The narrative is simple enough: When healthy, the Mets’ starting rotation is one of the best in baseball. Even after losing Bartolo Colon to the Braves, the Amazin’s boast an explosive set of flamethrowers. But after a year filled with injuries in the rotation, the team’s sixth and seventh options are more crucial than ever.
Noah Syndergaard will play the role of ace this year for seventh-year Mets manager Terry Collins after an electrifying 2016. The man they call Thor avoided major injury last season, finishing with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts over 183 2/3 innings. He added 17 pounds to his frame this spring and is hurling fastballs over 100 mph with ease. If his arm holds up, expect a Cy Young-level performance from the righty.
But concerns surround the rest of New York’s talented arms. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz all spent time on the disabled in 2016. DeGrom looks fully recovered as Opening Day approaches, but Matz is dealing with elbow inflammation in his throwing arm. Continued struggles will put Matz in danger of losing his spot in the rotation permanently.
Plenty of eyes are on Harvey as he recovers from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. After averaging a mid-90s fastball last year, the Dark Knight may have to find new ways to get hitters out as he continues his recovery. But the 28-year-old looked fine last Sunday, painting corners with consistent velocity.
Zack Wheeler earned the fourth spot in the Mets’ rotation Thursday. The lefty, who hasn’t pitched since 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, seemed to finally put months of rehab behind him as he flashed his powerful fastball with improved command in his start Monday.
With Matz out for the first three weeks of the season, the fifth spot in the rotation will go to Robert Gsellman. The 23-year-old righty earned the spot after posting a 2.31 ERA this spring. Seth Lugo will begin the year in the bullpen, ready to spot start when needed.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia was suspended 15 games Wednesday for violating baseball’s policy on domestic violence. To fill the void left by the 2016 NL saves leader, setup man Addison Reed will temporarily move up an inning.
Behind them, a formidable bullpen that includes Hansel Robles and lefty specialist Jerry Blevins will be tasked with getting through the latter stages of the game. Even Rafael Montero showed signs of his potential this spring after endless struggles.
It might be tough, but the pen should be able to survive for a few weeks without Familia’s fastball and sinker.