New York Mets show rationale behind pitching depth

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Rick Porcello #22 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Rick Porcello #22 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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When the New York Mets signed two starting pitchers despite having one opening in the rotation, it was a head scratcher. Now, the Mets look clairvoyant.

Heading into the 2019-20 offseason, the New York Mets had one expected opening in their starting rotation. Zack Wheeler was a free agent, and it was expected that he would receive far more than the Mets were willing to offer. That proved to be the case when he agreed to a five year contract worth $118 million from the Phillies.

The Mets were ready for that departure. They signed Rick Porcello on a one year deal worth $10 million, seemingly filling the opening in their rotation. Then, shortly thereafter, the Mets agreed to a one year deal with Michael Wacha, with this contract being worth $3 million.

At the time, signing both Wacha and Porcello appeared to be an unnecessary luxury. While it gave the Mets enviable rotation depth, the idea that one of those pitchers, or possibly even Steven Matz, would end up in the bullpen made the signings all the more interesting.

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On Tuesday, the reasoning behind those moves became apparent. Noah Syndergaard was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and would undergo Tommy John surgery. The loss of a pitcher the caliber of Syndergaard, especially in a short season, would normally be devastating.

But the Mets are in a better position than most teams to weather the loss of Syndergaard. While Porcello and Wacha may not be in his class, both have had success in the majors. Porcello was the AL Cy Young winner in 2016, and Wacha is a former All Star. Both have been solid, essentially league average pitchers over their careers. As arms to round out a rotation, teams could do a lot worse.

That is a lesson the Mets learned first hand in the past. Syndergaard has not exactly been a bastion of health, as he had missed most of 2017 and a portion of 2018. Matz and Marcus Stroman have also had their own injury histories, making those signings all the more pertinent. And this time, the first options are not the likes of Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt.

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No team can afford to lose a talent such as Noah Syndergaard. The New York Mets, however, are still in good shape because of their impressive rotation depth.