April 1: Jon Niese
So Marcum's aiming to avoid a stint on the disabled list to start the season, but his first start will be delayed. Before Marcum's latest injury concern — a sore neck — the team was contemplating whether or not to use Hefner the first time through its rotation. Now, it obviously will.
There's no telling when Johan Santana will be ready to come back and take over Hefner's spot in the rotation, but the Mets' success this year depends heavily upon the starting rotation. While the bullpen will probably be a lot better than the Mets' bullpen of last year, it's not like they're on the level of the Royals' pen. But if healthy — and that's a significant if — this rotation should be at least above average.