Let’s face it, the New York Mets pitching staff has been god awful this year.
Heading into Wednesday the team had posted a 4.89 team ERA – the third worst mark in all of major league baseball – which will only get worse after a 17-5 shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night. A lot of that ineffectiveness has to do with the team’s starting pitchers not named Jacob deGrom.
After a step in the right direction in his last start against the Cincinnati Reds, Matt Harvey once again looked lost on the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. He finished his night going 3 1/3 innings giving up five runs on seven hits and looking less and less like the Dark Knight who once roamed New York.
With injuries plaguing the Mets all season to pitchers like Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler – just to name the starters currently on the DL – the team’s depth, or lack thereof, has been quite apparent.
It was silly to think Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo – both of whom also spent some time on the disabled list this season – would pitch the way they did down the stretch in 2016. It was silly to think all five aces would be healthy and pitch to the peak of their potential all in the same season, especially with four of them coming back from major arm surgeries. And it’s silly to think the same can happen in 2018.
That’s why this offseason the Mets desperately need to acquire a frontline-type starter.
It’s crazy to think that the New York Mets – the team supposedly with the best rotation in baseball in the last 30 years, maybe ever – would be looking for starting pitching, but it’s true. If 2017 proved anything for the Mets it’s that you can never have too much pitching – especially when the pitchers you do have are oft-injured.
General manager Sandy Alderson has already stated that pitching will be a priority this offseason, and to his credit he’s already begun to address the team’s bullpen woes through various trades during the season, but who he and the team end up picking is vastly important.
Here’s a list of some potential starting pitchers who will be free agents at the end of 2017 that the Mets should be interested in: Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Vargas, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Marco Estrada, Jaime Garcia, CC Sabathia, and John Lackey.
Of that list, the most intriguing is Estrada. Since his promotion to full-time starter back in 2012, Estrada has only had two seasons in which he’s pitched to an ERA over 3.87 – including this season. He’s pitched at least 128 innings in each of those seasons with his best year coming in 2015 when he went 13-8 and pitched to a 3.13 ERA. His 4.96 ERA gives you pause but it is well above his 4.03 career ERA – which has only increased due to this season – and frankly is better than any other solution on the Mets right now.
At age 34 and coming off a down year, Estrada shouldn’t command a big long-term contract – a huge plus with Alderson – and will have extra motivation to regain his stock value. With the Mets focused on 2018, Estrada would slide behind deGrom and Syndergaard and add some much needed depth. He doesn’t fix all of the Mets problems, but he sure is a start.
If Harvey, Wheeler and Matz can regain form and help the team win then that’s an added bonus, but that’s a pretty big if for a team that plans on winning next year.
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