Quintana goes down, and the Mets face their first depth challenge
The Mets enjoy a rare off-day. Plus, how the team faces their first challenge with the injury of José Quintana.
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
LHP José Quintana has a small stress fracture in his fifth rib on his left side, the club told reporters on Monday
Quintana will not participate in the World Baseball Classic due to the injury
LHP David Peterson is considered “day-to-day” with a foot contusion after the results of an x-ray and CT scan
SS Francisco Lindor has been named captain of Team Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic (GFR Media)
Today’s Game 🦩
Game 1️⃣1️⃣ of 3️⃣0️⃣
Match-up: Mets at Astros
Where: The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches - West Palm Beach, FL
Starters: RHP Carlos Carrasco vs. LHP Framber Valdez
When: 6:05 PM EDT
Where to Watch: (not televised)
First injury of the spring presents a challenge for the Mets’ depth… ✍🏻
As I’ve always said, Spring Training doesn’t officially start for your team until a player goes down.
That’s what the Mets were faced with on Monday with the news that left-hander José Quintana has a stress fracture in his rib. It has yet to be revealed by the club how much time they expect Quintana to miss, but the veteran lefty has already pulled out of the upcoming World Baseball Classic. It is safe to assume that Quintana will miss at least a couple months, though.
This past season, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg missed the final two-and-a-half months of the season with a stress fracture in his 2nd and 3rd ribs, while Red Sox starter Chris Sale fractured his 8th rib last spring and didn’t return to a big league mound until July.
With that, it’s clear that the Mets starting pitching depth is going to be challenged for the foreseeable future. And while it is never optimal to have a pitcher that was once slated into your starting rotation go down, New York is probably one of the few teams that can adequately withstand the blow.
While David Peterson did have an injury scare of his own over the weekend as he was struck in the foot by a ball in a game, it appears that he avoided anything major as the team is considering him day-to-day with a foot contusion. It stands to reason that with Quintana going down that this is Peterson’s job to lose.
Peterson was quite impressive in multiple roles last season, as he was consistently shuffled between being a big league rotation and bullpen, as well as acting as a starter in Triple-A multiple times. All in all, Peterson completed the 2022 season with a 3.83 ERA, 3.64 FIP and 1.4 fWAR in 28 appearances (19 starts) over 105.2 innings last season in the major leagues.
The Mets do still have depth after Peterson, as well, as Tylor Megill is also waiting in the wings. Megill is expected to start the season in Triple-A after what could only be deemed as an incredibly up-and-down season last year. Megill started the year on fire, pitching to a 2.43 ERA with a 2.45 FIP and 36 strikeouts to just eight walks in his first six starts. Things quickly changed, however, as Megill got injured in a start where the Nationals crushed him, allowing eight earned runs before exiting the game, and he just never could recapture that success. After spending two separate trips on the injured list, Megill posted a 6.90 ERA (4.93 if you take out the injury-laden Nationals blowout) over his final eight appearances of the year. The Mets even tried to convert Megill into a reliever late in the season in an attempt to use his high-octane stuff late in games, but they were unable to give him enough cracks at it. Megill made six appearances as a reliever last season, pitching to a 6.00 ERA and 4.95 FIP in those spots.
After Megill is where it gets a little dicier, though when you consider that you’re talking about your 8th and 9th starters, it’s safe to say that this is usually about as good as you can ask for. Joey Lucchesi, who hasn’t pitched in a big league game since May 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is likely the next man up, with right-hander Elieser Hernandez, acquired from the Marlins this past winter, after him.
Considering the depth that they do currently have, the Mets should be in pretty good shape when it comes to filling the role that Quintana has left open for at least the next few months. Where things do get scarier, though, is what happens if another injury happens before he returns?
You could make the argument that there are few, if any, rotations in baseball that could avoid a drop-off while being down two starting pitchers at once (though the Mets actually did a pretty good job at this at times last season), but it’s still not the ideal situation to be in. This will be an even bigger focus for the Mets vs. most other teams because they have built a starting five that is older than any other in the league, anchored by Max Scherzer (38) and Justin Verlander (40), not to mention Carlos Carrasco (turning 36 later this month).
With all of those factors in play and the injury to Quintana after just a third of the games on their Spring Training slate have been played, all eyes will be on the health of the Mets starters going forward. They’ve built the depth to withstand one injury, and maybe even two if it’s short-term. Anything more significant than that – for any team – is when things really start to get complicated.
Around the League 🚩
Angels RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani homered from his knee in a World Baseball Classic exhibition game
Red Sox 3B Justin Turner received 16 stitches after being hit in the face with a pitch, but does not have any fractures