The Mets are at least pondering a less-than-standard approach to filling their fifth starter’s spot, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It’s possible that neither Steven Matz nor Michael Wacha will simply win the job in camp.
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Other organizations have already acted effectively upon the fundamental premise. The Mets would shed typical forms in favor of a flexible arrangement that maximizes the abilities of the players on hand.
It’s certainly an intriguing concept, at least in some of its forms. There are several possibilities, per Sherman: Matz and Wacha could essentially tag in and out of the rotation depending upon matchups. The team might also utilize an opener. While the premise isn’t specifically contemplated in Sherman’s piece, it stands to reason that those two starters could also be utilized in a piggyback arrangement at times.
This all obviously depends upon health. Most contending organizations strive to have more arms available than is needed on paper, since it’s rare that all can be called upon at a given time. In this case, especially, that’s a major factor since both Matz and Wacha have dealt with fairly significant health limitations in recent years.
As Sherman explains, there are other factors to be considered as well. It’s tempting to imagine a game opened by Seth Lugo, carried by multi-inning stints from Matz and/or Wacha, and then closed down by power relievers Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, and Edwin Diaz. But the realities of day-to-day pitching management likely won’t allow such a clean progression on a regular basis. And the fact is, for all their individual and collective upside, every one of those hurlers enters the season with a significant downside scenario.
All of that isn’t to say this concept isn’t worth exploring. To the contrary, this seems like a logical application of shifts we’ve witnessed in recent years. Perhaps some starters shouldn’t be tasked with quite so many innings, while some relievers can handle more. The Mets’ own array of talent does seem to suit an adaptable methodology.
Mixing and matching and generally acting flexibly can have obvious advantages. There’ll also be some potential pitfalls to be navigated. Taken as a whole, the idea only makes the already interesting Mets more fun to watch.