Matt Harvey. Zack Wheeler. Jacob DeGrom. Noah Syndergaard. Steven Matz.
If fans of the Mets are weary travelers, making their way through an unforgiving desert, these 5 pitchers are a mirage. An oasis in the sand. While all 5 have had success at the Major League level, they’ve never pitched together at the same time.
It looks like that may become a reality very soon.
Jason Vargas, the Mets sole starting pitching acquisition this off-season was slotted in as our number 3 pitcher this season. All that changed when a line drive struck his glove hand causing a non displaced fracture. Vargas opted for surgery and is likely to miss at least one turn through the rotation once the season starts.
To say there was a lot of hype surrounding Harvey, DeGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz would be the understatement of the century. There was talk this could be the best starting rotation ever assembled. Five pitchers who could all make a legitimate case to be the ace of the staff.
Even a casual observer of the Mets could tell you how that movie was going to end. Tommy John surgeries. Elbow spurs. Lat injuries. Any time it looked like it was going to happen, it was snatched away from us.
It should be said that we aren’t looking at a modern day Isringhausen, Wilson, and Pulsipher situation here. Degrom has playoff wins against Kershaw and Greinke in Los Angeles. Syndergaard has a World Series win under his belt and went pitch for pitch with Madison Bumgarner in a wildcard game. Steven Matz might have a World Series win on his resume if not for a Daniel Murphy error. Harvey might be able to claim a World Series win if..let me stop right there.
DeGrom and Syndergaard are legitimate front of the rotation pitchers. In fact they were just voted as the best 1-2 punch by MLB.com. As much as it hurts me to say it, our other 3 guys are huge question marks.
Matt Harvey was a top 5 pitcher in baseball. He was derailed by Tommy John surgery and then thoracic outlet syndrome. He posted what I believe is the best season ever directly following Tommy John surgery in 2015. It should be said that no pitcher ever regained the form they had following the thoracic outlet surgery. 2016 and 2017 were flat out awful campaigns for Matt which is a definite cause for alarm.
Zack Wheeler was arguably the first step towards a rebuild under new GM Sandy Alderson when he was acquired from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran. I think the majority of Mets fans thought Wheeler was primed for a breakout in 2015 following a strong 2014 season. Elbow discomfort followed by a trip to Dr. James Andrews put a stop to that. Tommy John surgery had Wheeler on the shelf for all of the next two seasons. He returned in 2017 and was a effective for a short stretch. He wound up visiting the disabled list for biceps tendinitis and a stress reaction. He wound up posting an ERA over 5 and pitching only 86 innings.
Steven Matz was the last of these 5 pitchers to arrive. Matz’ grandfather cheering him on at Citi Field during his debut is one of the most memorable moments of the 2015 season. Steven has had flashes of brilliance but simply cannot stay on the field. He missed the Mets’ run to the wildcard in 2016 and had an atrocious 2017 year while attempting to pitch through injuries.
So here we are.
Noah. Jake. ? ? and ?
Ironically, after such a long wait, our “5 aces” might only be finally pitching together because of an injury to another starting pitcher. And that pitcher was brought in solely because these pitchers cannot be trusted to pitch effectively for a full season.
With that being said, I am so ready for this. As the spring has progressed Matz, Harvey and to a lesser extent, Zack Wheeler, have looked better and better each outing. With DeGrom and Syndergaard in midseason form I’d like a message to be passed to Jason Vargas.
Take your time. Rest up.
I had a poster on my wall growing up of Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson. (The caption was “The Untouchables.) So I’m not jumping out the window yet. I am excited though. For a number of reasons.
First and foremost, this has the potential to be a great staff. Potential is the key word here. Who knows if Wheeler can reach the fifth inning before he reaches 100 pitches. I wouldn’t exactly call Matz’ breaking ball “sharp” yet. Harvey has a noticeable decline in velocity the deeper he gets into games. Is there a bottom third of a rotation anywhere with more upside though?
More than anything, I just want to see what we have. We’ve been sold this dream rotation for a long time now. A VERY long time. Every year it seems like we go into the year with multiple question marks. This year is no different. This is a perfect time to answer some questions. We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we continue forward with the status of this pitching staff up in the air.
Can we count on Steven Matz? I don’t know. Let’s find out in Queens though. Not Las Vegas.
Let’s be honest.
I know when Jason Vargas is healthy he’s probably going to reclaim one of these rotation spots. I know that given the Mets track record, the 8 million dollars they’ve promised Jason Vargas will take precedence over all the dreams they’ve sold to Mets’ fans regarding this pitching rotation.
I know Matt Harvey will likely be pitching for another team next season.
That is then though. This is now.
And right now? I’m excited to watch Syndergaard, DeGrom, Harvey, Matz and Wheeler pitch together.