The New York Mets pitching staff possesses plenty of talent, and it’ll all come together for the 2020 campaign.
Those of you who know me know that I value pitching more than the average baseball media expert, and this New York Mets staff has a shot at becoming one that the rest of baseball will envy in 2020.
We all know about Jacob deGrom, who’s clearly the best pitcher in all of baseball and reaffirms that every time he toes the rubber in a Mets uniform. His stuff is off the charts, and even when he isn’t dominant, he still puts together a compelling effort. It’s something we’ve seen time and time again.
deGrom is also very team-oriented in that he constantly tweaks his game to improve his performances.
In Noah Syndergaard, the Mets possess another talented hurler who can be downright dominant but also needs to stay on the right track. The consistency is something I’m sure we’ll see this season.
So much has been made about the stolen-base percentage against Noah and it’s certainly something he could improve. Nonetheless, let’s not overreact to it. It’s something he’ll deal with in a variety of ways and I expect pitching coach Jeremy Hefner to work with him on that. They could use more pitchouts and vary the amount of time he holds the ball, but I wouldn’t want Noah overthinking this. His stuff is so electric that he can dominate with a fastball low in the strike zone that looks unhittable at times.
The acquisition of Marcus Stroman was a great move by Brodie Van Wagenen. The Mets general manager had a better view of where this starting pitching marketplace was going well before anybody else. He additionally knew that Zack Wheeler wasn’t going to be affordable. Instead of eventually retaining Wheeler on a potential long-term deal, he obtained a player in Stroman. Marcus may actually be a better fit in this rotation.
Stroman also possesses the “It” factor all New York players need. He’s so full of energy and loves the history of this organization which will connect him with the fans. But more than that, his stuff is fantastic. With Jeff McNeil at third just about every day, his sinking fastball will work well as both McNeil and Amed Rosario will receive plenty of ground-ball action.
Before I discuss the pair of starters the Mets added in the offseason, I want to talk Steven Matz, whom I believe is headed for a breakout season. And by that, I mean a 3.20 ERA with 15-plus wins.
Matz has worked so hard on becoming durable and moved past his first-inning issues in the second half of 2019. I watched Matz last year and not just on the days he pitched –his regimen started to remind me of the evolution of deGrom’s regimen a few years ago. He handled right-handed hitters so well and his breaking stuff has begun to frustrate the southpaws he faces.
Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello were great additions by Van Wagenen in the offseason. Both have performed well in the bullpen and rotation much like Seth Lugo has in the past two seasons. All three of those hurlers will give the Mets great depth and maximum flexibility in carving out a winning formula.
The Mets bullpen was certainly an issue last year and the addition of Dellin Betances will really help put some dominos in place. Lugo and Justin Wilson performed well out there in 2019 and will combine with Betances to form an effective trio.
But of course, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia remain the big question marks heading into 2020. And I feel the same way about both of them — the stuff is there and I just think a different approach for either could help.
In Familia’s case, he needs to make that sinking fastball his No. 1 pitch and remember his arm extension is so key on his slider. This helps the late movement of the pitch. He was short-arming that pitch far too much last year.
Diaz is a bit more complicated, but like Familia, his stuff is off the charts. His fastball, when commanding the high quadrant of the strike zone, is unhittable. His slider, in my opinion, is a good pitch but not a great one. That alone should make it a priority to establish the fastball first. When he did that last year, he was a far more effective hurler.
This Mets staff could be a great one especially if Diaz and Familia return to All-Star status, which I believe they will. And last year’s postseason proved that starting pitching has returned as the fulcrum of the wheel that makes the team go. The World Series-winning Washington Nationals’ starters threw around 75% of the ballclub’s postseason innings last year.
If that trend continues, this Mets team could indeed be headed for a great season. Simply speaking, their pitching staff is second to nobody in the sport of baseball.