Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said it is possible that the current Mets team could be his best one yet, but more than that, he is confident because of just how deep the starting rotation is at the moment, he told Steve Serby of the New York Post.
"First of all, we have some very good starting pitching, but we also have some very good depth for the rotation," he said.
In addition to the "Core Four" pitchers -- Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz -- Alderson said he is optimistic about Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo.
The most notable change in the starting rotation is the depature of Bartolo Colon, who signed with the Atlanta Braves this off-season. But with pitchers returning from injury, Alderson is even more enthusiastic about the rotation now despite the loss of Colon.
"Looking at our depth going into this season, I'd say that it's probably better than it was last year, but the frontliners should be ready to go," he said.
The Mets are hoping for a more stable, healthy rotation this season after nearly every starting pitcher suffered through injuries in 2016. According to Marc Carig of Newsday, Travis d'Arnaud has worked with Matz and deGrom this off-season and said both seem prepared for Spring Training.
Matz started 2016 on a high note and was named National League Rookie of the Month in May, but was eventually hampered by a bone spur, which required surgery and ended his season early. Matz, Alderson said, still has not reached his full potential and stressed that he is best when he is healthy.
Meanwhile, deGrom posted a 3.04 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 148 innings last season before undergoing elbow surgery, and Alderson knows that he can pitch well even if he is not 100 percent.
"He doesn't have the overwhelming velocity that for example Syndergaard may have, but even when his velocity was down last year, he was still a very effective pitcher," Alderson said. "So in a way, that might actually hold him here in good stead going forward knowing full well that he can be successful without necessarily having to top out his fastball at 95, 96."
Harvey, who underwent surgery after only 17 starts in 2016 due to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, is "right on track," Alderson said, and "everything looks good" so far.
Alderson did not rule out the possibility of moving Wheeler, who has not played since 2014, to the bullpen, but indicated that it would not necessarily be a long-term plan.
"We're not looking to put him in the bullpen, but we also have to be mindful that he hasn't pitched in two years and that may affect how we can use him, or how many innings he can pitch," he said. "I think he wants to be a starter, and certainly understand that, but we'll make that decision when we get down to spring training."
Wheeler missed 2015 and 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. He has posted a 3.50 ERA in 49 starts in his career dating back to 2013.