It was not too long ago that the New York Mets were believed to have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, comprised of young arms who were only going to get better with time. Various injuries and conduct issues have the Mets further from that truth than ever before, but the addition of Lance Lynn would instantly improve the Mets’ rotation entering the 2018 season.

The Mets were not a particularly great team during the 2013 season, finishing with a 74-88 record and in third place in the National League East. However, that season saw the emergence of Matt Harvey, who finished fourth in Cy Young voting with a 9-5 record and a 2.27 ERA, and despite finishing below .500 for the fifth consecutive season, Mets fans finally had something to be optimistic about.

Harvey missed the entire 2014 season with Tommy John surgery, but Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom both impressed with solid pitching performances despite relatively little experience at the major league level. During the 2015 season, Noah Syndergaard began to show signs of becoming the dominant pitcher he is, Steven Matz made a series of very encouraging starts, and the Mets were able to ride the talent of their young arms all the way to the World Series.

The 2016 Mets put together an outstanding season on the mound, finishing with the third-best team ERA in baseball. Unfortunately, rather than continuing the improvement shown in 2016, the Mets’ rotation took several steps backwards in 2017, dropping all the way to 28th in the league with an abysmal 5.01 team ERA.

The collapse that the starting rotation saw last season was caused by a variety of problems, including Syndergaard’s injury concerns, Harvey’s inexcusable exploits off the field, and the regression of both Wheeler and Matz. Syndergaard and deGrom have the skills to lead the rotation, but in order for the Mets to compete next season, the team needs additional help.

Of all the options in the free agent market, Lance Lynn would be the best fit by far. In his six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Lynn has collected ten wins in every season except his rookie campaign while pitching to the tune of a 3.38 career ERA.

Lynn would be an ideal third starter, slotting behind Syndergaard and deGrom as an innings-eater, a role that no Mets starter from last season was able to fill. Lynn has never been a strikeout pitcher, but if he is able to provide consistently strong outings and last deep into games, the Mets will not need a pitcher with overpowering velocity.

There are concerns with signing Lynn, as with any current free agent who is thirty years old or older. Lynn missed all of the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery, and he issued more walks in 2017 than in any other season in his career, a potential sign that hitters will begin to be able to punish him for poor pitch control.

Still, given the uncertainty in the rotation entering the 2018 season, it would be nonsensical for the Mets to pass up on the opportunity to immediately improve what may well become the most important unit on the team. The Mets have shown the ability to ride a strong starting rotation to new heights in the past, and Lance Lynn could be the missing piece that allows them to do so yet again.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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