The future of the New York Mets has taken a sizeable hit already during the early portions of the 2018 MLB season as the once-promising "Big 5" starting rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler will be nothing more than a dream.
Syndergaard and deGrom have become the team's outright aces and have attempted to live up to the hype, but the same can't be said for the other three.
The original member of the staff that was supposed to deliver the Mets a first World Series title since 1986, Harvey, is gone after injuries, off-field issues and problems with management led to him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco earlier this month.
In the meantime, Wheeler and Matz have been nothing short of liabilities at the back end of the Mets rotation as they've struggled to provide any sort of support for deGrom and Syndergaard.
The development of both pitchers has been severely stunted by injuries. Wheeler missed two full seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015 while Matz has only pitched over 100 innings once in his first three full seasons in the MLB with a myriad of knocks including a partially torn lat and ulnar nerve problems.
Both were expected to take a step forwards in 2018 as they were fully healthy. However, difficult spring trainings immediately put their statuses in the starting rotation in jeopardy, especially after the team signed Jason Vargas, who has had plenty of problems in New York this year as well after the southpaw was sidelined through the first few weeks with a broken non-pitching hand. Because Matz was a lefty, his spot in the rotation proved to be safe while Wheeler began the year in triple-A, though he was quickly recalled to the big club in early April in order to keep Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo in the bullpen while Vargas continued to recover.
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It's been a frustrating few months for the starters, who have confirmed many Mets' fans worst fears that they won't be the dominant pitchers that they were once forecasted to be.
Matz is 1-3 with a 4.42 ERA and was most recently tagged for four runs on six hits (two home runs) in just four innings of work during Saturday's comeback win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wheeler has been even worse at 2-3 with a 5.92 ERA but has a chance to improve on Monday night against the lowly Miami Marlins.
They'll have to if they want to stick around considering manager Mickey Callaway put some added pressure on their shoulders on Friday night, stating that the lower end of the rotation needs to pull it together in order for the Mets to find any kind of success this season.
"They have to. We talked to them in spring training — and I probably shouldn't say this to you guys — I talked to them and told them, 'Hey, whether it's not fair or not, our season's gonna go how you guys go.' That's just the reality of this game," Callaway said (h/t SNY). "There's pressure, we all have pressure, you guys have pressure. That's part of baseball, especially in New York."