Following the Mets’ signing of Sean Manaea on Sunday, it looks like the team is done building its rotation for 2024. Tim Britton and Will Sammon wrote as much yesterday, saying that sources familiar with the team saw the possibility of adding someone who’s a starter—but not someone who would bump anyone from the current top five.
Those five pitchers are:
- Kodai Senga
- José Quintana
- Luis Severino
- Sean Manaea
- Adrian Houser
That’s the order at FanGraphs’ Roster Resource, and while you might quibble with some of the specifics in the order beyond Quintana, those do seem like the team’s best five starting pitching options right now. Behind them, either Tylor Megill or Joey Lucchesi would be next in line to get starts. José Butto fared better than expected in his major league stint late last year and could get some starts, too, and a few of the Mets’ younger pitching prospects who haven’t made their major league debuts yet could prove themselves ready during the 2024 season.
As far as performance goes, Senga might actually be a little underrated right now. He finished seventh in National League Cy Young voting last year despite having the second-best ERA among pitchers who got votes. He threw the fewest innings of that bunch, too, but his 4.5 bWAR ranked third. Whether or not he establishes himself as an ace by replicating that type of performance is an open question heading into this season. And for what it’s worth, Steamer projects a 3.75 ERA in 187.0 innings for him.
The other four pitchers’ projections, again per Steamer, have them in the 3.99-to-4.57 range for ERA this year, and right now, that seems pretty fair. Manaea introduced a sweeper and added velocity last year, and there’s a chance he’s much better than expected. Quintana didn’t quite match his 2022 levels of performance after returning from surgery last year, but he did still look good. Severino is probably the biggest wild card considering the disastrous year he had in 2023. And Houser has had a couple of very good seasons but has mostly wound up not straying too far from his career 4.00 ERA.
Durability isn’t quite the strong suit of this starting five, either. Senga made 29 starts last year, and if he’s healthy, it’s not unreasonable to think he could make 30 or more this year, even if the Mets mix in a sixth starter at times to give him extra rest. Quintana used to make 32 starts on a yearly basis, but he’s only topped 30 starts once in the past three seasons. The last time Severino made 30+ starts was in 2018, and he’s totaled just 37 starts over the past two seasons combined. Manaea has only topped 30 starts once, though he’s generally sat in the mid-to-upper 20s in each of his full seasons in the big leagues. And Houser’s career high is 26 starts, which happened in 2021.
If those five pitchers average 25 starts each in 2024, that leaves 37 games—22.8 percent of the Mets’ schedule—to be started by others. There will be injuries, unexpected good performances, and unexpected bad performances along the way, to be sure, but the Mets would really need everything to break right to cover that many games with the depth they have.
In total, the rotation looks reasonably capable of keeping the team afloat. If absolutely everything goes right on the offensive side—including Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte returning to 2022 form—the rotation probably wouldn’t sink the team.