It wasn’t the offense that doomed the Mets last season; it was the pitching.
Outside of Jacob deGrom and David Peterson, the Mets starters offered nothing. Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello ended up as busts. Noah Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery. Marcus Stroman opted out last season over COVID-19 concerns. Steven Matz flamed out to the point the Mets demoted him to the bullpen.
The bullpen offered nothing, too. Outside of Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo, most of the relievers became unreliable, especially Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia.
When Mets owner Steve Cohen hired Sandy Alderson to oversee the baseball operations, the emphasis would be on pitching. The Mets needed depth for starting rotation and bullpen.
The improvement had to be made if they were going to be a playoff team. They accomplished that objective this offseason by making trades and signing free agents, which makes this a successful offseason.
It remains to be seen if it works, though. The Mets are banking on it.
The Amazins hope their pitching not only improves externally but internally.
Stroman coming back should help, but we really don’t know much about him despite making 11 starts for the Mets when he was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays two years ago. He was okay at best. When he pitched well at the end of the month, it was when the games didn’t matter.
He will give the Mets innings, and he will win his fair share of games. But the Mets need more than that from him. They need him to pitch like an elite starter if they will be taken seriously as a playoff team. It remains to be seen if he can do that. He also has to be healthy too.
Syndergaard could end up being a difference-maker. He will likely pitch in June. No one knows what to expect of him. Like Stroman, he has much to prove. He needs to be effective after his Tommy John surgery, which is no guarantee. Even when healthy, he was mediocre at best. The Mets failed to make the playoffs two years ago because he underachieved as a starter.
The Mets have no choice but to hope for the best with those two. They can’t be any worse than what Wacha and Porcello offered, but they need to be better by pitching to their potential. That means each need to deliver quality starts every fifth day they are out there.
Stroman and Syndergaard are free agents after this season. It remains to be seen if either or both are coming back. Both are pitching for a lucrative contract with the Mets or another team, most likely, especially in Stroman’s case.
If I have to read the tea leaves, Stroman likely will be gone. His replacement could be Taijuan Walker if he flourishes this season.
Syndergaard could be a goner, too, with the rise of Peterson.
The Mets should not allocate money to Stroman and Syndergaard if they have better alternatives to those two. That’s the purpose of depth.
They recently signed Walker to a two-year, $20 million deal. They hope he can round out the rotation by being the No. 5 starter. They know he has the potential to be great, but injuries plagued him over the years. He came off a Tommy John surgery before last season. If he does well this season, he can offset the loss of Stroman next season. There’s a reason to believe he can do better because he incorporated a slider and cutter to go with his fastball in getting outs last season with the Blue Jays.
They also acquired Joey Luchessi from the San Diego Padres. He will compete with Walker for the last spot in the starting rotation. He could be more valuable in the bullpen, though. He has experience there, and he can be successful in getting lefties out in a loogy role. The same can be said about Jordan Yamamoto, though he is not a lefty specialist.
Before then-Mets general manager Jared Porter resigned in disgrace for harassing a female reporter through text messages in his time as a Cubs assistant general manager; he found a way to acquire Carlos Carrasco in the Francisco Lindor deal. To me, getting a competent starter to go with Lindor makes this a better trade. He is a proven starter that can win 12 games. He is the Mets second-best starter since he is more consistent than Syndergaard and Stroman. He is a nice fit as a No. 2 starter.
Peterson gets a chance to see if he sticks in the rotation after last year’s success by winning six games in nine starts with a 3.44 ERA. He showed he has the stuff to be a starter by throwing 40 strikeouts and finding a way to get out of jams.
If nothing else, Luchessi, Walker, Peterson, and Yamamoto add depth to the rotation in the event, any of the starters get hurt this season.
The bullpen should be improved with the addition of Trevor May and Aaron Loup. Loup is a reliable situational reliever to get an out or two, and May is a workhorse. Mets manager Luis Rojas could use either of the two to pitch in the eighth if Seth Lugo is not available twice a week. Those two will be invaluable while Lugo misses time to start spring training after undergoing elbow surgery.
The offseason moves look good, but games are going to be played. Results will define whether it works or not.
If the Mets get results from improved pitching through offseason moves and improved performances from Stroman and Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom will get a chance to show his greatness in the postseason.
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