Yesterday, the Mets announced that newcomer and rotation hopeful Jason Vargas sustained a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, his non-throwing hand. Vargas suffered the injury after being struck by a line drive during a Spring Training start on Saturday, effectively sidelining the starter until June, at the earliest.
On Sunday, the club announced that Vargas will undergo surgery to repair the fracture, the recovery of which could take anywhere between three and four months. However, the loss of Vargas might be a blessing in disguise for the Mets, as the team has been trying for years to cultivate starting opportunities for a “perfect rotation” that has been in the works since as early as 2012. Now, the “five aces” of the Mets might finally have the opportunity to make 2018 a dream season.
The lethal combination of Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler has never started five consecutive games for the Mets, as it feels like each and every member of the Mets’ “dream rotation” has had their own moment in the spotlight without another pitcher to compliment them. Matt Harvey was the star of 2012 and 2013, starting an All-Star Game and nearly winning a Cy Young Award. 2014 belonged to Jacob DeGrom as he lit up the National League en route to a Rookie of the Year Award. 2015, however, was the year where both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz made their Major League debuts, as they carried the Mets to a World Series appearance, with Harvey and DeGrom by their side.
And yet, despite 2 playoff appearances in the past 3 years, Zack Wheeler has been a missing link for the Mets throughout all of it. Although the starter showed signs of triumph during the 2014 season, constant injuries have plagued his career, allowing him to throw only 86.1 innings over the past three years. Wheeler missed all of 2015 and 2016 following Tommy John surgery, and had his 2017 season cut short after sustaining a stress reaction in his right arm.
But now, with Vargas taking a step to the side following an injury, the door has swung wide open for Wheeler, as a chance at redemption could be on the horizon. Although Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman could pose as potential threats to Wheeler’s rotation spot, the Mets organization has had faith in their 5-man “dream rotation” for years now, and with a perfect opportunity in front of them, it would only make sense for the Mets to reap the long-awaited fruits of their labor by giving the fifth and final rotation spot to Zack Wheeler.
Finally, it seems as if this long-structured plan is coming to fruition, and with Jason Vargas out of the picture for the time being, Wheeler has the ultimate chance to reclaim what was once his. For the Mets, the dream of creating a “perfect rotation” could finally come true as soon as next month, with Wheeler rounding things out, just like the organization planned over 6 years ago.