Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
I love Colin Cowgill’s story, and it would be fun if he is good. But, let’s not go crazy. This season will live and die on the backs of the starting rotation, regardless of Cowgill, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, or whoever else is in center field.
As it stands, Lucas Duda (left field), Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter (right field), and Cowgill and Nieuwenhuis or Jordany Valdespin (center field) will likely comprise the outfield in April.
I see people comparing Cowgill to Dykstra, probably because Cowgill is stocky, plays hard and he’s wearing No. 4. And, Dykstra’s style of play and his intensity are unforgettable. However, even in his best season for the Mets, Dykstra probably accounted for just a few extra total wins compared to what is expected of Cowgill. To make a real difference, Cowgill would need to be the 1990 Phillies version of Dykstra, and there is no evidence to suggest that is even close to possible. I mean, even Dykstra was only that Dykstra once. If I had to compare, I’d say Cowgill can be more like 1988’s Dykstra than his 1986 or 1990 versions.
In either case, it’s about pitching, just like it was for the A’s last season. That’s it. It’s this team’s only real shot to make a run at the post season. Cowgill can be the late 80’s Dykstra, Lucas Duda can hit 30 home runs, Marlon Byrd can return to 2010, Travis d’Arnaud can win Rookie of the Year, and I still think this team fails without a legitimate rotation (and help from the bullpen).
The thing is, with Zack Wheeler, I believe this rotation can be very, very good… and much better than it was last season.
In Port St. Lucie a few weeks ago, I overheard a Mets coach mutter to another coach that this team needs to find a way to score 50 more runs and stop 50 additional runs from scoring this season. This makes sense, because that would put them in the same range of production as last year’s Phillies, Giants and Braves. It sounds nice, but it’s a tall order. It’s possible, though, if – and only if – the rotation lives up to expectations.