Per Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber, Stroman was hit in the calf by a line drive during an intrasquad game last Friday, though he kept pitching. On Monday, he felt tightness in his calf during a 50-pitch bullpen session. On Tuesday night, he underwent an MRI that revealed the tear.
Stroman, who was acquired from the Blue Jays last July 28, turned in a rather promising season, posting a 3.22 ERA and 3.72 FIP in 184.1 innings, en route to a career-high 3.9 WAR; meanwhile, his 82 FIP- was his best mark relative to the league since his 2014 rookie campaign. Our depth chart projections forecast him for a 3.89 ERA and 3.94 FIP, though his innings total has been dialed back from 66 as of Monday to 56, a number that still seems rather optimistic. While we don’t know the severity of Stroman’s strain (a tear is a strain, after all), even a Grade 1 strain generally means at least one to three weeks before a return to activity, which in this case would probably be a simulated game or two in order for Stroman to rebuild his pitch count before rejoining the rotation. If it’s a Grade 2 strain, he could miss at least half the season. Injuries, alas, aren’t prorated.
The loss of Stroman leaves Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha accompanying deGrom in the rotation, though the last two, both added as low-cost free agents in the wake of Zack Wheeler‘s departure, are coming off subpar seasons. As to who joins the group as the fifth starter, Rojas cited 24-year-old lefty David Peterson, a 2017 first-round pick who has never pitched above Double-A; Cory Oswalt, a 26-year-old righty who hasn’t had much success at the big league level; and Erasmo Ramirez, a 30-year-old righty who’s had a rough time in the past couple of seasons, as the immediate candidates. Of that group, only Oswalt is on the 40-man roster, while Peterson almost certainly wouldn’t be added until at least July 29 in order to prevent him from reaching a full year of service time this year. I’ve got more details on the trio, and the other starters in their 60-man pool, in the aforementioned deGrom piece.
Rojas has ruled out Seth Lugo from rejoining the rotation. Lugo made 31 starts for the Mets from 2016-18 but last year emerged as the team’s most reliable reliever while Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia crumbled. Given his ability to throw multiple innings, he could still figure into a short-term solution, particularly with teams having the benefit of 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season, and 28-man rosters for the next two weeks. The Mets could use an opener or all-bullpen strategy to get through Stroman’s slot at least once or twice. Their relief ranks have been thinned a bit lately, however, as Robert Gsellman and Walker Lockett will both start the year on the IL, the former due to triceps discomfort, the latter due to lower back discomfort.
While obviously not as bad as losing deGrom, the loss of Stroman leaves the Mets exposed. For however long he’s out, they’ll either need to call upon a starter who may no big league experience at all or no recent history of success, and nothing less than a playoff berth may depend upon it.
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