By Zach Gewelb
The Mets finally have a chance to see what the team — and fans —have envisioned for years: all five of their vaunted starting pitchers in the rotation at the same time.
The fearsome fivesome of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler took a turn together in the rotation last week for the first time and the results have given the Mets a reason to be excited.
Matz tossed five innings of one-run ball — an unearned run — against the Nationals. Harvey surrendered four runs in five innings the following day against Washington. Syndergaard pitched six innings of two-run ball against Miami. The next game, deGrom allowed four runs in six innings and Wheeler followed with seven innings, giving up only one run against Miami.
The totals: 29 innings pitched, 26 hits, 10 earned runs — good for a 3.10 ERA — seven walks and 28 strikeouts in the five game stretch. Most importantly, the Mets won all five games.
You can’t question those results.
This group has always had the potential to perform like this. But injuries have gotten in the way, which is why the five pitchers have never taken a turn in the rotation together before now.
Now the question is: can they keep it up?
To start, it’s a long shot that this group stays together as currently constructed. The Mets signed veteran southpaw Jason Vargas as a free agent this offseason to join the rotation. A Spring Training injury to his non-throwing hand has kept him sidelined for the time being, but he’s set to return soon. The Mets are paying Vargas $16 million for the next two seasons, which makes it unlikely the team will move him to the bullpen. When he completes his rehab assignment and proves he’s ready to go, Vargas will likely join the rotation.
Even if Vargas wasn’t around, the Mets also have Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as starting caliber pitchers. Right now, they’re both pitching out of the bullpen, and can be called on to start in a moment’s notice.
And then there’s the injury concern.
Harvey has had trouble staying healthy since his 2013 Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2015 and pitched well, but broke down in 2016 and 2017 with other injuries that have also limited his effectiveness.
Wheeler also missed more than a season due to Tommy John surgery and Matz has had elbow and arm issues. While deGrom has been the most healthy of the bunch, he, too, had Tommy John surgery when he was a minor league player in 2010.
Every pitcher has injury risk. But given the history of these pitchers, it’s easy to wonder how long there will be stability in the Mets’ rotation.
So while it’s nice to see this group pitch together, don’t be surprised if the rotation looks a little different later in the season. But for now, enjoy the show. Because if these pitchers stay healthy and pitch to their potential, the Mets will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe