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Mets Rotation Was The Least Of Their Problems

Coming into the season, one of the knocks on the 2024 Mets was their starting pitching. Their actual ace, Kodai Senga, is injured. Their interim ace, Jose Quintana, is really more of a mid-rotation pitcher at best. The rest of the cast of characters features three new team members:

  • Luis Severino, an oft-injured pitcher who hasn’t pitched well since 2022 and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2018.
  • Sean Manaea, an inconsistent pitcher who has shown flashes of promise amidst a steady dose of adequateness.
  • Adrian Houser, a groundball pitcher who usually seems to be pitching in a jam and sometimes gets out of it unscathed.

The other Mets starter, Tylor Megill, is something of a mix of those pitchers mentioned above. He has shown some serious promise, while also dealing with injuries, inconsistency, and runners on base.

Based on those descriptions above, it’s easy to understand why expectations for this rotation were low. So how did it go?

Quintana did what Quintana does, which is pitch into and out of jams, never looking dominant while also never looking overmatched. He kept the Mets in the game against the Brewers, giving up 2 earned runs in 4+ innings. Essentially, he pitched like the mid-to-late rotation pitcher that he is. Unfortunately, it was Opening Day and he was treated as if he was their ace. Also unfortunate, the Mets hitters couldn’t help him, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The only real knock on Quintana’s game was that he couldn’t get out of the 5th inning. High pitch counts destroyed the Mets pitching staff last season, and they’re going to need their starters to go deeper this year.

Luis Severino, on the other hand, was able to complete 5 innings. Sadly, they were 5 very rough innings. He gave up 3 runs in the first inning, 6 runs (3 earned) all together, and while he didn’t walk any, he just didn’t seem to have good command of his pitches. Until Senga returns, Severino is the pitcher with the best potential, however with performances like this one, 2018 seems further and further away.

Megill started the Mets third game of the season, their last of the Brewers series, and much like Quintana, had a very appropriate game for who he is. Also, much like Quintana, he came out of the game early, pitching just 4 innings before turning things over to the bullpen. More importantly, shortly after the game the Mets put Megill on the IL with a shoulder strain. He’ll be reevaluated later this week and hopefully at that point the Mets can determine his timeline.

So, after one series, Mets pitches seemed to be pitching to script. Then the Detroit Tigers came to town and things changed a little.

On Monday, Sean Manaea made his Mets debut, and it was a memorable one. On a night when a relatively unknown Houston Astros starter pitched a no-hitter against the Blue Jays, Manaea was flirting with a bit of history of his own. By the end of his appearance, he had thrown 6 innings, struck out 8 batters, walked two, and didn’t give up his first hit until the last batter he faced. If this wasn’t the best game that Manaea will have pitched as a member of the Mets, then they have some truly exciting games to look forward to. In some ways, Manaea’s start was reminiscent of former Mets great, Jacob DeGrom. Unfortunately, much like DeGrom’s experience, the Mets bats and the Mets bullpen couldn’t take advantage of his mound work and they ended up losing the game in extra innings.

Following two straight days of heavy rain, the Mets closed out their series against the Tigers with a double-header. Adrian Houser started the first game and gave the Mets 5 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball. His 3 walks during his appearance drove up his pitch count and after allowing the first two batters in the top of the 6th inning to reach base, he left the game hoping his bullpen could hold the lead. They didn’t and the Tigers tied the game in the 8th and with the Mets bats going dormant, eventually won it in the 11th. Still, Houser pitched like one of the better versions of himself, and if that’s who he’s going to be, then the Mets have some late-rotation pitching to look forward to.

The second game of the double-header featured the previously unmentioned Jose Butto. As you may remember, Butto and Megill were the final challengers for the remaining rotation spot, and while Megill ended up earning his place, it certainly wasn’t because of anything Butto failed to do in Port St. Lucie. Butto ended last season on a high note and carried that into spring training this year. As for the game, Butto labored through the first few innings, causing some worry that he would have a short outing. However, he put it together and ended up with a much more efficient outing. All in all, he gave up 1 run on 3 hits in 6 innings, striking out 6 and walking 3. Much like with Houser, and Manaea before him, Butto’s performance had the Mets fans feeling surprisingly optimistic about their starting pitching.

It’s unwise to overanalyze the first week of the season as so many factors come into play, factors that seem to even themselves out over time. Still, five out of the six Mets starters pitched well enough to give the team a chance to win. If that’s any indication of what they can expect this season, then despite their offensive struggles this week, mediocrity just might be possible for the Mets. Or perhaps better?

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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