I thought I’d take some time to examine what our opening day rotations would look like in the years to come. It’s basically an introspective on how far the Mets minor league system has come over the last two years, particularly among right-handed starting pitching which has become a strength for the Mets and the envy of many other teams.
The best part is how evenly dispersed our best talent is, but that’s offset by an apparent lack of quality left-handed pitching prospects. I suspect that will be an area they focus heavily on in future drafts.
These projections do not assume things like trades which could change everything, and I rolled with the fact that R.A, Dickey was still with the team. At least, that’s the hope. Enjoy.
2013 – R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Dillon Gee
There’s a strong chance Dickey may not even be back next season, I’d say it’s 50/50 right now. But if he’s here, he will be the ace of the staff and followed by two of the Mets newest core players in Niese and Harvey. Santana and Gee will carry the backend as both are returning from injury rehabs. That’s actually a pretty good rotation, especially if they all stay healthy and pitch to their expected levels. If something were to go wrong, it will open up the door for Zack Wheeler as long as his high walk rate and command issues have been resolved. Otherwise, Jeurys Familia or Jenrry Mejia could get some starts.
2014 – R.A. Dickey, Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee
A more mature and polished Matt Harvey moves up to the number two spot in this scenario, and Zack Wheeler replaces the now departed Johan Santana. Jon Niese is still a rock in the middle of the rotation and for now looks like the only southpaw in the group. Dickey is still fronting the rotation, but a noticeable decline is setting in and the battle for who will be next season’s ace has now begun. Gee continues to maintain a grip at the backend and keeps the team in games. If something were to go wrong, Cory Mazzoni and possibly Michael Fulmer could be ready to answer the call.
2015 – Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey, Michael Fulmer
Harvey delivers his best season as a big leaguer in 2014, and becomes the Mets’ undisputed ace. Zack Wheeler is reminiscent of a young Ron Darling and still walks too many, but is making progress. Jon Niese maintains the number three spot and is one of the top left-handers in the league. Dickey is nearing the end of the line and spends some time in the bullpen, while Michael Fulmer forces his way into a permanent rotation spot and supplants Dillon Gee. If trouble lurks, Rafael Montero, Luis Mateo and Tyler Pill may all be ready by this time to help. Unfortunately they are all righthanded and the Mets are in desperate need of quality lefthanded depth.
2016 – Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Michael Fulmer, Jon Niese, Rafael Montero
Wheeler delivers on all his promise with a breakthrough season in 2015 and even gets some Cy Young consideration. Harvey is now an established top of the rotation starter and forms a lethal 1-2 punch with Wheeler. Montero passes up Niese for the number three spot and Fulmer is right behind him. Niese is holding up the rear, but still manages to toss an occasional gem when his curveball is working. If the Mets need help along the way, Hansel Robles, Tyler Pill, Rainy Lara and Luis Mateo are all solid bets for spot starts.
The odds that any of this happens is like 100:1, but it does give a good indication of how far the system has come with regard to quality depth at righthanded starting pitching. The system has potential gems at every level as far down as Low-A Brooklyn all the way to Triple-A Las Vegas. You couldn’t say this two years ago. For those of you looking for signs of progress under the Alderson era, take a good look at the Mets depth at starting pitching… It’s never been better.
I’ll be posting many more articles like this one moving forward, and if you have any questions related to the Mets Minor Leagues, please feel free to drop them here and I’ll try my best to get them all answered.