How Can the Mets Fill Its Rotation Void After the Injury to José Quintana?

The Mets helped on to its rotation depth this past winter after rumors of a trade, and that looks like a good decision now. New York is set to be without LHP José Quintana for a period of time, after the team announced that he suffered a small rib fracture on his left side. It’s a tough blow for a starter who performed well in 2022, but the Mets do have options to replace him for now.

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A Look at Quintana

Former Cardinals LHP José Quintana inked a multi-year contract with the Mets this past winter after a very strong run in 2022. After a rough 2021 season, Quintana found his command and put up great results with the Pirates and Cardinals. Across 32 starts and 165.2 IP, Quintana posted a 2.93 ERA and 137 strikeouts. Quintana, in particular, was a force in the second half of the season. Among pitchers that threw at least 50 innings in the second half, Quintana owned the fourth-best ERA (1.67).

Quintana made great use of mixing his low-90s fastball with a mid-80s changeup. Not to mention, Quintana possesses a very nice curveball that he can pound down in the zone. His curve is a pitch that can be very tough to pick up when commanded well, as it can start at the middle before dropping down like a rock.

However, Mets fans will have to wait to see Quintana on the mound at Citi Field. This comes on the heels of Quintana’s second Spring Training start, which he left after one innings. The lefty was set to participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic with Team Columbia prior to the injury.

What it Means

Rib stress fractures are a bit of a tricky one to figure out, particularly with pitchers. It’s not uncommon for hurlers to deal with an injury like this — Red Sox ace Chris Sale dealt with one last year. When that occurred in Spring Training of last year, Sale originally stated that rib bones typically take about 6-8 weeks to heal. However, he suffered a setback later that spring that would keep him off a MLB mound until July.

The Mets have hinted at using a six-man rotation at points during the 2023 campaign, but that plan may have to be put on hold for now. New York did not state a timeline for Quintana’s return, but it’s highly unlikely that the 34-year-old will be ready for Opening Day. Thus, this leaves an opportunity for the likes of David Peterson, Tylor Megill, or Joey Lucchesi to sneak into a rotation role for the start of the 2023 season.

Just from last year’s figures, one would think David Peterson would be the favorite. Peterson made 19 starts for the Mets in 2022, and proved to be more consistent than Megill. On the other hand, Peterson is currently dealing with a foot contusion at the moment. It appears he’s day-to-day, but that’s something to watch.

Lucchesi, though, could be primed to make the Opening Day roster nonetheless if he’s healthy and ready. The lefty missed all of 2022 recovering from UCL reconstruction surgery, but could be a valuable arm in the bullpen as a reliever/emergency starter. The 29-year-old owns a solid sinker to go along with a very effective curveball. Those weapons could make him a nice weapon in a Mets bullpen that doesn’t much in the way of left-handed relievers. Besides the injured Quintana, Lucchesi, and Peterson, the only other lefty on the Mets active roster is Brooks Raley.

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