Mets Final Season Grades – Spot Starters

Throughout the season, I attempted to grade the different Mets players performances for each month of the season. In determining the year end grades, the aggregate of the monthly grades given was considered, but it wasn’t conclusive.  For example, one player’s awful month could be more than offset by having an incredible month.  Also, those decisions were made in the heat of the moment.  There has been a cooling off period in giving these finals grades, and with that, there is time for reflection.  It should also be noted the Wild Card Game did have some impact on these grades as that game was part of the story of the 2016 Mets.  Overall, the final grades assessed considered the monthly grades, but also took into account that player(s) overall impact on the Mets season (good or bad).    For the seventh set of grades, here are the Mets spot starters:

Logan Verrett C-

In 2015 with the Mets rotation nearing innings limits on the eve of the postseason, notably Matt Harvey, Verrett rose to the challenge, and he showed himself to be not just a capable bullpen arm, but also someone who can be a reliable spot starter.  Unfortunately, as good as Verrett was in 2015, he was that poor in 2016.

Initially, Verrett did well in the rotation after making two April spot starts for Jacob deGrom.  In those starts, he pitched six innings and allowed no runs.  However, it was when he was called upon to fill-in for an injured Harvey that Verrett really struggled, and he fell apart in August.  Overall, Verrett made 12 starts going 1-6 with a 6.45 ERA and a 1.617 ERA.  There’s no sugar coating how poor those numbers are.  So why wasn’t his grade lower?

Well, Verrett was useful out of the bullpen.  In his 23 relief appearances, he was 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.453 WHIP.  His WHIP was quite poor, but overall, he was effective out of the pen, and for the most part, he went multiple innings.  There’s value in that, and it should be recognized.

Ultimately, what we learned with Verrett is he may not be as capable bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen as we once thought.  It might just be that his stuff will not permit him to go more than two times through a lineup.  Ideally, Verrett is no more than a long man in the pen or a AAA starter called-up to make a start.  He’s not both.

Rafael Montero F

What was the most surprising part of Montero’s season?  Was it his demotion to AA or was it his getting called-up to the majors two times last season?  The answer actually is it was Montero getting important September starts for a team trying to claim one of the two Wild Card spots.

It was the same old Montero.  In the minors, he pounded the strike zone, and he gave the Mets some hope they could salvage him.  In the majors, he was flat out terrible.  In his three starts and nine relief appearances, Montero was 0-1 with an 8.05 ERA and a 2.053 WHIP, and he may not have been that good.  It is still incredible that he hasn’t been taken off the 40 man roster yet.

Jon Niese F

Speaking of terrible, the Mets admitted their mistake in signing Antonio Bastardo to a two year deal, and they traded him to the Pirates to bring back Niese.  The Mets were desperate for pitching at the time, and there was some hope Niese would improve working with pitching coach Dan Warthen again.  The Mets hopes were quickly dashed.

Niese made two starts and four relief appearances for the Mets.  In those games, he was 0-1 with an 11.45 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP.  He was even worse than he was with the Pirates, and remember, he was amidst the worst year of his career with the Pirates.  In his last start, and most likely last appearance ever wearing a Mets uniform, Niese lasted a third of an inning before removing himself from the game with a knee injury.  Not too long thereafter, Niese had season ending knee surgery.  It will be interesting to see what the market will be for him this offseason.

Seth Lugo A

Lugo went from a struggling pitcher in AAA who was removed from the rotation to being one of the Mets best starting pitchers down the stretch.

During the season, we saw Lugo had the single best pitch out of anyone in the minor leagues when he embarassed Anthony Rizzo with his curveball.  As it turns out, if you measure curveballs by revolution, Lugo has one of the best curveballs in the sport.  We also saw that when Lugo needed a little extra on his fastball to get out of a jam, he could ramp it up all the way to 96 MPH.  In that way, Lugo was a bit of a throwback.  Lugo relied mostly on his B fastball and secondary pitches, but when he was in trouble, or he needed to put a batter away, he took his stuff to the next gear.  It could be one of the reasons he was so successful limiting the damage with runners in scoring position.

Overall, Lugo made eight starts and nine relief appearances for the Mets.  As a starter, he was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP.  As a reliever, he was 0-1 with a 2.65 ERA and a 0.941 WHIP.  For the season, Lugo was 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.094 WHIP.  Not a bad season for a pitcher that got booted from the AAA rotation.

Robert Gsellman A

In the aforementioned game Niese left due to injury, it was Gsellman who relieved him.  In that game, Gsellman began to make a name for himself.  Gsellman would get better and better from start to start culminating in his seven inning, no run, eight strikeout game against the Phillies in the Mets last home regular season game.

During the season, Gsellman featured a power sinker and some still developing, but still effective secondary pitches.  That power sinker helped Gsellman go 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.276 WHIP in what was effectively nine starts.  Gsellman was better than even the Mets could have hoped he would be.  With the departure of Bartolo Colon in free agency coupled with the questions surrounding the rotation, mainly Zack Wheeler, Gsellman may very well be competing with Lugo for a spot in the Opening Day rotation.

Gabriel Ynoa C-

The main thing we learned about Ynoa during the 2016 season was the 23 year old just wasn’t ready to pitch in the major leauges.  However, due to a rash of injuries, the Mets brought him up sooner than he should have been, and they immediately put him in a relief role he was ill suited.

Ynoa would make 10 appearances for the Mets.  That included three starts in games he frankly should not have been starting.  Ynoa was called upon to start games despite not having made a start in nearly a month due to injuries and Montero being Montero.  Overall, Ynoa was 1-0 with a 6.38 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP.  It is too soon to judge what type of career he will have, and the hope is that Ynoa will be better for the experience.

Editor’s Note: the grades for April, May, June, July, August, and September/October can be found by clicking the links.