This year, the Mets decided to do their fans a favor and tank in June instead of late-July. This way, we can get a jump on our summer plans without having to bother paying attention to a possible pennant race. It certainly warms the heart that 2014 was supposed to be the year and the front office loosened the purse strings to bring in the likes of Mighty Chris Young.
But seriously, folks…
No, the Mets haven’t given us much reason to pay attention so far this season – 5-1 vs. the Phillies and flirtations with .500 at points notwithstanding. However, there are a couple of occasions that will make your intrepid columnist stop and take notice: whenever Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom pitches. These are two of the vaunted young guns for whom Met fans have been told to hold out hope. Ad nauseum. So far, they’ve appeared to outstrip the hype. Yes, it’s true that Wheeler needs to be spot-on with command of his fastball or he falls into scary patterns. Yes, deGrom only has six big-league starts under his belt and the League might figure him out eventually. Still, the mind starts to race forward to 2015 in anticipation of Matt Harvey and Wheeler bookending deGrom at the top of the rotation. Just picture NL batter after NL batter, walking away from the plate muttering. This group has the potential to unseat the Braves as the dominant pitching staff in the NL East.
It also has the potential to fail loudly. Harvey, of course, will be in his initial post-Tommy-John-surgery season and Wheeler and deGrom will both be wary of the sophomore jinx and the fact that they really haven’t proven anything at the big league level. It’s possible Wheeler never finds consistent command of his oh-so-potent fastball and becomes Mike Pelfrey. deGrom could have his weaknesses exposed quickly and never match the performance he’s shown in his initial go-around. And if Jon Niese and/or Dillon Gee are plying their trade elsewhere – hopefully dealt for some offense – the burden will fall to Noah Syndergaard, essentially a rookie. As is usually the case with this team, that’s a lot of “ifs” that need to break right. The hope here – for that is all we can do – is that Harvey, deGrom and Wheeler all pitch as we’ve heard they’re capable and up to the standards they’ve already set.
That should be really fun to pay attention to.
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