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Mets must handle their fragile rotation with care

Except for one inning in a rehab start in 2016, Zack Wheeler hasn't pitched since 2014. Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

While I’m not generally a fan of old baseball axioms, the idea that you can never have enough pitching still holds pretty true. Maybe it's truer than ever today, with pitchers throwing harder, higher rates of elbow injuries and more emphasis on limiting workloads to try to keep pitchers healthy.

The New York Mets find themselves in a fascinating position right now where, in theory, they have six good major league starters on their roster this season. But they also have a hard-throwing rotation that has only one fully healthy starter, two pitchers coming off surgeries and none who has ever made at least 32 starts or thrown 200 innings in a season.

And despite this abundance of arms, the Mets' success in 2017 could hinge on deftly managing the workload of Zack Wheeler and leaning on the only healthy starter -- rookie Robert Gsellman -- who is going to be essential to this staff in 2017 even if he’s not currently considered one of their five starters.

I’m not bearish on the Mets’ rotation at all right now, but I think the status of their starting pitching requires more management from their front office than most contending teams face at this point in the year. GM Sandy Alderson will need to help manager Terry Collins handle this powerful, yet precarious, pitching staff with care, especially Wheeler, who hasn't pitched since 2014.

I spoke to Alderson about this challenge of managing six starters, five of whom have or might have injury concerns. He said that while he won’t publicly discuss hard limits or other innings goals for pitchers (after 2015, who can blame him) with the possible exception of Wheeler, they’ll likely set soft targets for everyone.