On Opening Day, the Mets will enter the season with one of the best five-man starting rotations in all of MLB. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler were three of the best pitchers in all of baseball last season while Steven Matz made significant improvement and Jason Vargas had a very solid second half of the season despite an ugly first half.
However, the team would be making a critical mistake if they were to settle on that without adding any depth for the rotation whatsoever. Syndergaard, 25, missed over a month last season and missed multiple months in 2017 making him hard to bank on for an entire season.
Wheeler, 29, has been injury-plagued for the majority of his career as well. The first missed both the 2015 and 2016 seasons recovering from Tommy John Surgery and then got hurt in the middle of the year in 2017 as a result of complications from the surgery. While he threw 182 1/3 innings in 2018, the team should not bank on his health given his track record.
Matz, 27, might be the least reliable of the five starters as he has never tossed more than 154 innings in the season, missing time every season so far. While last year was his most durable season, it is still far from what the team would prefer and the team almost has to be ready for his eventual injury in 2019, even if it is not severe.
Vargas, 35, has been healthy for the majority of his career, but has suffered some injuries in the last few years. In 2016, he had Tommy John Surgery and last year he only made 20 starts as he broke a bone in his right hand during Spring Training and then dealt with a calf injury during the season.
DeGrom, 30, is likely the healthiest of the bunch as he has tossed over 200 innings each of the last two seasons. However, he has had Tommy John Surgery as well, when he was a minor leaguer in 2010.
The first guy mentioned is probably their best option currently given the fact he made 17 appearances (12 starts) for the team last season and has the lowest career ERA of the group 5.85, which is still pretty dreadful.
Lee, meanwhile, has an 8.53 career ERA split between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. While he was once a top prospect in the Dodgers farm system, he has been unable to take that potential and turn it into results at the major league level.
Flexen, 24, is someone the Mets arguably rushed to the big leagues as he has been pretty dreadful since he was called up in 2017 as he has a 3-8 record to go along with a 8.45 ERA, 2.15 WHIP, and 7.26 FIP in 18 MLB appearances (10 starts). While he has reportedly shed over 30 pounds this offseason, the team would be wise to not rely on that in 2019.
Seth Lugo will help a little and could move back to the rotation in a pinch, but he has been so effective as a reliever that it would possibly be counterproductive to do that.
The team probably won’t invest too heavily on a starter if they were to sign one, but names like Hector Santiago, Wade Miley, Clay Buchholz, and Drew Pomeranz are certainly feasible to fit in the budget. If not then the team should at least sign some more starters to minor league deals.