McDonald: The Mets Should Leave Matt Harvey And Zack Wheeler Down In Florida To Start The Season

Apparently, Terry Collins has a dilemma.

The Mets manager says he’s getting a couple of sleepless nights because of the impending decision about his No. 5 starter. Should he go with Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo or Zack Wheeler?

Three worthy candidates and one spot.

“It’s a great problem to have,” Collins said down in Port St. Lucie.

Yes, it is, Terry, but since we are just as interested in you getting your eight hours, as well as getting this rotation sorted out, my we interject our two cents.

Right now, the three locks on the rotation are Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. Syndergaard is as healthy as ever and the other two seem 100 percent after their off-season surgeries.

So, pencil those three in.

Matt Harvey, though, seems to need more time as he comes back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The Dark Knight hasn’t been fooling anyone in Gotham this spring. His fastball is topping out in the low 90s and he is pitching to a 7.88 ERA in three games.

It’s not the type of comeback the 27 year-old was looking for coming into 2017, but that’s to be expected with TOS patients. It’s a newer surgery and it’s unpredictable.

Also, there’s no true timeline for a comeback. While some may need nine months, others may need more time to build up the muscles around his shoulder.

This would be fine for the Mets if they were just on the outside of the race, but in 2017, the club isn’t just expected to contend, it’s expected to go and now win the World Series. This is their window.

So, there’s no need for the Mets to futz around with Harvey’s recovery. With the luxury of Gsellman and Lugo, they would be better off keeping him down in Florida the first month of the season. That way, they can control his recover and hope his fastball will return with more time.

Plus, the Mets won’t have to subject Harvey to pitching in the cold weather in April. With a Tommy John Surgery and now a TOS on his resume, why take a chance with a guy, if he recovers, can be the best pitcher in baseball.

That leaves two spots for three guys. This is also a simple solution. Leave Wheeler with Harvey. Since he hasn’t pitched since 2014, the Mets want to limit their other stud pitcher to about 125 innings this season. So, to get length on his season, limit the first month and give him the extra time.

Of course, this is just kicking the can down the road, because Harvey and Wheeler will be looking to be back in Flushing by the beginning of May. You never know, though, what will happen in that first month. Gsellman and Lugo could prove not ready for prime time (unlikely) or someone could get injured (more likely), so there probably will be a need for Harvey and Wheeler sooner rather than later.

However, this plan makes the most sense right now. It solves your rotation problem and gives the two pitchers coming back from the most severe surgery the time to get ready, so they can fit into the rotation and not miss a beat.

Okay, Terry you can sleep at night now.  

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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