It is probably a little premature to start referring to the Mets as having the best pitching staff in baseball but it isn’t that much of a stretch. You hear constantly about how good these young stud pitchers are but until you look at the numbers, it is hard to understand just how good they truly are.
Let’s look at it this way. The Mets on the whole have very good pitching. They are second in baseball with a 3.18 ERA as a team and they lead the majors in quality starts with 78. They have walked the second fewest batters and they have the third best batting average against (BAA). Those numbers are obviously impressive, especially when you consider that New York has pitched the fourth most innings in baseball this season.
Breaking it down even further though, the Mets simply dominate. They rank second in opponent’s OPS and first in opponent’s OBP. On top of that, the Amazins boast the best WHIP in the league and own the third best strikeout to walk ratio. The numbers continue to show that the Mets rival both the Cardinals and the Dodgers for the best staff in baseball.
It begins with the elite group of young starters. At the forefront is 25-year old Matt Harvey. He owns a 2.61 ERA and a sub 1 WHIP. Those numbers rank twelfth and eighth respectively among pitchers who have thrown at least 140 innings* to this point. Harvey has been close to unhittable as well, allowing the sixth fewest hit of any starter and posting the tenth best BAA. He is also consistent with a quality start in 77 percent of his appearances, good for ninth in the league.
However, if Harvey is almost unhittable, Jacob deGrom is definitely unhittable. In only his second major league season, deGrom has become a star. He owns a 2.03 ERA, which ranks second among all pitchers and his 0.89 WHIP places him third. As if those weren’t impressive enough, he also has allowed the fewest hits and is tied for the seventh fewest walks. deGrom’s quality start percentage is even better than Harvey’s at 82 percent. His strikeout to walk ratio sits at eighth overall and he ranks eleventh in strikeouts per nine innings. When players do get a hit on him, they are lucky to get past first as deGrom has allowed the fewest extra base hits this season. Considering that DeGrom ranks third in batting average against and OPS, deGrom’s resume speaks for itself.
Noah Syndergaard could probably be the number one pitcher in most other team’s lineups with the numbers he has put up this season. On the Mets though, the rookie is playing third fiddle. Depending on the week, it might even be fourth or fifth. Syndergaard has a polished 3.07 ERA in 17 starts this season and an impressive 1.10 WHIP. Considering that he has had 11 quality outings in his 17 appearances, it is fair to say that he has hit the ground running. He compares well to the rest of the league too as his ERA ranks twenty first among starters who have pitched 100 innings and his WHIP is twentieth. Not bad for a player just getting his feet wet. With a strikeout to walk ratio of 4.63 and a strikeouts per nine innings rate better than deGrom, it is easy to see why the Mets are high on this kid.
Even the back end of the rotation is relatively strong for New York with Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese manning those roles. Colon has struggled a bit this season, especially since the All Star break, but Niese has been on fire. In his last five starts, Niese has a sub-three ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. When that is the type of production you are getting from your number four arm, you know you have a really good rotation.
The crazy thing is that the talent doesn’t stop there. Bartolo Colon will likely find himself being skipped occasionally once Steven Matz returns from the disabled list. The 24-year old Matz made two starts before suffering a lat injury. In those pair of starts, he fanned 14 batters and posted an ERA of 1.32 and a WHIP of 0.88. He also had a .156 BAA. Obviously it is a small sample size but the fact that those starts exist gives the Mets rotation even more potential.
Then there is Zack Wheeler. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery at the moment but before that he showed signs of being an ace for New York as well. In 49 starts, he had an ERA of 3.50 and a WHIP of 1.34. His strikeouts per nine innings ratio was also a healthy 8.55. Wheeler will need to be eased back into baseball but once he does, he could be another very talented arm.
That means that the Mets have seven quality starters on their roster at the moment, which is mind boggling. Wheeler was reportedly up for sale at the trade deadline this year and New York will likely move at least one of them this offseason. But the Mets legitimately have an embarrassment of riches. Colon is the old man of the group at 42 but Niese is the next oldest and he is only 28. deGrom is 27 which makes him old on this staff when you consider that Matz is 24 and Harvey and Wheeler are 25. And Syndergaard is only 22.
The Mets have a fantastic young core to build around right now. They desperately need to bring in an extra bat or two during the following offseason. If the Mets manage to do that, they might become the team in New York with legitimate title aspirations.
*All rankings for Harvey and deGrom were of the pool of pitchers who have thrown 140 innings this season.