And then there were five.
Among the storylines that had developed before the COVID-19 outbreak suspended spring training was the Mets’ six starters for five rotation spots. Noah Syndergaard’s torn ulnar collateral ligament, which will keep him sidelined into 2021, has ended that rotation battle.
Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha are the Mets’ five starters for now.
With the season on hold indefinitely, team officials have more significant issues with which to grapple than where they might find rotation depth, but the early indication is they won’t put too much consideration into a largely barren free-agent market.
Among the in-house possibilities are David Peterson, Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt should the Mets need another rotation arm.
The lefty Peterson was the organization’s top draft pick in 2017, but hasn’t pitched above the Double-A level. Last year he went 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 24 starts for Binghamton. In camp this spring he had impressed team officials, but was slated to begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse.
Lockett is out of options and could be claimed off waivers if he doesn’t begin the season on the roster. But with MLB officials and teams discussing various scenarios for a late-starting season — which might include a 30-man roster at the beginning — it could be easier for the Mets to carry Lockett if they deem him valuable enough. The right-hander was 1-1 with an 8.34 ERA in nine appearances for the Mets last season.
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Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are other rotation possibilities, but inserting either into the rotation would weaken an already suspect bullpen.
The Mets lost Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery in spring training 2015 and ended up reaching the World Series, but it helped having Syndergaard and Matz join the team from Triple-A as the season progressed. Such reinforcements will be harder to find this time.
Before last season, the Mets traded pitching prospect Justin Dunn to the Mariners in the deal that yielded Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. At the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Stroman from the Blue Jays, but the price was pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson.