Who should be the Mets Opening Day starter?
It’s safe to say that even if the Mets were to acquire another arm for the rotation, that he would most certainly be a backend option at best and not even in this conversation.
Safe to say that our Opening Day starter will come down to Dillon Gee, Jon Niese (last year’s OD starter), Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon. In my opinion, and even with spring training still about six weeks away, Colon was clearly the favorite. But in a recent mailbag post for Mets.com, Anthony DiComo brought up a good point about that.
“Bartolo Colon is clearly the most accomplished veteran on the club, and he is coming off the best season of any healthy starter on staff. But he is new to the clubhouse, and given his recent track record, is not a clear No. 1. Might it irk the homegrown candidates to see an outsider come in and steal their thunder?”
If you wanted to pick someone on merit alone, Gee is arguably the best choice, but DiComo can’t imagine the team picking him over Colon or Niese. He concludes that Niese will get the nod for the second consecutive time.
Gee led the team with 12 wins last season and pitched injury-free making 32 starts and posting a 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. While his 6.7 strikeout rate won’t turn any heads, this control artist pairs that with a 2.1 walk rate giving him a 3.0 K/BB – second only to Matt Harvey on the team. But that’s not all.
After the All Star break, Gee posted a 2.74 ERA in 13 starts which ranked third in the NL. His 1.08 WHIP and 3.55 K/BB also saw significant gains. In short, Gee ended the season among the top ten pitchers in the league.
Niese, on the other hand, regressed. You may not be able to tell that from his 3.71 ERA alone, but his 1.44 WHIP was a career worst as was his 6.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. His entire season was trending downward, but in the plus column, the Mets’ southpaw did post a much better second half. In four August starts he won three games and posted a 1.94 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, while striking out 28 in 28.0 innings pitched. However, he followed that up with an uneven September, making six starts and posting a 3.79 ERA with 1.45 WHIP. Niese continues to be evry inconsistent, but still effective overall.
Nobody has ever mistaken Dillon Gee for a top of the rotation starter. But given all that he has done so far in his career with the Mets, he should get the Opening Day start as recognition for what has been a job well done. At least that’s the way I see it.