Stephen Guilbert - Mets 2nd Rotation Better than 5 MLB Teams

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.


Thomas Brennan said...

Stephen - totally agree that this team's 2nd 5 would be better than several teams' starting 5's.

And you did not even include Tyler Pill (just his lethal bat warrants a mention), Cory Mazzoni, Eric Goeddel, Gabe Ynoa, or a bit further down the road Marcos Molina. That 3rd 5 could compete with other teams' starters in, oh, 2016.

Anonymous said...

This is a great problem to have.
Others team will be calling.
1st in Spring training when injuries hit.
Then at the all-star break.
And at the trading deadline

Reese Kaplan said...

It doesn't matter if other teams come calling. In case you haven't noticed, the Mets don't do trades under Sandy Alderson. They do salary dumps (and lately not even those since Gee, Colon and Murphy are all still here).

eraff said...

Prospect Vapor is very strong!!!! 3 guys without a Major League inning!!!!...and one of those 3 is a "B" propspect AT BEST!!!! Montero hasn't shown (yet) that he's an sctual MLB starter.

Open the window!

Stephen Guilbert said...

If you still believe that about Rafael Montero, you have not seen him pitch.

eraff said...

I'm a huge Montero Fan---- and he HAS NOT proven (yet) that he's an MLB starter

Christopher Soto said...

I'm glad you mentioned' Bowman.

I've got him rising very rapidly on my list. Despite only 6 AAA starts, I'm actually declaring him "MLB Ready." His strong initial showing at AAA combined with his excellent ability to "pitch" rather than "throw" and his excellent arsenal usage mix makes me think he has the potential to be 2015's Jacob deGrom.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Well, eraff, neither has Bowman, Matz or Syndergaard. I do mention in my post that there is a ton of risk with three guys who have never faced big league hitting. From a talent standpoint, I like all three as much as any red sox arm.

Soto--Bowman was a fantastic, fantastic draft pick. I lived in Hightstown about five miles from Princeton's campus and I remember him. He was a late convert to pitching and actually got hit around even in college but I loved his stuff even back then. Good velocity, threw a lot of pitches, really took to pitching quickly. I think he is one of those guys, like deGrom, who could "figure it all out" in his mid-20s and be very good. I see more McHugh than deGrom, but that's splitting hairs because no matter which, it's insanely good value for the 13rd round.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Also, I do really like Pill. I just do not have a clue what to do with him. Is Pill really all that different from the pitcher the Phillies got for Marlon Byrd? If that's the going rate for young pitching, why can't arms like Pill, Ynoa, Bowman be solid parts of a deal to get a good major leaguer? Is it really because opposing GMs are saying "Matz/Thor or bust"?? Mack?

greg b said...

Thats why if the Mets trade vets like Gee and others trade them for minorleaguers so they replenishing the system.

eraff said...

OK---fun post!!!---and I'm not taking issue with The Arms!!!!

The fact that NONE have proven they're major league starters makes the Premise of the article nothing more than a FUN statement.

Montero and Syndergaard are very close to making an impact--Hopefully!...and Matz may be as well.

The drop off, after those guys, is TREMENDOUS!!! All talk of Pitching depth/Prospects is Rose colored glasses beyond those three guys. There is NOT another guy at A+ or above who owns the right to any solid projection.

Pill...Bowman....Goeddel---they could become "Dylan Gee" if they make MOON SHOT progress at the AAA and MLB level, if and when they get a shot. MOONSHOT PROGRESS---that's what it took to make Dylan Gee a Legitimate MLB starting pitcher. Those guys HAVE proven they can pitch 150 or more....and they've shown they can pitch to "the next 500-1000 of the best hitters in the world". You CANNOT project a MOONSHOT.

Molina!?...Fullmer and Mazzoni???... Ynoa????...

Christopher Soto said...


Agreed on Pill and Goeddel...but Bowman and Mazzoni are two guys that definitely could have an MLB impact this season.

Quite frankly, Mazzoni would be a solid #4 SP for the Marlins right now. Poor guy just have too many better arms in front of him.

Christopher Soto said...

@Stephen G.

I'll have to side with eraff when it comes to Tyler Pill.

May not have enough "stuff" to conquer AAA in my opinion.

Mack Ade said...

Eraff -

Are you actually already projecting Molina?

Thomas Brennan said...

I wonder how many guys starting in the bigs could have been viewed as "moonshots"

Dillon Gee's year in AAA was in pitcher-neutral-to-friendly Buffalo, and he tossed to a 4.96 ERA. So his looked like Mars Shot, but he landed safely. I think most of these guys will start somewhere in the next year or two - possibly post-trade.

Pill may be the least of the pitching list as a pitcher, but has the advantage of a seemingly live bat. Logically, most would count that for little. But a pitcher who can really hit can win a game or two per season for himself over a lame hitting pitcher. Even pinch hit. Tyler was 8 for 19 with zero strikeouts with the stick last year. That tells me he can hit.

eraff said...

Mack---the "?'s" were meant to indicate that they're just that---talented guys with more questions than answers.

We're over blown up with fan regard for the Met Arms, beyond the 3 who have already crested.

I have no doubt that several of the "solid and better" guys will emerge somehwere at some point....but picking oput guys as legit MLB starters NOW is Ludicrous!

Mazzoni as the Marlins #4...NOW?.... he pitched 144 innings in 2012----66 in 2013...777 last year--- He's a #4!!!!????

That's Nuts!!!

eraff said...

Mazzoni pitched 77 innings last year--NOT 777


Other than that, I've reviewed my posts and they remain 100% correct!!! ;0)

Christopher Soto said...


Yes...despite the injuries, Mazzoni is a very advanced SP with an 93-94mph fastball, an above average splitter, and a league average slider.

I would take his arsenal over Koehler's Phelp's and Hand's.

Had Mazzoni stayed healthy teams would be asking for him via trade.

Mack Ade said...

Eraff -

Here's how far as I go.

The Mets currently have Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Syndergaard, Montero, and Matz

only ONE becomes a free agent during this decade (Harvey - 2019)

the Mets are in good shape here

eraff said...

Yes, Mack!---I agree!!!

Stephen Guilbert said...

eraff, as a fan with knowledge of player development, I'm sure you know that a lot of prospects don't work out. Personally, I have Mazzoni waayyyy wayyy lower than Soto but like Bowman and Pill. Personal preference. Could all three never amount to anything? Sure.

But, for sake of argument, let's say one in three Met starters that scouts project could make a major league rotation in some form (ace, 5th starters..anything), you still have a damn good selection of worthy arms because of the depth of the system. That is partially the point of this post. Depth wins when it comes to pitching. No, I cannot say for sure that Syndergaard is better than Porcello. What I'm saying is I'd rather have him in my rotation than Porcello. Is that off base?

To wrap up, here's a list of pitchers just off the top of my head (no research here, just free writing) who project to be rotation arms in the MLB:

(Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Gee, Niese, Colon)
Mazzoni (maybe reliever, but currently a SP)
Fulmer (ditto)

Using my rule of thirds, one third of these guys don't make it, one third do as starters, the other third does as relievers. I am sure Mack could list more or Brennan especially with the lower minors, but by my count you have more than enough for a rotation worth of starters graduating every year.

That sort of depth is unparalleled in the minors. That's the point of this post. After Thor, Montero, Matz, Bowman graduate, next year it's going to be a next wave and on and on.

Charles said...

I actually really like Koeller as a starter and he always seems to pitch pretty well against the Mets. I'd trade Mazzoni for Koeller strait up any day.

Charles said...

And that's why I like drafting pitchers. Draft the best ones available. Sooner or later, Sandy will HAVE TO trade some of these pitchers for a few good bats. Bats that are ML Ready or ML players.

bob gregory said...

The premise of this article makes it even more bewildering why the trade route was not used to upgrade the offense this off season.

If so many lower ranked met prospects could potentially perform so well at the major league level, it makes the assertion that other teams only wanted Wheeler and Syndegaard and not interested in any other prospects even more difficult to believe.

Thomas Brennan said...

I think that some of the farm crop could use more seasoning to optimize value, but I'd say by mid-2015, several guys will be ripe and ready to pitch elsewhere. Start trading them then (Gee now, of course. Gotta start letting a little pressure out of the balloon)

Stephen Guilbert said...

bob, I totally get why other teams have demanded the top arms from the Mets. They know the Mets have a logjam and aren't going to settle for Ynoa when they think they can get Wheeler. Sandy's been right to hold on to his best arms. A big step for him is figuring out how to field the best team possible while upgrading positions without sacrificing his best talent. When you're stacked, you can do that. But I also have a suspicion that opposing GMs have unfairly treated Alderson this winter. I mean Syndergaard for Didi Gregorius? Are you kidding?

bob gregory said...

It's not the other GMs' job to be fair.
It wasn't Alderson's job to be fair when he was acquiring Wheeler, D'Arnaud, & Syndegaard.
Even though this is true, many GMs have developed a way to conduct their business and develop relationships with their peers that allow them to work together in a mutually beneficial way.

I would assume all gms begin asking for the moon in trade talk. After all it is a negotiation. We deal with the similar situation buying a new car. Sticker price should never be paid.

Syndegaard & Wheeler is that sticker price. If Alderson walks away at that point he is a poor negotiator. If he tells the other team one option he is willing to work with, again that is poor negotiating. Just like the car dealer is not going to accept your first offer on a car, unless it is above the true value.

It is just hard to believe that every team insists on these two pitchers and ends negotiations if they are not included.
When I see examples such as Didi's trade package to the Yankees, it certainly appears the final negotiated trade package was less than the Syndegaard/Wheeler request. (Mind you, not that I wanted Didi though)

Maybe Alderson is just not a skilled negotiator. Maybe he is just the negotiating version of a "one-trick-pony", only able to trade something he doesn't want to a team that desperately wants it.

Maybe not?

Charles said...

This has been said before and I conpletly agree with it. Teams are weary of dealing with Alderson because other than the Angel Pagan trade, he's fleeced every team that he's dealt with.

Even more, he simply won't cave for what he feels is fair value or a heist, depending on the circumstances.

Thor, Darno, plus for Dickey?

Wheeler for Beltran?

Herrera AND Black for Bryd and Buck?

I'll even put Ike for the young lefty. If trade Ike for a second round high school lefty any day of the week. I love deals like that. Sure it's a lottery ticket, but that kid could become a ML starter someday. He may become nothing. But for Ike Davis, that's the only way to actually win that trade. Because fair ML value for Ike Davis was a bucket of balls.

If I was a GM and Sandy came calling, if demand Thor, Pawlecki, or Matz as a starting point. I wouldn't want to be another notch on his belt. However, by the same token, Montero and Ninmo would also intrigue me and I'm surprised one of them isn't gone by now.

eraff said...

There is no FLEECING...teams knowingly overpay for a PIECE.

The problem is that Sandy has ONLY been willing to engage in those trades where he's unloading a Market Value for a future value---You ALWAYS get over paid.

Bigger issue---lack of ability or willingness to commit to actual PAID big league players. He can't make the trade because his ownership cannot commit.

bob gregory said...


We can't blame it all on the owners.

eraff said...

He's involved, generally, in a Salary Dump Deal.... The Byrd Deal was exceptional and an exception -- on that one, he made a trade of a piece that Pittsburgh needed for a pennant chase. Of course, it would have been made even better if he'd brought Byrd back!

Was Pittsburgh FLEECED????---they got to a Playoff!---they knew Herrera was GReat Player!---he was a 20 year old in the Futures game.

bob gregory said...


Seems like a significant limitation as a gm to me.
But then again, what do I know?

Charles said...

Yes they were FLEECED!!! Just like the rest of them. Knowing you're overpaying doesn't stop you from being fleeced. That's ridiculous. They don't have to make the trade, Just like Sandy wouldn't have made those trades without getting overpaid.

The Bryd deal wasnt any different because Sandy would NEVER make that deal if the roles were reversed. Otherwise, we'd have Desmond on the team right now. He won't trade Thor plus another top prospect for a legit top SS. If you allow yourself to get screwed, you are getting fleeced.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Ugh I really need to stop reading the comments.

Mack Ade said...

No Stephen...

you got 34 hits today and the most readership...

it's tough to discuss all this stuff with eight different people all of which have a completely different spin on the same subject

hang in there... I surely couldn;t LOL

eraff said...

Stephen---it's a good article with a strong response....well done!!!

The fact that you're wrong doesn't change any of that!!! ;)

bob gregory said...


Head up.
Well written article.
Great hook to command attention with your bold opening statement.
Well reasoned support for your opinion.
I enjoyed the insight you provided in the other teams' rotations. It demonstrated a love for baseball that stretches beyond just your favored team.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

The key here, I think, is that clearly all of these guys can't pitch for the Mets.

Everything hinges on how Sandy Alderson maximizes the opportunity here -- by making trades, not by losing guys in the Draft 5 or whatever.

If the next wave is as good as some project, the intelligent move would be to trade one of the major-league proven pitchers. Keep the pipeline open.

When it comes to value on the marketplace, major-league proven is a huge leap beyond "prospect."

If Sandy sits on his hands and lets these guys get blocked, slowed down, then he'll be wasting a huge opportunity. Montero, for example, needs to come North in the pen.

James Preller

Mack's Mets © 2012