Mets biggest weakness is in the bullpen and back of rotation
By Julian Guilarte
The New York Mets made a huge splash in signing the best free-agent pitcher in Max Scherzer. Although they still have a lot of work to do to address their pitching staff as a whole. Their pitching remains their most glaring weakness, especially in the bullpen.
Losing their best reliever Aaron Loup to the Angels was a huge blow. Before the lockout, they did nothing to replace him. Now their bullpen only has three people that can be relied upon. Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, and Seth Lugo. Those are the only sure things in the Mets bullpen. Their rotation after Jacob deGrom and Scherzer is also very questionable. Figure that Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker will come in as their 3rd starting pitcher for now. With Tylor Megill and David Peterson competing for the 5th spot.
On paper, this looks pretty good, but the game isn't played on paper. To the Mets credit, they're aware of the weakness and they offered free-agent starter Kevin Gausman a higher contract than he ended up signing with the Blue Jays. With this knowledge, the Mets should be very active in the starting pitching market once the lockout is over. Those six starters aren't bad depth, but four of them have injury concerns.
The Mets injury concerns and how they could build solid pitching depth.
Scherzer ended the season with a dead arm, deGrom was injured several times last season and was shut down after throwing just 92 innings with an elbow injury. Carrasco returned after a hamstring injury, but he only pitched 53 innings and had an ERA over six. He also had to have bone fragments removed from his elbow in October. Peterson had a strong rookie season, but last year had an ERA of 5.50 in 64 innings pitched. He also had foot surgery at the end of July that ended his season. Megill started his rookie campaign strong, but he had an ERA over six in his last 11 starts. Overall his ERA was close to five in 89 innings pitched. Walker was an all-star, but he fell off a cliff in the second half posting an ERA over seven in his last 13 starts. He pitched 159 innings which he hadn't done since 2015.
Carlos Rodón is now the best pitcher left on the market, but he has huge injury concerns of his own. This is why it makes it more perplexing that they didn't re-sign Marcus Stroman. He made the most starts in MLB and his health wasn't a question mark. He pitched to the level of a second starter. The Mets have been connected to free-agent Yusei Kikuchi and he could give them solid innings as a 4th or 5th starter. They could also look to the trade route with the Oakland Athletics and acquire Sean Manaea or Chris Bassitt. The bottom line is that the Mets need a solid third starter that can rely on behind deGrom and Scherzer.
In terms of the bullpen, Craig Kimbrel is on the trading block and Kenley Jansen is the best free-agent reliever available. They could re-sign Brad Hand who pitched well for them in limited work. The Athletics won't re-sign Jake Diekman and Andrew Chaffin. They could both be good options to replace Loup. Joe Kelly, Collin McHugh and Ryan Tapera could also make some sense for the Mets. They should sign at least two-three of the names mentioned above to solidly their bullpen.