1 early Mets assumption we hope isn't true
By John Flynn
Six games in and there are serious question marks with the New York Mets. With pathetic, no-show performances over the last 48 hours at American Family Field in Milwaukee, the Mets are seeing some of their roster holes exposed, specifically with the lack of pitching depth.
There has been an assumption that you couldn’t bank on your starting pitchers to stay healthy, and that injury bug has hampered the Mets as often and as untimely as any team has had over the past 10 years, and the first six acts of the 2023 season have exposed the ripple effects, and we hope that this doesn’t last the whole season.
The Mets have seen a depletion of their starting rotation in depth and quality, and it should not sit well with the fans.
Yes, six games is a much smaller sample size than a full regular season. In fact it is 27 times smaller than the annual docket. But statements of truth are needed right now. The state of the Mets rotation is nowhere near where it needs to be to win a championship this year.
Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana were supposed to be great additions to the roster. They are both hurt. One has no timetable for return. The other isn’t expected back until July at the earliest.
Max Scherzer has given up the long ball far too much, and hasn’t been clutch in his last three starts against playoff-caliber teams.
Carlos Carrasco’s velocity has decreased.
Even though David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and Kodai Senga were good in their first turn in the rotation, is it enough to bank on them delivering consistently this season, particularly the first two on the list?
The depth of the Mets’ bullpen has yielded mixed results.
The Edwin Diaz injury felt like a punch to the gut. And it has forced the Mets to lengthen their game because of the lack of depth it had.
Don't forget also about the injury to Bryce Montes de Oca, who turned heads this spring with his 102 mph fireball and appeared headed for Miami with the team last week barring injury. But season-ending injury happened in the form of a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery.
Basically, the Mets had to build their bullpen back from scratch, and the bullpen they have now is nowhere near resemblant of last year’s unit. There is no Seth Lugo, no Trevor Williams, no Trevor May.
So far, there have been two brutal outings from relievers. Tommy Hunter’s on Monday which highlighted in a grand slam for Milwaukee’s Brice Turang, the Brewers' No. 5 prospect, whose first major league blast turned a 6-0 contest to a 10-0 laugher. Hunter now finds himself on the 15-day IL with back spasms. Then we had Brooks Raley’s bad performance last night in which he gave up back-to-back homers to Brian Anderson and Garrett Mitchell, two of the five four-baggers Milwaukee hit last night.
Otherwise, the unit has been dominant.
But the lack of rotation depth is more concerning because it means the Mets need to have more relievers produce quality innings, and chances are the more relievers that are used in the game, the more likely it is that one of them won’t have the stuff on a given night.
We saw this daunting scenario unfold in 2017, where the Mets had injuries to everyone in their rotation except Jacob deGrom. And deGrom had arguably his worst season as a Met that year. It was only the second time in Mets history where the team gave up more than 800 runs (863). Only the 120-loss Mets from 1962 conceded more (948).
The Mets also don’t have much major-league ready pitching talent in the minors.
All of the Mets' top six prospects are position players. The 7th best (according to MLB.com Pipeline) is pitcher Blade Tidwell, who should be starting in High-A Brooklyn's season opener on Friday, and his estimated arrival in the majors is 2025.
So it is in the Mets’ best interest to hope that the injury bug stops now and that they can invest in pitching in the draft this summer to a farm system that desperately needs pitching prospects, and build up a deeper crop of pitching in 2024.