Good pitching beats good hitting, and that is why the New York Mets are a serious contender to win the National League East. It may be less than a month into the Major League Baseball season and granted a lot can change between April and September, but already, teams and players are slowly beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
To say that the Mets are a pitching powerhouse would be an understatement. As opposed to most teams that have a clear ace, the Mets are three deep.
With the flowing blond locks of Thor himself, Noah Syndergaard, heads the staff, and with good reason. While in 2016 Syndergaard did not have an outstanding record at just 14-9, what should be looked at closer are the finer stats.
Thor put up a 2.60 Earned Run Average (ERA) in 30 starts with 218 strikeouts en route to an All-Star season. With a five-pitch repertoire, he throws hard. Syndergaard lives around 98 miles per hour. If that was not hard enough to hit, that 98 is on a sinker that bottoms out as it crosses the plate.
More than likely a number one pitcher on another team, Jacob deGrom is not an average two starter in the rotation. He may have put up a dismal 7-8 record, but his ERA was nothing to scoff at, finishing the year at 3.04 in 24 starts.
He also has big game experience. During the 2015 postseason, he squared off against two No. 1’s, Clayton Kershaw and then Los Angeles Dodger Zack Grienke – who is now with the Arizona Diamondbacks – winning both games. Stats do not lie, but this is as good an indication as any as to how good deGrom is.
Matt Harvey missed the entire 2014 season after having Tommy John Surgery at the end of the 2013 season. He did not pitch well in 2016, but that is just one year. His ERA every year prior is fantastic: under 3.00. It should also be noted that he only started 17 games with just 92 and two-thirds innings, so one can predict a healthy Harvey has the potential to put up comparable numbers to other seasons in his career.
After the big three, the Mets have Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman as the four and five starters, respectively. Currently on the disabled list is Steven Matz, who while not explosive or dominant, has experience including in the 2015 World Series. Also on the DL is Seth Lugo, who spent most of March pitching for team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
There does not need to be a five-man pitching staff full of stars to be extremely successful. The Mets have three clear aces in Syndergaard and deGrom as well as Harvey when he is at full health. But more importantly, they have depth with four very capable pitchers to round out the rotation.
Unlike other top rotations in Major League Baseball, the Mets have not only proven themselves as some of the best pitchers in the game, but their starters are still young. deGrom and Harvey – the two oldest starters – are only 28 and entering into their prime.
Their pitching draws comparisons to the American League Pennant-winning Detroit Tigers in 2012 who had FIVE ace caliber pitchers with a now combined four Cy Young Awards through the 2016 season. Similar to the Tigers, the Mets have the potential to pitch their way to being a serious World Series contender for years to come. That is, as long as their pitching staff stays healthy.