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The Mets’ rotation has been top-heavy in 2020

Sixteen games into the season, the Mets’ rotation has been unsteady.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Back when spring training was happening, before the pandemic shut baseball down for several months, it was reasonable to expect the Mets to have a good starting rotation. Even with the team having decided to let Zack Wheeler walk and only having signed Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, a healthy version of that rotation figured to fare well enough.

Several months later, though, with Major League Baseball starting a 60-game season with the Mets’ opener having taken placed on July 24, the reality is much worse. Despite having Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation, Mets starting pitchers have a collective 4.73 ERA that ranks 20th in baseball.

Noah Syndergaard, who likely would have been the team’s number two starter, is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery shortly after baseball shut down spring training. Marcus Stroman, who likely would have been the Mets’ third starter, hasn’t pitched in a game yet after tearing his calf just before the season started, though he seems to be getting close to his return. And just yesterday, Wacha joined those two on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

Up to this point of the 2020 season, the Mets have only used five starting pitchers, but that will obviously change when Wacha’s turn in the rotation comes up on Wednesday. deGrom has been excellent with a 2.45 ERA and 2.29 FIP, and David Peterson, who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues until this year, has a 3.78 ERA and 3.93 FIP through his first three starts, giving him the second-best ERA and third-best FIP in the rotation at the moment.

The other three pitchers haven’t pitched nearly as well as those two. Steven Matz has a 5.65 ERA and 6.32 FIP, and he’s thrown just 14.1 innings over the course of three starts. Home runs have been a major issue, as he’s given up 3.14 per nine innings. Wacha had a 6.43 ERA and 4.47 FIP in three starts before hitting the injured list, and neither performance nor health issues can be considered shocking given the way his past couple of seasons went in St. Louis. Porcello has a 6.92 ERA, a mark that has come down from 27.00 to 13.50 to that point, and a 2.82 FIP. The latter is largely the result of Porcello not having allowed a home run yet this year despite having allowed plenty of runs.

Perhaps there’s a good sign in the rotation’s collective 3.82 FIP, which is the ninth-best mark in baseball. But to see improved results from the rotation, the Mets need Matz and Porcello to be better. And whatever the length of Wacha’s absence, his slot in the rotation being filled by Stroman would be a significant upgrade. If both of those pitchers are unavailable for more than one turn through the rotation, things look even shakier.