John Franco
(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

ESNY’s Rob Lepelstat caught up with New York Mets legend John Franco, who labeled Jacob deGrom as the “best pitcher in baseball.”

New York Mets legend John Franco’s resume in Queens speaks for itself.

He’s a four-time All-Star, two-time NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year winner, three-time NL saves leader and the Mets all-time saves leader. He ranks fifth all-time with 424 career saves. (What up Mo!)

It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about pitching.

Franco wasn’t shy about praising current Mets superstar Jacob deGrom, who many believe will win back-to-back NL Cy Young awards in just a few weeks.

DeGrom is 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA and career-high 255 strikeouts this season. He finished the season with a 31-inning scoreless streak.


DeGrom joins Dwight Gooden, Greg Maddux and Clayton Kershaw as the only pitchers able to hold a sub-2.10 ERA over a two-season span (minimum 60 starts). And he’s the only pitcher in the National League to reach the 200-inning mark in each of his past three seasons.

“It’s a classic. You sit back and relax,” Franco said. “Jake has been the best pitcher in baseball. You always feel like something special is going to happen.”

Other top candidates for the hardware include the Nationals Stephen Strasburg and Cardinals’ young phenom Jack Flaherty.

Franco’s choice is clear.

“I’m hoping. He’s got the credentials.”

Franco appeared while supporting fellow New York sports legend Derek Jeter at his annual Turn 2 Foundation Gala in Manhattan.

“I’m here to support Derek and he does a tremendous job with his foundation. When Derek Jeter calls, ‘why not?’ I’m a local guy and when a local guy does a fundraiser, it’s good to give back.”

Franco spent 15 seasons in flushing with the metropolitans. On Dece. 6, 1989, at the age of 29, he was traded with Don Brown to the Mets for Randy Myers and Kip Gross.

He led the league in saves for the 1988, 1990 and 1994 seasons. He reached the postseason for the first time in 1999 and the World Series in 2000.

“I remember being traded over, all-star games, playoffs, growing up a Mets fan, playing for the team I grew up with … I live here bron and raised. I never left. It’s a tremendous city. The fans are so knowledgable.”

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