State of Mets' rotation after Steven Matz trade, including outlook for Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard

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Danny Abriano
·3 min read
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Noah Syndergaard prepares to throw a pitch during spring training in 2020 wearing blue jersey
Noah Syndergaard prepares to throw a pitch during spring training in 2020 wearing blue jersey

When the Mets traded Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, they cleared roughly $5.2 million from the payroll and got the ball rolling toward what could be their next move or moves.

And with Matz now gone, the rotation is in a bit of flux.

Though Matz's role if he had remained with the Mets wasn't certain, he seemed to have at least a strong chance to nab the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

Now, the heir apparent to the No. 5 spot would appear to be Joey Lucchesi, which is something that could easily change in the coming days and weeks, depending on what happens with Trevor Bauer and other potential moves.

Matz's departure also creates new questions about Seth Lugo's role and the potential return of Noah Syndergaard -- two topics we'll cover below.

Let's take a deep dive into the state of the rotation...

How things currently stand

As presently constructed, there are three pitchers who are guaranteed spots in the starting rotation: Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco.

With Matz now gone, it seems even likelier that David Peterson -- who appeared destined for a spot -- will also be in the rotation.

That leaves one spot left, and as is noted above, Joey Lucchesi -- whom the Mets recently acquired from the San Diego Padres -- would seem like the best bet to get it.

Beyond the Mets' top five starters on the depth chart are Corey Oswalt, Franklyn Kilome, Sean Reid Foley, and Yennsy Diaz. Reid Foley and Diaz came over as part of the deal for Matz and are both on the 40-man roster.

What about Seth Lugo?

Mets president Sandy Alderson has been dropping hints all offseason that the Mets prefer Seth Lugo in the bullpen, and Jon Heyman reported on Jan. 9 that the "belief and expectation" was that the Mets were planning to use Lugo in relief.

With the Mets missing out on signing Brad Hand, who would've given them another late-inning option, Lugo being back in the bullpen seems like more of a slam dunk than it was a few weeks ago -- and the Mets would be making the right move by having him there.

When it comes to Robert Gsellman, who was stretched out last season and got some time as a starter, he could be a rotation option. But it's hard to see him being firmly in the Mets' plans there.

When will Noah Syndergaard return?

As he works his way back from Tommy John surgery, Noah Syndergaard is on track or a bit ahead of schedule, Mets manager Luis Rojas said earlier this offseason.

Meanwhile, Alderson pegged Syndergaard's potential return around June.

Syndergaard has been throwing from the slope of the mound since at least Nov. 12, so things are definitely trending in the right direction. And his return would provide a big jolt to a rotation that is already in very good shape.

If the Mets make no other moves when it comes to the rotation, Syndergaard would likely replace Peterson or Lucchesi (or whoever the fifth starter is) when he comes back.

In a world where the Mets add Trevor Bauer, the starting staff could consist of Jacob deGrom, Bauer, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco around June 1. And that would be arguably the best rotation in baseball.