Let’s Try This Again

Okay, it looks like the universe wants this to happen.

When Jason Vargas fractured his glove hand this spring, Zack Wheeler was given the fifth rotation spot in a neat little package.

In essence, all Wheeler had to do was not be awful against the Washington Nationals this spring. Well, Wheeler was awful. Not just once, by the way. In two consecutive starts against Washington to close the spring, he was wild and got hit hard.

Seth Lugo was awarded the 5th rotation spot and Zack Wheeler was sent to Las Vegas. To Lugo’s credit he wasn’t just given the slot by default. He earned it with a fantastic spring.

Seth Lugo was all set to start on Tuesday against the Phillies, but mother nature had other plans. April snow postponed Monday’s game and Matt Harvey wound up pitching Tuesday. The Mets chose to skip Seth Lugo’s spot in the rotation.

The Mets then chose to go in a different direction completely and employ Lugo out of the bullpen, and that decision has been downright brilliant.

Lugo has pitched 6 innings in relief this season and has not allowed a run. These innings have been high pressure situations too, and he’s just been a revelation. What really makes this remarkable is Robert Gsellman has pitched out of relief as well, and he’s been almost as good as Lugo.

So given these recent developments, the Mets appear unlikely to move Lugo and Gsellman from their new relief roles. As Jason Vargas is still not ready to pitch,  the Mets needed a starter for tonight’s game against the Marlins.

PAGING ZACK WHEELER

All the stars have aligned for Zack Wheeler, and he will take the ball tonight, hoping to complete a 3 game sweep of the Marlins. Also, that would keep the Mets unbeaten against the NL East, and improve upon their already historic start to the season. Yeah, there is a lot at play here.

I’ve written about this at length already. This time I think I’m much less romantic about the idea of these 5 studs pitching together.

For the second time now, a rotation spot has fallen into Wheeler’s lap. This time it comes equipped with a start against the Miami Marlins. Yes, even though they have sold everyone they still play us tough. But if not the Marlins, then who? If not now, when?

This may be a spot start, but it’s looking more and more like he may pitch twice before Vargas returns.

In a perfect world, I believe Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz and Wheeler pitching together is the ideal rotation for the Mets. I believe that in my heart even if it’s only for two turns through the rotation. I’ll explain and it’s not me being romantic about these 5 “aces” finally pitching together.

It’s just bad business to go into any future seasons with the team not knowing what these pitchers are anymore.

Getting sent down to Las Vegas had to be a blow to Wheeler’s ego. Everything has fallen into place and he was afforded another chance. If he can’t dominate tonight and build on that, then we need to move on. Simple and plain.

We can all see the potential in Wheeler. We can see the raw talent. We did see him put together a very good year in 2014 in his first full season. After Tommy John surgery in 2015, he didn’t pitch again until 2017. He actually pitched well last season until he hit a wall, which makes sense considering he was out of action for 2 whole years.

Steven Matz is very similar to Wheeler in that regard. Matz missed the end of 2016, and only pitched 66 innings (through injury) in 2017. He got the same surgery this off-season that Jacob deGrom got before last season.

If I’m being honest with myself I think 2019 is the year where Wheeler and Matz shine. This year will have ups and downs as they readjust to pitching over the course of a full season. No excuses though. They need to be effective THIS year for us to have success. They also need to give us something for us to hang our hats on as we look forward to the future.

As is the case with Wheeler, Steven Matz is talented as hell. Can he give us a full season though? He hasn’t come close yet.

So it’s not me clutching onto my “5 aces” Sports Illustrated cover. If Matz and Wheeler are replaced with two pitchers who come in and pitch great, then I’m happy. Sure, I like Matz and Wheeler, but I love results.

So, yes. I want these five men to pitch together in the same rotation. Obviously, they are all talented and the sky is the limit if they are all on their games at the same time. In reality, I want them to pitch in the same rotation because they are here. Simple as that.

Syndergaard and deGrom I want to pitch every fifth day, respectively, because they are elite pitchers. I want Harvey to follow them because he’s next in the rotation. If he stays there, that means he is healthy. If he is there come September? That means he was effective.

Matt Harvey is probably gone after this season. Steven Matz will be here for a while. Every time we see him pitch this year, questions will be answered. We want to see him pitching in September coming off a strong August. Hearing reports that he feels good in February won’t cut it anymore. Let’s go into 2019 off a strong 2018. Let’s lock down that starting rotation spot way before your last spring start.

Finally, I’m not advocating for Wheeler to replace Vargas. What I want is for Wheeler to dominate tonight. Not 2 runs over 4 and 2 thirds. Don’t want to see 76 pitches in the 3rd inning. I want to see the guy we traded Carlos Beltran for. If Vargas needs more time, then Wheeler needs to go attack the Nationals at Citi Field next Wednesday. Zack Wheeler now has
something to build on, and we can be confident if we need to call his name again over the course of the season.

These are all perfect world scenarios. Of course we want our guys to play well. Ok, I get that. If Matz and Wheeler fall on their faces? I want to see that too. In that event, we can deal with the reality as it’s presented to us and adjust accordingly.

If that’s all he is needed for, then he can build on that.

 

 

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