It is by now a secret to no one around the league that the Mets have a formidable pitching staff. Young and full of high velocity stuff, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard have been lighting up the October competition to an even more impressive degree than most thought possible. After all, this is the first foray in the postseason for each pitcher, and it is still Syndergaard’s rookie year. But expectation have been blown open as the Mets are cruising against tough opponents. How good are they you ask? Let’s take a glance at the numbers to see.
The Mets’ 2.90 ERA is the best so far of any team that made it to the postseason, and of the four teams that still remain Kansas City’s team ERA of 3.48 is a distant second. The only teams that gave up less than the Mets three total home runs were the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates who each allowed two. In case you forgot, they both were “one and done.” The Toronto Blue Jays have only allowed four surprisingly, but they also have the worst ERA of the remaining four. Meanwhile in their first series the Mets beat not just the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw, but also the best pitcher of the year in Zack Grienke. After moving past those two, the rest of the postseason opponents sure seem a lot easier.
What wasn’t expected is that of the four teams still playing, the Mets are sitting third in overall strikeouts. For a team with such high velocity, knock out pitches, I would have thought they were leading by a decent margin. Not so. The Chicago Cubs have struck out 77, the Royals have 76, the Mets have 74 and the Blue Jays are all the way at the bottom with just 54. Even more stunning, the Mets have the second highest walk total and WHIP. Their numbers are still good at just 17 and 1.08 respectively, but they aren’t blowing away the competition. So are they really out-pitching everyone?
The answer is still yes, because where the Mets really stand out is in slugging percentage allowed. The Mets pitchers aren’t just keeping the ball in the park, they are keeping it from going pretty much anywhere. The team slugging allowed is just .307, compared with .321 for the Blue Jays, .378 for the Royals and .385 for the Cubs. Both the Cubs and Royals (.429 for each) are outslugging the Mets (.382) on the offensive side of the ball, but not to the same degree of difference as the pitching. It’s not a shock that the remaining teams can all hit well, but it appears as though the Mets are doing the best job of not permitting teams to answer back. That has kept momentum in the Mets favor in more games than not.
Velocity is a key to that success. According to Statcast, of the teams remaining Syndergaard has the highest average velocity fastball, with deGrom and Harvey sitting fourth and fifth. Syndergaard also has the highest velocity sinker with Jeurys Familia a close second, while Harvey has the third highest velocity in two-seam fastballs. All of that heat is translating into lots of swings and misses. That is especially relevant with runners in scoring position. The Royals lead the remaining four teams with a superb .196 average against and 0.89 WHIP with runners on second or third, but the Mets have struck out 22 compared to the Royals 17 in those situations. When it comes down to the other team advancing while in position, the Mets have been getting out of it by busting out their four-seamers and in turn winning games.
It’s still too early to tell if the Mets pitching staff is the best in the game, but they are at the very least matching up wonderfully versus their adversaries. They now hold the distinct edge going into Chicago, but they have to keep the heat on (pun intended) if they want to win six more total games. If they can do that they will accomplish something extraordinary, and may just turn in a historically good postseason. Thankfully they’re already halfway there.