As the Mets join the rest of the league’s thirty teams at the starting blocks, they’re waiting to see whether a key arm will be with them from the jump. Starter Marcus Stroman has experienced calf tightness that could prevent him from taking his anticipated turn in the rotation, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo was among those to report on Twitter.
The Mets haven’t yet committed to a decision on Stroman, with skipper Luis Rojas indicating that the righty is considered day to day at the moment. Even if Stroman is held back a bit, the team may wish not to place him on the 15-day injured list. That’d mean missing nearly a quarter of the truncated season.
Stroman is of central importance to a Mets staff that will go without Zack Wheeler (free agency) and Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery) in 2020. There’s still plenty of talent in the rotation mix, but the loss of those two prominent righties has cast Stroman in an even brighter light.
Last year, Stroman turned in 184 1/3 innings of 3.22 ERA pitching over 32 starts, the final eleven of which came following a trade to his native New York. If he can provide anything close to that kind of output in 2020 — or, at least, match the 3.77 ERA he posted with the Mets — then Stroman could help put the club over the edge in what’s likely to be a closely fought postseason race. He’s also pitching to set himself up for his first trip onto the open market at season’s end.
It doesn’t sound as if there’s any reason for major concern here. But the situation highlights the delicate balance that teams will face. On the one hand, the Mets will want to get Stroman on the mound as soon as possible in order to maximize his impact. On the other hand, pushing too hard and suffering a setback could easily wipe out much of the campaign.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Mets end up handling pitching assignments if Stroman is kept on ice for a bit. With Walker Lockett already sidelined, the team could turn to an alternative such as Corey Oswalt. It might also seek to utilize Oswalt, Erasmo Ramirez, Stephen Gonsalves, and/or other starter-capable pitchers in some kind of piggyback arrangement. Most intriguing, perhaps, is the idea of bumping prospect David Peterson, though that would mean starting his service clock and clearing a 40-man roster spot.