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Who should the Mets use as their fifth starter?

With Marcus Stroman on the shelf, the team needs to get creative.

New York Mets v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Yesterday, Marcus Stroman hit the Injured List with a torn muscle in his left calf, handing the Mets a serious blow to the season before it begins. The Mets’ starting pitching depth was already in a lackluster place before Stroman went down, but the pickings are especially slim at the moment. We asked three members of our Amazin’ Avenue staff to pitch (pardon the pun) who they would like to see take that spot in the rotation until Stroman returns.

David Peterson

New York Mets Summer Workouts Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Mets do not have an exciting option to replace the newly injured Marcus Stroman in the rotation – including Seth Lugo. He is not properly stretched out to start, and the bullpen would be so brutally bad without him that he is a necessity there. So, the Mets are forced to look at other options. And the first person who came to my mind was David Peterson.

We, at Amazin’ Avenue, put Peterson at seventh on our Top 25 Prospect List, and I had him at seven on my personal list as well. In my opinion, he does not have an exceedingly high ceiling due to his fastball and lack of put away pitch; which begs the question: why should he easy slot into the fifth spot in the rotation?

For starters, the depth around him is awful. Corey Oswalt, Stephen Gonsalves, and Erasmo Ramirez are all even less exciting than Peterson is. On top of that, it is time for him to take the next step. He threw 116.0 innings in Double-A last year, which would definitely be more than the amount of innings he would throw in a 60-game season. He has been in camp with the Mets as well, even throwing in one of the intrasquad games. He is as ready as any other starter in baseball can be during this COVID-shortened campaign. This is a perfect storm to try Peterson with little regret – the 24 year-old gets real major league reps, and a chance to show people if he should get serious consideration going into next year when so much of the rotation is in flux. - Thomas Henderson

Matt Harvey

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the Mets’ pitching depth all but evaporated given the injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, the team is in desperate need of starting pitching. The internal options are uninspiring to say the least, and there aren’t that many suitable free agents. However, one free agent does stand out among the rest, and that of course is Matt Harvey. The last we heard of the Dark Knight he was drawing some interest in both Japan and Korea but nothing ever materialized. His time spent in Los Angeles last season did not go well and he finished with a 7.09 ERA in just 59.2 innings. The strikeouts simply aren’t there like they were in his prime and overall he looked like a shell of his former self.

His latest Instagram post is from June 7 and it is a short video of him throwing. The dream is clearly still there for Harvey who is still just 31 years old. In a wacky, shortened season now might be the time to see if Harvey could be a viable low risk, high reward option. However, the feeling might not be reciprocated by the former ace after the nasty divorce from the team. But what better time is there to see if there is anything left in his arm, and to see if the Dark Knight can rise than in Gotham? - Linda Surovich

Not Seth Lugo

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies
This is not Seth Lugo
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In a “normal” season, Marcus Stroman’s injury probably opens the door for Seth Lugo to chase his ill-advised deepest desire to re-enter the starting rotation. It shouldn’t happen in such a normal situation, and definitely not this weird one, especially when compounded with it being literally a day before Opening Day. To be reductive for the sake of brevity, in 31 career starts, Lugo has a 4.06 ERA; in 120 appearances as a reliever, a 2.52. The quality of the Mets’ options for a fifth starter start at “wholly uninspiring” and drop off quickly, but a middling Lugo who hasn’t started a game since 2018 and isn’t stretched out at all is one of the worse options on the table.

Plus, the domino effect of pulling Lugo out of the end of games to the end of the rotation is likely more damaging than whatever 5 ERA coalition of arms end up starting in that spot. For one, the highest-leverage situations immediately fall to either Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson (both who were hurt most of last season) or Edwin Diaz (who spent most of last season hurting me). Expecting Lugo to be even as good as his career 4.06 starting ERA is unreasonable. You can find that pretty much anywhere at this point, even with the Mets’ poor in-house options, but you can’t find the 2.52 ERA Lugo as easily.

Sure, there’s a small chance that Lugo is right and that he’s a starter and that he could help the Mets win a game every fifth day. But that would likely come at the price of even more late-inning bullpen blowups during Jacob deGrom starts. No thanks. Any lead the Mets scratch out in the early innings this season will be precious. Don’t take away their security blanket. - Jack McLoone

Actually, Seth Lugo

New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

While Lugo has established himself as a relief ace for the Mets and therefore it’s completely understandable that the team is adamant about leaving him in the bullpen, these are desperate times for the Mets and this is not a normal season. Seth Lugo is the best pitcher on this team not named Jacob deGrom at this point. Therefore, it is logical that he should pitch more innings. He already has a starter’s arsenal and his biggest limitation as a reliever is his inability to pitch multiple days in a row. Why not remove that roadblock by allowing him to pitch every fifth day as a starter? He was already likely going to serve in a piggyback role, pitching multiple innings to make up for short outings during this unique season. By going with an inferior option such as Corey Oswalt or Erasmo Ramirez, the Mets run the risk of forfeiting the game from the outset with Seth Lugo’s innings coming when the team is already down by a significant margin. Instead, why not give the Mets a fighting chance by allowing Lugo to toss 60-70 pitches to start the game?

Lugo has made it clear he wants to start. If now is not the time to give him that shot, then when? What does the man have to do to get some spot starts? It’s hard to blame him for being frustrated when all he has done is perform and is constantly overlooked for lesser options. - Allison McCague