The New York Mets don't win often but when they do, it's usually anchored by a strong starting pitching rotation whether it's Tom Seaver to Jerry Koosman in 1969, or Doc Gooden to Sid Fernandez in 1986.
There have been promising combinations since, especially looking at "Generation K" in 1995 when the young Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson were considered the next great rotation in franchise history. To keep it brief, that didn't happen.
Two decades later and the Mets looked as though they found Major League Baseball's most dominant pitching staff, compiling their "Big 5" rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.
Serious injuries to each and every one of those arms have kept them apart over since 2015, when the last member (Steven Matz) made his MLB debut.
Even though all arms were healthy in spring training this year, the team's acquisition of southpaw Jason Vargas to bolster the rotation looked to further put things on hold. That was until Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand that required surgery.
It won't keep Vargas out for an extended period of time, but all signs pointed to a temporary bringing together of the "Big 5," the first time that would have ever happened.
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Not so fast.
Zack Wheeler's horrendous spring training is threatening the coming together of New York's once-promising five arms as an ERA over 8.00 this spring could see him moved to either the bullpen or the minor leagues.
There are options to overtake the No. 5 spot in the rotation temporarily until Vargas returns and here is who we think will take it:
New York Mets 2018 Opening Day pitching rotation
Projected Stats: 18-6, 2.95 ERA, 225 K's
Syndergaard is the undisputed ace of the Mets' staff and looks ready to go after a strong spring training. Fully recovering from a torn lat, struck out 23 batters in 20 innings of spring work with a 1.35 ERA. His velocity is back up around 100 miles per hour while he will get a full opportunity to show off a devastating changeup that he developed for the beginning of last season.
Projected Stats: 15-7, 3.14 ERA, 210 K's
DeGrom was the only big Mets starter that was able to stay healthy last season though he had to deal with lower back stiffness for most of spring training. He looked solid upon his return to the mound, striking out 12 batters in seven innings over two starts.
Projected Stats: 11-9, 3.72 ERA, 180 K's
Harvey is entering a contract year with plenty to prove. After being plagued with injuries for much of the last five years, the righty practically had to re-learn how to effectively pitch. He is coming around at the right time, putting together a pair of solid spring-training starts after a rough 2018 debut.
Projected Stats: 7-10, 4.36 ERA, 124 K's
Matz had an even more difficult start than Harvey this spring and it got to a point where it was between him and Wheeler to get the boot from the rotation while Varags was healthy. Now as the only southpaw available, Matz's spot is safe and he's responded well in the last week, shrinking his ERA from almost 11.00 to 7.88.
Projected Stats: 5-2, 3.97 ERA, 75 K's
Due to Wheeler's struggles, Lugo should get the nod to be New York's spot starter while Vargas recovers. The righty has experience stepping in for injured Mets, accruing 36 starts over the past two years with a 12-7 record and 3.92 ERA. He's had a strong spring with four scoreless innings on Thursday against the Nationals lowering his ERA to 2.87.