The Mets got absolutely shellacked today by the score of 13-2 against the Marlins. No big deal, right? Just spring training. Sure, you’d like to see better results, but whatever, see that sun? Oh man, it’s nice to have baseball back.
Except that it got me thinking. Every single article written concerning the Mets’ 2015 season basically has the same theme: the pitching will be great, but they’ve got to find a way to produce runs. And, yes, in theory and on paper that seems to be pretty straightforward.
But what if the pitching staff isn’t what we think it is?
The Mets don’t have a Kershaw or a Wainwright or hell, even a 1992 David Cone. What they do have is a helluva lot of paper potential, projections and, finally, question marks. Lots and lots of question marks.
Every single Mets fan, blog, paper, etc. has basically christened the team’s rotation depth as the greatest thing since the Orioles had four 20 game winners in 1971, but once you scrape away the hype and hope (oh, all the hope…) you see there’s very real potential for this season to turn into a disaster quickly. Looking up and down the rotation, there’s no sure things, no track records of success, nothing you can point at and say, “That guy there is a lock for 16 wins.”
And that is troublesome. That makes me worry. This whole team is built around the idea that the starting pitching is going to blow people away and if the lineup can just scratch across a few runs, we’ll win a lot of ballgames. If the pitching isn’t what we think it is or what we need it to be, this season becomes a catastrophe in a hurry.
Take a quick look at the Mets top six. We’re all expecting Dillon Gee (barring a trade) to start the season in the bullpen, but factor him in right now for the sake of argument:
Matt Harvey: 12 Career Wins. Missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery. Will have limits on pitches/innings
Zack Wheeler: 18 Career Wins, 3.50 career ERA. Drives very high pitch counts limiting his innings and ability to go deep into games.
Jacob deGrom: 22 Career starts. This is splitting hairs, I know, but still need to see him follow up his fantastic rookie campaign.
Jon Niese: Career ERA of 3.87, propensity for injury. Perpetually on verge of taking that next step until he just stays in the same place.
Bartolo Colon: Will be 42 in May and his ERA went up 1.44 after switching to the NL last year. That’s a big jump.
Dillon Gee: Career record of 40-34, 3.91 ERA. Definition of mediocrity. The kind of guy every team feels like they have a few of.
That’s not a lot of solid concrete reason to bank on this staff being a sure thing. Anything, whether it be Harvey needing to rest or Wheeler failing to improve or deGrom hitting a sophomore slump, an injury, a blister. Whatever. You get it.
There’s a lot of ink being spilled about how wonderfully the Mets have set themselves up to be as deep in young arms as they are (and yes, they’re obviously loaded in that department), but those arms need to go out and become dependable Major Leaguers now. Because if they’re not, it’s not just 2015 that’s in jeopardy, it’s the next who knows how many years that will get spent trying to replace what would be the next chapter in Generation K leading to a lot of L’s.