New York Mets co-aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard made an early statement that they might be the best one-two punch atop any NL rotation.
The premise has always been that if they could stay healthy, the New York Mets starting rotation was capable of great things. Certainly more than their combined 5.14 ERA in 2017, second-worst in the National League and the fourth-worst mark in all of baseball.
Everyone knows the story. Injuries destroyed the rotation, limiting Noah Syndergaard to seven starts. Jacob deGrom was the only Mets starter to make more than 22 starts or throw more than 115 innings.
Syndergaard proved he was back with a vengeance on Opening Day, striking out 10 St. Louis Cardinals over six innings of work. Saturday saw deGrom follow his lead, tossing 5.2 innings of four-hit, one-run ball while striking out seven Redbirds.
dayGrom, deGrominant, deGrominator…Whatever you want to call him, @JdeGrom19 was dealin’.
5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. pic.twitter.com/2UeT3jDYnZ
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 31, 2018
With his win on Saturday, deGrom improved to 4-2 in his career against the Redbirds. He also improved to 18-8 in day starts with a 1.98 ERA, the lowest since 1950 among starters with 200 innings pitched.
By setting the tone at the top of the rotation, the Mets’ one-two punch has served notice to the rest of the National League that the promise of a dominant starting staff is alive and well in 2018.
Looking at the rest of the National League, it’s hard to find another pair of starters who are as consistent or have as much upside.
In Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone, but none of the Dodgers other starters—Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill or Hyun-jin Ryu—are near, much less on, the same level as deGrom and Syndergaard.
Washington’s dynamic duo of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg might be the reigning champs when it comes to one-two punches atop an NL rotation. In 59 combined starts last season, they went 31-10 with a 2.51 ERA and 0.95 WHIP while striking out 472 batters over 376 innings of work.
But Scherzer is in his age-34 season. While he’s still dominant, his best baseball is likely behind him. Strasburg, entering his age-30 season and with a history of injuries, may not have much upside left.
While Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola has potential, he’s never been considered an elite pitcher like Syndergaard or deGrom. His rotation-mate, Jake Arrieta, has, but is unlikely to match the career-best run he had with the Chicago Cubs, which included an NL Cy Young Award in 2015.
In their two starts against the lowly Miami Marlins, the pair allowed a combined eight earned runs and 12 hits over 7.2 innings, walking nearly as many batters (five) as they struck out (six).
The fact is that no other team in the National League boasts the talent, stuff and upside that Syndergaard and deGrom bring to the top the Mets rotation. Both are under 30—deGrom hits the big three-oh on June 18—and ready to dominate.
If they can stay healthy, the rest will take care of itself and Mets fans can leave the 2017 season where it belongs—in the past.