The state of the Mets starting rotation

Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, Gatorade All-Star Workout Day
Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, Gatorade All-Star Workout Day / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Taijuan Walker, Miami Marlins v New York Mets / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

Probable Locks: Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco

Walker and Carrasco are as close to rotation locks as anyone not named deGrom or Scherzer. Even so, both carry major question marks that could put their spots in jeopardy if things don’t immediately fall the right way.

Walker’s first year as a Met was truly a tale of two seasons. After a dominant All-Star first half (7-3, 2.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP in 94 2/3 innings), the former first round pick’s season fell apart with a winless second half (7.13 ERA, 1.37 WHIP in 64 1/3 innings).

Carrasco, meanwhile, never seemed to get his first season in Queens on track. Injuries delayed his debut until July 30, when a first pitch home run to the Reds’ Jonathan India authored a narrative of first inning struggles that stayed with the right-hander through each of his 12 starts. Carrasco finished 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA and 12 home runs surrendered in just 53 2/3 innings.

Of the two, Walker’s outlook seems a bit clearer with more upside. His late season swoon could be partially attributed to a sharp increase in workload – he eclipsed 150 innings for the first time since 2017 and just the third time in an injury-shortened nine-year career. If Walker can stay true to what brought him success early in the year – limiting walks, avoiding big innings, and working the plate, particularly with his sinker – he profiles as a solid, high-upside fixture in the rotation.

Carrasco, on the other hand, enters the final year of his contract with more uncertainty. It’s fair to wonder if he can revert to the pitcher who posted a 3.27 ERA for Cleveland from 2014-2018, or if the soon-to-be 35-year-old’s struggles last year signal further regression. Assuming the answer lies somewhere in the middle, the Mets should proceed with Carrasco as more of a back-end option.

Bottom Line: While each has a high ceiling, Walker and Carrasco leave the Mets too many question marks to preclude another mid-tier rotation signing.