Matsuzaka was considered to be the favorite to win the fifth starter job going into Spring Training. He pitched well, but in the end not well enough to hold off Jenrry Mejia. Mejia will make the April 4 start against the Cincinnati Reds and Matusuzaka will head to Las Vegas. However, Matsuzaka will serve the position of safety net for the Mets. Jon Niese is expected to come off the DL on April 6, however if he is unable to make that start the team may turn to Matsuzaka.
Additionally, Mejia has struggled with injuries throughout his career, and this spring, raising questions about his durability for an entire season. Mejia has been dealing with a bunion on his foot for most of Spring Training and he was struck with a come-backer on the arm in his last start. Despite an X-ray coming up clean, if Mejia is hampered by swelling or by the foot issue that has been causing him trouble, Matsuzaka could be sent right back to the bigs. Matsuzaka may be five years removed from his stellar 2008 season, but his final four starts last year show that he’s certainly still capable at performing at a high level when his number is called.
Kyle Farnsworth also will being in the minors after a spring where he struggled with control and was nearly released. Farnsworth was brought in on a minor league deal with a chance to try to sure up a sometimes shaky bullpen, but couldn’t quite get it on track. Instead the bullpen will likely include Jeurys Familia and Gonzalez Germen. Familia had a very good spring and most likely won his place early on. Germen had struggled at times but managed to show enough so that he should earn the spot that could have been Farnsworth’s.
Considering the shaky history of several members of the bullpen including Germen and Jose Valverde, and the important role that the group plays, Farnsworth may end up with a chance for more major league action. It is likely that he will be one of the first call ups if someone struggles in the regular season or in the case of injury. Farnsworth has been durable over his career averaging 66 appearances and 74 innings per year over his 15-year career.
As it stands following these demotions now the Mets pitching staff will be:
Starters: Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Jon Niese
Bullpen: John Lannan, Scott Rice, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Jose Valverde, Bobby Parnell and Gonzalez Germen
Look for both Matsuzaka and Farnsworth to compete for a trip back to New York.