When you look at the past seasons in which the New York Mets were successful, a common theme can be noticed. 1969, the first Mets World Series victory, consisted of a rotation who had an average ERA of 2.88 headed by the great Tom Seaver. The 1986 World Series Mets also had a phenomenal rotation starring Mets legends Ron Darling and Dwight Gooden. Lastly, 2015 proved this trend again with prime Matt Harvey and newcomers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. This tendency of rotational dominance equaling the success of the blue and orange is apparent and has the hopes of Mets fans high. This is due to the Mets acquiring 3 new starters through trade and free agency this offseason. These moves along with the pieces already owned by New York raise the question, do the Mets have the best rotation in baseball?
The Mets are already a step ahead of other rotations because of their ace, Jacob deGrom. The star pitcher out of Stetson University has been one of, if not the best, pitcher in baseball these past few seasons. A 2 time NL Cy Young winner, deGrom struck out over 200 batters in both 2018 and 2019. He was on pace for a career-high in strikeouts during the Covid-shortened season. This consistency as well as his ability to continue making improvements to his velocity give him more than a realistic case of being the best pitcher in baseball. 1-0 Mets.
While deGrom was outstanding last year, his supporting cast did not finish the job. Veterans Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello proved to be ineffective while New York native Steven Matz was atrocious in his last season in Flushing. Struggles were made worse due to the absence of star pitchers Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. The Mets employed 10 pitchers to start in just 60 games. Stroman is returning to the rotation in a big way. The polarizing right-hander brings along a new pitch in his already filthy repertoire, a Split Change. His return brings a truly elite Number 2 to start the season behind deGrom.
Let’s revisit the dreadful 2020 season. While deGrom dominated and everyone else mentioned disappointed, one starter went unnamed. That is the name of 2020 rookie starter David Peterson. Peterson started 9 games in which he carried a 3.44 ERA and a 1.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). One concern that comes with Peterson is durability, but this isn’t because of injuries. Peterson has only started 13 games in the past two years, which had caused manager Luis Rojas and the rest of the Mets staff to hesitate to commit to Peterson as a rotational piece before injuries essentially guaranteed him a spot in the rotation. If Peterson can pitch every 5 days for New York, he should be a formidable back-end starter.
The presumptive number 3 on Opening Day after deGrom and Stroman is offseason addition, Taijuan Walker. The only free agent signing to make the rotation considering they missed out on Trevor Bauer, Walker is coming off a sneaky good season in which he had a 1.37 ERA in 6 starts. While we are dealing with a small sample size, last season was highly promising. In 6 innings this Spring (as of March 26), Walker has let up just 6 baserunners. One issue that Walker does face is walks, but that is something that he can continue to work on.
Joey Lucchesi is a lefty taken in from the San Diego Padres in a trade. Originally acquired as a great depth piece, Lucchesi is a solid pitcher who has a decent 4.21 career ERA. The former Padre came into spring competing for a spot in the rotation, but injuries have made him a shoo-in for the opening day roster. Watch out for Lucchesi as a potential breakout candidate in his increased role to start the season.
The Mets have always been a team full of injury issues. New starter Carlos Carrasco is an 11-year veteran who entered Port St. Lucie as the number 2 starter on Opening Day, looking to continue his solid career. Unfortunately, the injury bug has hit. The previous 3 springs had contained injuries to Mets potential impact players in Vargas, Lowrie, and Syndergaard, in consecutive years, and this spring is no different. Carrasco suffered a torn hamstring during drills and will look to be out until the summer. Pairing this with the recovery of Thor from Tommy John will test the depth of this rotation, as new additions Walker and Lucchesi will have to step up. The potential of this Mets rotation 100% healthy is deadly and we all hope to see everyone healthy in September and October.
After talking about each starter, we can now give a tentative answer to the question needing to be answered. Do the Mets have the best rotation in baseball? Welp, it pains me to say this, but not yet. While the Opening Day rotation is the best we’ve seen in 4+ years, it is not enough to compete with the Rotation of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a rotation filled with incredible starters as well as the best depth in football, as players such as Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin will not even be a part of their rotation. Even if the Mets were healthy, the Dodgers would still be the team to have the better rotation. However, do the Mets have the potential to be the best SP room in baseball? Absolutely. If the rotation can stay healthy and pitch to their potential, watch out MLB. LFGM.