The New York Mets could use some insurance in terms of their pitching depth, and their top pitching prospect is now just one step away from the majors. Lefty Anthony Kay, who was the Mets’ second first round pick in 2016 as compensation for losing Daniel Murphy in free agency, was bumped up to AAA Syracuse over the weekend. Prior to the call, Kay had spent the start of the year with AA Binghamton, where he dominated to the tune of a 7-3 record with a 1.49 ERA in 12 starts for the Rumble Ponies.
There has been some thought about having Kay make his big league debut later this season as a reliever, a move that could help the Mets add depth to their struggling bullpen. This would also be a good method to help control Kay’s innings, which is always an important consideration for young pitchers. The Mets don’t appear to be inclined to go that direction, however, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports.
In Puma’s story, Mets’ Assistant GM Allard Baird indicated that the team wants Kay to continue developing as a starting pitcher. Baird did point out that the bullpen would be an effective way for the Mets to control Kay’s innings, but countered that bullpen work would limit Kay’s ability to develop his secondary pitches. That makes a lot of sense because the focus for any reliever is to get outs, and to do that they utilize their best pitches. In Kay’s case, that would limit him to his two best pitches while not letting him develop his secondary offerings, slowing his development towards becoming a big league starter.
The Mets probably are eyeing Kay for a spot in their rotation as soon as next season with both Jason Vargas and Zack Wheeler poised to become free agents this winter. While Kay probably has the stuff to help the big league bullpen out now, it would be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul for the Mets. The Mets could conceivably gain a lot with Kay working in relief this season, but it could come at a cost of his readiness to start in 2020. Since starters are more valuable in the long term, the Mets are probably playing this correctly by letting Kay put himself in the best position to succeed as a starting pitcher.