The Mets will be a contending team if their starting rotation remains healthy throughout the duration of the season. This has been a consistent narrative tied to the Mets since the 2015 season.
It remains the same sentiment as the 2020 season approaches, as the team’s strength is predicated on their starting five.
Who will be in the rotation, and what are they going to contribute to the overall team’s success in 2020?
Two-Time, back to back, Cy Young Award Winner Jacob deGrom that is. deGrom will lead this rotation looking to dominate once again. He stated another personal goal of his is to, again, win the Cy Young, which would be his third time in three years. The only other pitchers who accomplished this was Greg Maddux who won 4 in a row from 1992 to 1995 and Randy Johnson who also won 4 in a row from 1999 to 2002.
deGrom, again, was statistically dominant throughout the season. He had a career-high in k/9 with 11.9, and his Left on Base percentage was also his highest, showing the continuing ability to work out of trouble. His ERA continued to flourish, being his second-lowest of his career at 2.43 while holding opposing batters at a .205 batting average against. There wasn’t much wrong with deGrom’s performance last year, but early in the year, the long ball did hurt him. Home runs skyrocketed across the league in 2019, with deGrom’s HR/9 elevating from 0.41 to 0.84.
Thor, as the fanbase labels him, is looking for a bounce-back year, as his overall number took a hit in 2019. Many allude this to be from the ball in 2019, not having the seams that Syndergaard relies on to throw his devastating slider.
With MLB conducting research on the balls, and potentially raising the seams, Syndergaard could be a prominent bounce-back candidate, mainly because his velocity is still at the same level (98.1) avg FB velocity (91.2) SL velocity. With Jeremy Hefner as the new pitching coach, he will be sure to find some ways to get Syndergaard back to his 2016 self.
Marcus Stroman was acquired last summer as the replacement for Zack Wheeler, as they knew they were going to be priced out of Wheeler’s market in a lackluster free-agent class for starting pitching. In 11 games started for the Mets, Stroman went 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA and a 4.15 FIP. Although his numbers didn’t live up to the expectations he had coming from Toronto, he brought an energy level not seen with many of the players on the team.
Another exciting development with Stroman was how he found his cutter with the Mets, which was much improved when working with the staff’s pitching coaches. Stroman will be a serviceable, high ceiling number three starter for this team.
Steven Matz, for the second year in the row, showed he could stay healthy, making 30 starts again in 2019. Reaching his highest innings pitched total (160), Matz went 11-10 with a 4.21 era. With Matz, it’s about consistency; he goes through stretches where the Mets believe he turned a corner.
For example, His July – August was superb where in 11 games, he went 6-5 with a 2.68 ERA where hitters were only hitting .234 against him. Then he will have a start where he can’t stop the bleeding and loses confidence in his stuff. In 2019 Matz had seven starts in which he gave up five or more runs, one of them infamously against the Phillies on 4-16-19, where he gave up six runs in 0.0 innings pitched.
Matz has already been working with Jeremey Hefner this offseason to work on finding that consistency and using analytics to further his knowledge in how to use his repertoire, meaningfully. He has been vocal about his stance on starting but will need to find that consistency or Michael Wacha may be his replacement.
Rick Porcello was a smart offseason acquisition made by Brodie Van Wagenen during the Winter Meetings. Although Porcello led the league with the highest ERA last year, his baseball resume has shown he has been a pitcher whose results fluctuate but are durable with a high ceiling.
He was the 2016 CY Young award winner and won 17 games for Boston in 2018. He should be one of the better, if not the best, fifth starters in the game.
Featured Image: Associated Press/ Mary Altaffer