By Dan Lagnado
The Mets have decided that the time is right to begin bringing up their top young pitchers. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom will start the two Subway Series games at Citi Field. Montero was recalled and Jenrry Mejia pushed to the bullpen when Gonzalez Germen was placed on the DL with a virus. deGrom was supposed to make his debut out of the bullpen but in a surprising twist, the Mets placed Dillon Gee on the disabled list as well, creating an opening for deGrom in the rotation. These decisions are both aggressive and surprising.
In years past, the Mets have lasted into later in the season before calling up their top pitcher. This was the case in both 2012 and 2013 when the team was handling Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler very carefully. In addition to potential innings limits, the delayed call-ups also delayed free agency for the player by a year. With both Montero and deGrom coming up in mid-May it is likely that they will both face arbitration a year early.
These moves, along with the promotions of Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell show that the Mets want to be competitive this year. This is another stark difference from the past few years. There was no reason to rush Harvey or Wheeler to the bigs because there was nothing to play for. So despite the team’s struggles (though the permanent struggles didn’t set in until later in the year) were not as big of a deal. The Mets have been planning for the future for a long time and the facts are that the future is almost here.
Despite the arrivals of Montero and deGrom, don’t expect to see the biggest gun around Queens just yet. With the arrivals of two young pitchers, the need for arms has been filled. That means Noah Syndergaard is destined for a few more months in Las Vegas. Of course his arrival could be accelerated if an injury occurs, even then it is unlikely as the Mets have both Mejia and Daisuke Matsuzaka who are capable of starting in an emergency.
When Gee and Germen return from the DL, the Mets will have a decision to make. Two players will need to be removed from the roster if to make room for Montero and deGrom. The likely targets will be the struggling veterans in the bullpen: Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth. They earned an extra two weeks in Queens but only time will tell what Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson choose to do.
Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995