Like most other Mets fans, I try and look on the bright side. Frankly, it’s the only way for us to make it through the day. However, within the next year or two, the Mets may have the best rotation and baseball. Now, before you burst out into a laugh loud enough to set off car alarms, bear with me. I know it’s hard to believe that at some point the Mets will be successful, but the key to having a dominating baseball team is good starting pitching.
Right now, the Mets already have the best pitcher in baseball. In case you haven’t read my other posts about Matt Harvey, I think he’s great. There is not a pitcher in the big leagues that batters fear more than Matt Harvey. His fastball can break three digits, and just when you think you figured out how to hit it, he can throw three other pitches to put you away. Harvey leads the National League in strikeouts with 147, is second in WHIP with a .92, behind only Clayton Kershaw’s .91, and tied for fourth in both ERA (2.35) and batting average against (.196). Harvey has struckout more than five times as many batters than he’s walked, and has allowed only seven home runs in 130 innings. Prior to the Mets benching him on Saturday because of a blister on his thumb, he had the most innings pitched, and even after missing a start is sixth in the league. Harvey’s win-loss record may not reflect his talent, but that is because of a shaky bullpen and a Mets roster that can’t seem to produce when he is on the mound. Harvey is starting the All-Star Game for the National League, and come the end of the season will definitely be involved in the Cy Young discussion. Harvey shows no sign of slowing down, so hopefully he will continue as the Mets ace for the next decade.
Picture this – Your team just got shutout by Harvey, who struck out 10. You come back to the ballpark the next day and the same thing happens. Sucks right? Well that will probably happen quite a few times in the coming years with Zack Wheeler behind Matt Harvey in the rotation. Wheeler was drafted in the first round by the Giants in the MLB June Amateur Draft back in 2009. Coming into the 2013 season, MLB.com ranked Wheeler as the number eight prospect in baseball. The 23-year-old had a 3.26 ERA and struck out just under nine batters per nine innings playing in AA and AAA ball for the Mets in 2012. In Vegas this year for the Mets AAA club, Wheeler went 4-2 and struck out almost 10 batters per nine innings! The Mets called Wheeler up to the big leagues in the middle of June. Wheeler was dominant in his debut, and although that has been his best start thus far, he still has been nothing but impressive. Wheeler is 3-1 in five starts with an ERA of 3.54. It’s clear that Wheeler has some control issues, but he is still a work in progress. His fastball rivals that of Harvey and once Wheeler figures out how to place the ball, he will be just as dominant.
So now the Mets come back onto the field the next day, ready to sweep. The pitcher on the mound is Jeremy Hefner. Hefner has been the best pitcher in baseball for the past month and a half. Hefner had a sub-par start to the season but has been lights-out since June 1st. Since the start of June, Hefner has not allowed more than two earned runs in an outing. His ERA for the month of June was 1.80 and has only gotten better since. Halfway through July, his ERA for the month is 1.71 and batters have gone cold against him, hitting only .125. Hefner has found his groove and hopefully it’s one that he can’t find his way out of. It may be too early to tell if Hefner is a sure-thing, but if he keeps performing the way he has been, it may start to look that way.
The final two pieces of the perfect rotation puzzle are two men who have yet to throw a single pitch in the majors. Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard have yet to make their major league debuts, but are two high-caliber pitching prospects. The two pitchers started against each other today in the Futures Game, but are usually both on the winning side for the Mets minor league teams. Montero is 8-5 this season playing for both AA Binghamton and AAA Las Vegas, with a 3.07 ERA. Like Harvey and Wheeler, Montero is a strikeout machine. He is averaging 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings, which is more than five times as many walks per nine innings Montero has allowed (1.8). Syndergaard’s numbers are just as impressive. Playing for both A+ St. Lucie and AA Binghamton, Syndergaard is 5-3 this season with an ERA of 2.60. If Montero is a strikeout machine, Syndergaard is the strikeout factory. He is average 9.7 per nine innings and 11.7 since his AA debut. Like Montero, Syndergaard has also thrown far more strikeouts than walks, four and a half times as many to be exact. These two pitchers are still in development, but within the next season or two you can expect to see them both on the mound for the Mets. Having two pitchers as good as these guys as your number four and five starters are the finishing touches on a championship-caliber team.
See my fellow Mets fans? There is actually a light at the end of the tunnel. While the tunnel has been long, dark and treacherous, there is in fact a beautiful world awaiting us at the end. I may not be able to give you an exact date and time as to when the Mets will win their next World Series, but if these guys pan out, it could be a lot sooner than you think.
What do you think of the Mets pitching staff? Does it have the potential to one day be the best in baseball? Share your thoughts. Comment below!
By Andrew Goodman – Goodman Sports
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