The Mets entered spring training with very little suspense surrounding their roster, a somewhat remarkable feat considering they have endured six consecutive losing seasons, tied with the Astros for the longest current streak in baseball. Despite that ignominy, New York's rotation, starting lineup, bullpen, and even the bench were all but set. In fact, the only real competition in Port St. Lucie involved a possible second left-hander in the bullpen to join holdover Josh Edgin. But as has often been the case with the Mets, calm seas turn instantly stormy in the blink of an eye.
It began in mid-March when an MRI showed a stretched ligament in Edgin's left elbow, an ailment that the southpaw ultimately decided to correct with Tommy John surgery. Suddenly the Mets were without their primary left-hander in the bullpen, one who posted a 1.32 ERA in 47 appearances and was being counted on to neutralize the toughest lefties in the game. At the time of his injury, the Mets' contingent of left-handed relievers included Scott Rice, Dario Alvarez and Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin. The first wave of the storm had hit New York's ship and unfortunately it would not be the last.
Just days after Edgin's diagnosis, Zack Wheeler skipped what would have been his second start of spring training with elbow tenderness. The outward lack of concern by general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets proved to be nothing more than a smokescreen. An MRI would reveal a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament in the 24-year-old's right elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery and ending his 2015 campaign before it even began. The Mets soon admitted that Wheeler had been suffering from elbow soreness since last season and that he had undergone several MRIs as well as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment in his elbow last November. Although New York is certainly well-protected in the starting pitching department, the emergence of Wheeler last year will be missed in 2015.
There are always specific performances in spring training that surprise and disappoint. Both Rice and Alvarez struggled in their bids to make New York's Opening Day roster. Travis d'Arnaud finished his Grapefruit League schedule by hitting .229 with only one extra-basehit and five RBIs while Bartolo Colon finished his spring with a 7.02 ERA—all of which mean nothing starting April 6. However, the loss of two key components of a squad expecting a return to relevancy this season hurts and is disappointing. How disappointing remains to be seen but it certainly cast a pall over what has been an upbeat camp for the Mets.