New York Mets fans might want to hold off on that "Big 5" rotation talk.
Even after Jason Vargas' hand injury opened up the chance for the Mets to roll out a five-man rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler — a grouping of pitchers that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the team's successful future — it still might not happen come Opening Day.
According to the New York Post's Mike Puma and Fred Kerber, Wheeler's status as the Mets' No. 5 starter isn't exactly secured.
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Some within the organization have been concerned with the spring training outings put together by the 27-year-old right-hander.
In eight innings of work, Wheeler has a 6.75 ERA and a 2.13 WHIP. Things sank to a new low during last week's start against the Washington Nationals when he allowed five runs and seven hits over three innings of work.
If he repeats that kind of outing on Thursday evening against those very same Nationals (6:10 p.m. ET), the Mets could consider other options for the No. 5 spot.
The immediate frontrunners would be Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to fill in until Vargas returns to full health.
Both right-handers have experience as stop-gap starters for the Mets over the past two years after injuries swept through the rotation. Lugo is 12-7 in 26 career starts with a 3.92 ERA while Gsellman is 12-9 with a 4.44 ERA in 29 career starts. Last year saw Gsellman pitch the second-most innings among Mets starters behind only deGrom, logging 119.2 frames. The No. 3 player on that list last year, Rafael Montero, is out of the equation as he will likely need Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL.