Starting Rotation: The New York Mets
By mid-2016, the Mets’ rotation will look something like this (in no particular order): Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler, and Steven Matz. With Jonathan Niese on the books until 2018 and Dillon Gee facing arbitration in 2016, manager Terry Collins could work with a six-man rotation, with a solid arm in the bullpen as a long reliever, unless any of the seven names gets traded. So stacked were the Mets in arms at both the major and minor league levels that they relinquished minor league prospect Michael Fulmer in the Yoenis Cespedes deal; given his control and velocity, Fulmer will likely start in Detroit in 2016. Even with Fulmer’s departure, the Mets are hardly breaking a sweat.
Consider that 22 year old Noah Syndergaard, whose fastball averaged 98 MPH in last Sunday’s win against the Nationals, projects as the Mets’ third starter in 2016. Syndergaard, in 15 starts, has a 2.66 ERA (including 1.32 in five July starts), striking out 100 batters over 94 2/3 innings. Arguably, Thor has the staff’s filthiest stuff, and easily its best velocity.
The team’s ace Matt Harvey, coming along much faster than expected from a Tommy John procedure that deprived him of his 2014 campaign, has a 2.76 ERA (which, mind numbingly, is third on this club). He has 131 strikeouts (second most on the Mets), and based on his last two starts, in which he allowed 1 earned run over 14 2/3 innings, Terry Collins was quick to note that his ace has finally returned to his 2013 peak form.
Last year’s National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom has not fizzled in 2015, leading the Mets in ERA (2.09), strikeouts (135), WHIP (0.89), and has allowed the second fewest home runs (9) despite throwing 39 more innings than the team’s leader (Syndergaard) in that department. Amongst NL pitchers, deGrom is fourth in WAR (4.1), second in ERA, third in WHIP, fourth in hits per 9 IP (6.41), and fifth in bases on balls per 9 IP (1.62). While Max Scherzer, Zach Greinke, and Clayton Kershaw are managing transcendent seasons, deGrom is quietly doing everything behind the power of his arm to avoid a sophomore slump, and is succeeding in that pursuit.
Lost in the mastery of this trio’s success is the solid season that Niese is having: with a 3.51 ERA, a more than respectable figure for a team’s fourth starter, the 28 year old helped the Mets continue its winning ways, throwing 7 innings, allowing only one run, against the Marlins on Tuesday night.
If not for a strained lat injury, Steven Matz likely makes Niese the team’s fifth starter, pushing New York’s weakest link, the still serviceable Bartolo Colon, out of the rotation. In two starts in 2015, Matz hurled 13 2/3 innings, allowing only two runs, amounting to two wins. With a 1.29 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP to accentuate the very young start to Matz’s Met career, the 24 year old gives the Mets the advantage over the Nationals in their hunt for the National League East title. While teams are struggling to piece together a rotation based on frantic trades, call-ups, and waiver moves, the Mets, by adding Matz to the rotation sometime in late August/early September, galvanizes a staff that can use the young hurler to spell the likes of Syndergaard, a young pitcher taxing his arm with many, many innings.
Mets starters have—
- made 14 starts in which they pitched at least six innings, giving up no more than three hits in the process.
- compiled 11 starts with no walks, managing at least eight strikeouts.
- thrown 2,504 pitches clocked at 95 miles per hour or faster, with Syndergaard and Harvey doing their part to add to this total.
- accrued 72 quality starts (starts of six innings pitched, allowing only three runs or less).
- made 29 “dominating starts,” by which starters have pitched at least seven innings, allowing one earned run or less in each of them.
As a collective staff (rotation and bullpen), the Mets are third in in the National League in ERA (3.22), hits allowed (872), and are second in walks allowed (255) and fifth in strikeouts (862), thanks largely to the work of Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Niese, and Matz.
While the Mets have developed something special in 2015, the year to look forward to will be 2016, when their rotation will be at full strength with the addition of Zach Wheeler. While countless teams are pining for just one ace to anchor their staffs, the Mets can legitimately schedule three, if not four of them, in the rotation.