Not too long ago, the New York Mets had a six-man starting rotation, but after planning to use a six-man rotation through the end of the season in order to curb pitch counts for Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, the Mets now have to change plans. The Mets lost Jeremy Hefner to an elbow injury more than a week ago, and after losing Jenrry Mejia last night against the San Diego Padres, their rotation is wearing thin with more than a month left to play in the season.
Hefner was one of the top pitchers in MLB in June and the early part of July, but he struggled mightily in his five starts since the All-Star break, and eventually an elbow injury he had been dealing with for most of the season became too much. Hefner appears unlikely to return this season, as he could be headed for Tommy John surgery, although there is a chance he could make it back.
As for Mejia, there was a lot of excitement when he finally returned to the big leagues this season, especially after he had such a promising season debut. Even after recovering from Tommy John surgery, Mejia continued to deal with elbow pain, but was determined to pitch through the pain, which could actually benefit him in the long run. Unfortunately, last night Mejia’s pain became too much to bear, and he was forced to leave, putting into question whether he’ll be able to pitch again this season.
The Mets would have been able to survive without Hefner, but now that Mejia may be on the shelf for the rest of the season, they could be in big trouble. The Mets are serious about curbing the innings count of Wheeler and Harvey, and they should be since they’re not a competing team this season, but that will be tough to do if they don’t have enough pitchers to fill the innings for the rest of the season. Many of the Mets top pitching prospects like Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom are in the same boat, and may not be viable options to replace Hefner and Mejia.
For now, the Mets should add Carlos Torres to the rotation just to fill out the fifth spot, but that will hurt a bullpen that’s already wearing thin. With more than a month left in the season, the Mets may have great difficulty just finding enough pitchers to last the remainder of the season.