David Peterson Must Now Start 2021 Season In Syracuse
The Mets have signed Taijuan Walker to join a rotation which already has Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco. With Noah Syndergaard set to return from Tommy John this season, that means the fifth starter role on the Opening Day rotation is a temporary one.
Entering 2020, Peterson was the top pitching prospect in the Mets organization, and at one point in his minor league career, he was considered a top 100 prospect. Even though he pitched for the Mets in that bizarre and truncated season, in many ways, Peterson remains a pitching prospect, and he should be treated as such.
If you are an organization, you don’t take your best Major League ready pitching prospect and put him in the rotation for just two months with the plan of moving him back to the minors or even the bullpen. As a plan, that makes zero to no sense. It’s a gross mishandling of a prospect.
That’s before you also consider Peterson still needs to develop. He did walk 11.7% of the batters he faced. Even with the caveat of Wilson Ramos behind the plate, that’s terrible, and it will not be sustainable for the course of a full season. To be fair, this has not been a significant issue during his minor league career, and as Derek Carty, then of Fangraphs, pointed out ground ball pitchers can get away with a higher walk rate.
The control manifested itself in other areas than just walk rate for Peterson. Last year, he was below average in terms of barrel rates and 10.2% of fly balls against him went for homers. That’s a rate which followed him from Double-A, and that is a poor rate. If you are a pitcher who pitches to contact like Peterson does, you cannot yield that high of a home run rate. These are areas Peterson should be able to address and improve. However, that is difficult when you are bouncing between the majors and Triple-A.
The good news for the Mets is they have built depth sufficient to allow Peterson to continue to develop in the minors. They have both Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto. In terms of Yamamoto, he only has one option remaining, and you don’t want to burn it if you don’t need to do it. With Lucchesi, the Mets have a pitcher who had a much better FIP than Peterson.
That’s an important consideration here. Peterson is not definitively better than the pitchers in the Mets organization. Aside from Lucchesi and Yamamoto, the Mets also have pitchers like Jerad Eickhoff, who should not be completely discounted with his now being over a full season being removed from a biceps issue, and Corey Oswalt.
The point is for two months the Mets have options. Those options could also include bullpenning games with them having both Lucchesi and Yamamoto. When you examine all the options, you see the Mets don’t need to force Peterson into the rotation for two months only to remove him and send him down to Syracuse or the bullpen. No, the better course is for Peterson to start the year in Syracuse to develop and be ready for when the first pitcher in the rotation goes down with an injury.