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Zack Wheeler injury: Mets have options to fill void in rotation

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With Wheeler out for the year, who should the Mets put in his place in the rotation?

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The Mets have starting pitching depth. This is a good thing, as pitchers get hurt, as was the case when the team announced earlier today that Zack Wheeler has a torn ulnar collateral ligament. That's very unfortunate news, as Wheeler really looked like he might have turned a corner about halfway through last season and figured to join Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom near the top of the Mets' rotation. But now that he is out—almost certainly for the whole season, assuming he soon has Tommy John surgery—let's take a look at the candidates to take his place in the rotation alongside Harvey, deGrom, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon.

Dillon Gee

Slated for a spot in the Mets' Opening Day bullpen until the Wheeler news broke this morning, Gee has the support of his manager. The 28-year-old had a so-so year in 2014, as he missed a chunk of time with an injury and wound up with a 4.00 ERA and 4.52 FIP in 22 starts. Neither mark is particularly good considering Gee pitched his home games at Citi Field. Of course, his 2013 campaign was more promising, as he totaled a 3.62 ERA and 4.00 FIP in 32 starts and excelled for the latter two-thirds of that season.

For his career, however, Gee seems pretty well established as a back-of-the-rotation starter, and that's nothing to sneeze at. It just might not make him the best option for the Mets right now, especially since the team might very well contend for a Wild Card spot.

Noah Syndergaard

Still considered the Mets' top prospects, Syndergaard didn't put up dazzling numbers in Triple-A Las Vegas last year, but the reports on his stuff were still very good. With a very fast fastball and breaking pitches that have had big league hitters raving about him in his spring starts, Syndergaard will make his major league debut at some point this season. There's no guarantee that he will be great—or even good—in the early going, but the ceiling is higher than Gee's.

Of course, Syndergaard has not yet pitched in the big leagues, which is fine, except for the fact that delaying his debut by a couple of weeks gets the Mets an extra full year of control on him. Holding him back in Triple-A even longer could save the team some money a few years down the line, too, thanks to baseball's quirky Super-Two rules. It's tough to put those things first, though, when the team might be able to contend with him in the rotation.

Steven Matz

With Tommy John surgery under his belt well before he established himself as a top prospect, the left-handed Matz has not yet pitched above Double-A. He has been excellent in his professional career thus far, though, and has drawn rave reviews, with some folks putting him ahead of Syndergaard. Everything about Syndergaard's service time above applies to Matz, too, of course.

Rafael Montero

A seemingly-forgotten man after last season, Montero could still very well become a major league starting pitcher. His stuff isn't as electric as the aforementioned young pitchers, but the 24-year-old has found success at each level of the minor league ladder. His 3.47 ERA in Vegas last year was not bad given the league and park in which he was pitching. He struggled with walks and home runs in his major league outings last year, though walks were never much of an issue for him before last year.