By pitching an absolute gem in his second to last spring training start, Daisuke Matsuzaka has all but guaranteed himself a spot in the New York Mets‘ starting rotation at the start of the year. The Mets have to make a decision about Matsuzaka’s future on Tuesday, and there’s little doubt that after his performance he should be included on the team’s opening day roster.
Matsuzaka threw six shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals before hitting a batter to lead off the seventh inning and being charged with a run. He’s been up and down during spring training, but Matsuzaka was impressive against the Cardinals, showing that he can still be an effective pitcher and give the Mets some quality innings from the fifth spot in the rotation.
The fifth starter competition has been whittled down to a two-horse race between Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia, who had an impressive outing on Sunday and will get one more start before the Mets make their final roster decisions. But the Mets still have questions about Mejia’s readiness for the rigors of being a big league starter, and they know that at some point this season they’ll have to limit Mejia’s innings, which means they may need to hold off on putting Mejia in the rotation at the start of the season.
With questions about Mejia and Matsuzaka pitching so well on Monday, there should be no doubt that Matsuzaka should be the fifth starter. Mejia would be better served going to the minors right now while Matsuzaka fills out the rotation until he proves otherwise. Matsuzaka isn’t a long-term answer in the Mets’ rotation, but he’s the safe choice and the right choice to start the season; he proved that on Monday with his impressive start.