Two pitchers the Mets could lean on this season

March 17th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The injury to comes on the heels of the news that will be out until at least July. That puts a rotation job up for grabs. 

Of the handful of pitchers ostensibly competing to fill that role, two stand above the rest. They combined to make 28 starts in the Majors last season, many of those at an elite level. One is left-handed and one is right-handed, though that doesn’t matter much to Buck Showalter. More important is that one of them proves capable of not only replacing Quintana, but also matching his reputation as a rotation workhorse. 

Those frontrunners are and , and their importance to the team has grown considerably. Here’s a look at how closely they stack up:

Peterson, LHP 
Age: 27 
Career starts: 43 
Career ERA as a starter: 4.38 
Statistics this spring: 8.0 IP, 0 H, 4 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA 

Megill, RHP
Age: 27
Career starts: 27
Career ERA as a starter: 4.67
Statistics this spring: 8.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 1.08 ERA

Statistically, it’s nearly impossible to separate these two, even though their backgrounds are different. Peterson is a former first-round pick who excelled last season as the Mets’ sixth starter, proving immune to the difficulty of bouncing frequently between Triple-A and the Majors. He seemed likely to enter this season in a similar role, until Quintana’s injury created the potential for him to not just make the rotation, but to stick there all season.

“Obviously, it sucks to see one of your teammates go down with that,” Peterson said. “I hope he gets back as quick as he can and healthy, but I think that has been the thing all along. The front office and the coaching staff have wanted to have starting pitching depth. They made it a priority. So I guess this is where it comes in handy to have guys to choose from.

The alternative is Megill, a former eighth-round pick who looked like a future reliever until he combined significant velocity gain with an improved changeup to make a leap over the past 18 months. As the Mets’ emergency Opening Day starter last season, Megill excelled, producing a 1.93 ERA over five April starts before injuries, including a shoulder strain, undermined his success. But Megill entered this spring healthier, lighter and (thanks to a tip from Max Scherzer) pitching more economically, with an eye toward lasting deeper into games.

Realistically, the Mets will need both Peterson and Megill in significant doses over the course of the summer. Most teams rely heavily on eight or more starters, and the Mets have been no exception in recent years. Even if everyone is healthy, they intend to work in a sixth man on occasion to provide additional rest for an aging rotation. 

But Opening Day matters, both symbolically and otherwise. Peterson and Megill want to be there. So far, they’ve both proven they should be, making this a competition to watch. 

“There’s an opportunity there for real,” Megill said. “Me and Peterson, all we can do is just pitch and be ready.”