When Sandy Alderson became the general manager of the New York Mets in 2010, he inherited a mess. The Mets were coming off of a 92-loss campaign while the franchise was strapped for cash. Alderson had to work on a budget while he had to focus on developing the Mets minor-league system. By 2015, the Mets once again became respectable as they won 90 games en route to winning the National League East for the first time in nine years. And the Metropolitans would keep the momentum going into the postseason as they would claim their first N.L. Pennant since 2000.
The future looked extremely bright for the Mets as they had a strong core of young starting pitchers in Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Zach Wheeler. All five starting pitchers had electric fastballs which sparked memories in New York City of the late 1960’s when Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Jerry Koosman helped the Mets win a World Series Title, and the 1980’s when it was all about the likes of Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling pacing the team’s starting rotation. But this time around something has gone terribly wrong in Queens as these Mets are not sticking to the script.
After the Mets fell to the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 World Series, they have succumb to the injury bug; especially in their starting rotation. In 2016, only Syndergaard was able to escape a lengthy trip to the disabled list, while deGrom was the only pitcher who remained healthy in 2017. Heading into spring training this year there was plenty of optimism for the Mets as this was the first time where all of their “pitching studs” were healthy as the “Flushing Fastballs” were going to be on display.
At the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, things could not have been better for the Mets. New York got off to an eye popping 11-1 start which invoked memories of the team’s last World Series Title winner in 1986. However the Mets fast start was short lived as they currently have a record of 19-18 which has seen them slip to fourth place in the National League East with the bottom falling out last week as they lost a series to one of the worst teams in the league in the Cincinnati Reds. And if you want to question why these Mets have struggled so much after their hot start, look now further than the issues that their starting rotation is having.
The Mets team earned run average of 4.16 is ninth in the National League, while their 17 quality starts are tied for 12th. The Mets team leader in wins this season is Robert Gsellman with 4, but he has only been used out of the bullpen. Syndergaard and deGrom have held their own as both men have respectable earned run averages, while deGrom leads the staff in strikeouts with 56. But to call the rest of the Mets starting rotation shaky would be a compliment.
Wheeler is 2-2 with an earned run average of 5.03, while Matz is 1-3 with an earned run average of 3.86 as he has failed to give the Mets more than six innings in any start on the year. But the worst of all has been Harvey.
In four starts this season with the Mets, Harvey was 0-2 with an earned run average of 6.00. Harvey’s struggles led to Mets manager Mickey Callaway putting the struggling pitcher in the bullpen which only made matters worse. Harvey was never happy about being sent to the bullpen, and he let his feelings be known publicly, while he also let the other pitchers in the pen know about it as well. In relief, things didn’t get any better for Harvey as he only had one outing where he didn’t give up any runs. Callaway and Alderson met with Harvey to discuss him going to the minors to work on the flaws in his game; however when he refused he left the Mets no choice but to designate him for assignment. And since that time Harvey was traded to the Reds.
With the Mets recent struggles there are going to be those people who think that the Mets are already done for 2018 as their hot start was a flash in the pan. But anyway you look at it, the struggles that we’ve seen from the Mets starting rotation is just another chapter in the best-selling book that this franchise has authored on wasted opportunities and failing to live up to expectations.
When Alderson took over, the message from him as well as Mets team owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon to the fans was to be patient as they sought to turn things around. The Mets did indeed turn things around and were on the pinnacle of greatness in 2015 when they failed to seize the moment in the Fall Classic. Since then the expectations have remained high for a team that has been unable to live up to them. And after the Mets traded a struggling pitcher in Harvey who was more focused on his social life in the Big Apple than he was one what he did on the mound every fifth day, it all but symbolized why it is tough for anyone to get behind the Mets.
There is hope that Syndergaard and deGrom will be able to carry the Mets rotation this year, while Wheeler did show signs of improvement in his last start against the Reds. But with Matz still struggling, and veteran starting pitcher Jason Vargas who was signed over the winter throwing batting practice every fifth day, the Mets starting pitching in 2018 isn’t worth $20 million with $40 million in their pockets.
Now Harvey will look to resurrect his career in Cincinnati. while the folks in Queens are left to wonder what could have been as who knew that what looked so good in October 2015 could have become equally as bad by the spring of 2018.