With the New York Yankees’ recent addition of Gerrit Cole, there’s a lot of talent in the Big Apple. Which five are the best of the bunch?
One could argue that New York now employs five of the top 20 pitchers in all of baseball.
The question remains, “How would the all-New York starting rotation shake out?”
1. Jacob deGrom
The Mets’ ace is coming off back-to-back Cy Young campaigns. During that time, deGrom amassed 16 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs. He was two wins better than the next highest pitcher, which is Max Scherzer.
DeGrom has been especially good at limiting the home run, with only 8.8% of his flyballs resulting in home runs. His win-loss record does not matter. If he had better teammates, deGrom would probably have one of the best records in baseball.
In 2018, DeGrom gave up four earned runs in a start once. He’s doing everything he can to win; therefore, the Mets should do the same for him.
DeGrom’s peripherals, SIERA and xFIP, aren’t quite as good as Gerrit Cole’s, which makes me believe Cole will pitch better of the two moving forward. But for now, deGrom has enjoyed better results.
2. Gerrit Cole
Coming off one of the best seasons of all time, Cole could be even better moving forward. As already mentioned, his peripherals are better than deGrom’s, as he has a lower SIERA and xFIP-.
His pCRA+ was 213, which was 52 points better than deGrom’s in 2019. Cole will be better moving forward. He’s younger, he strikes more guys out and he’s also good at limiting the home run ball. He just hasn’t quite seen the results that deGrom has.
His fWAR over the last two seasons was 13.4. While I don’t think WAR is the end-all-be-all, it’s a significant gap between the two of them. However, a year from now, Cole will likely be better than the ace over in Queens.
3. Luis Severino
Entering his age-26 season, he’s about to enter the prime of his career. Paired with new pitching coach Matt Blake, he could become even better. Not many players throw harder than Severino. He and Noah Syndergaard were tied for the highest average velocity on a fastball in 2018. Severino can sustain that velocity deep into the game and that’s what can make him so dominant.
Combined with Gerrit Cole and James Paxton, the Yankees front 3 is an imposing force.
4. James Paxton
Speaking of James Paxton, it’s time to sing some praise for the Yankees pitcher. His first year in pinstripes was a success.
He accumulated a 3.5 fWAR in 150 innings with a 29% K-rate, 88 xFIP- and 3.93 SIERA. His SIERA value is a little high in 2019, but it was 3.45 and 2.96 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Paxton figured out his success late in the season when he was instructed to use his curveball more.
From July on, Paxton had roughly a 22% K-BB%, which was much higher than the previous months K-BB%. If Paxton can keep that pitch mix going forward, he could continue that success into 2020.
The combination of Cole, Severino and Paxton could each win a Cy Young at their peak is a scary thought.
5. Noah Syndergaard
Syndergaard’s potential is probably right with Cole’s. He could be one of the best pitchers of this generation, yet he hasn’t been able to get there over the last few years.
The 2019 season was especially difficult at times for him. He still ended up with a 4.4 fWAR, an 86 xFIP- and a 4.02 SIERA. He had a 126 pCRA+, which was the exact same as Paxton in 2019.
So, what’s the difference between the two of them? Paxton is better on a rate basis than Syndergaard. Thor doesn’t possess the strikeout rate that would put him higher on this list.
I’m curious to see where he ends up with the Mets. How much longer is he apart of the organization? Is he an extension candidate or a trade candidate? Thor’s future with the Mets is uncertain.
Both the Mets and Yankees have good pitching staffs. The Yankees depth gives them an obvious edge, but the Mets could compete for a wild-card spot this year. Their pitching could take them into a deep playoff run. One of these five guys could be the difference-maker for his respective team.