Pitching overcomes great opposing lineups and pitching wins championships. That is the mantra that I learned following baseball growing up in the 60’s and 70’s and that still holds true today. In Part 1 of my 3 part Mets 2021 Season outlook I preview a rotation that may be simply put the best in the sport of baseball.
When you use the term “best” Jacob deGrom always comes to mind and he is clearly the best hurler in the sport. I simply do not want to hear any nonsense about Cole or Kershaw or anyone else you want to bring to the table, The right arm of deGrom coupled with his intellect of the game brings a competitive fire to the mound every day that is unmatched in this sport.
Back to back Cy Youngs says enough about him but each year he improves his game much in the way the great Tom Seaver did in the 60’s and 70’s. And on the nights that he does not have his best stuff we see his real value as he toughs out a great performance giving his team every chance to win. When teams start a 3 game series with the Mets and deGrom is pitching they know winning that series will be difficult and challenging. An ace in EVERY sense of the word.
Behind deGrom sits Marcus Stroman whose positive energy was evident from the moment he hit spring training but his talent should not be overlooked. His pitches have late movement and he mixes them up so well. He is a valuable piece to this team and he attacks hitters with great stuff and a game plan he executes so well.
The third spot in this rotation belongs to Taijuan Walker whom the Mets signed to a 2 year free agent contract. He possesses a lifetime 3.84 ERA but watching him perform in 2020 as a Toronto Blue Jay I can tell you he is better than that. In 26 innings pitched, he carved out a 1.37 ERA but more importantly giving up only 22 hits and striking out 25 hitters. So we are talking less than a hit an inning and just about 1 strikeout per inning versus some terrific AL East lineups plus the best the NL East had to offer. I can not think of a better third starter in the NL East.
Holding that fourth spot in the rotation will be David Peterson who burst onto the scene last year giving the Mets solid start after solid start while showing the poise of a veteran, His 3.44 ERA in 2020 only tells part of the story as he got those tough outs with runners in scoring position on a regular basis. I remember the day the Mets made the Marcus Stroman trade and heard young pitchers were going in that deal and I prayed Peterson was not one of them because you can see the maturity in his game from the first day he appeared in a minor league contest. And that skill manifested itself in the 2020 season much quicker than we all thought it would.
Rounding out the rotation is Joey Lucchesi whom the Mets picked up in an off-season deal and he earned that spot by pitching well in Port St Lucie featuring a hybrid pitch he calls a “Churve” which combines a splitter and a cutter in its look to the hitter.
Looking at the group of five it would appear the Mets have enough to compete for a playoff spot but let us not forget the trio of Carlos Carrasco, Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard are all expected back during the season and that will provide serious depth to the team. I would think Lugo could land in the bullpen bur Carrasco and Thor will be in this rotation. And that could send Luccessi and/or Peterson to the bullpen but it speaks to the depth the Mets have in starting pitching options.
This team has the best rotation in the NL East and aside from Dodgers–the best in the National league although the Padres may have something to say about that as well.
The rotation of the 2021 Mets is the axle of the wheel as it will define their season. Tomorrow we look at the Met Bullpen.