Mets Playing Time Battles: Pitchers by Brad Johnson February 8, 2016 We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag. Sometimes, I like to write about the low hanging fruit. The Mets’ pitcher battles are all around the fringes of the roster and won’t need to be addressed until halfway through the season. What follows is mostly a discussion of depth with a nod to two talented pitchers who will return in July. Starting Pitchers The rotation is headlined by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. Most everybody expects the trio to be among the top 20 pitchers in baseball. Trailing behind them is Steven Matz, another promising young starter. Matz isn’t an ace in the making, but he looks like an above average real world and fantasy starter. Proud Papa Bartolo Colon will serve as rotation patriarch. The influx of talent has left Zack Wheeler as something of a forgotten man. The club is targeting a July 1 return date from Tommy John surgery. At his best, Wheeler wielded a 95 mph fastball with a strikeout per inning and a few too many walks (about 4.00 BB/9). He’s a very different pitcher than Matz, but the talent level is/was comparable. You can never be completely positive a pitcher will return from Tommy John. If something goes wrong in the rotation before July, things will get a little more dicey. On another team, Rafael Montero would have a more prominent role. Despite success in the minors, the former prospect has had trouble cracking the Mets stacked rotation. He struggled with a rotator cuff injury last season, so he’s not a safe sixth starter either. He can be optioned to the minors one more season. The rest of the depth chart is sketchy. I’m looking at you Gabriel Ynoa, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman. Ynoa is a low strikeout, command and control type. Gsellman is more of the same. Lugo is the most likely to hold fantasy value. He has a track record of good strikeout and walk rates in the minors. Scouting reports are few and far between for this former 34th round pick. I did find a quote from Paul DePodesta describing Lugo as having major league stuff. Relievers I grew up as a Phillies fan. In my experience, Mets fans may be the only group less patient than the Phillies faithful. Jeurys Familia is coming off an excellent first season as the Mets closer. He should return to that role without competition. I’ve seen some fans continue to call for his head after he “blew” the World Series. And by that, I mean he had one bad game and his infield had two bad games. Former DBacks closer Addison Reed will hang around for setup duties. Antonio Bastardo was imported for those tough lefty matchups. He’s a full-inning southpaw, but he can still shutdown same-handed hitters. Hansel Robles could also factor in the late innings. The righty hums at 96 mph and produced elite whiff rates with the fastball. He did allow a few too many home runs with the pitch. His slider wasn’t a stand out pitch, but it was good enough for late innings work. Lest you forget, former closer Jenrry Mejia has 99 days left on his second PED suspension. Assuming he’s smart enough to stop using PEDs, he could be an excellent mid-season addition to the bullpen. In 7.1 innings last season, Mejia picked up where he left off with big whiff rates and an improved walk rate. The small sample success is a good sign that he’s recovered from the elbow injury that originally opened the door for Familia.