Mets Corey Kluber/James Paxton Plan
When Noah Syndergaard returns, that’s a tremendous top three. The question is what the Mets should do for the last two rotation spots.
Both pitchers are coming off injury riddled seasons. Instead of cashing in on free agency, they’re having showcases to prove they can return to form. Those forms are better than anything on the market.
Before being traded to the Rangers and suffering a tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, Kluber was one of the best pitchers in the majors.
In 2017 and 2018, he had a 172 ERA+, 2.82 FIP, and a 7.0 K/BB. If he can be anything close to that, he’s taking the Mets to the World Series.
However, there’s no knowing if he can get anywhere close to that. He struggled in his six starts before he suffered a broken arm from a comebacker. He never made it back that season due to injuries, and he lasted one inning in 2020 before the muscle tear.
If Kluber can get anywhere near his 2018 form, he’d be great. That 2018 form makes him well worth the gamble.
The same thing can be said about Paxton.
When the Seattle Mariners did their great sell off, Paxton went to the New York Yankees. In 2019, he had a 117 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, and a 3.38 K/BB. He showed he can handle the stage not just in that regular season but also with a big win in Game 5 of the ALCS.
Over a three year period (2016-2019), Paxton had a 120 ERA+, 3.26 FIP, and a 4.1 K/BB. That’s a very good pitcher.
What wasn’t good was Paxton’s 2020. He had a 6.64 ERA in five starts in an injury riddled season before shutting it down with a flexor strain. At the moment, his velocity isn’t all the way back with him throwing 94 MPH in a throwing session. Still, he’s getting there.
If Paxton’s ready by Opening Day, you want him in your rotation. Unfortunately, the only way you can really figure that out is by signing him. Teams have the right to be leery, but he’s well worth the risk.
If you’re the Mets, adding Kluber or Paxton to deGrom and Stroman is awfully enticing. That goes double when they would slot into the rotation as a three or four.
Adding both allows them to put Peterson in the minors as insurance and to permit him to improve in the areas where he needs to improve. In the event, Kluber or Paxton falter or aren’t quite ready for Opening Day, the Mets have Peterson.
If they work out and Syndergaard returns as planned, Matz becomes a weapon out of the bullpen. Alternatively, the Mets can cycle through all of these starters to keep them fresh and to the finish line much like they did in 2015.
That said, if you really believe Kluber and Paxton are healthy, and you believe in Jeremy Hefner, you roll the dice and add both. You give them the incentive laden deals they merit/want, and you allocate your funds towards George Springer, Brad Hand, and third base.
Ultimately, that’s just one of many paths before the Mets. Fortunately, they have the people in charge and the resources available that you can trust they’re going to make the right decisions to make the Mets a real contender.