The Mets, over the course of the spring, were starting to have some obvious choices for roster spots. However, we all probably feared that the Mets would make decisions based largely on potential and the ability to retain certain players.
When the team, instead, decided to send Hansel Robles and Zack Wheeler to the minors, it became clear that Mickey Callaway’s and Sandy Alderson’s intentions were to honor their pledge to put the best 25 players on the field.
Robles and Wheeler both struggled mightily throughout camp as the former allowed 12 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings while the latter allowed nine earned runs in only ten innings of work.
Rhame recorded ten strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings this spring. While he struggled at points and ended up with a 5.06 ERA for the spring, he looked much better than Robles did for much of the spring and showed some promising bullpen potential.
Gsellman was solid during the spring as well as he pitched 13 innings while only having a 3.46 ERA and striking out six. The right-hander will get his first chance to start the season as a reliever, which could be beneficial for a pitcher with a nice fastball/sinker combination.
Lugo, meanwhile, was the most deserving of a roster spot and the fifth spot in the rotation while Jason Vargas recovers from surgery.
The 28-year old had a 2.87 ERA while striking out 17 in 15 2/3 innings.
Once Vargas returns, Lugo will likely shift to the bullpen, but for now, he was clearly the most deserving option for the spot and it wasn’t really even that close.
While I think everyone was rooting to see the “Fab Five” go through the rotation order, it was not meant to be in this situation as Wheeler could not do his part to earn the roster spot.
So, why is this actually important?
Well, this a complete tone shift and a message to the players. If you want to play for us, you have to go out there and earn it.
The players will not just be able to sit on their past successes (Robles) and potential (Wheeler). The players need to actually go out there and EARN the job.
“If we have Zack Wheeler on this team and he pitches to his capabilities he’s able to pitch to, we’re a better team but until he does that he’s not going to be here. He knows what he needs to do and we want him here but now it’s time for him to do his part.”
It’s a clear and direct shot to Wheeler: you have to pitch well to stay here.
That is a sentiment that sometimes gets overlooked in sports and some players get to keep their jobs and have long leashes that they have not necessarily done anything to deserve.
Well, the days of the Mets doing that appear to have come to a close. The statement has been made: decisions will be based on merit. Now it’s up to the players to prove their abilities on the field.