The New York Mets rotation suffered a huge blow this week when it lost its ace, Johan Santana, for the season after he re-injured his pitching shoulder. Santana was already going to start the season on the disabled list and expectations were not sky-high as he entered the final year of his contract, but losing your ace a week before Opening Day is never easy. The team will move forward with the rest of their rotation, which is still a strong point for the team.
The biggest factor in New York’s rotation is Opening Day starter Jonathan Niese, who at 26 years old could be headed for a breakout season. Niese has proven that he can be a legitimate starter in the MLB as the lefty went 13-9 last season with a 3.40 ERA. But can he be the ace of a rotation? That’s a different question. Niese has been superb this spring and this rotation will go as far as he takes them.
Shaun Marcum was suppose to be the number two starter behind Niese, but will miss his first start rehabbing an injury. Marcum has had five straight winning seasons as a starter, and if healthy will provide some veteran leadership to a young rotation.
After that, Dillion Gee, Jeremy Hefner and Matt Harvey fill out the squad as the back end of the rotation. Gee was on fire during his rookie season, but has been inconsistent ever since. Hefner originally was stopgap in the rotation until Santana came back but will now has the spot for the foreseeable future. He has struggled in the majors last season with a 5.09 ERA, but has had a solid spring training. Matt Harvey, who was brought up to the MLB as a top prospect late last season has impressed this spring with a 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts.
Harvey has the stuff to be an ace, but still might be a year or two away from becoming one. If Marcum only misses one start as he is suppose to the team will have three legitimate starters in him, Harvey and Niese with an average back end of the rotation. Although the rotation should be solid, the focus might be more on pitcher who is not on the MLB roster in top prospect Zack Wheeler, as he will likely make his anticipated debut at some point this season.