The New York Mets starting rotation will be the difference in 2024. For better or worse, how the main five do will lead the charge. They'll either gallop into contention or limp into the summer while nursing their wounds.
There are those who are blindly faithful in believing the rotation is good enough. Then there are those who see a wrecking ball headed our way with a smear of permanent negativity.
As always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. What if the Mets starting staff stays healthy and each of the arms is no better than average?
An average year from the Mets starting pitchers is good enough
We can't just take the career numbers of these guys. Jose Quintana has been around too long. Kodai Senga, not enough. We can certainly set some criteria for what an “average” season looks like out of these five. Let’s limit this to the previous three seasons. This would be the ERAs of the five:
Kodai Senga – 2.98 (1 season)
Jose Quintana – 3.81 (1 very bad year, 2 good ones)
Luis Severino – 4.65 (1 year without any starts, 1 good year cut in half, 1 very bad year cut in half) Sean Manaea – 4.41 (lots of time in the bullpen in 2023)
Adrian Houser – 3.94 (minimal relief appearances)
These ERAs are probably what we hope for Senga, can expect from Quintana and Houser, and are far higher than what we desire out of Severino and Manaea. Those two are the ones who have ceilings to reach.
This averages out to a 3.95 ERA. Even if you want to tack on some earned runs to Senga and eliminate them from Severino, a 3.95 ERA from these five is pretty good. In fact, this number would rank seventh in MLB last season between the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers.
These averages come out even better when we look at the entirety of the MLB careers of these three. Severino’s mess of a 2023 season skews these numbers greatly. Houser, with an excellent 2021 season, might be expected to finish a bit worse than the 3.94 averaged over the last three seasons. Factor in how brilliant he has been in relief, it’s safe to assume it will end up in the 4.00s.
The Mets will rely on more than these five throughout the year. As much as we’d love to plug numbers into an equation to find answers, far too many factors are at play when it comes to what will happen.
Likely a surprise for many, the Mets starting pitcher ERA wasn’t so abysmal last year. Ranked 13th in MLB at 4.20, they were sandwiched between the mighty Houston Astros and the nearly-playoff bound Chicago Cubs. The Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Dodgers were all worse. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the National League pennant, were ranked 21st in the regular season with a 4.67 ERA.
We’re asking for better than average out of these five. If Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, Jose Butto can combine for even a 5.00 ERA, it raises the total to 4.13 which is still more than acceptable.
The Mets don’t need to have a rotation of Cy Young contenders. With a league-best 3.69 ERA out of their starters, it didn’t do the San Diego Padres much good. They played just as many games as the Mets did.
Concerns about health and production won’t completely dissipate when looking at the starting staff this way. We still have lineup holes and a bullpen who, if we did this exercise with, would frighten even the most optimistic fans.
A pitcher's ERA isn't all-encompassing when it comes to defining their ability. What better way to measure them in comparison to the rest of the league? They toe the rubber to prevent runs from scoring. At least in this regard, the Mets aren't looking so bad just as long as everyone is as healthy and personally mediocre as they can be.