The New York Mets have had a wild 2021 season so far. Injuries and a lack of offense have been a problem all season, yet the team still leads the National League East by four games over the Washington Nationals and are seven games above the .500 mark. There are a couple of reasons for why the Mets are in first place, but the biggest reason is the stellar consistency of their pitching staff.
While the Mets have played the least number of games of any team in the majors, their offense is last in runs scored in 2021. Several players on the team are having down years at the plate. Their pitching staff, on the other hand, ranks number two in ERA. Many pitchers on the staff are having the best seasons in their careers. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner deserves a ton of credit for that.
Look at Marcus Stroman’s 2021 season. Stroman’s best season prior to 2021 was in 2017 when he had an ERA of 3.09. After 16 games this season his ERA is 2.65. The consistency Stroman has shown this year has been incredible. He is certainly in the conversation to be an All-Star.
Taijuan Walker is another guy who has had the best year of his career. He has made 14 starts this season and his ERA is better than any previous season in which he pitched that many games. He’s in the conversation for the Cy Young award and ranks high in any pitching metric in 2021.
Jacob deGrom has always been great, but his 2021 season has been legendary. It’s by far his best season ever in the majors. While, deGrom won two Cy Young Awards prior to Hefner’s arrival, there should be something said for his drastic improvement in 2021. He is now in the conversation of having the best year ever for a pitcher. That dominance and the improvement cannot be overlooked.
It’s not just the starters that are having their best years either. In the bullpen, Miguel Castro has turned into a reliable reliver after years of being considered a project. Left-hander Aaron Loup was a steady reliver but has turned into one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. Jeurys Familia was written off as a solid reliver by many and he is having a bounce back season. Closer Edwin Diaz’s struggles have been well documented. In 2021 he has gone back to his All-Star form of 2019.
Even the Mets spot starters have shown promise. Tylor Megill and Jerad Eickhoff have looked excellent in their spot starts so far and looked well prepared. While starters David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi struggled at times this season, Hefner was able to rectify their issues. Lucchesi is now on the IL but his stint before getting injured was a lot better than earlier in the year. Peterson has been a lot better since his down-point in the season. His improvement and recovery cannot go unnoticed. Hefner should get credit for helping these young starters on the staff.
Their team ERA is 3.08. It’s the second best team era in all of baseball. With all the injuries and all the wackiness that has gone on with the pitching staff in 2021 the staff has remained solid and is the main reason for the Mets being in first place as they head into July.
Jeremy Hefner deserves a ton of credit for it and is never mentioned when the question is asked why the Mets are in first place and he should be. That’s why he’s the Mets unsung hero in 2021.