New Mets’ general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, will have the tall task of getting New York back into contention in 2019.
How might he do this? He has said that he would like to add several bullpen pieces, a catcher and another bat or two. Those are indeed pressing needs for the Mets, but another area of need that should not be overlooked is the rotation.
The Mets are slated to have incumbents Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and likely Jason Vargas as their five starters going into the campaign. It makes sense, and if those players can remain healthy and effective, New York is in tremendous shape.
However, it’s not that simple. While Jacob deGrom has proven to be a workhorse, it hasn’t been that way for Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz.
Wheeler had a terrific season for New York, and even pitched slightly better than deGrom in the second half, but his injury history has been well documented. He missed all of 2015 and 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and missed half of 2017 due to a couple different injuries.
If Wheeler can replicate what he did in 2018, it’d be marvelous for the Mets, but it shouldn’t be a guarantee. The same goes for Syndergaard who missed nearly all of 2017, and spent time on the disabled list multiple times in 2018, as well as Matz who has battled injury throughout his career.
The Mets are not really in a position to cope with injury currently. If someone gets hurt, they could turn to Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to fill a rotation spot, but the pair have thrived in the bullpen and it might be detrimental to remove them from their roles.
This year’s free agent class doesn’t have extremely sexy names on the starting rotation front, but there are a couple guys who would lengthen New York’s rotation and give them more wiggle room in case of an injury.
One in particular is Patrick Corbin, who would help solidify New York’s rotation as one of the best in the bigs.
The southpaw went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 1.050 WHIP and 11.1 K/9 in 2018 over 33 starts. The 29-year-old took awhile to bounce back from Tommy John surgery, but like Wheeler, has found his groove once and for all.
Other than Corbin, there are a few other names New York could consider: J.A. Happ, Clay Buchholz, Nathan Eovaldi, Dallas Keuchel, Wade Miley and Charlie Morton are guys who could be of benefit to the Mets.
I think Van Wagenen is on the right track by wanting to bolster the bullpen as well as several positions around the infield, but bringing in a guy like Corbin or a couple lesser names to compete for a rotation spot and give the team some depth would also prove to be important in the long run.