 39 years).