With Steven Matz suffering a flexor tendon strain and Seth Lugo suffering a partially torn UCL, the Mets deep pitching staff is suddenly no more. Teams rarely if ever go through a season using just five starters, so this is very concerning. Even assuming good health, it is impractical to think the Mets will be that team especially with Zack Wheeler being limited to around 125 innings this season. With that in mind, the Mets are likely going to have to go deeper into the pitching ranks at some point this season. Here are the current Mets internal options on that front:
RHP Rafael Montero
2016 Stats: 0-1, 8.05 ERA, 9 G, 3 GS, 19.0 IP, 2.053 WHIP, 9.5 K/9
It’s amazing how the Mets keep getting back to the point where they are going to have to rely on Montero to contribute in some fashion. Frankly, its more amazing that he’s still a Met after failing to capitalize on all the opportunities he’s been given. The talent is there, and it has been tantalizing. However, he hasn’t trusted it in the big leagues leading to him walking batters and giving up hits.
He seemed better during Spring Training, actually winning a spot on the Opening Day roster. We’ve been fooled before, but maybe this is a new Montero. Whether we like it or not, we may soon find out.
LHP Sean Gilmartin
2016 Stats: 0-1, 7.13 ERA, 14 G, GS, 17.2 IP, 1.585 WHIP, 5.6 K/9
When the Mets needed to make a roster move to help make room for Jerry Blevins on the 40 man roster, Gilmartin and Montero were eyed as potential cuts due to their struggles last season. With the Mets finding a taker for Gabriel Ynoa, Gilmartin got another chance. It’s also another chance to find out what he is exactly. In 2015, he was good as the long man out of the bullpen.
In 2016, Gilmartin jumped out of the gate great in Las Vegas going 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in April. From there, the Mets messed with his arm a bit. On multiple occasions, he was put on the red eye and asked to make a relief appearance with less than full rest after a start. Eventually, he had shoulder issues, and his season fell apart. We will see if the Mets are more judicious in their use of him this year. We may also find out which version of Gilmartin is the real version.
LHP Tom Gorzelanny
2016 Stats: 1-0, 21.00 ERA, 7 G, 3.0 IP, 3.000 WHIP, 12.0 K/9
It has been six years since Gorzelanny has been a part of a Major League rotation. As a starter, Gorzelanny is 37-47 with a 4.62 ERA, 1.474 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/9 in his 121 starts. Even worse, when Gorzelanny starts, batters hit .272/.345/.431 off him. Realistically speaking, he was brought in to compete for a job as a left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. He lost that competition, and he should be nowhere near the Major League rotation.
LHP Adam Wilk
2016 MiLB Stats: 2-8, 3.61 ERA, 15 G, 15 GS, 87.1 IP, 1.122 WHIP, 5.77 K/9
The 29 year-old left-handed pitcher has thrown a total of 26.1 Major League innings in his professional career. The Mets invited him to Spring Training on the off chance that he could show some ability as a LOOGY out of the bullpen. More realistically speaking, Wilk was brought in as organizational depth as the Mets needed some arms to fill out their Triple-A rotation.
RHP Ricky Knapp
2016 MiLB Stats: 13-6, 2.69 ERA, 25 G, 24 GS, 163.2 IP, 1.143 WHIP, 6.3 K/9
MMN‘s 32nd ranked prospect is coming off a breakout year in the Mets farm system. The son of a coach has terrific and repeatable mechanics, and he knows how to pitch. Knapp is a true four-pitch pitcher with no true plus pitch and his fastball sits at 88-92 MPH. He typically pitches to contact, and he keeps the ball on the ground. Knapp threw the most complete games out of anyone in the Mets organization last year. Pitchers like him typically struggle in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be looked upon as a contributor in 2017.
RHP Chris Flexen
2016 MiLB Stats: 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 25 G, 25 GS, 134.0 IP, 1.313 WHIP, 6.4 K/9
MMN’s 20th ranked prospect was added to the 40-man roster this past offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He is a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, and he started to get stronger in the second half of last season. Flexen was sitting in the mid 90s with the ability to ramp up his fastball into the high 90s.
He has a promising curveball with a sharp late bite but needs to refine both his mechanics and his change-up. It is not likely Flexen has the same Double-A to the Majors path Robert Gsellman had last year as Flexen isn’t as polished, doesn’t have as good of stuff, and is coming off knee surgery to remove a bone chip from his knee.
Other names that will certainly be asked about but ultimately will be non-factors in the Mets rotation this year are Marcos Molina and Justin Dunn. This is Molina’s first full season since Tommy John surgery, and it is not likely the Mets will push him from St. Lucie all the way to the majors. With Dunn, he does not have the same injury concerns, but again, it is unlikely the Mets push him to the Major League rotation from his first year in the full season minor leagues.
Ultimately, when the time does arise that the Mets need a starter, it appears Montero will likely get the first shot with Gilmartin after him. Beyond that, the Mets will likely need to begin to make 40-man moves to either bring a Knapp onto the Major league roster, or add a veteran starter like Jake Peavy, who is still a free agent.
This is not the situation everyone thought the Mets would be in entering the season, but it is the one the Mets will likely be in at some point. The Mets just need to hope someone emerges for them like Gsellman and Lugo did last year.