The New York Mets have one of the best, if not the best, farm systems when it comes to pitching. There is so much depth coming up the pipeline that picking five pitchers who will most likely be in the rotation come 2016 is incredibly difficult. However, I’m sure every big league team would love to have that problem.
No matter how excited organizations and their fans get about particular prospects, it is a certainty that not all of them will pan out. Some succumb to injury and some fail to live up to the hype. The phrase “You can never have enough pitching” is as true as everyone says it is.
With that being said, the Mets are in a very good position in regards to their pitching depth. They have a plethora of young pitching prospects who project to be mid to back-end types. Now, that doesn’t sound too exciting on paper but when you have to shell out $20 million for two years of Bartolo Colon and $23.5 million for two seasons of Bronson Arroyo, those affordable options become much more attractive. Not only does it allow the front office to allocate funds to other weaknesses, but the excess of pitching prospects the Mets have can also be used to pad trade packages around higher touted prospects or major league pieces.
I’ll offer my prediction for the 2016 rotation at the end of the article but let’s first start off by taking a look at the possible candidates.
Harvey is probably the biggest lock to be in the 2016 rotation. Assuming his rehabilitation goes smoothly and he returns to his previous form by 2016, he’s not going anywhere. He’s a homegrown talent and the best pitcher the Mets have had in several years. Tommy John is a major surgery, but given the recent success rate, I think it’s fair to believe that Harvey will return just as good as he ever was. When he returns for the 2015 season, it’s probably not reasonable to expect him to return to his dominant form right away but a full season is more than enough time to get used to pitching again so it’s fair to expect The Dark Knight to wreak havoc in Gotham by ’16. Therefore, my projection for him is the clear-cut ace of the 2016 staff.
Although I’m not 100% sure of this, I believe Sandy Alderson has stated that Wheeler is one of the “untouchables” on the current Mets roster. Now, a lot can change between now and 2016 but I’m going to hold Sandy true to his words. Wheeler has electric stuff and the potential to be Harvey-esque once he’s able to command his pitches with authority. His fastball is already plus and I think his curveball will eventually reach those heights as well. The only problem I saw with Wheeler last season was, of course, his control. I do believe that will significantly improve as he gains experience but I just don’t ever see him as a plus pitcher in that department. I think he’s still in the Mets rotation by 2016, behind Matt Harvey. It will be a very exciting competition between Wheeler and Syndergaard to see who is the number 2 starter by then.
Jon Niese can certainly be considered a trade candidate by 2016. There were whispers that he could be traded this offseason but they never turned into full fledged rumors. He has a very team friendly contract that runs through 2016 and gives him a team option for 2017 and 2018. I do not think it is in the best interest of the Mets to trade Niese, however. As of right now, he’s the only lefty in the rotation for the foreseeable future unless the Mets sign one, of course. When healthy, he’s proven that he’s capable of pitching in the middle of the rotation, at times looking like a number 2 starter. I fully expect the Mets to compete by 2016, so I see Niese as more of a candidate to build around than anything else.
What Mets fan doesn’t love Dillon Gee? He doesn’t have the greatest stuff but he knows how to make the best of it. He started off shaky last season, perhaps due to recovering from the artery repair surgery in his right arm. Facing a demotion, he put it together in a big way and never looked back. He’s a great clubhouse guy as well and his teammates seem to love him. The only way I see the Mets letting him go is if they don’t want to pay for him. By 2016, he’ll be a veteran and a mentor to the younger arms coming up the pipeline. The Mets probably wouldn’t get much if they offered him up in a trade so I fully expect him to be in the Mets rotation in 2016, especially if he puts together a couple more seasons where he throws 200 innings.
It is far too risky to project Mejia to be in the Mets rotation in 2016. It’s even too risky to project him as the number 5 starter this season given his injury struggles. He has top of the rotation stuff but that obviously doesn’t matter if he can’t find the mound. However, I think Mejia will definitely stay healthy enough to be a successful major leaguer. I’m a little less confident he can have a full career as a starter but I do have faith. Predicting whether he’s in the rotation, bullpen, or on another team by 2016 is just too difficult. He’ll be an exciting guy to watch this year nonetheless.
Although Noah Syndergaard has the higher ceiling without question, Montero is probably more major league ready. If an injury befalls the Mets rotation early, there’s a possibility Montero could be in line for a promotion but it might be more likely that John Lannan or Daisuke Matsuzaka gets the nod. Montero has the stuff to pitch in the middle of a rotation and if he’s big league ready, he should get an opportunity as soon as possible. If he gets a shot to prove his worth this season and lives up to the hype, I honestly think he won’t be on the Mets in 2016. The way I see it, the Mets have to use some of their pitching to acquire an impact bat next offseason. When Matt Harvey returns, they’ll be in a good position to do so and I think Montero might be one such candidate to bolster a trade package.
Like Wheeler, Thor is another presumed “untouchable.” Acquired from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey deal last offseason, Syndergaard quickly rose to power after there were doubts he’d stick as a starter. Now the third best RHP prospect in the game according to MLB.com, Syndergaard is set to make his debut this upcoming season. Don’t expect him to be up anytime before June as the Mets will most likely have him on the same path as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. There is a very good chance that he is in the Mets 2016 rotation, but while I hope it doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be too surprised if he, Montero or Wheeler is headlining a deal next offseason. If the Mets want to attain significant offensive talent, it would be very hard to do so without giving up some talent. Whether they pull the trigger or not is a different story but for now, I’m going to guess they’ll both be in the rotation by 2016.
He’ll likely start the season in AAA where he’ll look to refine his control. deGrom has the stuff to pitch in the rotation but if his command does not improve he might be a bullpen candidate. He’s also fair game for a trade package as anyone the Mets have. I think the Mets hold him in a higher regard than most teams so something tells me he’ll be on the Mets in 2016, whether it’s in the bullpen or the starting rotation, it’s still tough to project.
My 2016 rotation prediction:
- Matt Harvey
- Zack Wheeler
- Noah Syndergaard
- Jon Niese
- Dillon Gee