Questions Remain Throughout Rotation

The New York Mets had a vision entering spring training as to the makeup of their rotation. However, that’s not to say there aren’t questions. Name a starter and I’ll give you questions and issues.

The expected rotation is comprised of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Daisuke Matsuzaka; none considered an “ace’’ in the traditional sense. Realistically, none would be higher than a No. 3 when their career numbers are examined.

NIESE: It starts with him. (AP)

NIESE: It starts with him. (AP)

Not really the stuff of 90-win teams.

There was to be competition for the fifth-starter role between Matsuzaka, John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia, but based on how he closed last year, Matsuzaka has the edge.

Mejia has thrown well and seems healthy enough to warrant the opportunity. That begs the question: If not now, then when?

Let’s take a look at the rotation and potential issues with each starter:

JON NIESE: He’s never won more than 13 games, and enters No. 1. Niese has a history of injuries and only twice since 2008 started as many as 30 games. He missed time last year with a rotator cuff issue, and a MRI this spring revealed weakness in his shoulder. He didn’t pitch well in his only start, and has thrown only two innings. The goal is 30 for most starters, but with three starts remaining, he won’t come close.

BARTOLO COLON: He’s 40, so there’s always the inevitable possibility of breaking down. Colon won 18 games and pitched 190.1 innings in 2013, but what are the odds of doing it again? I would say longer than an Ike Davis slump. He’s signed to a two-year contract. Breakdowns occur with 40-year old pitchers. Who is to say it won’t be this year?

DILLON GEE: He turned last season around in a May 30 start against the Yankees and finished 12-11 with 199 innings. However, he was close to being bumped from the rotation prior to that Yankee Stadium start. Gee’s career high was 13 victories in 2011. Gee is grit and guile, but is throwing hard this spring. Even so, his career numbers indicate a No. 4 starter. Assuming all works out with Matt Harvey’s recovery and the development of Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, aren’t we talking about him being out of the rotation next year?

ZACK WHEELER: He worked 100 innings last season before he was shut down. Ideally, the Mets would like to double that number. That’s a huge increase, even considering the 68.2 innings he pitched for Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler won seven games in 2013 and the Mets need him to double it, which is a lot. Wheeler has loads of potential, but they need proven production.

DAISUKE MATSUZAKA:  He won 15 and 18 games, respectively, his first two seasons in the majors with Boston in 2007-8, but never more than nine in the subsequent five years (2010). Pitching coach Dan Warthen got him to speed up his delivery, which lead to him closing the year with three strong starts, working at least six innings in each. That’s a small sample. What isn’t a small sample are the last five years, in which he threw more 60 innings only once.

Factoring all that, just what was Sandy Alderson thinking saying this was a 90-win potential season? Considering the fragility of Niese and Colon, Wheeler’s inexperience and Matsuzaka’s inconsistency, it isn’t hard to imagine it won’t be long before we see Mejia, Syndergaard or Rafael Montero.

ON DECK: Niese’s war on Twitter


3 thoughts on “Questions Remain Throughout Rotation

  1. The problem I have with this type of analysis is that we can pick apart all rotations. More important is the ability of those in the rotation according to ability to step up and also what is the depth behind them.

    I will put the positive spin on it.

    Bartolo Colon won 18 games last year and 28 in the American League west over the last 2 years while 50 missing games. No reason to see a falloff especially with him facing pitchers and national league 8th hitters at least 3 times each a game.

    Dillon Gee had a great second half and pitch well in the first half 2012 before going down. Yes we are talking about him not being in the rotation next year which is a testament to the teams overall depth and talent of starting pitching

    Anyway you look at it, Zach Wheeler threw 168 innings last year, 200 is not a stretch and he clearly has number 1 stuff.

    Jon Niese as number 1 is more a matter of seniority than talent. Even on this staff he is really a number 3 behind Colon and Wheeler. Injuries are a concern for him, I agree

    Dice K is a wild card. But he has a past that has shown success and he is only 33.

    Finally, we won’t be seeing Aaron Laffey, Chris Schwinden, Jeremy Hefner, Miguel Batista or Collin Mchugh chipping a combined 20 starts every year for the past 3 years. See St Louis for the importance of infusing talent into your rotation. I don’t know if there is a better triple a rotation then Syndergaard, Montero and Meija.

    • Michael: You are absolutely correct. You can also pick apart any player as nobody os perfect. I’m trying to illustrate that even though the Mets have their five, it is one with issues. Thanks for commenting and I hope to hear from you again.-JD

  2. Niese is not a #1. Never was. But he is a lefty with decent stuff. He has always been injured and seems injured again. 10-12 wins?

    Colon is 40. But with magic juice he should do well. What does he care about cheating? It got him a nice contract and he is done anyway. If he doesn’t juice he doesn’t pitch. So guess what he does?

    Gee. He was nothing special n the minors. A control pitcher with avg stuff. He has done well as a pro. If he lacks control he will get hit. Simple as that.

    Wheeler. He was projected to be better than Harvey when both were in the minors. He is supposed to be competitive. He sees what Matt did and I think he wants to prove he is as good or better. I think its great.

    Dice K. He is a placeholder. We are waiting for Thor who is the next coming after Matt and Zack.we also have Montero. I don’t know why they won’t give Mejia a shot.