He’s regularly an afterthought in the Mets starting rotation, but reigning NL Rookie of the Year winner Jacob deGrom is as worthy a pitcher as any to get the nod from Terry Collins to start opening day. With Matt Harvey’s first regular season start pushed back, Bartolo Colon and Jonathon Niese are the two favorites garnering consideration to toe the rubber when the Amazin’s take on the Washington Nationals on April 6.
Coming off a stellar 2014 campaign where he posted a record of 9-6, 2.69 ERA and impressive 1.14 WHIP in 22 starts; deGrom has all the makings of a future ace. His only downside is a lack of experience, which could be a major reason for why the coaching staff would prefer to keep deGrom in the No. 2 starting spot. Historically, opening day in Major League Baseball is met with a great deal of fanfare and in many regions including the northeast it ushers in the “official” start of spring.
With a playoff-like atmosphere and sellout crowd expected to be on-hand at Nationals Park, Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen seem to favor the wily veterans Colon and Niese over the young phenom in deGrom. Let’s face it, deGrom’s exclusion from the opening day start is not necessarily a slight to the 26-year-old, but more of a concerted effort to keep the continuity and order of the starting rotation.
The other factor at work here is that the Nationals are widely regarded as the class of the NL East—a team the Mets will likely be chasing all season long. So while New York’s first game of 2015 will be met with much anticipation, excitement and hype, the Mets know all too well the rigors of 162-game schedule and the toll it takes on the pitching staff.
For no other reason than to reward deGrom for his accomplishments and accolades from last season, the Mets should at least throw his hat in the ring to take on the Nationals in this year’s inaugural game. It can be argued that the Amazin’s are looking after the long-term prosperity of the starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that deGrom, behind Harvey, is the most talented and electric arm on the team’s depth chart.
So while Mets fans might have to patiently wait until April 8 to see deGrom make his 2015 debut, New York has a problem that most teams wish they had and that’s figuring out how to manage a deep and star-studded pitching staff.
deGrom had his time to shine last season with Harvey rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but it will be interesting to see how the second-year standout will settle into his newfound role and whether he can evolve into a star pitcher and fan favorite at Citi Field.