The New York Mets pitching staff has been as advertised in 2015. But how “Amazin'” are the arms in Flushing?
By Jeff Weisinger
They’re young, they have yet to hit their ceiling and they should be around Flushing, Queens for a while.
The New York Mets 2015 pitching staff was advertised as one of the best entering this season and they haven’t disappointed. The Mets are in first place in a tight NL East race and are favorites to return to the postseason for the first time since 2006, let alone win the division for the first time since then.
While the Washington Nationals were the original favorites, the Mets recent acquisitions of Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Yoenis Cespedes have pushed them to the forefront of the National League talks, let alone their division. Keep in mind that this is the same team that hasn’t had a winning record in seven years.
However, despite the improvements added to the lineup, it’s the pitching staff that has carried the Mets to this point and will continue to carry this team throughout the postseason, barring any late collapse this month and in September (again).
In their recent sweep of the Washington over the weekend, the Mets “big-three” combo of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard allowed a combined five runs over 21 2/3 innings. On the other side, to put things in perspective, the Nats starters combined to allow eight runs over just 17 innings, despite neither Max Scherzer nor Stephen Strasburg (DL) starting.
However, the Mets have an advantage on the mound over their NL East rival Nationals. New York has four pitchers on their staff ranked in the top 55 in the majors in ERA with the qualifier in the rankings lowered to 80 innings (Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Jonathon Niese). In his start against the Nats, Syndergaard became just the third pitcher in Mets history to pitch at least eight innings, strike out at least nine without walking anyone in consecutive starts – the first since Pedro Martinez in 2005.
Syndergaard is also making a solid run at becoming the NL Rookie of the Year. Although he is 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA this year with 100 strikeouts, he is 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 52 strikeouts with 10 walks in his last seven starts and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
The Mets already have two pitchers with 10 wins on the season, deGrom and 42-year-old Bartolo Colon and are about to have a third when Harvey wins his next start.
Despite the lack of accolades, Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz was not afraid to compliment the Mets pitching staff, saying that “they’re way better” than his Braves rotation of the 90’s with included other Hall of Famers like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
“They’ve got more talent than we ever could have.”
They’ve also got a lot more success going compared to Washington, a team that they’ll be compared to and against in the final stretch of the season. The Mets have a lower team ERA (3.32) compared to the Nats (3.77), have held hitters to a lower overall slash-line (.246/.377/.666) compared to the Nats (.261/.388/.693) and have kept baserunners from scoring a little less frequently (1.15 WHIP) than Washington (1.23 WHIP). The only advantage the Nats have in the numbers is in their strikeouts-per-nine ratio (7.90).
Mets starters have made 14 starts in which they went over six innings allowing no more than three hits and have made 11 starts with no walks and at least eight strikeouts. Overall, the Mets have tossed 72 quality starts. The combination of Syndergaard, Harvey, deGrom, Niese and Colon have combined for 66 of them alone.
The New York Mets are the hottest team in baseball right now, once again, because of their pitching. Their remaining schedule helps their postseason cause. The Mets should be able to breeze through the rest of their schedule with just 14 games against teams with currently winning records (Nationals, Pirates, Yankees, Baltimore).
If there’s anything that we’ve learned in the past several years, it’s that pitching wins championships.
If there’s anything that we’ve learned in the recent few years, it’s that there’s always one team in the stretch and the postseason that crawls out of the grave.
This year, the Mets are pitching their way back to life.
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