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A look at the Mets’ rotation options while José Quintana is out

Should the Mets stick with their internal depth or bring in another arm?

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David Peterson throws a pitch in a blue Mets uniform at spring training
David Peterson at Mets spring training.
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Following the disappointing news yesterday that José Quintana has a stress fracture in one of his ribs on his left side, the Mets are faced with their first potentially significant injury void of the 2023 season. While the team hasn’t provided a timetable for Quintana’s return yet, other pitchers have taken several months to recover from similar injuries.

The Mets had already been planning to mix in a sixth member of the rotation at various points of this season in an effort to go into the playoffs healthy and fresh. The team has a few pitchers in the organization who figured to pitch in those spots or step up when injuries inevitably arose, but it’s at least worth considering their options in light of the Quintana injury.

Internal options

David Peterson had a bit of an injury scare himself the other day after being hit on the foot by a batted ball, but the lefty only suffered a contusion as a result. Entering his age-27 season, the lefty is coming off a year that saw him put up a 3.83 ERA in 105.2 innings with the Mets while getting sent down to Syracuse for a total of six starts in between major league stints. Various projection systems see him putting up similar results in 2023. If everything with the Mets’ rotation remains as is by Opening Day, he’s probably the favorite to win Quintana’s spot in the rotation.

Right-handed pitchers Tylor Megill and Elieser Hernandez have some similarities in terms of their track records. Both have some major league experience both as starters and out of the bullpen, and Megill’s 4.73 ERA is a tick better than Hernandez’s 5.04. Most projections have both pitchers pitching significantly better this year than they did last year, which would good news for the Mets if either of them happen to fill a rotation spot for any significant length of time.

Lefty Joey Lucchesi is pitching again after having Tommy John surgery during the 2021 season and is attempting to make the Opening Day roster. In his time with the Mets before his surgery, he had a 4.46 ERA in 38.1 innings, and he’s the owner of a career 4.24 ERA.

And it’s worth noting that all four of those internal arms have options remaining, meaning the Mets can freely send them to Syracuse at any point during the season.

External options

There are still several pitchers available in free agency, and it would seem wise for the Mets to at least consider bringing in another arm to add to their mix of options.

It’s been years since he was a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, but 34-year-old Chris Archer had a 4.56 ERA in 22 starts with the Twins last year. He had surgery in 2020 to address throacic outlet syndrome, the same condition that derailed Matt Harvey’s career, and only threw 19.1 innings in the big leagues in 2021.

Dylan Bundy pitched for the Twins last year, too, and managed to finish the season with a 4.89 ERA despite giving up home runs at a fairly alarming rate and seeing his strikeout rate plummet. The 30-year-old thrived in the short season in 2020, finishing with a 3.29 ERA, but has a 4.74 ERA for his career. Still, that’s roughly enough to be a fifth starter in the big leagues.

Now 34 years old, Michael Pineda had an ugly 5.79 ERA for the Tigers last year, but the former Yankee pitched pretty well in three seasons with the Twins from 2019 through 2021, as he had a cumulative 3.80 ERA in that time. He did, however, serve a 60-game suspension for testing positive for a substance that is often used to mask performance-enhancing drugs in 2019.

And Anibal Sanchez made just 14 starts for the Nationals last year, but he put up a 4.28 ERA in that time. Sanchez had struggled mightily in 2020 with a 6.62 ERA in the short season and didn’t pitch in 2021.

All four of those pitchers are in their thirties, and none of them seem likely to any kind of major breakout at this stage of their careers. But if the Mets are able to bring them in on flexible deals, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have more options with Opening Day just a little over three weeks away.