At best, the 2011 starting rotation was mediocre, however it was extremely reliable. The Mets had 5 starters each make over 26 starts including three pitchers who made over 31 starts. It is pretty unusual for a team, that struggled overall, to not have at least one revolving starting slot. To put this in perspective, here are some numbers in the last few seasons:
(How to read this, X over 30 is how many pitchers made over 30 starts, X over 26 is how many pitchers made over 26 starts, X overall is how many pitchers started a game):
- 2011: 3 over 30, 5 over 26, 9 overall
- 2010: 2 over 30, 4 over 26, 12 overall
- 2009: 1 over 30, 1 over 26, 11 overall
- 2008: 3 over 30, 3 over 26, 11 overall
- 2007: 2 over 30, 3 over 26, 12 overall
- 2006: 2 over 30, 2 over 26, 13 overall
So looking at the above, the last two seasons have been some of the most consistent for the Mets in terms of their starters (although it may not be the starters they wanted to be consistent in making their starts, or consistent in their performance). Last year, the Mets also used the lowest amount of starters that they had in a long time.
If Santana is ready to go for Opening Day, then the starting rotation would probably look something like this (not necessarily in this order):
- Johan Santana
- Mike Pelfrey
- R.A. Dickey
- Dillon Gee
- Jon Niese
If anyone goes down to injury, is not ready, is traded in the above group, or whatever, then the following pitchers could fill in for either a short term stint as a starter or as a long term replacement:
- Chris Schwinden
- DJ Carrasco
- Jeremy Hefner
- Jenry Mejia (Won’t be ready until mid-season)
- Chuck James
- Garrett Olson
- Josh Stinson
- Dylan Owen
From the shear amount of names in the above group, unless Harvey and Familia and are tearing it up in the minors, they won’t get promoted this season, which is the best for their development. Out of the above group, we can pretty much assume that DJ would only be used in an emergency out of the pen and that Mejia would also be a pitcher used if he is crushing it in the minors.
Schwinden made several starts at the end of last season after being one of the leaders for innings for Buffalo. Stinson debuted as a reliever for the Mets last season, but he could also start.
The three pitchers on the above list that I could see making it in to the Mets rotation at some point this season are Hefner, James and Owen. Hefner is young, and could become a back of rotation of guy. Chuck James has already pitched in the majors, which could make him an appealing starter. Owen has put up average, but consistent numbers throughout his career in the minors (he is also young). If the Mets do not sign another starter, and if Santana is isn’t ready for opening day, I expect the Spring Training competition for that starter spot to be between these three pitchers.