The Mets were coming fresh off their first season featuring a 20-game winner since the 1990, and the rumors were heating up that their Cy Young award winning pitcher, R.A. Dickey, would be on the move. The next logical discussion involved who would step up and be the ace of the staff in 2013.
Many had already penciled Johan Santana into the role, while others had Jon Niese pegged as the future ace.
Dickey played Santa Claus later that year at the Mets’ annual Christmas party, and well, the rest is history.
Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote here on MMO back on November 30, 2012:
Now the question becomes if they trade Dickey, who becomes the ace of the staff in his absence?
The Mets really only have one option. And no, it’s not Johan Santana.
The ace of the staff immediately becomes Matt Harvey.
Santana just does not have what it takes to be the ace of the staff anymore. He pitched admirably in 2012, but he’s probably a number two or three starter at this point in his career. On the other hand, Harvey has electric stuff, and has shown to have the potential to be the ace of the staff. Based on what he displayed during his 2012 call-up, you would have to believe this kid would rise to the occasion.
Sure, everyone would like to give Harvey two or three years to develop into the ace of the staff, but if this kid is going to be remembered as one of the great Mets pitchers, he should have no problem adjusting and striving in his new role with the team.
Oddly enough, the Mets find themselves in a similar situation as they did before the 2013 season. After losing Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery for the entire 2014 season, the Mets are looking for an ace of the staff once again. With previous history of predicting future aces correctly, I decided to take a stab at who will be the ace of the Mets’ staff in 2014.
While Zack Wheeler has the stuff of a budding ace, he lacks the polish and command to take on the role heading into spring training. Wheeler’s fastball has the type of movement that will be sending a ton of bats to the wood chipper, his curve ball could strike out Jesus Christ, and he also throws a slider and change. With a four pitch arsenal as wicked as Wheeler’s, I could see see him evolving into the ace role as the season progresses.
Dillon Gee just doesn’t have what it takes to lead the staff. The ace of the staff is supposed to be that go-to guy that gives you the confidence that you can go out and win any game while they’re out on the hill or will put an end to a losing streak (if the team is on one). Gee is a nice pitcher, but he is a back of the rotation guy.
As Joe D. pointed out just a couple of days ago: Niese 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 very inconsistent, but still effective overall.
That leaves one logical choice for the ace headed into 2014—Bartolo Colon. He is coming off the best season of any starter on the staff, has been an ace in the past, and can be the guy the Mets turn to every time he’s on the hill and confidently expect having a good chance of winning the ball game.
While Anthony Dicomo, of MLB.com, recently questioned that by naming Colon the starter, “might it irk the homegrown candidates to see an outsider come in and steal their thunder?” I ask, what thunder? What have any of these guys done that would have them think they earned the right to be the ace of the staff? If anything, naming Colon the ace shouldn’t irk them, it should motivate them to play and pitch better after being passed up by a 40 year-old for the job.
Another reason to have Colon as the ace of the staff would be to build his trade value in case Sandy Alderson decides the team is selling before the trade deadline. By that point, hopefully one of the “irked” pitchers on the staff would have performed at a level that would allow them to be slotted in as the new ace of the staff. When, and if that happens, my money is on Wheeler.