In recent memory, the starting rotation has not only been a non-concern for the New York Mets, but the strength of the team. Their flashy, young rotation helped get them to the World Series back in 2015 and star pitchers such as reigning Cy Young champion Jacob deGrom and flame-throwing Noah Syndergaard have helped the team sell tickets in the past few years and stay somewhat relevant. Now, after a slew of offseason moves that has led to high expectations, the Mets’ offense is suddenly playing very well. Due to the emergence of rookie Pete Alonso and the reliable bat of Jeff McNeil, the Mets have put up 114 runs through just 21 games. However, despite an emerging offense, the starting rotation, along with a new look bullpen including star closer Edwin Diaz, has been struggling, putting up a 5.57 earned run average through 21 games. The addition of a former Cy Young winner and a two-time All-Star would bolster the rotation of the Mets and help propel them to the playoffs, as Mets fans expect.
Currently, the Mets’ rotation consists of deGrom, Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jason Vargas. If Keuchel were added to this rotation, he’d become either the third or fourth pitcher in the rotation, removing Jason Vargas from the rotation, causing fans everywhere to pop open the champagne bottles. Vargas, who currently holds a 9.58 ERA to go along with his 5.77 last season, is truly a liability on the mound for the Mets. Through three starts, he’s only reached the second inning twice and has pitched a total of 10.1 innings (with one relief appearance where he gave up four runs). He’s had better starts against Miami and St. Louis, but Miami is the worst team in the league and despite only giving up one run, he failed to even make it to the fifth inning against the Cardinals. Removing Vargas from the rotation with the addition of Keuchel would give the Mets a significantly better chance to win once every five games, which could be enough to make a big difference in the tight NL East.
Additionally, adding Keuchel to the rotation would not only help the rotation, but impact the bullpen as well. On days Vargas pitches, not only does it give the Mets a minimal chance to win, but they need to have the bullpen eat a lot of innings. If Keuchel were added and those innings didn’t need to be pitched by the bullpen, they would have more rest and have stronger pitching performances when called upon. It won’t be a major improvement to the pen, but it’s surely a start. Wasting valuable bullpen arms once every five days is not how you find success in October, and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t give up two of the team’s top four prospects to not find success in October.
Let’s be honest here. Dallas Keuchel is no longer a Cy Young Caliber pitcher. However, he could be a solid, reliable arm for the Mets down the stretch as they look to contend this year. The Mets still have money to spend, and the Wilpons should be willing to spend whatever is necessary in order to contend in October. The addition of Keuchel would address the current weakness of the Mets, and could help alleviate the pain in the bullpen, which could help the team pick up the division title and potentially go even further this year.