The Mets came into the 2020 season (the first time around) with one of the best rotations in baseball, a seemingly regular occurrence. That all changed in March, shortly after the season was put on hold, when Noah Syndergaard was announced to undergo Tommy John surgery. This devastating and aggravating loss put an end to the competition for the back end of the Mets’ rotation. deGrom, Syndergaard, and Stroman were locks for the top three slots, leaving two openings for Steven Matz and newcomers Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Unfortunately, the injury bug was not done with the Mets, as it took Marcus Stroman down as well with a left calf muscle tear days before the season restart. A pitching staff that had more arms than days to throw now has an unfavorable situation; the loss of two All-Stars putting a question mark at the five-spot. The fifth starter for the Mets ended up being David Peterson, the Mets’ first-round pick back in 2017.
After one turn through the rotation, let’s take a look at the profiles of the three Mets newcomers.
Rick Porcello (age 31) was a first-round pick out of high school by the Detroit Tigers in 2007 and debuted in 2009, at the time the youngest player in the American League. In 2016, Porcello (controversially) won the American League Cy Young award and American League Comeback Player of the Year award, leading the AL in wins. Rick won a ring with the Red Sox in 2018, pitching to the tune of a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 Postseason innings.
2.0+ IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
Porcello’s outing ended shortly after it started. In the top of the first, Porcello gave up RBI-singles to Matt Adams and Dansby Swanson. While Rick did work a scoreless 2nd, he still gave up back-to-back hits, but was bailed out by a struggling Ronald Acuna Jr. who grounded into a double play to end the inning. Porcello failed to record an out in the third, giving up two walks and two doubles to bring in 5 more runs attributed to him (one unearned courtesy of Jeff McNeil).
*Note: The Vertical Movement and Horizontal Movement metrics are “against average” stats. As an example, Rick Porcello’s -2.3 inches of vertical movement against average on his sinker means his sinker’s vertical movement (or drop) is 2.3 inches less than the MLB average.
Michael Wacha (age 29) was a first-round pick out of Texas A&M by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. Wacha only needed 106 innings pitched in the minors to make it to the majors in 2013, where he would end up earning the NLCS Most Valuable Player award later that year after throwing 13.2 shut-out innings against the Dodgers. Wacha also started games 2 and 6 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. He was voted to the MLB All-Star Game in 2015.
5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Wacha was solid, allowing only six batters to reach during his five innings of work. His first taste of trouble was in the third inning, where he allowed the first two runners to reach base. However, he struck out Andrew Benintendi and induced a double play ball from J.D. Martinez to avoid any runs. A homerun in the 4th off the bat of Mitch Moreland drove in the lone run Michael Wacha would give up. Wacha pitched comfortably for his entire night as the Mets scored two runs in the 2nd, two in the 3rd, and three in the 4th.
David Peterson (age 24) was a first-round pick out of the University of Oregon by the New York Mets in 2017. Born in Denver, CO, Peterson is a tall, lanky lefty that profiles to be a back-end starter at the Major League level and induce a lot of groundballs.
Line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
David Peterson, making his MLB debut, made it farther than his veteran counterparts. His debut had an interesting start, getting his first out at second base on a single off the Green Monster with the help of a J.D. Davis snipe, followed by a strike out of J.D. Martinez. Peterson gave up runs on a crazy, confusing double play stemming from a bad call in the field and a RBI double from Kevin Pillar.
It’s safe to say that the back-end of the Mets’ rotation did not wow anyone, but no one was expecting that. Key injuries to Stroman and Syndergaard have stretched the Mets’ staff thin, so for now this rotation must do. Judging off of their debuts (never a good idea, but more warranted than not in a shortened season), Wacha and Peterson appear to be serviceable, while the jury is still out on Porcello.
Featured Photo: New York Mets (@mets) / Twitter