Mets' rotation will be in perilous shape if David Peterson's injury is long-term

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David Peterson treated art Mets Citi Field background 2021
David Peterson treated art Mets Citi Field background 2021

The Mets' starting pitching situation entering play on Wednesday night was already tenuous, and then they lost David Peterson.

Peterson, who was coming off three consecutive strong outings, left Wednesday's start in the fourth inning due to side soreness and has already been ruled out for his next start, which was expected to be July 5 against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field.

If Peterson is able to return after missing just one start or even if he can come back right after the All-Star break (which begins on July 12), the Mets should be able to weather this storm. If not, it gets dicey.

As things currently stand, the Mets have three reliable starting pitchers, which of course includes the best pitcher on the planet.

With Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker, New York features one of the most formidable tops of the rotation in baseball.

The Mets have also gotten a jolt from Tylor Megill, who has looked poised and been impressive in his first two career starts.

When it comes to deGrom, Stroman, and Walker, though, each of them has already dealt with health issues this season. And Walker's next start was just pushed back to give him extra rest.

As far as Megill is concerned, while what he has given the Mets so far has been terrific, he hasn't worked very deep into games. And since Megill has so little experience above Double-A and has been thrown into the fire, it shouldn't be a surprise if he hits a speed bump at some point soon.

Jun 23, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Citi Field.
Jun 23, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Citi Field.

Let's say for the sake of argument that deGrom, Stroman, and Walker remain healthy, and Megill keeps giving the Mets solid performances every fifth day. In that scenario, they would simply need to fill one rotation spot in the event Peterson is out long-term.

The problem for the Mets, however, is that they're just about out of options.

Jerad Eickhoff, who was non-competitive in his spot-starts, has been DFA'd. Thomas Szapucki, who made his major league debut on Wednesday night, was hammered by Atlanta.

Robert Gsellman, who wasn't an ideal option to start anyway, is out until at least late August due to a lat injury, Seth Lugo is not moving to the rotation from the bullpen (nor should he), and Jordan Yamamoto remains a ways away due to his shoulder injury.

Down in Triple-A, the pickings are slim.

Franklyn Kilome is on the IL and hasn't pitched since June 4, meaning that Robert Stock and Vance Worley are the likely Triple-A options to turn to. Not ideal.

What about the rotation reinforcements who have been out all season?

Carlos Carrasco pitching during 2021 Mets spring training.
Carlos Carrasco pitching during 2021 Mets spring training.

Carlos Carrasco is making progress as he works his way back from his hamstring injury, but still hasn't restarted his rehab assignment. Maybe he returns by the end of July, maybe he doesn't.

And Noah Syndergaard could start throwing again in a week or so, but his return date has been pegged by team president Sandy Alderson as being around Sept. 1.

Put this all together and it seems the Mets will be in an incredibly difficult spot if Peterson's injury is serious.

As they await what they hope will be the return of Carrasco in about a month or so, they would have to rely on Megill in the No. 4 spot while patching the No. 5 spot together with some combination of Szapucki, openers, and arms from Triple-A.

The easiest fix would of course be to swing a trade for starting pitching help, even if it's simply a reliable back end starter and not someone who profiles as a top or even middle of the rotation guy.

But with the trade deadline still a month away, making any deal of significance is easier said than done.