The New York Mets have been trending upward for a while now, despite continuing to battle the injury bug. The latest Mets player to have his season ended by injury is Jerry Mejia, the promising young pitcher who will undergo season-ending elbow surgery in the coming week. Before Mejia’s departure, the Mets planned to go with a six-man rotation to allow Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to finish the season without throwing too many innings. Earlier in the week, the plan was to have long reliever Carlos Torres join the rotation and start tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers.
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Yesterday afternoon, the Mets came up with another way to extend their pitching rotation. They signed Daisuke Matsuzaka, the once-heralded Japanese right-hander, to a one-year contract. Many people’s response to this was, why? My inclination is to ask, why not?
In Dice-K, the Mets have a pitcher who is still only 32 years old and has a solid repertoire. He’s got abundant MLB experience and some history of performing well, including winning the 1999 Rookie of the Year award.
Despite struggling with injuries for several seasons, he’s pitched without injury for over a year. The Mets haven’t made a long-term commitment to him, and if he performs well, he could serve as trade bait if packaged with a prospect or someone like Daniel Murphy or Ike Davis. Furthermore, if Dice-K performs well, he can extend the rotation to the benefit of the rest of the staff, as well as allow the Mets to continue to pursue their first strong finish in years. If he flames out, no big deal — the Mets can always go back to Torres, or another option, as planned.
The Mets picking up Dice-K is a high-upside, low-risk move. It can help them finish strong this season and help them set up for an increasingly promising 2014.