COMMENTARY | The New York Mets have a day off on May 23rd, but that won't take the sting out of their 17-27 record. The offense is getting plenty of negative publicity, but the starting pitching has also struggled. New York's 4.37 ERA and 1.37 WHIP both rank in the lower half of Major League Baseball.
What is encouraging for Mets fans is the future starting rotation. Top pitching prospects are either currently at the big league level, or on the verge of getting promoted. What could the 2014 rotation look like for the Mets next April?
Niese's 3-5 record and 4.80 ERA don't look attractive, but he's gotten himself back on track in his last two starts. He's thrown 13.1 innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on 11 hits, five walks, and 10 strikeouts. With the wealth of pitching talent in the pipeline, he could eventually become an expendable piece. In 2014, he will become the veteran leader of what will be a very young staff.
Need I saw more? It hasn't taken long for Harvey's starts to become events, much like Dwight Gooden's were at Shea in the mid-1980s. He gave up a season-high four runs and nine hits in 6.1 innings pitched against the Cincinnati Reds on May 22nd, but is still 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He's shown he's the real deal over his first 10 starts in 2013, and will be at the top of the Mets' rotation for years to come.
New York's top pitching prospect returned to the mound May 22nd for the Las Vegas 51s. He missed one start with inflammation in the AC Joint of his right shoulder. The right-hander was a little rusty, but his fastball touched 97 mph on the radar gun, and he earned the win. His current record in Triple-A is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Sandy Alderson said Wheeler will likely get promoted to the majors after getting two or three more starts with Vegas. Like Harvey, Wheeler is the cornerstone of this pitching rotation. His experience in the majors this season will hopefully translate into Harvey-like success in 2014.
Montero was just transferred back to Double-A Binghamton after a spot start for Triple-A, but Alderson also had some encouraging things to say about him. The right-hander took the loss against the Iowa Cubs, but showed he's ready for the next level. He threw 6.2 innings and allowed two runs on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. In Binghamton, Montero is 4-3 with a 3.47 ERA and 54 strikeouts compared to six walks allowed in 46.2 innings pitched. Alderson said Montero will likely be back in Triple-A by mid-season, and wouldn't be surprised to see him in the big leagues toward the end of 2013. With that being said, he has a legitimate chance at grabbing a rotation spot to start 2014 in the majors.
Gee hasn't proven himself yet in 2013, but he's the only current MLB starter I can see being in the rotation at the start of next season. He's currently 2-5 with a 6.04 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 33 strikeouts and 17 walks allowed in 44.2 innings pitched. If all goes well, he'll only be holding a 2014 rotation spot for a short period of time.
Honorable Mention: Noah Syndergaard
A crucial player in the R.A. Dickey-Travis d'Arnaud trade this past winter, Syndergaard is pitching very well in Advanced A-ball for the St. Lucie Mets. He's currently 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 15 walks allowed in 50.2 innings pitched. If he continues pitching well, he'll soon get promoted to Binghamton. How he performs there for the duration of 2013 will determine when we'll see him in the major leagues in 2014.
The Mets are hard to watch right now, but the future is bright. These starting pitchers are symbols of hope for a frustrated fan base.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue and Rising Apple. He also provides his analysis and opinion on the rest of Major League Baseball at his personal blog, On The Way Home.
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