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Will Mets’ 6-Man Rotation Include the ‘Right’ Six Pitchers?

The Mets will begin using six starters on Tuesday night.

Jonathon Niese (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Jonathon Niese (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)


The Mets are about to embark this week on their much talked-about move to a six-man pitching rotation once the activate Dillon Gee to start in San Diego Tuesday night.

While there are plenty of skeptics who doubt that shifting to a six-man rotation will provide the hoped-for protection from allowing the innings totals of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to unsustainably risky levels, there is another cause for skepticism that does not involve that trio of premium-talent right-handers.

It’s getting to the point where it must be asked whether continuing to send veteran left-hander Jon Niese out to the mound every fifth–and now, every sixth–day will eventually be what costs the Mets a post-season berth. Niese, who, along with manager Terry Collins, claims to be in perfect health, cannot get out of the fifth inning anymore. In four straight starts, Niese has spit the bit in fewer than five innings, allowing at least five runs in each of those starts.

Niese’s left-handedness and his profile as the type of pitcher who needs to start and who, according to experts who know more about pitching than we at Double G Sports do, cannot transition to a role in the bullpen are the two factors keeping him in the rotation right now. He also has a team-friendly contract that would theoretically make him an attractive acquisition for a team seeking a starting pitcher (at least, before Niese started to exponentially drive down his trade value with every subsequent mound appearance lately).

But what has become frustratingly apparent with each passing week now is that the Mets have a better left-handed option than Niese who seems for all the world to be ready to make the jump from Triple-A Las Vegas to the major leagues. Steven Matz just keeps turning in one superb performance after another in Triple-A, posting a 6-3 record with an ERA of 1.98 that would be outstanding for anybody, but which looks even better when one adjusts for the offense-happy environment of the Pacific Coast League where Las Vegas plays.

Do the Mets wait for one from among starters Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon (the National League’s leading winner, by the way, with eight victories), Gee and Niese to suffer a health setback and be forced to the disabled list? Or does the team make a bold move, and soon, to show that they’re serious about contending and make this the strongest rotation of quality arms they possibly can by promoting Matz very soon and bumping the worst of those other six starters (and that has to be Niese right now) out of the rotation?

Niese doesn’t profile as a relief pitcher? Tough. Giving up five runs every four innings lately sure doesn’t sound like the profile of an effective starting pitcher now, does it? It’s true that Niese has given up more unearned runs than any pitcher in the NL, and that his defense betrays him more often than it does other starters. But it’s also true that Niese hasn’t shown a particular skill for facing down adversity and conquering on-base situations that require some heavy lifting.

The Mets could use another lefty arm in the bullpen. Let Niese be that arm, and strengthen the rotation with Steven Matz.

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