The Mets have yet to play a game in this pandemic-shortened MLB season and they have already been dealt a devastating loss.
Marcu Stroman was placed on the injured list on Wednesday after an MRI revealed a tear in his left calf – the same spot he took a line drive off of during an intrasquad game on Friday.
Stroman now joins Noah Syndergaard, who is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, on the IL and suddenly the Mets rotation that was its biggest strength is looking pretty thin.
Mets manager Luis Rojas categorized Stroman as “week-to-week,” which would normally not be so bad during the course of a 162-game season, but in a 60-game season – where starters would make about 12 starts total – missing multiple starts would be a significant blow.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Rojas told reporters on Wednesday. “[Stroman] put a lot of work and brought such great shape and it was real exciting to have the five guys here to go right before the season started and he’s grinding through it. He got hit by that line drive, he finished his pitches … he’s good to throw, it’s just moving where the challenge is, getting off the mound.”
Stroman and defending two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom were supposed to be a 1-2 knockout punch at the top of the rotation, paired with a formidable lineup that could propel the Mets into the playoffs in this shortened season.
But behind deGrom, the Mets rotation is filled with question marks. Steven Matz may be the most important piece as he has shown flashes of his potential, but has also struggled with consistency and staying healthy since his impressive debut in 2015.
The Mets added Rick Porcello to fill out the back end of their rotation, but suddenly he is now thwarted into the No. 3 starter role. While he is a former Cy Young Award winner – with the Red Sox in 2016 – Porcello has hardly been anything more than a middle-of-the-pack pitcher his career and is coming off a season in which he posted a sky-high 5.52 ERA.
Rojas has not announced his rotation beyond the first series, but Michael Wacha -- another addition the Mets made this offseason – is the next likely candidate. Wacha is similar to Matz in terms of someone who has had success but has struggled to establish consistency.
The Mets’ options to replace Stroman include non-roster invite Erasmo Ramirez, right-hander Corey Oswalt or 2017 first-round pick David Peterson.
Whether or not they look elsewhere to add an arm is uncertain.
“Right now our focus is our guys and we like them very much,” Rojas said. “We have seen guys go in there and perform, their stuff is great, they have given us depth.”