MMO Roundtable: Rotation, Bullpen, Vegas

In a classic party game, people are given three options, and putting it as nicely as we can put it, you decided which is the girl/guy you marry, who should be the one you have a fun time with, and who you should just do away with.

Given how the Mets Spring Training has transpired, the MMO writers thought it would be fun to play a version of that game with our starting pitchers.

Judging from what we know, the first four rotation spots are spoken for with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Jason Vargas. This leaves Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler not only battling it out for the last spot in the rotation, but for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Given how things are shaking out one is going to the rotation, one is going to the bullpen, and one is headed to Vegas.

So with that in mind, our writers play the game Rotation/Bullpen/Vegas:

John Azzato

Rotation: Lugo
Bullpen: Wheeler
Vegas: Matz

After having a great first season with the Mets, Lugo did have a bad year last year. However, with his solid spring so far, I think he can return to form this year. Lugo in the rotation has more to do with the fact that I believe Steven Matz needs work in Vegas, with something obviously wrong with his game right now.

Wheeler seemed upset when finding out about the Vargas signing, because it seemingly pointed to a bullpen move for him. However, if he can show he is willing to do what is asked of him to help the team, and can show his ability to pitch well, who knows what could happen. If I’m Wheeler, I’m showing I will do whatever it takes, and prove that I belong in the rotation.

Matz has been absolutely awful this Spring. Something is obviously wrong with his game, and he needs to head to Vegas to figure that out, and gain some confidence back.

Mathew Brownstein

Rotation: Wheeler
Bullpen: Lugo
Vegas: Matz

It’s tough to say who would be better suited for a given role considering all three have their strengths and weaknesses.  With that being said, Wheeler should be penciled in as the fifth starter to begin the season.  The Mets have pitching depth, barring health, and I’m intrigued with a healthy Wheeler starting the year in the rotation.  I also worry about Wheeler’s ability to pitch in back-to-back games, as he might be called upon to do out of the pen.  In the past, Wheeler has had trouble recovering fast between outings, which would hinder him some as a reliever.

As long as he can command his fastball paired with the good movement we’ve seen along with limiting the walks, Wheeler offers a ton of potential at the back-end of the rotation.

I envision Lugo as a middle inning reliever acting as a bridge to the back-end of the bullpen while giving the Mets length if needed akin to what Chad Green did for the Yankees last season.  The 28-year-old righty also has experience out of the pen (albeit limited), but his .531 OPS as a reliever as compared to his .757 OPS as a starter is hard to ignore.

Matz is an enigma. Gifted with impressive stuff from the left side, Matz’s issues stem mainly from being able to stay off the disabled list for his career. His first two Spring starts were a disaster. He pitched just 1.2 innings while allowing 10 earned runs and four walks. While he faired better in his last two starts, I think Matz would benefit from additional time in the minors, where he has an option left and can work on some things without the constant glare of the spotlight on him.

Mojo Hill

Rotation: Lugo
Bullpen: Wheeler
Vegas: Matz

Lugo has the lowest ceiling of these three, but he’s been solid enough to be trusted with a fifth starter spot for now. Wheeler’s stuff plays well in the bullpen because he throws hard and has had stamina issues as a starter. Matz has the highest ceiling in my opinion, but needs more serious fixing, and starting the year in Vegas would be a good place to do that.

Ed Leyro

Rotation: Wheeler
Bullpen: Lugo
Vegas: Matz

Wheeler has never pitched in relief and should be nowhere near a bullpen unless he learns how to pitch with more control. Wildness in late-inning pressure situations is a recipe for disaster.

Lugo would be a fantastic long man in the bullpen; a guy who can pitch two or more innings if the need arises to save the other arms in the pen. Out of his ten career relief appearances, seven have been multiple inning efforts and he’s posted a 2.20 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in those ten outings of 2+ innings.

Matz has done nothing to deserve a role in the rotation or the bullpen, and with southpaw Jason Vargas on the team, Matz doesn’t have to start for the Mets just because they need a lefty in the rotation. Of course, Vegas isn’t exactly a place where pitchers thrive, but it’s better to let Matz work things out there than continue to disappoint in New York.

Tim Ryder

Rotation: Wheeler
Bullpen: Lugo
Vegas: Matz

I don’t think we’ll see these three cemented into specific roles. If the inconsistency of Matz keeps up, he may not even have a roster spot to start the year. Between Lugo and Wheeler, I could see Mickey Callaway going with the hot hand. Both have decent stuff that would play well as starters or out of bullpen. In my opinion, Lugo could be a monster as a reliever. Luckily Callaway still has time weeks to figure it all out and these three have time to get their ducks in order, Matz especially.

Dilip Sridhar

Rotation: Lugo
Bullpen: Wheeler
Vegas: Matz

I thought about this but I think Matz hasn’t fully built back his strength from last season. I still believe in him as a starter which is why I think keeping him stretched out is good. He has velocity but it looks like he has some mechanical issues to work through.

Wheeler in the bullpen is more of him being a real weapon in the bullpen as opposed to an average No. 5. Put this another way, Archie Bradley in the bullpen (who did not have Wheeler’s stuff as a starter) posted a 278 ERA+ in the bullpen over 73 innings. That got him a 3.7 bWAR. That’s a very similar WAR to Jason Vargas, who posted a 108 ERA+ in 179.2 innings. The point being, there’s two ways to achieve value, pitching high quality innings, or pitch a lot of innings at an okay level. Given his injury history, I think the former is far more likely for Wheeler.

By process of elimination, welcome to the rotation Seth Lugo. Lugo has had a good spring while facing quality opponents (per baseball reference). The perks of having Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, Matz, and Lugo, is that none of them will get too comfortable.

John Sheridan

Rotation: Matz
Bullpen: Lugo
Vegas: Wheeler

Look, the narrative has been Wheeler has had a much better Spring than Matz, but in reality, Wheeler has not had a good Spring. More to the point, Wheeler has not shown himself to be anything more than a back of the rotation starter. Given his stuff, and with how Dave Eiland has managed similar pitchers in the past, Wheeler probably belongs in the bullpen in the long-term.

With that said, Wheeler has little to no bullpen experience. As a result, it may very well be to his benefit to spend a short stint in Triple-A adapting to a relief role.

With respect to Lugo, he is perfectly suited to the bullpen. In short spurts, he can ramp up his fastball to the mid-90s, and he has a devastating curve. It’s part of the reason why he is able to get batters out the first two times through the order. Ideally, Lugo in the bullpen would be a real weapon for Callaway.

As for Matz, it was not too long ago this guy was well considered one of the five aces on this team. When healthy, which is admittedly a small sample size, Matz has been terrific in the rotation. Really, he has had more success in the rotation than either Lugo or Wheeler. As a result, the Mets should continue to work out the kinks and set him up as the fifth starter in the rotation.

Overall, our writers overwhelming support putting Matz in Vegas to start the season to allow him to figure things out. Do you agree with our writers? Who would you start, reliever, or demote? We look forward to continuing this discussion in the comments section.

About John Sheridan 575 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.