During the offseason, the Mets were open to trading Carlos Carrascowhich the team could’ve done to not only clear some money but to get something of value back for a solid pitcher on a reasonable one-year deal.
New York wisely opted to keep Carrasco — and the rest of their starting rotation depth — which seems even more prudent now since Jose Quintana is out due to a rib injury.
It is not yet known how much time Quintana is expected to miss, but there is obviously no chance he’ll be ready by Opening Day or even soon after. With him having barely pitched during spring training, he’ll have to fully ramp up once he’s cleared to throw. So it’s going to be a while.
Fortunately for the Mets, while Quintana was going to be counted on to eat innings, he was pegged as the No. 4 or No. 5 starters. He will be missed while recovering from his injury, but the Mets have two pitchers who should be able to fill in seamlessly.
The first is David Petersonwho has three years of experience working as a big league starter, and who had a 3.86 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 91 innings over 19 starts last season.
The second is Taylor Megillwho may have more upside than Peterson, but who dealt with a shoulder strain towards the end of last season.
New York also has depth beyond Peterson and Megill, including Joey Lucchesi (who is back from Tommy John surgery) and Jose Butto (who has seven strikeouts in 3.2 spring training innings).
However, if they have to turn to Lucchesi and/or Butto for a significant stretch this season, it likely means multiple things have gone seriously wrong.
So as the Mets decide between Peterson and Megill as the replacement for Quintana, they’ll have to hope their top four of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Kodai Sengaand Carrasco remains healthy
Quintana’s injury could also impact the team’s reported plan to use a six-man rotation at times this year — at least early on in the season.
The main thing facing the Mets right now, though, is the Peterson vs. Megill decision.
The case for Peterson
Peterson had a down 2021 season after an impressive rookie campaign in 2020, and was yanked back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in 2022, which is never easy on a pitcher.
But even with an undefined role last season, Peterson was very reliable, allowing three runs or fewer in 15 of his 19 starts.
He can still lose the strike zone at times, as evidenced by his disastrous start last September against the Chicago Cubs when he walked the first three batters he faced and lasted just a third of an inning.
But Peterson often mixes his fastball and slider well, and will likely have a leg up on Megill in the battle for the final spot in the rotation.
The case for Megill
Megill got off to such a hot start in 2022 that he had people wondering whether he could profile at the top of the rotation.
The right-hander was reaching the high-90s in his first start, didn’t allow a run over his first 10.1 innings of the season, and finished April with a 1.93 ERA over five starts spanning 28 innings. Things slowed down after that, and Megill’s season ERA wound up being skewed in a big way by the eight runs he allowed in just 1.1 innings on May 11.
After that start, he was placed on the IL due to biceps tendinitis, returned in the middle of June to make two starts, but then landed on the IL again — this time due to a shoulder injury.
When Megill made it back in the middle of September, it was in an unfamiliar role as a reliever.
While Peterson is more of a sure thing, the upside potential with Megill — if he is fully healthy — is tantalizing.
However the Mets decide to proceed, they should be in strong shape.
They’re dipping into their starting rotation depth earlier than they would’ve liked, but even with either Peterson or Megill stepping in, they’ll still have one of them waiting in the wings in Triple-A Syracuse.