The Mets rotation will bow to no one in the league. Arguably, they have the best one-two punch, but it’s the 3-4 duo that’s set to make the difference.
The Mets signature strength over the years has been their starting pitching. In 1986, for instance, the Mets won it all with a rotation that featured Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, Sid Fernandez, and Rick Aguilera.
The one-two punch of Gooden (17-6 with a 2.84 ERA) and Darling (15-6 with a 2.81 ERA) did what was expected of them.
But it’s when you look to the middle of the ’86 rotation that you find Ojeda, who contributed an explosive 18-5, and El Sid who won sixteen against only six losses, that you find the gold enabling the Mets to win a title.
Mets Mirroring The 1986 Rotation
Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard own the top of the Mets rotation. Barring injuries (and to cease boredom, I’m only going to say that once), that combination has the potential, and even the expectation the Mets will begin a series at 2-0.
But as we know, what happens after that makes all the difference.
Both Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello have made three 2020 pre-season starts. Over six innings apiece, the equivalent of a quality start, Porcello has surrendered one run and Stroman only two.
It’s a small sample, of course, but what they are putting together is something the Mets can build on.
Stroman: Adjusted, Comfortable, Capable
Marcus Stroman, in many ways, has never pitched for the New York Mets. Amidst all the talk about where the Toronto Blue Jays would send him (Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, they were all in the mix), in the dead of night Brodie Van Wagenen swooped in to grab him.
Stroman went on to make eleven starts for the Mets, winning four against two losses.
But there was a feeling this was only a test drive for Stroman in his new home, with a new team dress code, unique hotels, and needless to say a new set of teammates to adjust to.
Settled in now, Stroman, who is known to rely heavily on “his head,” appears loose and relaxed, ready to begin the 2020 campaign, telling SNY-TV:
“So that’s all I’m looking for (now). I know if I’m strong and stable, my mind’s clear, that I know what I’m capable of (doing). So it’s just a matter of staying in that element and zone.”
Porcello: Bring It On
Rick Porcello brings a whole other dimension to the Mets rotation. He’s a workhorse – gimme the ball and leave me alone to do my job.
Porcello is also a former Cy Young winner, which counts about as much as a vote for Mike Blumenthal recently – but inevitably, it means something to Porcello.
At 31, Porcello is still in what is purported to be a pitcher’s prime years.
But some say he was picked off the scrap heap with a wish and a prayer by Brodie Van Wagenen, an investment that cost the Mets $10 million.
For Rick Porcello, though, that spells only one thing – motivation.
Wacha, Matz – Take Your Pick
Michael Wacha and Steven Matz are fighting it out for the fifth and final spot in the Mets rotation.
Wacha has made two pre-season starts and has yet to give up a run over five innings pitched. Matz, in three innings, has surrendered one run. Too close to call with three weeks remaining in Spring Training.
Which is capable of filling the role of Rick Aguilera as the fifth starter for the 2020 version of the Mets? Aguilera made twenty starts for the 1986 team and finished 10-7.
Mets Three And Four Remain All The Difference
Take your pick, but for the moment, it doesn’t matter.
Those three and four spots in the rotation, set to be filled by Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, will tell us all we need to know about the New York Mets when we view the standings three months from today.
The more things change (1986 rotation), the more they stay the same (2020 rotation).
And just as with the 1986 Mets, this year’s team will be driven by the guys in the middle – and not the top – of the rotation.