HomeTeamsMetsWhere Things Stand With Mets Open Rotation Spot

Where Things Stand With Mets Open Rotation Spot

As we round into the final stretch of Spring Training, let’s take a look at the starting rotation competition going on at Mets camp.

It’s been about a month since the Mets shut down their ace, Kodai Senga, due to strained right shoulder. Shortly after making that move, the Mets announced that Senga would probably not make his season debut until late April or early May. At this point, early May looks like the best-case scenario. So the question of who would take his spot in the rotation was an instant source of intrigue for the team’s 2024 season. Immediately, three-and-a-half pitchers came to mind: Joey Lucchesi, Tylor Megill, Jose Butto, and Max Kranick.

While Kranick is as much of a pitcher as the other three, within a week of the Senga announcement, he experienced an injury of his own. This one, a left hamstring strain, didn’t come with an official timeline, and still it was enough to take him out of the running for the spot. He was something of a long shot to make the Opening Day rotation anyway, and now the Mets are waiting to see when he’ll be ready to throw again.

Lucchesi’s story is a bit different. There were many who anticipated that Lucchesi would be the one to come up to Queens with the rest of the team. However, it took him a bit longer to be game ready than it did most other pitchers, and by the time he was able to get into a Spring Training game, it was apparent that his arm just wasn’t ready for it. His velocity was down, as was his stamina, and after that one appearance, the Mets determined he would need more time to stretch himself out. This past Friday, he was option to Triple-A where he’ll begin his 2024 season.

With about a week left of preseason games, Tylor Megill and Jose Butto are the last men standing on the mound for the 5th spot in the rotation. Up through today, Megill leads the Mets in innings pitched. Most of his 15.2 frames this spring have been impressive, or at least encouraging. It was really only Sunday’s outing that put a dent in his solid body of work, as he gave up 4 earned runs in 3.2 innings, causing his ERA to jump from 1.50 to 3.45, which is actually still respectable. Even with Sunday’s disappointing showing, Megill has been able to keep his strikeouts consistent while maintaining a WHIP that’s hovering around 1.00. Beyond the stats, Megill has looked like a major-league ready pitcher, and under normal circumstances, this would seem like an easy choice.

Jose Butto doesn’t seem to be persuaded by normal circumstances. Butto has been with the Mets since they signed him out of Venezuela as an international free agent in 2017. Throughout his time with the franchise, he’s pitched well enough to move up, and not so well to be moved up quickly. He had a horrific one-game stint with the Mets in 2022, in which he gave up 7 runs in 4 innings against the Phillies in a spot start. Last year, he had a true up and down season, going back and forth between Queens and Syracuse, until September when he landed with the Mets for good. In that month, he started 4 games, and had a 3.38 ERA and 24 Ks in 21.1 innings and a 1.08 WHIP. These stats include his final start of that month (coincidentally also against Philadelphia) in which he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings. Butto did redeem himself in his lone October start (once again, facing the Phillies) by giving up 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings in what ended up being a 9-1 loss. His stuff has never been in doubt. Control issues, on the other hand, have been a significant obstacle that have kept him from staying in the majors and making an impact. So far this spring, however, it’s been a different story. Over 10 innings, Butto has only given up 1 run, and perhaps more importantly, has only walked 2 batters, both in last Thursday’s start against the Cardinals.

It’s hard to know what criteria the Mets will ultimately use to make their decision. Still, Megill and Butto have both making their own cases by pitching well, which is undoubtedly welcome by the Mets.

Shai Kushner
Shai Kushnerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Shai Kushner, is a seasoned sports journalist and versatile professional deeply embedded in the world of baseball. Since 2014, Shai has been a trusted voice covering the New York Mets for BaseballDigest.com and GothamBaseball.com. Before his journalism career, he served as a video engineer for the Mets Baseball Operations department.


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