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Let’s find the Mets a starting pitcher, Part 2

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The Mets have four-fifths of a major league rotation right now.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

When we checked in on the Mets’ options in free agency earlier this month, the pitchers who would obviously be the best were mentioned. The team should be in on elite free agents, as the luxury tax it would pay would be a fraction of the team’s payroll budget, but nobody is expecting that to be the case. There’s been one change from Part 1, too, as Jake Odorizzi accepted the Twins’ qualifying offer, taking him off the market.

So let’s continue running down the list of available free agents sorted by 2019 ERA with an innings minimum of 100. The first part of the series covered the top seven pitchers who met those requirements: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Odorizzi, Dallas Keuchel, Cole Hamels, and Julio Teheran.

Picking up from there, Brett Anderson had a 3.89 ERA in that ranked eighth among the group. He had success despite striking out just 4.60 batters per nine innings, and his 176.0 innings made for his highest single-season total—by far—since he threw 180.1 in 2015.

Madison Bumgarner finished the season with a 3.90 ERA, easily the worst mark of his career. The 30-year-old lefty has been extremely succesful in the playoffs over the course of his career, and while his ERA wasn’t outstanding, he threw 207.2 innings—almost as many as the combined 240.2 innings he threw between 2017 and 2018.

Familiar face Zack Wheeler, who officially turned down the Mets’ qualifying offer, finished tenth among this group with a 3.96 ERA. Next year will be his age-30 season, and the Mets are the only team that wouldn’t have to give up a draft pick to sign him this winter.

Wade Miley made 33 starts for the Astros, but he only pitched 167.1 innings in those appearances. He had a 3.98 ERA on the season, his best mark in a full season of work since 2013, though it’s worth mentioning that he had a 2.57 ERA in 2018 in 80.2 innings over the course of 16 starts.

Entering his age-31 season, Michael Pineda is coming off a solid if unspectacular season with the Twins, that is until he was suspended for 60 games for a positive test for a substance commonly used to mask performance-enhancing drugs. He had a 4.01 ERA in 146.0 innings with an okay strikeout rate and an excellent walk rate, all after missing the 2018 season entirely following Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2017.

Next up on the list would have been Adam Wainwright, but he’s already signed a one-year deal to remain with the Cardinals. And that brings us to Jason Vargas, who had a 4.30 ERA as a starter. It would be incredibly suprirsing to see the Mets bring him back, especially after he was dumped upon the Phillies for nothing during the season. He struggled mightily down the stretch, too.

Tanner Roark threw 165.1 innings for the Reds and the A’s in his first season pitching for an organization other than the Nationals. He had a 4.35 ERA that was roughly in line with his results from the previous two seasons. His 2014 and 2016 seasons, during which he finished with sub-3.00 ERAs, look like exceptions compared to the other four major league seasons he’s had, all of which saw him in the mid-4s in ERA.

So that covers the top fifteen pitchers on this admittedly arbitrary rundown, and two of those fifteen have already re-upped with the teams the played with in 2019. Again, the Mets should be aiming higher than this list—or at least as high as the Wheeler/Bumgarner part of this one—if they want to contend.