The New York Mets have failed to reach the postseason since 2006 and they haven’t had a winning record since 2008. The Mets bottomed out in 2009 when they lost 92 games and after winning 79 games last season, they appear to be climbing back into contention. This season the Mets are 52-50 and they are only three games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East whereas at this point a year ago, the Metropolitans had a record of 52-56 and they trailed the Nats by 7 games. The Mets are trying to gain some momentum for themselves as they are thinking about the postseason. And if the Mets plan on playing baseball this October, a large part of it will be due to their starting pitching.
The Mets organization has been built on pitching and that is once again the case in 2015 as they have an array of young arms. Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are all starting pitchers in the Mets rotation with Niese being the oldest one at 28. Starting pitcher Steven Matz who is 24-years old is currently on the disabled list as he is recovering from a lat injury while starting pitcher Zack Wheeler who is 25-years old is on the shelf this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. The Mets quality pitching isn’t exclusively in their starting rotation as in their bullpen they have the likes of Jeurys Familia, Hansel Robles, and Sean Gilmartin. And make no mistake about that as far as pitching goes, the Mets are loaded.
This season the Mets earned run average of 3.18 is third in the National League while they’re tops in opponent’s batting average (.242), second in quality starts (66), and fifth in strikeouts (807) which is bringing the fans out to Citi Field in Flushing, New York this summer.
Previously the only day of the week in which the Mets saw a boost in their home attendance was when Harvey took the mound, but that is no longer the case. Last year saw deGrom named as the National League Rookie of the Year and he was the Mets lone representative at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game earlier this month. In the Midsummer Classic, deGrom struck out the side on just 10 pitches in the inning that he worked and he’s also second in the NL this season in earned run average at 2.05 while he is 10th in strikeouts with 128. Syndergaard is in his rookie campaign and like deGrom last year, he is garnering some interest as far as being named the NL’s Rookie of the Year. Syndergaard has a record of 5-5 with a 2.70 earned run average and 91 strikeouts in just 86.2 innings pitched. Syndergaard is showing no signs of hitting the dreaded rookie wall as he went 8 innings while taking a perfect game into the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres earlier this week. Niese has been with the Mets since 2008 and he has seen his fair share of ups and downs. This season Niese has a record of 5-9 with a 3.63 earned run average which isn’t indicative of how he’s pitched lately due to the fact that he is now being pushed for a spot in the rotation. Niese was being pushed for that spot by Matz who in just two starters earlier this summer recorded an earned run average of 1.32 with 14 strikeouts. And all of this is going on while Harvey has a record of 9-7 with an earned run average of 3.16 this season as he is still feeling his way back as he missed the entire 2014 MLB season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
In the bullpen, Familia has become one of the top closers in the National League as he is fifth in saves with 27 to go along with his 2.22 earned average and 49 strikeouts while Gilmartin and Robles have been solid in middle relief. And due to the fact that the Mets starters are able to go deeper into the game, it has made their bullpen more effective as they are not being overworked,
The Mets organization has a pair of World Series Championships to their credit and whenever they’ve won, their pitching was at the forefront. In 1969, the Mets were led by pitchers Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan. And when the Metropolitans won the World Series once more in 1986, it was all about starting pitchers Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling, and Bobby Ojeda.
What makes it so special about this current crop of pitchers for the Mets is that they were mainly developed in their system. Harvey was the Mets first round pick in 2010 while deGrom was chosen that same year in the ninth round. Niese was a seventh round selection of the Mets in 2005 while New York would select Matz in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Wheeler and Syndergaard were acquired through trades as Mets general manager Sandy Alderson stuck to his guns. In 2011, Alderson put former Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran on the trading block. The San Francisco Giants wanted Beltran, but they were unwilling to part with Wheeler who was a prized arm in their system. Alderson’s persistence won out as he got the player that he wanted. After former Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey won the NL’s Cy Young Award in 2012, he too was put on the trading block. The Toronto Blue Jays were interested in Dickey and they were willing to part ways with Syndergaard who since the trade has been groomed in New York’s system under former Mets pitcher Frank Viola who is the pitching coach for the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s. In the bullpen, Robles and Familia were signed as amateur free agents out of the Dominican Republic. Gilmartin was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2011, but the Mets picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft in 2014. And once you factor in a veteran in starting pitcher Bartolo Colon and the Mets recent acquisition of relief pitcher Tyler Clippard from the Oakland Athletics, New York is gaining confidence.
This season the Mets are far from being a complete team as they possess one of the worst offenses in the National League. Already this season the Mets have lost four games by the score of 1-0 as the offense has let the pitching staff down. But through it all the Mets are right there for the top spot in the National League East and they’re just 4 games behind the Giants for the final wild card berth and as long as you have solid pitching, anything can happen.
Aside from this year, the Mets are set up to win due to their young core of pitchers as they can be a team to be reckoned with for the next few seasons. The Mets have a luxury that most Major League Baseball teams currently don’t have which is the ability to possess multiple aces in their starting rotation. Pitching has kept the Mets afloat so far this season and it should continue to be that way this season. And if the bats are able to come around consistently, anything can happen down the stretch for the Metropolitans.