In the last quarter of the season, Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese will have to make their case for being in the starting rotation next season. We have talked about the top-flight pitching prospects for the New York Mets ad nauseam this season, and they can’t stay in the minor leagues forever. That’s why these last handful of starts for Gee and Niese are essentially a tryout for next season.
The Mets need to go all-out for the playoffs in 2015. After years of empty promises, they finally have the horses to make a run for it, but will Niese and Gee be there? Think about it. Matt Harvey should be at full health to start the season, Zack Wheeler is turning into an ace, and Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon won’t be going anywhere. Plus, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero could very well start the season next season on the big league roster. That’s too many pitchers for a team to carry.
The Mets may make a big trade this offseason, packaging one or two of these pitchers together, but who really knows with Sandy Alderson and the front office? One thing is for sure, while pitching depth is great to have, having too many could handicap the team and disrupt the development of their young pitchers.
Niese may be the most expendable of the two, though. For awhile, he was the only left-handed option in the Mets’ system, but that was before the emergence of Steven Matz. Matz has been a bit of a surprise for the Mets, but he has been quickly climbing through the farm system, and he may be the most important of the Mets’ pitching prospects, strictly because he is a left-handed power pitcher.
You know what you’re going to get out of Niese. He’s never going to overpower hitters because he is a finesse pitcher. He can have some days where he dominates hitters, especially when he has his curveball working, but those are few and far between. He has given up multiple earned runs in each of his last 10 starts. Guys like Montero, Syndergaard, Matz and deGrom have the ability to shut down entire lineups for multiple starts in a row because they are power pitchers, as opposed to Niese and Gee.
Gee, on the other hand, is a little more interesting of a case. For a long period this season, he was the Mets’ best pitcher, but he has really struggled in his past eight starts. This has been a reoccurring theme with Gee as a member of the Mets, so it should be interesting to see how he adjusts down the stretch with a roster spot potentially on the line.
With the playoffs out of reach and the season winding down, these last 46 games should be treated as a tryout to make next year’s team, especially when it comes to the pitching staff.