Mets, Yankees aren’t sweating their injured aces

TAMPA — Other than that, how was the spring Misters Boone and Mendoza?

You know besides both of you losing your ace?

It wasn’t exactly like asking Mrs. Lincoln how the play was, but Aaron Boone, Carlos Mendoza and their clubs have been in the strange space of losing their Opening Day starters and yet seeming quite cheery nevertheless about their pitching.

As for those No. 1 starters, the clubs won’t say it out loud, but I sensed as the New York teams faced each other Monday to close spring training that they would both sign up to have Gerrit Cole and Kodai Senga by June 1. The Yankees have not yet placed Cole on the 60-day IL with nerve inflammation in his elbow, but might if they need the 40-man roster spot. Senga has what the Mets have called a moderate strain of his right shoulder capsule. Yet as “moderate” as it might be, they keep moving back his return date to even begin throwing and all signs are they will be extremely cautious with his progression.

That leaves the New York clubs achy at the top, yet after arriving in Florida with questions about pitching depth and quality six weeks ago, both left for the regular season confident that they can survive and advance without Cole and Senga.

Now, some version of this is probably playing throughout the MLB landscape. March is a month of optimism and generally good health and spirits when you can delude yourself that your pitching lab has brought out the best in myriad members of your group.

Gerrit Cole will miss plenty of time with an elbow injury, but Aaron Boone’s squad is staying positive. AP

And it should be noted that the Mets and Yankees do share this: They apparently have not shut the door on Jordan Montgomery. The Mets had a similar philosophy with Montgomery as another Scott Boras client, J.D. Martinez. They had a price in mind and if it ever fell to that they would act — as they did in signing a heavily deferred one-year, $12 million pact with Martinez. The Yankees have informed Boras what range they are comfortable with on Montgomery and the two sides did not seem in accord — even at this late date.

What I heard is the Montgomery ask was originally in the Aaron Nola range (seven years, $172 million) and moved more to the Tyler Glasnow area (five years, $136.5 million). The Yanks have privately assessed Montgomery as a No. 3 starter, in part because he does not have high-end swing-and-miss stuff — so think more in the ballpark of Eduardo Rodriguez’s four years at $80 million perhaps. But the lefty has shown he can play in New York and will not be shaken in the postseason.

Kodai Senga has yet to begin throwing after a moderate shoulder strain. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But it isn’t like Montgomery could help any team before May 1 even if signed … now … with no spring training. Thus, the New York clubs have what they have. And both claim comfort with it. Both came to camp looking for positive signs from injured 2023 Yankees starters Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino, and needing to establish that there is pitching depth to withstand the withering long season.

Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner cited “Sevy” as the most positive development in camp, saying, “He has just had this joy in his face and his face wouldn’t look so happy all the time if his body wasn’t happy.” Severino had a 1.29 ERA in four spring starts. Like the other healthy veterans in the rotation — Jose Quintana, Sean Manaea and Adrian Houser — Severino can be a free agent after this season. So it is a big year for all of them.

And, thus, a big season for the Mets to establish that they have other arms coming — for now and the future. Hefner said the Mets have “the best depth in my five years.” Tylor Megill threw well to make the rotation. Jose Butto is at Triple-A. The Mets have liked David Peterson’s progress from hip surgery and see Dominic Hamel and Mike Vasil providing back-end depth.

But the two names that came up most often for future excitement were Christian Scott (“Best Mets arm I saw all spring,” in the words of one scout) who is Triple-A bound and Nolan McLean, who the organization is continuing to keep as a two-way player (third base/DH), but has more and more resonated for his stuff as a pitcher.

Christian Scott has the Mets excited for his future. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

As for the Yankees, their pseudo pitching coach, Cole, said that beyond the obvious — his injury — the good news has been that it has been “an uneventful spring” because Cortes, Rodon, Clarke Schmidt (five one-hit shutout innings Monday against a possible Opening Day Mets lineup) and Marcus Stroman have had productive, healthy springs.

The praise inside and out of Yankee world for Luis Gil, who won the fifth starter’s job, has been plentiful. Gil, Clayton Beeter, Cody Poteet, Will Warren and Luke Weaver have done enough to encourage the Yankees that they have replenished even after trading a lot of pitching the past few years, including to land Juan Soto when they sent four arms to the Padres that probably pitch in the majors in 2024.

And the Yanks seem to find one or more highly useful arms from nowhere for the pen annually now. So is Nick Burdi this year’s Ian Hamilton, who was last year’s Clay Holmes, etc.?

Luis Gil won himself a spot in the Yankees Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“You don’t want to over-judge spring training,” Brian Cashman said. “But obviously it was nice to see Luis Gil step up and Beeter came in and did a great job and Warren had a fantastic camp and a few of our non-roster guys [Burdi is in that group] looked good. But it is a long season and we will probably have to cash in on all of them at some point.”

For two teams that lost their aces, the New York clubs feel they still have enough in their decks.

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