By Steven Inman
For all the talk of the Mets acquiring a bat at the trade deadline, it appears now the team will be reversing course and looking at the scarce starting pitching market to help bolster the team. The Mets have been ravaged by injuries this season, and the latest hits have come to the Mets star-studded rotation. Zack Wheeler has had some setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery. With the season half way over it would be unfair to expect much out of Wheeler, if anything in 2016. He will need about a month to build his pitch count up in the minors which the Mets were hoping he would have started by now. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are dealing with bone spurs as well as general fatigue while Matt Harvey is now out for the season. It isn’t known if last year’s massive innings increase is the reason Harvey is injured but he deserves a ton of credit for putting everything on the line for the Mets in the 2015 postseason. Met fans including myself owe Harvey an apology as he really put the team over his own future last season. The Mets don’t get to the World Series without Harvey and if the Dark Knight doesn’t come back from this uncommon surgery at full strength, he could cost himself over $100 million as a free agent in a couple of years.
The Mets must now replace Harvey in the rotation, while Logan Verrett has been decent as a swingman it would behoove the Mets to go out and get another arm. With two Wild Cards in each league there aren’t too many teams that have thrown up the white flag yet but one of those teams looking to next year already is the Philadelphia Phillies. After a hot start, the Phils have had a miserable summer but one bright spot has been trade chip Jeremy Hellickson. The former AL Rookie of the Year is having a solid 2016 after coming over in a trade with Arizona last winter. While Hellickson is certainly more of a back of the rotation guy, he could help the Mets by eating innings and saving the Mets overworked bullpen.
Hellickson, 29, has a 3.39 ERA in his last 11 starts but perhaps most important is that he has thrown at least six innings in 10 of those 11 outings. Hellickson isn’t a huge strikeout guy but he could keep the ball in the ballpark at Citi Field and would be a nice fit for the Mets. Hellickson’s contract wouldn’t be a huge issue for Sandy Alderson and company as he is making just $7M in the final year of his deal. Having said this, due to the lack of starting pitching available, the Phillies are going to ask for a solid prospect or two in exchange for Hellickson’s services. It’s unlikely either the Mets or the Phillies would have a problem trading within the division.
Other than top prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets don’t have a ton in their system that they shouldn’t be willing to deal. With the Nationals expanding their lead in the NL East, the Mets join a large group of teams after a National League Wild Card spot. It would be smart for the Mets to add talent in any way they can. The final Wild Card spot could come down to a game or two and adding a veteran arm like Hellickson could actually be the difference maker. Expect the Phillies to be heavy sellers over the next few weeks and Hellickson will likely be at the top of that list. He would be a nice get for the Mets.