5 Candidates For New York Mets’ 5th Starting Rotation Spot
Mets 5th Starter: 5 candidates who could fill the spot
With Matt Harvey slated to miss the 2014 season, there is currently an open spot in the New York Mets rotation behind the likes of Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee.
Although none of the prospective candidates is expected to come close to replacing Harvey's production, the Mets do have an interesting collection of arms with which to choose from. The options include an oft-injured former top prospect, a couple of minor leaguers and two journeyman veterans.
In order for the Mets to keep their heads above water this season, they are going to need to rely on their rotation to keep games competitive. Even if the pitcher who starts the season as the fifth starter is just serving as an inevitable bridge to top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who figures to be up in June or July, the Mets are going to need all the help they can get from the back of the rotation.
With that in mind, here are five pitchers who will be engaging in what should be an interesting battle for the final rotation spot over Spring Training. Will the guy wil the most obvious inside track get the nod, or will it be an underdog who surprises? Read on to find out.
5. Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom is the biggest longshot of the bunch to land the fifth starter spot out of Spring Training, as he'd likely need some combination of a lights out spring performance coupled with a few injuries in front of him. He started out the 2013 season pitching for St. Lucie in high-A ball, but he experienced a meteoric rise that saw him pitch the last half of his season at triple-A Las Vegas. Although he's not a flamethrower and doesn't strike people out with all that much frequency, deGrom has been able to get by on deception, guile and, prior to his foray into double- and triple-A, hitting his spots.
4. John Lannan
John Lannan, a native of Long Beach, New York, is looking to earn a spot with his hometown team and rebuild his worth after he bombed last season in Philadelphia. He is the embodiment of "pitching to contact" as he rarely strikes people out. He'll likely provide major league-caliber depth for the Mets in triple-A Las Vegas, unless he makes the team out of Spring Training or requests his outright release.
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Although he was lit up in his first three starts back in the big leagues, Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched very well in his final four starts, allowing only four runs on 13 hits in 26.1 innings. As small a sample size as it was, the Mets saw enough progress from "Dice-K" to tender him another minor league contract for the 2014 season. I'd put Matsuzaka's chances at nabbing the fifth spot at 30 percent, as he'd likely need an incredible showing in spring to elevate him past the incumbents. Even if he does make the team, with other options available this season, his leash is going to be very short.
2. Rafael Montero
Montero also appeared in last year's Futures Game at Citi Field, giving Mets fans a glimpse of what the future could look like. Although he doesn't throw nearly as hard as top prospect Noah Syndergaard, his control is pinpoint accurate. Montero has made his bread and butter by keeping the ball in the park. Even in homer-happy Las Vegas, he only yielded a 0.4 HR/9. Montero split the 2013 season between double- and triple-A, but one way or another, it's almost a guarantee that we'll see him toeing the rubber at Citi Field sometime this summer.
1. Jenrry Mejia
Once a heralded Mets prospect, Jenrry Mejia experienced arm trouble which sidelined him for over a year. Even when he returned, the consistency didn't and Mejia's once bright star appeared faded. HE fashioned a 2.30 ERA in five starts last season, not allowing more than three runs to any team he faced. Even though it was only a five game sample, it put Mejia's name back on the radar of both Mets evaluators and fans alike. If Mejia is healthy, he'll definitely have some role on this team; in all likelihood, the fifth starter job is his to lose.
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