|Noah Syndergaard, left, and Rafael Montero, center, front the Mets "2nd team rotation".|
In roughly a month, pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie. At the moment, the starting rotation for the early season 2015 New York Mets looks to be:
1.) Matt Harvey
2.) Jacob deGrom
3.) Zack Wheeler
4.) Jon Niese
5.) Bartolo Colon
In case you have not heard, the Mets are deep in starting pitching. Very deep. Take, if you will, the "second rotation" or the "second team starters". Imagine this is basketball: These are your "bench SPs". Or, more morbidly, imagine the five starters above all get hurt and have to miss the 2015 season. In that dire circumstance, the 2015 Mets rotation would be:
1.) Noah Syndergaard
2.) Rafael Montero
3.) Steven Matz
4.) Dillon Gee
5.) Matt Bowman
I could see a very good case for Tyler Pill in the #5 as well but let's go with Matt Bowman who has a touch more Triple-A experience. His "stuff" is also better than Pill's.
The above rotation is a very solid MLB rotation. While four of the five are considered minor leaguers and/or prospects and three of the five have never pitched in the MLB, we have quite a bit of risk in that rotation. However, we also have quite a bit of reward. Syndergaard projects as a #1/#2 starter. Matz has been called an equal from the left side and Rafael Montero still has, in this writer's opinion, as much upside as any pitching prospect in the minors. After those three top-rotation starters, Dillon Gee anchors the back of the rotation and Matt Bowman--an intelligent Tim Lincecum clone with five pitches--rounds out the back end. Few people know about Bowman and he while he might be another Colin McHugh--a guy who never gets a fair shot with the Mets and blossoms elsewhere--he should become a serviceable starter and potentially a very good one.
I believe the above rotation competes against many teams in the MLB. While I could see an argument for this rotation being at least league average and perhaps better than more teams than it is worse than, here are five teams who are certainly inferior to the "Second Team Mets SPs":
1.) Colorado Rockies
Starting Five: De La Rosa, Matzek, Chacin, Lyles, Lannan
I am going out on a limb with Lannan #5 but the other options are equally ugly (Christian Bergman. Try that on for size). Bottom line is this rotation is pitiful. I dare you to find a worse rotation in baseball. Good thing for Rockies fans is that the era of Jon Gray, Eddie Butler, and Kyle Freeland cannot be too far away.
2.) Arizona Diamondbacks
Starting Five: Collmenter, De La Rosa, Webster, Cahill, Hellickson
I hate to beat up on the NL West this much and this rotation does have some potential. Yet, nothing excites me about it either. There is no ace in the rotation and, as a rule, if you have a De La Rosa, you have a poor rotation. All joking aside, I do find it comical that my two least favorite MLB rotations both have a De La Rosa and neither is all that bad, either. Cahill and Hellickson were good at one point but just aren't anymore.
3.) Baltimore Orioles
Starting Five: Tillman, Norris, Gausman, Chen, Gonzalez
The only arm saving this from "League Worst" status is Gausman who is emerging into one of the betters starters in the AL. The rest of that rotation is going to haunt Baltimore. Tillman as a front man? Norris? Gonzalez might have been the luckiest pitcher in baseball last year and I see a correction that leaves him with an ERA north of 5.00 before banishment to Triple-A. The reason the Orioles do not compete this year is this albatross of a rotation.
4.) Houston Astros
Starting Five: McHugh, Feldman, Keuchel, Oberholtzer, Peacock/Straily
It pains me to put the Astros down here because I love what these guys did in 2014. All of them over-performed and did so in a tough division. However, I see regression for some of these arms and part of this ranking is my vindictive way of condemning the trade of Michael Foltynewicz in a package for Evan Gattis--a player who does not get the Astros over the hump. Gattis will help them set team offense strikeout records in 2015, a not-so-bold prediction I have for this year. Folty has such an electric arm that, starter or reliever, would have made this Astros team look so much better. I see a bunch of 4s and 5s in this rotation and maybe a 3 here or there. I hope they do well. I will root for them. For now, though, I cannot advocate for the Astros being a surprise team on the back of this rotation.
5.) Boston Red Sox
Starting Five: Buccholz, Kelly, Porcello, Masterson, Miley
No, I do not think the Red Sox have one of the five worst rotations in baseball. Then again, this was never an article listing a superlative of ineptitude. Rather it is a list of teams who have rotations inferior to the Mets "2nd team SPs" and I will confidently state that the Red Sox have an inferior rotation to our "2nd team SPs". Boston fans will not like me for this but I also want to take a stab at the team many think will be unbeatable in the AL this year. Do Sox fans really think this rotation is going to be good? Sure, Buccholz has shown flashes of being an anchor, Kelly was solid, Porcello is a steady, predictable starter, and Miley was a decent pickup this winter. None of these guys are dominant and it's not like this rotation doesn't come with risk, either. Personally, I would take Thor/Matz/Montero/Gee/Bowman over this group because of upside. At least the Mets have a couple aces in the hole. The Red Sox don't. I will make a bolder prediction that the Red Sox don't only finish second to the Blue Jays, but their mediocre rotation makes them fight for a wildcard instead of a division title.
There are other teams who have shoddy rotations. The Brewers rotation is ugly, I am not a fan of the Minnesota rotation and really hate the cost of it, the Phillies are going to struggle past Hamels unless Lee comes back strong (and if they trade Hamels, eek), and I am not all that enamored with Cleveland's group but Corey Kluber makes any rotation look good. Bottom line, though, is that in this pitching era, the Mets have the deepest group of starters in baseball. Before someone dismisses this as a gushing fanboy post, go back and read my other articles to see how critical I have been of the talent on the Mets and within the system over the years.
The pitching talent and depth on the Mets is just this good.