Remember when we thought the Mets had five aces?

Two years ago, every Mets fan, including this one, okay, especially this one, was geeked up about the notion of a superstar, superhero rotation that could rival the 70s Orioles, the 80s Mets, the 90s Braves and quite possibly the X-Men and the Avengers too.

Two years ago we rode four electric young arms all the way to the World Series. Our high powered rotation was the envy of every GM and fan across the land. Where as other teams were working to develop so much as one in-house ace, we had as many as five. One missed the playoff run recovering from Tommy John surgery and two were just rookies at the time, so we were collectively salivating over the idea of a five-ace rotation cracking the playoff window wide open for five or even 10 years to come.

We’ll stop short of rehashing how the wheels fell off this speeding bullet train last year and how injuries reduced five aces to just one for most of last season. Today, as hope springs eternal, we look at the Mets roster and see that, unfathomably, the same five names appear atop our rotational depth chart. How could this be, given that Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have yet to pitch together for even one turn through the rotation? At this very moment, all five appear to be healthy and ready to stake claim to their spot in the Mets rotation.

Matz and Wheeler are like orchids – beautiful to behold but will wilt if care and conditions aren’t ideal. Harvey is fighting to come back from his second serious injury, as well as shaken confidence, in what will likely be his last season as a Met. Syndergaard is, by all accounts, back from his lat injury and emboldened by a new workout regimen, but let’s not forget that he is the only one of the five to not yet have Tommy John surgery, and yeah, he’s the biggest dude and the hardest thrower. deGrom who’s been the one reliable workhorse, is also the oldest and skinniest of the bunch. Like a game of Jenga, it’s not a matter of if, but when this will all fall apart.

But, what if it doesn’t? It’s not hard to imagine Syndergaard and deGrom having All-Star seasons atop the rotation. Maybe, Harvey has it figured out and Wheler and Matz are finally due to show us what they can accomplish in a full season. We’ve got new coaches, trainers, and philosophies and some very motivated pitchers. Can’t we at least imagine the possibility of a finally healthy fearsome fivesome?
Could they possibly combine for 162 starts and 1000 plus strikeouts? Maybe in Mickey Callaway‘s wildest dreams, sure. But a bit more realistically, If the back three are reasonably healthy (at least 20 starts each) and effective (ERAs under 4.00) conversations change. This team with a solid lineup and bullpen and strong bench then becomes a serious playoff team and one that would not make a welcome opponent in October.
As Harvey embarks on his last swan song season in a Mets uniform, this is likely the last hope for this dream team of pitchers to band together and lead us to the promised land.

6 comments for “Remember when we thought the Mets had five aces?

  1. Chris F
    February 16, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I think the hype well outpaced the deliverables…this team never had 5 aces. It presently doesnt have even one. An ace is a rare bird, with demonstrated achievement. How many Cy Youngs? zero. How many 30+ start seasons? How many 20 win seasons (sure, like saves, wins are a mess, but you get the point)? How many 200 IP seasons?

    Kershaw, Scherzer, Verlander, Seaver, Gooden…Aces.

    I agree we had the look of three #1s and two #2s. That itself is staggering beyond words without the hype. And with as much knocking on wood as is possible, lets hope we see these guys do at least a couple months worth of starts together this year. If everyone is healthy and lives up to that billing, it would be a thing to behold.

    • MattyMets
      February 16, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Chris F – potential aces. In addition to Kershaw, Verlander and Scherzer, I would add Kluber, Grienke and Bumgarner. 6 no doubt about it aces. At my count there is a next tier you could make an argument for – Sale, Price, Lester, Arrieta, Darvish, Hamels and Felix. Thor and JDG are on the cusp of joining that second tier along with Strasburg, Carrasco, Stroman, Tanaka, Archer, Hendricks, et al.

      • February 16, 2018 at 11:06 am

        Averages over the past six years:

        Pitcher A – 16 W, 196 IP, 135 ERA+, 1.099 WHIP
        Pitcher B – 14 W, 205 IP, 137 ERA+, 1.046 WHIP

        Hard to consider one of these guys an Ace and not the other.

        A is Greinke
        B is Sale

        • Matt Netter
          February 16, 2018 at 11:44 am

          Good comparison Brian, but Grienke has a Cy Young award (would be 2 if not for Arrieta having the most ridiculous second half since Hershiser) and more playoff experience.

          • February 16, 2018 at 11:50 am

            But you’re judging on things that are outside of the pitcher’s control. Sale should be docked because Greinke had better teammates and therefore made the playoffs more?

            If I had both guys rested and ready to go in Game 7, I’d take Sale without a moment’s hesitation.

  2. BK
    February 16, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Even two years ago there was talk that, if only two of the pitchers reached their potential it would be s success given how hard it is to develop one ace, let alone a whole staff. Looks like we may have just that.

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