Last week, the New York Mets made a “baseball decision.” They designated Robinson Cano for assignment as the MLB rosters shrank from 28 to 26. The Mets will owe him around $40 million regardless of whether or not he picks up a baseball bat again.
Members of the organization referred to this as a baseball decision because that’s all it was. Cano was well-liked within the locker room. He wasn’t, however, playing well. Due to the limited number of options they had to move forward with 26 players, the team decided to cut him.
Yet another baseball decision for the Mets does loom. When Jacob deGrom comes back, if all of the other starting pitchers are healthy, the club will have to decide how to handle the rotation. What should they do?
The Mets have a baseball decision to make when Jacob deGrom comes back from the IL
Is it as simple as moving Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker to the bullpen? What about Tylor Megill? The youngest and least experienced of the starting pitchers is also the only one with minor league options. They can just as easily say “sorry kid, but this is a baseball decision” then either demote him to the minor leagues or shovel him into the bullpen.
If Megill continues to pitch this brilliantly by the time deGrom comes back, that won’t be what they do.
deGrom’s return remains weeks away and we should probably tack on another half month or so. Maybe by late June he is back in the fold. At that point, we’ll know better as to who is bound for a good 2022 season and who is not.
When deGrom does come back, as much of a gamer as he is, the Mets would need to ease him into action. He’ll get some rehab starts in the minor leagues. At the major league level, he’ll still probably be on a tight pitch count. During that period, pairing him with one of the starters to enter in relief and be a pseudo-long man out of the bullpen could work. Give deGrom four innings or so then ask someone else to go as long as they can.
Trouble arrives when deGrom is ready to go deeper into games. Then what do the Mets do?
A six-man rotation is one possibility but not likely. It throws off the rhythm and routine of many starters. When there’s an off-day, guys will be pushed back a full week. This can work as an extra day of rest but as creatures of habit, it’s not the wisest of directions to take in the middle of a season.
Getting all of their starters together and healthy will be the important thing above anything else. The Mets would need to get creative in order to have all six on the roster together. The possibility of even using one of the guys out of the bullpen for multiple innings with a prescheduled appearance is something to consider yet a little too out of the ordinary for more than just the tail end of a season.
Due to Trevor Williams’ poor start to the 2022 season, there’s an obvious case to be made for any of these guys to move into the bullpen and take over as the long man. But if they’re all succeeding as starters, how do you decide which one it’ll be?
The next big baseball decision for the Mets is in the distance. There’s no obvious answer at the moment. But it’s there. And each time one of these starters takes the hill, a solution becomes a little bit clearer.