Mancuso: Harvey, Matz, Wheeler..Who Knows?

Jason Vargas was acquired to reinforce a Mets starting rotation. You would envision nothing going bad and Vargas sustains the injury to his his non pitching hand. Something to be concerned about with Opening Day six days from the opener at Citi Field?  No worries because Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are in mid season form that has been reflected from their spring starts.

Then there are the other three: Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler and all in the equation to possibly be the big five of a rotation that have never started as a unit because of injuries and other circumstances. And if this does happen, assuming nothing goes wrong, then these big guns out of the Mets system could help this team back to the postseason.

And by all means, health is an issue. Until it is proved that this quintet can be what was expected well there will always be doubts. However, and that is always the skeptical question, a healthy rotation of Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler with quality starts?  That happens and the Mets are contending and at best in the NL wild card picture.

Begin with Matt Harvey and five spring starts,  18 strikeouts in 20.00 innings pitched. The velocity has returned and pitching inside to hitters. Is this reminiscent of 2015 before the setbacks? One high ranking scout has observed Harvey said, “There is reason for optimism.” He says Matz and Wheeler, despite having some obstacles, are also showing signs of attacking the strike zone with better proficiency.

And of course with Matz and Wheeler, now slated to start the season because of the injury to Vargas,  this is regarding their health and giving the Mets rotation the innings they have always been expected.

Said Wheeler, “Even if it is one time or so, It’s going to be fun to get all five guys going in a row and see what we’ve got.” Exactly what the Mets and their fans hope for in seeing all five and what they got because there were so many expectations. Those expectations come to fruition, and contingent on how it spans out, then the Mets are serious contenders again.

And if it does not become a reality to have all five, well the assumption is Syndergaard and deGrom will have the burden on their shoulders as the top two and the others remain a question again.

But all is good right now and there is that optimism with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, not to be bypassed as other options for the rotation, and they are a good fix in the bullpen. Either way the Mets are looking stronger because the pitching is healthy, even though Wheeler and Matz have had their struggles during their spring starts.

Sandy Alderson, the GM would love to be the architect that says they are finally all together. He said this week it’s about winning games and staying competitive.  The fact is for the Mets, there is really no alternative plan and if these five don’t survive there is minimal depth to obtain some help with Triple-A Las Vegas.

So this will be a numbers game and a cautious approach with Harvey, Matz and Wheeler. And be assured a pitching minded manager, Mickey Callaway and for Dave Eiland, a conscious pitching coach, they will play the game of caution the first time around the rotation for this quintet.

Wheeler could be the odd man out, assuming Vargas returns as expected after missing his first two starts. This still leads to optimism for the New York Mets but realize this:

Believe it, if you see it. And because there are 162-games there is always that reason for cautious optimism.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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