The 2016 Mets are fortunate enough to boast a starting rotation that features four ace-caliber pitchers. When that kind of talent is pooled together, expectations run very high. While star pitching can be an invaluable asset, though, keeping a rotation healthy is a delicate balance, as there are bound to be unavoidable injuries.
In the early going, Jacob deGrom already missed a couple of starts, partly because of a lat issue and partly because of a health scare with his newborn son. It’s at a time like this that the Mets' front office should get credit for having serviceable starting pitching depth waiting in the wings, most notably in the form of Logan Verrett.
The 25-year-old may not be firing fastballs or mind-bending hooks like his fellow Texas native, Noah Syndergaard, but when called into action, Verrett has been exactly what the Mets have needed in 2016. Having made the roster as a long reliever, Verrett has been the go-to guy for a spot start.
With deGrom injuring his lat muscle during the first week of the season, Verrett was first called to action on April 13 to make his first spot start of 2016. After the Miami Marlins roughed up Steven Matz in the first game of the series and the Mets wasted a dominant effort from Syndergaard in the second game, Verrett baffled the Marlins and shut them out for six innings. He struck out six and only surrendered three hits on 85 pitches, and the Mets went on to win the game.
After that start, with deGrom still unavailable, Verrett was tabbed to start against the Phillies in the next turn in the Mets' rotation. Entering his April 19 start against Philadelphia, Verrett had surrendered five hits or fewer in his first five career starts, a feat that deGrom also accomplished when he first joined the Mets. Verrett did not seem as sharp as he did in his first spot start, but he was nevertheless effective. He put together six more scoreless innings and surrendered six hits with four strikeouts on 91 pitches. The Mets cruised to an easy 11-1 win in the game.
A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Logan Verrett began his baseball career as a Little League infielder. The family relocated to Corpus Christi right before Logan would attend high school, where Verrett pitched for Calallen High School’s varsity baseball team. He was outstanding as a senior, compiling an 18-0 record, posting a 0.67 ERA, striking out 167, and throwing 12 complete games. He did all of this while batting .455 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs. Verrett would lead Calallen to the Texas Class 4A state championship and was named the All-South Texas MVP and Class 4A player of the year by the Texas Sports Writer Association.
Opting to remain close to his roots for college, Verrett enrolled at Baylor University to play baseball for the Bears. Pitching mainly out of the bullpen as a freshman, Verrett would eventually serve as the team’s closer. Verrett would pitch in the starting rotation the rest of his college career and drew the attention of Major League clubs after posting a 7-6 record with a 2.93 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 101.1 innings his junior year.
Sensing the potential in the righty from Texas, the Mets opted to select Verrett in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft with the 101st selection. He would sign for $425,000 and begin his professional career in 2012 with the Savannah Sand Gnats of the Class A South Atlantic League (now the Columbia Fireflies). With a strained rotator cuff as his only setback, Verrett climbed the Mets minor league organization steadily, where he earned a permanent spot in the rotation of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s in 2014.
During the 2014 offseason, Verrett was plucked from the Mets' system by the Baltimore Orioles in the Rule 5 draft. He failed to earn a spot on the Orioles’ 2015 Opening Day roster, but the O’s hoped to work out a trade with the Mets to keep Verrett in Baltimore’s organization. Texas wold end up claiming him on waivers, but would be returned to the Mets after he was designated for assignment following four subpar outings at the Major League level. Returning to the Mets organization in May, Verrett was a key piece of the 2015 Mets, pitching to a 2-0 record with a 3.00 ERA in 11 appearances, four of which were spot starts.
The clear plan is for the Mets starting rotation to be anchored by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler for years to come, but with all of this talent comes plenty of uncertainty. Four of those starters have undergone Tommy John surgery, and it is hard to predict the long-term effects it will end up having on the team’s young aces. With Jacob deGrom injured and Matt Harvey struggling in 2016, the need to have a player like Verrett waiting in the wings of this organization is undoubtably important. Pitching is such a fragile asset that it never hurts to have a player with a sub-3 career ERA (albeit small sample size) as your insurance policy. Logan Verrett at no point will ever be a flashy hot shot pitching prospect in the league of Noah Syndergaard, but in a game where pitching is so valuable he is one of Mets more prominent assets right now and could easily compete for a starting rotation spot on plenty of other ball-clubs.