The Mets Fan
My name is Rudy Sheptock, and I am on Twitter as @RudyOrangeAndBlue. I am a full time Minister and a part-time DJ! My daily midday Radio Show is called Rudy On The Radio and it’s heard Monday-Friday from Noon until 2PM on LIFT FM here in Cape May County, NJ. I have been married 36 years and have four kids and four grandkids. I love social media and enjoy the many friendships I have made via Twitter and Facebook.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I became a die hard Mets Fan in the mid 1960s because of my Dad. He grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers Fan, and when they and the Giants left for California, there was no way my Father was going to root for the Yankees. So when the Mets came along, he began to root for them and passed his love of the Orange and Blue on to me! Because I never do anything halfway – I was in for life!
Favorite Mets Player
My first Mets Autograph was Gil Hodges, but my first hero was Tom Seaver. I patterned everything I did after Tom. I would listen to the Mets on the Radio and would be perfectly in-sync with Seaver even though I could not see the game. I wore either 14 or 41 all thru my playing days. I also taught both my sons the drop and drive style of Seaver’s pitching. I have tons of Seaver memorabilia all over my house! I cried the day they traded him to the Reds! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Favorite Moment in Mets History
While my oldest Son was born in 1986 and that magical season, nothing will ever compare to the Summer of 1969! After so much losing, the Mets were finally winning! And I loved Gil Hodges and the innocence of that era for me cause I was 10 years old! Seaver’s almost perfect game! I was at Banner Day that August when the Mets swept the Padres 3-2 in both games. The double-header that the Mets won against the Pirates where both games were 1-0 with Jerry Koosman and Don Cardwell driving in the runs! Ken Boswell singling in Cleon Jones against the Expos to put us in first place! And the day we won the World Series! I was in Baseball Heaven! I am so glad I was alive and well because that Team was my Team! Cleon and Tommie Agee! Jerry Grote and Donn Clendenon! I remember riding my bike thru the old neighborhood screaming We Won The World Series! Childhood at it’s best! Even the Mets on the Ed Sullivan Show!
Message to Mets Fans
Real Mets Fans are a unique breed! We are never confident. We always expect the worst and are pleasantly pleased when our Team comes through. We despise the Yankees! We love Bob Murphy. We miss Shea Stadium! The chant of Let’s Go Mets still gives us Goosebumps and we can still hear Jane Jarvis play the organ in our souls! We love Wilmer Flores and can’t understand why the Wilpons are still around! We can call our Mets Bums but will defend them to the death! We bleed blue and orange! Love to hear Put it in the Books and will always stick around for the Happy Recap! I was a Mets Fan at 7 years old and now at almost 60- I still love them!
The Mets Fan
For those that don’t know you, please tell Mets fans who you are. I’m just Harry, or Bill, or Koos, your choice. I’m an Engineer and a Mets fan, and a semi retired Softball coach. I used to scribble a few words and do a photoshop or two for Oh Murph as a ghost writer for BS Upton (he took all the credit) until they were taken over by a Chinese Internet start up company.
How You Became a Mets Fan
By accident. My Dad wasn’t much into sports, but my brother was. He is a Big Yankees fan. I watched too many games starring Horace Clark. One day when I was probably in second grade I told my Mother I wanted a baseball hat and Jacket. She bought me a Mets hat and jacket. Everyone I knew laughed at me, those cruel Yankee fans. I didn’t even know the Mets existed. This was probably 1965. A few years later when the Yankees were terrible, my brother left the TV unguarded and I found the Mets channel WOR. I liked them much better and started watching. That was 1968.
Favorite Mets Player
I have to go with Tom Seaver. He was and still is the best ever.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
The last game of the 1969 World Series. Jerry Koosman had a great game. I was vindicated as a Mets fan. I forgave my Mother for buying me Mets gear. The world was a wonderful place. Second place is the gets by Bill Buckner ‘86 series game.
Message to Mets Fans
Know the stats, but trust your eyes. Keep your head in and eye on the ball. If this team wins in your lifetime you will have no better feeling for your suffering will be rewarded.
On Sunday, I published a tongue-in-cheek recommendation as to what promotions the Mets should have during the 2018 season. The original concept of the post was the Mets promotional schedule feels like it is lacking this year, and the team should be looking for better ways to honor their players.
With that in mind, I asked the Mets Blogger Roundtable what promotions they would like to see the Mets institute during the 2018 season:
The Mets should re-introduce Old Timers Day. Promotions are nice, but they generally consist of things which either break, get lost, forgotten, or all three. Old Timers Day can be traditional and memorable as fans connect emotionally with the players. Sure, there’s no sponsored bobble head doll, hat, or a fidget spinner that goes with it – sometimes the greatest souvenir can be reconnecting with the past, which is why what such a day would be so great for everyone involved.
There was a character on “Rick and Morty” called “Mr. Meeseeks.” He lived only to fix one problem of yours before ceasing to exist. He wanted to cease to be, is the thing – his catch phrase is “Existence is pain!” Naturally, some unknown hero on the internet created a “Mr. Metseeks.” My interpretation of Mr. Metseeks is Mr. Metseeks cannot die until the Mets win the World Series. We all started kind, then have only grown more bitter, and increasing irritated over the years, when the Mets did not fulfill their destiny. We are all Mr. Metseeks. Let’s have an action figure of ourselves some Saturday in 2018. Why? Because a “Jay Brews” shirt sends the wrong message to the youths.
Ernest Dove (MMO & MMN)
As a South Florida resident and fan of the High-A St. Lucie Mets, I can’t help but suggest the MLB Mets model the St. Lucie Mets with $1 beer $1 hot dog night. With ticket prices continuing to skyrocket, I think it would be a great idea for Mets to win over their fans with a night of cheap food and drinks. I’m not suggesting bottles of beer. I’m talking $1 plastic cups here. It might pack the place. And along with the obvious on the alcohol, this would also allow for parents to ensure all their kids are fed. Do it!
Old Timer’s Day; as a kid I always loved Mets Old Timer’s Day, and frankly, I miss it dearly.
In 2009, the New York Times quoted then-Mets executive Dave Howard: “It was particularly unpopular as a promotion. We didn’t see an increase in ticket sales or interest from sponsors or even from people who already had tickets. It died of its own unpopularity in the early ’90s. We felt we were better served by bringing our alumni back over several days instead of one day.”
Now, I liked Dave Howard, nice guy, but that statement was crap. a) outside of a rare 1986 tribute when the hell do the Mets ever “bring their alumni back?”
Maybe be creative? Maybe call it “Amazin Day,” and combine the old Photo Day with an autograph day, have the former Mets like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Art Shamsky, Mookie Wilson, Rusty Staub, Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, Felix Millan, etc. gather at Citi Field and have a Mets fan’s dream of a day? Yeah, it would cost money, but it’d be sold out and there are a thousand marketing ideas that would make it a must-have ticket (and memorabilia money maker) every year!
The idea that Mets fans wouldn’t embrace a day to celebrate their team’s history is ridiculous.
I wish it was only a cost-effectiveness issue. But it’s not. Frankly, the Mets can’t even send out a promo video without doing something dumb like trying to avoid the existence of a 20-game winner who just won the organizations first Cy Young Award in almost 30 years. It is the fear of ridicule, of blowback, and of honest feedback from a fanbase that’s tired of the losing and the stupidity. In 1989, Davey Johnson was omitted from the list of some two dozen people invited to Old-Timers’ Day.
Why? If the Old-Timers’ Day crowd cheered Johnson, would the Mets’ front office and Harrelson be embarrassed? If the crowd booed him, would he be embarrassed? Like many, many, many others have said many, many, many times, the Wilpons and by extension, their PR and Marketing departments lack a cohesive link to their smartest and most loyal fans. Maybe it’s time to listen to a few of them.
When I was talking with my Dad about the postseason, we were prattling off how most of the teams in the postseason haven’t won in quite some time:
- Astros – Never
- Nationals – Never
- Rockies – Never
- Indians – 1948
- Dodgers – 1988
- Twins – 1991
- Diamondbacks – 2001
- Yankees – 2009
- Red Sox – 2013
- Cubs – 2016
Just go back over that list again.
For nearly a century, the dream World Series matchup was Red Sox-Cubs. 1912 versus 1908. The Curse of the Bambino versus the Billy Goat Curse.
Then there was all of the Hall of Famers on both sides who never won a World Series. For the Cubs, you had absolute legends like Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins. The Red Sox had Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.
Throw in Fenway and Wrigley with the Green Monster and the ivy, this was the World Series to end all World Series because these were two teams pathologically incapable of winning World Series.
We know it all changed for the Red Sox with a Dave Roberts stolen base propelling the Red Sox to overcome an 0-3 ALCS deficit. It would be a Kris Bryant homer to start the game winning rally in Game five of the World Series. Before each of those moments, these were two franchises who seemed incapable of winning a World Series. There was also a time the Mets would take full advantage.
Now, the Mets are behind both the Red Sox and the Cubs. Now, it looks like the Mets who are the team that can’t win a World Series.
In 1988, Mike Scioscia hit a grand slam against Dwight Gooden. In 1999, Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded. In 2000, Timo Perez didn’t run out a Todd Zeile fly ball that landed on top of the wall. In 2006, So Taguchi homered off of Guillermo Mota, and yes, Carlos Beltran struck out looking against Adam Wainwright. In 2015, Jeurys Familia blew three saves with the help of Daniel Murphy overrunning a grounder and a way offline Lucas Duda throw. Last year, it was Conor Gillaspie who hit a three run homer in the Wild Card Game.
In reality, the Mets aren’t cursed even with all that ensued after the Madoff scandal. However, with each passing year, you can forgive fans for starting to feel this way. It’s been 31 years since the Mets last won a World Series. In those 31 years, the Mets have reached the postseason six times, and they were eliminated in excruciating fashion each time.
Again, the Mets are not cursed. Still, it is depressing to now live in a world where the Red Sox and the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Mets.
Last year, new dad Jacob deGrom got the Father’s Day start against the Braves, and he took the loss. However, you could say it was a great day for deGrom because his son was in attendance at the game. This is the same son who had breathing issues after he was born earlier that year. To that end, it was a pretty great Father’s Day for deGrom.
This year was even better.
With his son in attendance, deGrom had one of his best games as a major leaguer. In fact, it if wasn’t for a Wilmer Flores error leading to a first inning unearned run, deGrom might have pulled off the Jerry Koosman.
For eight innings, deGrom dominated a Nationals lineup that has the highest slugging percentage in the National League and has scored the second most runs in the league. In fact, if it wasn’t for Travis d’Arnaud‘s inability to throw out Trea Turner (4-4 in stolen base attempts), no National would have reached third base after the first inning. Overall, deGrom pitched eight innings making it the first time in his career he has pitched eight innings in consecutive starts. His final line was eight innings, three hits, one unearned run, two walks, and six strikeouts.
As if that wasn’t good enough, deGrom helped his own cause hitting his first ever major league home run:
Jacob deGrom crushes his first career home run, a solo shot to left-center field to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the 3rd inning!!! pic.twitter.com/mmQN93x4vH
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) June 18, 2017
For an extra added touch, deGrom used David Wright‘s bat to hit that home run, so in some small way, Wright has had a contribution this season.
After the home run, the Mets offense came alive against Joe Ross. In the fourth, d’Arnaud delivered with an RBI single scoring Lucas Duda sending T.J. Rivera to third base. Michael Conforto hit a two out infield single allowing Rivera to score putting the Mets up 3-1.
It was part of a big day for Conforto who finally seemed to get his bat going again. On the afternoon, he was 2-3 with a walk and two RBI. The second RBI came in the sixth inning when he singled home d’Arnaud. What was impressive about both of Conforto’s RBI was they were both with two outs.
After Curtis Granderson‘s RBI single scoring Jay Bruce in the seventh, the Mets were up 5-1, and there was no real chance they were going to lose this one. Still, it might have been too little too late for this Mets team that is now six games under .500 and 10.5 games in the division.
Game Notes: Mets moved Flores to second and Rivera to third to try to help Flores defensively and to help him get going again at the plate. Mets begin a 10 game road trip, and they get to face Clayton Kershaw in the first game of the road trip.
In 2000, the New York Mets made the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in their history. It was a two year run that produced some of the most memorable moments in Mets history.
In the Mets first ever NLDS game, Edgardo Alfonzo hit two home runs, including a grand slam. The Mets would win that NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 10th inning walk-off home run from Todd Pratt in a moment dubbed Pratt’s All Folks. The NLCS featured Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single, and Mike Piazza‘s opposite field home run against John Smoltz which capped the Mets rallying from an early 5-0 and 7-3 deficits in what was a heart wrenching game.
In the 2000 NLDS, John Franco froze Barry Bonds to get a 10th inning strikeout to rescue the Mets from an Armando Benitez blown save. In Game 3, Benny Agbayani would hit a walk-off 13th inning home run giving the Mets a 2-1 lead in the series setting the stage for Bobby Jones‘ brilliant one-hitter to cap the series. In the NLCS, Timo Perez became a folk hero as the Mets swept the hated Cardinals to return to the World Series for the first time since 1986.
None of this . . . not one single moment would have been possible without Al Leiter.
Starting on September 21st, the Mets lost seven games in a row and eight of nine. The losing streak saw the Mets four game lead in the Wild Card turn into a two game deficit. It appeared that for the second season in a row, the Mets were going to blow a fairly sizeable lead in the Wild Card race and miss the postseason all together. Fortunately, the Mets would win out and force a one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds for the Wild Card and the right to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1999 NLDS.
After Rickey Henderson and Alfonzo hit back-to-back home runs to open the game, Leiter would do the rest. Leiter was simply brilliant in a complete game two-hit seven strikeout shutout. This start came off the heels of Leiter’s last start of the season where he out-dueled Greg Maddux to snap the the Mets eight game losing streak and put the team back in position to make a run at the Wild Card.
Typically, that was the type of pitcher Leiter was in a Mets uniform. He rose to the occasion in some when the Mets needed him. He was the guy who helped pitch the Mets into the 1999 postseason. He was the guy who helped turn around the 2000 NLDS by shutting down the San Francisco Giants over eight plus innings. He was the pitcher who gave everything he had in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series. Much like the Mets in that two year time frame, he was terrific, but time and again, he came up just short. In seven postseason starts for the Mets, he was 0-2 with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.080 WHIP. Taking out the 1999 NLCS Game 6 start against the Braves he made on three days rest and couldn’t record an out, his Mets postseason ERA and WHIP respectively drops to 2.58 and 1.015.
Leiter’s greatness as a Met extend far beyond the superlatives of his moments in big games and how well he pitched in the postseason. He was also very good in the regular season.
Leiter first came to the Mets in a February 1998 trade that featured the Mets sending prized prospect A.J. Burnett to a Florida Marlins team that was dismantling their World Series winning club. The trade was a sign the Mets were interested in moving on from a team that was rebuilding to a team that was ready to start competing. Adding a pitcher like Leiter, while a risk, certainly paid dividends.
In 1998, Leiter would arguably post the best year of his career going 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.150 WHIP. That season Leiter was unquestionably the ace for a Mets team that surprised everyone by competing for a Wild Card spot deep into the season. For much of Leiter’s seven year career he served as either the Mets ace, 1A, or number two starter.
In his entire Mets career, Leiter was 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA, 1,360.0 innings pitched, 1,106 strikeouts, and a 1.300 WHIP. In that seven year span, Leiter posted a very good 124 ERA+ and a 28.0 WAR. He would make an All Star team and he would have one Top 10 Cy Young Award finish. With strong numbers like these, it should be no surprise Leiter’s name is scattered across the Mets record books:
- Wins (95) – sixth
- Games Started (213) – sixth
- Innings Pitched (1,360.0) – seventh
- Strikeouts (1,106) – seventh
- WAR (28.0) – 11th
In terms of all-time Mets pitchers, Leiter’s WAR ranks him as the sixth best pitcher in Mets history behind Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Sid Fernandez, and Jon Matlack. In terms of left-handed starters, Leiter ranks third in wins, seventh in ERA, third in starts, fourth in innings pitched, and third in strikeouts.
In terms of advanced statistics, Leiter’s 1998 season was the seventh best by a Mets pitcher by ERA+. In fact, his Mets career ERA+ ranks him as the eighth best pitcher in Mets history. Among pitchers that have thrown more than a thousand innings, his ERA+ is second all-time to just Seaver. Adjusted pitching runs ranks him as the third best pitcher in Mets history just behind Seaver and Gooden, and adjusted pitching wins ranks him fourth. In terms of WPA, he ranks fourth all time, third among starters, and second among left-handed pitchers.
Simply put, Leiter had a terrific career in a Mets uniform. His 1998 season was one of the best by a Mets starter. By most measures, he’s a top 10 or top 5 pitcher in Mets history. He has came up big in big moments time and time again. He was also part of a group of Mets players that welcomed Piazza after the trade with the Marlins and made him feel welcome enough for Piazza to re-sign with the Mets.
More than any of the aforementioned stats, there is another factor. There is no way you can adequately tell the history of the Mets franchise without discussing Leiter. Leiter was an important member of two Mets teams that made the postseason. He is a major part of one of the best eras in Mets baseball, and he’s a part of one of the most beloved teams in Mets history. Moreover, he is a part of a core group of Mets that have been long overlooked for the Mets Hall of Fame. Despite 1997 – 2001 being one of the better stretches in Mets history, Piazza and Franco remain the only Mets from those teams to be represented in the Mets Hall of Fame. They were not the only contributors to this run.
This era of Mets baseball has been long overlooked by this team. It is time some of those important Mets get inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Leiter is one of the Mets that deserve induction.
With the Cubs facing the daunting task of heading back home down 0-2 in the World Series, Jake Arrieta stepped up and pitched the most important game of his life. Arrieta pitched 5.1 no-hit innings to help the Cubs even the series at 1-1 and to capture home field advantage. Arrieta was the pitcher to carry a no-hitter that deep into the World Series since Jerry Koosman pitched six no-hit innings against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series.
Koosman’s performance was much more dominating and important than Arrieta’s. Whereas the Cubs are favored in this year’s World Series, the 1969 were about as big of underdogs as you get. The Orioles lineup featured two Hall of Famers in Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson. They had a rotation featuring Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, and future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. This was about as tough a team you could face. This was a team so tough, they beat Tom Seaver 4-1 in Game 1 of the World Series. Going into the World Series, you presumption was the Mets needed Seaver to win each and every single one of his starts to even have a chance, and not even that happened.
With the Game 1 victory, the Orioles appeared as if they were going to steamroll through the Mets much in the same fashion they had done to the Los Angeles Dodgers three years before and would do the following year to the Cincinnati Reds. Koosman’s 8.2 innings two hit masterpiece changed all of that. It completely changed the tone of the World Series and the momentum. Without this performance, the Mets may not have had the same energy and belief in themselves. It’s quite possible we don’t see either of Tommie Agee‘s catches or Ron Swoboda‘s for that matter.
While Koosman was not named the MVP of the series, that honor would go to Donn Clendenon, his performance was the most important factor in the Mets changing the script and winning the World Series in five games. In that World Series, Koosman not only established himself as a great Met, he also established himself as the first big game pitcher in the franchise’s history. Without him the Mets never win the 1969 World Series.
Coincidentally, without Koosman, the Mets also don’t win the 1986 World Series.
On December 8, 1978, the Mets traded Koosman to his hometown Minnesota Twins in exchange for Greg Field and a left-handed pitcher named Jesse Orosco. Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Mets winning their second World Series. The Mets would not have been able to win that World Series without Orosco’s three wins, and his gutsy win in Game 6, of the NLCS. They would not have won without his standing on the mound to close out Game 7.
Neither the 1969 or the 1986 World Series would have been possible without Koosman. With it being the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series victory and with Arrieta’s peformance, we were again reminded of that.
For an organization known for its pitching, it should come as no surprise that the Mets have had their fair share of good closers. What may come as a surprise is that Jeurys Familia might just become better than them all.
The Mets first notable closer was Tug McGraw. His contributions extend well past his coining the phrase “Ya Gotta Believe!” Up until the 80’s, in a time when managers began to pitch to the save rule, McGraw was the Mets all-time leader with 86 saves. He is also the only Mets to be a closer to for a team that won a World Series and a Pennant. In 1969, he shared closing duties with Ron Taylor. In 1973, he was not only the man, but in many ways, the vocal leader of the team. The only record McGraw has remaining in the record books is most innings pitched by a Mets reliever with 792.2 innings over his nine year Mets career.
The next Mets closer to appear in multiple postseasons was Jesse Orosco. When discussing Orosco, there are always three things you need to mention: (1) he was part of the return the Mets received when they traded Jerry Koosman to the Twins; (2) Keith Hernandez warned him not to throw a fastball to Kevin Bass (he didn’t); and (3) his glove has still not landed. After his eight year career was over, Orosco was both the Mets all-time leader in saves (107) and the Mets single season saves leader (31 in 1984). To this day, he remains the only Mets closer to save a World series clinching game.
Orosco would eventually be surpassed by John Franco on both the saves list and the Mets all-time saves list. Somewhat ironically, Franco’s entrance song was Johnny B. Goode as his ninth inning appearances were always a high wire act. Still, throughout all of it, Franco has more saves by any left-handed closer in history with 424, and when he retired he was third on the all-time list trailing only Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman. Franco recorded 276 of those saves with the Mets. His 276 saves are the Mets record by a fairly wide margin.
In fact, Franco leads Armando Benitez by 116 saves on the Mets all-time list. Coincidentally, Benitez is the man who replaced Franco as the Mets closer in 1999. With the Mets having made consecutive postseason appearances in 1999 and 2000, Benitez remains the only Mets closer to pitch in consecutive postseasons. While Mets fans loved to hate him, Benitez did show flashes of complete and utter dominance. As of right now, his 43 saves in 2001 still remains the Mets single season record.
However, that record is in jeopardy. Last year, Jeurys Familia, in his first season as the Mets closer, tied Benitez’s single season record. This year, he has tied it again en route to him most likely breaking the tie with Benitez. With Familia having saved 43 games for consecutive seasons, he has already set the mark for most saves by a Mets closer in consecutive seasons. Even with Familia only having been the Mets closer for one plus seasons, he now ranks fifth all-time with 92 saves as a Met. With 16 more saves, he will jump both Orosco and Billy Wagner to put him third all-time.
If the Mets current charge continues, he could join Benitez as the only Mets closer to appear in back-to-back postseasons. If the Mets get into the postseason, anything is possible including seeing Familia join Orosco as the only Mets pitcher to earn a save to close out the World Series.
That’s just the thing with Familia. He’s already a great closer, and he’s already writing his name all over the Mets record books. As long as he is the Mets closer, anything is possible. It’s also possible that we could be watching the best closer in Mets history.
On August 22, 1973, the Mets won their second game in a row to raise the Mets record to 57-67 leaving them 6.0 games out in the National League East behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.
From that point forward, the Mets would be the hottest team in baseball going 25-12 carrying them to an unlikely division championship. The Mets rode the hot streak to beat the Big Red Machine 3-2 in a best of five NLCS, and they came within a win of disrupting the Oakland A’s dynasty.
The popular story was the Mets were spurred by Tug McGraw screaming “Ya Gotta Believe!” after a M.Donald Grant “pep talk” in July. However, the truth is that team just got healthy at the right time, and when the team was at 100%, they were among the best teams in baseball.
During that year, the team was hampered by injuries. Jerry Grote, John Milner, Bud Harrelson, and Cleon Jones all missed significant time. Rusty Staub player through injuries all year. On top of that phenom Jon Matlack was having a down year a year removed from winning the Rookie of the Year Award. He was joined by Jerry Koosman in having a surprising down year. Willie Mays looked to be every bit of his 42 years of age. Young fill-ins like Don Hahn just were not producing. The Mets were forced to do anything they could do to improve the team like releasing dead weight like Jim Fregosi. About all that went right that season for the Mets was Tom Seaver; that and the fact that no one ran away with the division allowing the Mets to enter the postseason with an 82-79 record.
Isn’t that what this Mets season has been. With Matt Harvey, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Adrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes, we have seen this Mets team be hampered time and again by injuries. We have seen countless Mets play through injuries like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz with their bone spurs. We’ve seen replacements like Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, and Matt Reynolds not play up to snuff. Players like Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto had surprising down years. About the only thing that has gone right for the Mets this year is the fact that Jacob deGrom has continued to pitch like an ace, and the fact that no one has ran away with the second Wild Card spot.
Maybe, just maybe, this is 1973 all over again. That 1973 team was much further back in both the standings and more teams to leapfrog in the standings. All they needed to do was to get healthy and to get hot. Right now, with Cespedes back and hitting home runs for the Mets again, this team is healthy, and they are on the verge of getting hot. If that happens, the Mets can very well take that second Wild Card spot and get into the postseason.
As we saw in 1973 as well as last year, with great Mets pitching, the Mets can beat anyone in the postseason. They can shock the world. Anything is possible so long as they get hot and get into the postseason.
Lost in all the offensive struggles is the fact that this Mets team is built upon pitching. As a franchise, the Mets always have and always will be built upon pitching. It started with Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack in the late 60’s. It was continued in the 80’s with Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and David Cone. The mantle was supposed to be picked up this year by the Mets young rotation.
However, the rotation has had some struggles. Matt Harvey struggled mightily going 2-4 in May with a 5.91 ERA. To a lesser extent, Jacob deGrom struggled in May going 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA. The concern with deGrom was not so much the results but the seemingly precipitous drop in velocity. These were to the two aces the Mets road all last year and into the postseason. These were supposed to be the two aces this year leading the team while the younger starters developed. Instead, the reverse has been true.
Noah Syndergaard has taken the next step this year. He is 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA and a 0.958 WHIP. He is throwing fastballs up and over 100 MPH, and more impressively, he is throwing sliders around 95 MPH. He is as dominant a pitcher as there is in baseball right now.
Steven Matz was named the National League Rookie of the Month for the Month of May. It was a well deserved honor after going 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA and a 0.757 WHIP. In fact, if you take away his first nightmare of a start, a start he made after a long period of inactivity, Matz is 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA and a 0.932 WHIP. Matz has been the pitcher everyone has imagined he would be and more since he burst onto the scene last year beating the Reds from the mound at the plate.
Overall, Syndergaard and Matz have taken the next step. On almost any other rotation, they would be the unquestioned ace. That was the same thing that has been said for Harvey and deGrom. On that front, there is some great news as well. In Harvey’s last start, he went seven innings allowing only two hits, no runs, and one walk with striking out six. In deGrom’s last start, he went seven innings allowing five hits, one run, and two walks while striking out 10. More importantly, deGrom’s velocity is returning with him getting his fastball up to 96 MPH.
So yes, it appears like the 2016 Mets are continuing the franchise’s legacy of having great pitching. With Syndergaard and Matz being ahead of schedule in their development coupled with Harvey and deGrom starting to return to last year’s form, the Mets rotation is stacked with four aces. If you’re a baseball player or a poker player, you know four aces is next to impossible to beat no matter whatever else you have in your hand . . . even if that hand contains the deuce that the Mets offense was over the month of May.