Pedro Martinez

Steve Cohen’s Biggest First Year Challenge With The Mets

Mets fans are besides themselves right now. They went from literally the worst owner in all of pro sports to someone who promises to be the best.

Right now, Mets fans are anticipating a whirlwind of an offseason. They’re already putting J.T. Realmuto behind the plate, Trevor Bauer on the mound, and George Springer in center. Oh, and they’re also expecting Marcus Stroman, Charlie Morton, and literally every free agent available.

Mets fans aren’t penciling this in either. No, they’re putting this down in Sharpee. That’s how high their level of expectation is right now.

That right there is going to be the biggest challenge for Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and the soon to be fully assembled Mets front office. Unless Cohen is prepared to start spending like a drunken sailor, there needs to be some leveling of expectation, and they need to do that while not diminishing the level of excitement.

Right there is one of the benefits of bringing back Alderson. With Alderson, the Mets fans already see someone they can trust to build a winner in New York. Agree or disagree with his moves, the fanbase is well aware he can do this job in this market.

If it’s James McCann instead of Realmuto, the fans can trust it’s not purely a cost savings driven decision. If the Mets opt for Jackie Bradley Jr in center instead of Springer, we can believe that is part of a larger plan to improve the defense to help the pitching.

However, there’s going to be a point where fans are going to want to see THE big name. The fans haven’t seen that happen since Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez signed with the Mets entering the 2005 season.

The Mets need to identify which player is the big name they need to pursue at all costs. That can be a free agent, and it could also come in the trade market with Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado available.

Right now, the excitement level surrounding the Mets is at the highest it’s been since Matt Harvey stepped on the field to pitch the ninth. Cohen needs to find a way to keep the excitement level there instead of having fans watch on in horror as their chances of winning a World Series fade away.

Jeff Wilpon Says Goodbye To New York Mets As Fans Say Good Riddance

According to reports, Jeff Wilpon has a Zoom call to say goodbye to New York Mets employees. Other reports confirmed he will not be seeking a role with the Steve Cohen led Mets even with his team holding onto a small minority ownership.

While he says goodbye, Mets fans say good riddance.

Everything that is wrong with the Mets is in large part due to him, and with him gone, he know stories will soon leak out about how he was even worse than what we already knew.

We already know they failed to capitalize on two pennants. In 2000, it was letting Mike Hampton walk, refusing to sign Alex Rodriguez, and then following that up with actually signing Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel.

In 2015, it was not re-signing Daniel Murphy. Also, if not for a miracle, they would’ve replaced Yoenis Cespedes with Alejandro De Aza.

There was forcing players like Pedro Martinez to pitch through injuries which everyone said should’ve shut down his season, and there was the attempts to try to prevent Carlos Beltran from getting career saving knee surgery.

There was not just signing Jose Reyes, but also holding him out as a role model. Better yet, around the same time, Ed Kranepool needed a kidney transplant only for pettiness to stop the Mets from initially reaching out to help (thankfully they eventually did).

Speaking of Mets greats, there is still no Tom Seaver statue at Citi Field, and now Tom Terrific is gone. Even when the Wilpons did think to finally act, they did it when Seaver had dementia and couldn’t enjoy the honors.

There was firing an unwed pregnant woman and really so much more. With actions like this, not only did Jeff Wilpon fail as a person in charge of building a winner, he disgraced the Mets organization.

Speaking of disgrace, the way the Mets got rid of people was deplorable. No one was allowed to keep their dignity. Willie Randolph was fired one game into a west coast trip and after the Mets won. Instead admitting they didn’t want to pay them fair value Justin Turner had his professionalism questioned and Wilmer Flores was said to have an arthritic condition he didn’t have.

Hopefully, Jeff Wilpon will be afforded the very same treatment he gave others when they left the Mets. It would only be fitting, and it would give Mets fans more reason to celebrate his being gone.

Bye Jeff Wilpon

Back when Nelson Doubleday was on his way out, he had said of Jeff Wilpon, “Jeff Wilpon said he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year. Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail.” (Bergen Record).

It’s impossible to detail just how awful Jeff has been. It’s like a PhD level course in complete incompetence.

He was behind forcing injured players to play including Pedro Martinez leading to the effective end of Pedro’s career.

He thought he was smarter than people who actually knew what they were doing. That led to decisions like the shameful Willie Randolph and Sandy Alderson firings (yes, Sandy was effectively fired).

There were the rage cuts like Travis d’Arnaud and the inexplicable gross overpayment of prospects (Scott Kazmir, Jarred Kelenic) for bad returns in the sake of winning now only for the Mets not to win.

Women knew what the organization thought of them when Jeff fired an unwed pregnant woman and not only brought back Jose Reyes, but also held him out as a role model.

Through all of this and more, everyone had enough, especially his family.

Bruce Wilpon disassociated himself from the Mets after seeing how Jeff and the Mets treated Kazuo Matsui. Saul Katz forced the sale of the team rather than see Jeff mismanage the team to his dying days.

Ironically, Jeff would interfere with the first sale. Steve Cohen walked away. Despite years of mismanagement, the team had some value. However, that value went down when Steve Cohen bought it a second time for hundreds of million less.

There was no end to Jeff Wilpon’s incompetence, and now, his family has taken away his toy so he can’t play GM anymore. We’re all better for it.

Jeff Wilpon will soon be gone. Good riddance to him.

The Wilpons Final Embarrassment

Through the Wilpons majority ownership, we have seen one embarrassing moment after the next. It just never ended with them, not even when times were good.

An injured Pedro Martinez was forced to pitch a meaningless game for a gate. They fired Willie Randolph after a win and one game into a west coast trip.

The Wilpons nearly lost everything in a Ponzi scheme, and in a puff piece to help salvage their image, Fred Wilpon unnecessarily and unfairly maligned Carlos Beltran and David Wright.

Leigh Castergine was fired. Jose Reyes was brought back and held out as a role model.

They had Steve Cohen offer well over market value for the team, and the financially strapped Wilpons bungled the deal. They bungled it over control of the team and escalating salaries for them. Now, they’re looking to sell the team for what is likely a lower price.

By all accounts, 2020 is it for the Wilpons. After this season, they’re gone. But seeing them in action all of these years, you knew they couldn’t go out without embarrassing themselves, the Mets franchise, and all of baseball one last time.

Tonight was that night.

As a backdrop, Dominic Smith bore his soul in an emotional post game news conference. Michael Conforto said he’d have Smith’s back, and he made good by working with the Marlins to not play akin to what the NBA and other MLB teams were doing.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen would address this with reporters. Keep in mind, this exchange which was supposed to be off the record was posted to the Mets website:

Well, when you trash the commissioner, and it gets public, there are going to be ramifications, and the need for apologies need to proceed.

First up, was Van Wagenen who both apologized to Commissioner Rob Manfred and pinned the blame for the poorly received idea on Jeff Wilpon:

Well, that apparently wasn’t sufficient. This incident actually required the Wilpons to spring to action. Fred and Jeff Wilpon offered their version of events and apologies:

Both Fred and Jeff Wilpon managed to misspell Brodie as Brody. This was just a perfect encapsulation of who the Wilpons are and their failed stewardship of the Mets organization.

Their organization took the players emerging and bungled it. The same owners who had NOTHING to say publicly when Smith cried rushed to admonish their GM and misspelled his name in the process.

Even better, they took ownership of an idea universally dismissed as plain stupid and seen as insensitive by many. While this was happening, one of the Mets official accounts called for Manfred to be fired.

If this was anyone other than the Wilpons, you’d be absolutely shocked at the level of incompetence involved here. Seeing how this is the Wilpons, you can’t be remotely shocked they were a complete embarrassment one last time.

A-Rod Disqualified Himself To Be Mets New Owner

Mets fans have had enough of the Wilpons and their half measures. It’s dragged down the franchise and cost them a real shot at long runs of being in contention. Everything the Wilpons do is the wrong way to run a New York baseball franchise.

It’s looking at David Wright and Jose Reyes as an either/or as opposed to a both/and. It’s signing Michael Cuddyer to be a big bat. It’s letting players like Daniel Murphy and Zack Wheeler walk. It’s trading for Robinson Cano and keeping Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic instead of signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

New Mets ownership was supposed to prevent this and other nonsense. No forcing Pedro Martinez to pitch through an injury, or trying to deny Carlos Beltran or Yoenis Cespedes career saving surgery. Having a real analytics department. There’s just so much which could be different under new ownership, including but not limited to, the Mets’ mid market payroll.

For Mets fans, there’s just one litmus test. The next owner must be fully committed to winning, and they will do what they need to do to win.

That’s exactly why Alex Rodriguez disqualified himself today when he said:

“The only way it’s going to happen is if they get to the table and say the No. 1 goal, let’s get from $10 to $15 billion and then we’ll split the economics evenly,” he said Thursday during a conference call. “But that’s the type of conversation instead of fighting and fighting against each other because there’s too much competition out there right now.

(ESPN).

A-Rod later stressed he didn’t call for a salary cap, but that’s just backtracking. Truth be told, what he described was a salary cap. That’s where he lost each and every Mets fan.

Steve Cohen is out there ready to flex his financial might. There are other billionaires involved in the bidding. The Mets simply don’t need A-Rod and his cast of retired basketball players. No, they need someone who will do what it takes to win.

We’re already seeing exactly why A-Rod has been disqualified in Mets fans eyes. Hopefully, MLB feels the same way.

Only Hesitation With deGrom Good News

Jacob deGrom left after the first inning of an intrasquad game with a back issue. He has now undergone an MRI, and it was determined there was no structural damage.

This isn’t the first time deGrom had a back issue. Back in his first Cy Young season, he dealt with a back issue near the end of Spring Training. As we know, not only did he not miss a turn through the rotation because of it, deGrom would have an all-time great season en route to his first Cy Young.

If you’re an optimistic person, you could see this as a harbinger of good things to come. Even if you don’t try to grasp at straws to try to paint this as an induction of another great season for deGrom, hearing it’s “just” muscle tightness is a relief.

Well, at least it should be.

If we’re being honest, the Mets have a horrible track record on this. In April 2015 David Wright was only diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Pedro Martinez‘s toe in 2005 preceded a torn labrum in 2006.

Those problems still persistent. Much like with Carlos Beltran in 2010, the Mets initially insisted Yoenis Cespedes didn’t need career saving surgery before relenting. There’s also the matter of Jed Lowrie whose problems are still not fully known or addressed by the Mets.

On Lowrie, aside from making the biggest free agent blunder in team history, they’ve reached new standards in medical diagnosis and treatment. That’s something else.

If you’ll notice, Lowrie’s MRI revealed “no significant damage.”

Soreness became no significant damage. That became soreness behind his knee. That became a capsule strain. After that, the Mets have all but given up on trying to pretend to know what Lowrie’s issue was and is. We just know he can’t play in games until he can play without a knee brace.

So yes, celebrate deGrom not suffering a significant injury. Breathe a sigh of relief. Picture that third Cy Young and World Series trophy. Its hard not to get carried away. After all, deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball, and he should dominate in 2020.

That’s if he can pitch. Considering the Mets history, we can’t be 100% sure. At least not yet. Sure, it’s a melodramatic way of looking at things, but this is the Mets. It’s also 2020 with all the crazy and bizarre things that have happened it’s difficult to trust some good news.

In the end, not trusting deGrom will be fine may be nothing more than paranoia. Well, justified paranoia.

Citi Bracket: (6) Noah Syndergaard vs. (11) Pete Alonso

(6) Noah Syndergaard – As a rookie helped Mets win 2015 pennant. Pitched perfect inning in Game 5 of NLDS, won Game 2 of NLCS, and told the Royals he was 60’6″ away. First pitcher to win a World Series game at Citi Field. Was so great during his first year, he had Pedro Martinez screaming “THOR!” in honor of him. Beat the Royals again in the second game of the 2016 season featuring a nearly unhittable slider. Had two home run game against the Dodgers. Threw at Chase Utley. One of the few reasons Mets were able to claim top Wild Card spot in 2016 and out-pitched Madison Bumgarner for seven innings. Despite subsequent injuries remains in the top 10 in FIP among MLB pitchers. Fourth best Mets starter of all-time by FIP. Has had exceptional control with second best K/9 in team history and fourth best K/BB.

(11) Pete Alonso – Had rookie season so great people are already envisioning him as the next captain of the Mets. Near unanimous NL Rookie of the Year. Set Mets and MLB rookie record for homers. Also set Mets single-season record for total bases and extra base hits. Won the 2019 Home Run Derby and provided portion of winnings to charity. When MLB once again denied the Mets request to wear the first resopnders’ caps, he took it upon himself to get cleats honoring the first responders.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 35 Rick Reed

Due to the 1994 baseball strike, Rick Reed was not welcome in many clubhouses. For a brief time that included the Mets one, but with the way he performed for the team, the pitcher who was a replacement player to help pay for his mother’s medical bills, would endear himself to a team, a city, and a fanbase.

After he left the Reds partially due to his teammates consternation with his being a replacement player, the Mets picked him up on a minor league deal. While he may not have been accepted in Cincinnati, he would be accepted in New York. When he pitch the way he did and help turn the Mets around, you understand why.

His first ever start for the Mets was seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants. Through June 1 of that year, he would have a 1.18 ERA, and for the season, Reed was 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, and a 3.65 K/BB. To put in persective how good a season he had, he was ahead of pitchers like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in ERA and ERA+. Remember, this was the era where the Braves pitchers got triple the size of the strike zone than everyone else did.

If there was any doubt about him in 1997, he would put those doubts to rest with a very good 1998 where he would be named an All-Star for the first time in his career. While it was not looked upon at the time, Reed was once again one of the best pitchers in the National League. He would finish in the top 20 in many categories like FIP indicating he was much more than just a replacement player.

When you pitch as well as Reed did in 1997 and 1998, fans will certainly remember you. However, it was what he did in 1999 and 2000 which led to Mets fans forever cherishing him. In 1999, Reed had dealt with finger issues, and we saw a dip in all of his stats as a result. However, when the Mets needed him most, Reed was there pushing the Mets to the postseason.

It gets overlooked a bit now, but the 1998 Mets had collapsed much in the same way the 2007 and 2008 teams would, but we don’t remember that as much because of the 1999 team. That 1999 team was on the verge of collapsing and missing the postseason like that 1998 team did. Enter Rick Reed.

Entering that final series, the Mets needed to sweep the Pirates and hope for some luck. On the penultimate day of the season, Reed took the ball, and he pitched perhaps his greatest game as a Mets. Sure, there were times he flirted with no-hitters, but in this game he rose to the challenge pitching a complete game shutout while striking out 12 batters.

He didn’t even give the Pirates a chance to play the role of spoilers. It was this outstanding effort which helped the Mets reach a tie atop of the Wild Card standings and eventually grab that Wild Card spot.

Reed’s first postseason start was the pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. With the series tied 1-1, Reed held onto an early 3-0 lead, and he would be the winner after allowing just two earned over six innings. The next time Reed took the mound, the stakes were even higher.

In Game 4 of the NLCS, the Mets were in risk of being swept by the Braves. For seven innings, he had actually out-pitched Smoltz, perhaps the best big game pitcher of his generation. However, he didn’t pick up the win as he allowed back-to-back homers to Brian Jordan and Ryan Klesko to start the eighth. Even though the Mets fell behind 2-1, Reed had kept it close enough for John Olerud to deliver a clutch two RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to extend that series.

Unfortunately, Reed did not get the ball in Game 7 like was planned. Instead, he took the ball in Japan for the Mets second game of the season. Through the first month of the season, Reed was the Mets best pitcher keeping a team in flux and turmoil afloat until they could figure it out.

In that season, Reed once again emerged as a top of the rotation type starter sitting JUST outside the top 20 in many key stats like FIP. What’s interesting is at the time Reed was never perceived as that, but truth be told, the Mets players and fans trusted him just as much as anyone there was in baseball when he toed the rubber.

We saw that in action when Reed once again was the pitcher taking the ball in Game 3 of the NLDS. In that game, Reed pitched well allowing just two earned over six innings. He was rewarded with a no decision for his efforts in a game Benny Agbayani won with a walk-off homer in the 13th. To a certain extent, it was reminiscent of his first start of the season where he pitched brilliantly, and Agbayani hit the Sayonara Slam.

Reed didn’t have it in the NLCS, but he was still part of the last Mets team to win a pennant at Shea Stadium. Reed would also start the final World Series game the Mets ever won at Shea. With the Mets down in the series 2-0, Reed allowed two earned over six innings, but he would pick up the no decision as the game was tied when he departed. Eventually, the Mets won the game on an Agbayani go-ahead RBI single in the eighth.

Again, there was no scheduled Game 7 start for Reed, and little did we know it at the time, Reed’s career with the Mets was soon coming to a close.

In 2001, a vast majority of the Mets roster regressed. The exceptions to that were Reed, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza. In that 2001 season, he and Piazza would be the Mets All-Star representatives. Soon after, with the Mets not really in contention, he would be traded to the Minnesota Twins. Years later, Reed would describe that trade as “baseball kinda died for us, my wife and I.” (Anthony McCarron, NY Daily News).

When Reed left, he left behind a larger legacy than many realize. In the history of the Mets, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Pedro Martinez, Jacob deGrom, and Reed are the only right-handed starters to make multiple All-Star teams.

By WAR, he is the ninth best pitcher in Mets history, and he is 10th best by ERA+. He is second in win/loss percentage, and he is also in the top five in WHIP, BB/9, and K/BB. That speaks to the way he had mastered his control to get batters out. By and large, it is why he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 35.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 34 Noah Syndergaard

It’s rare a team can trade the reigning Cy Young Award winner and make the trade look like an absolute steal. However, that is what happened when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Noah Syndergaard.

After the December 2012 trade, Syndergaard would have a somewhat interesting path to the majors. It included him trying to push his way to the majors partially to get away from the environment in Triple-A Las Vegas. He would also be ambushed by David Wright and Bobby Parnell in Spring Training with the duo throwing out his lunch. That strange odyssey led to him being truly ready in 2015.

The Mets first called him up in May when Dillon Gee hit the disabled list. Syndergaard would have a very impressive start to his Major League career. In his fourth career start, he hit his first Major League homer. In August, he would be named the National League Pitcher of the Week. He’d set a Major League record by becoming the first rookie since 1900 to have consecutive starts with nine strikeouts and no walks. This was a pitcher not only ready to debut; this was a pitcher ready for the biggest of stages – New York and the postseason.

He pitched well in his first postseason start, Game 2 of the NLDS, but he would get tagged with the loss partially because what should’ve been an inning ending double play was a blown call by second base umpire Chris Guccione when Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Syndergaard would get his revenge twice for this. The first time was his relief appearance in Game 5:

That relief appearance helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. Syndergaard would pitch again in Game 2 of the NLCS helping the Mets get a 2-0 series lead on the Cubs after striking out nine Cubs in 5.2 innings. He would not take the mound again until Game 3 of the World Series. With the Mets down 2-0, he would send a message to the Royals that he was 6’6″ away.”

The Mets would win that game and get back in the series. With that win, Syndergaard would become the first ever pitcher to win a World Series game at Citi Field. Unfortunately, he never got to take the mound again in what should’ve been an epic Game 7.

Instead, he took the mound in Kansas City for the second game of the 2016 season. In that game, he unleashed a wicked slider which would be a key to his having a great year, one which he was named an All Star for the first time in his career. Over his first two starts of the season, he tied a club record with Pedro Martinez and Dwight Gooden for the most strikeouts over the first two starts of the season (21).

In that season, Syndergaard developed not only that slider but also a chemistry with Rene Rivera. He would have a number of great games including his two home run game against the Dodgers.

That season, he would also get tossed from a game trying to exact revenge against Utley by throwing behind him. As if that moment was not iconic enough for Mets fans, it created the infamous Terry Collins rant video.

In that season, Syndergaard would lead the league in FIP and HR/9, and he would be second in the majors in pitcher WAR and third in ERA and ERA+. For some reason, he would only finish eighth in the Cy Young voting that year. Despite the voting, one thing was clear – Syndergaard had arrived on the scene as a true ace. The was the type of ace you wanted to give the ball to in a winner-take-all game, which is what the Mets did.

In the Mets first National League Wild Card Game, Syndergaard was phenomenal. Over seven innings, he actually out-pitched Madison Bumgarner, the greatest big game pitcher of his generation. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to give him the support he needed, and ultimately, Jeurys Familia would allow a three run homer, and the Mets would be eliminated from the postseason.

One interesting fact about Syndergaard is he joined Al Leiter and John Franco as just the only Mets pitchers to pitch in elimination games in consecutive postseasons. Familia would join him in that feat as well.

After 2016, Syndergaard has had difficulty taking the leap we expected. In 2017, he had a torn lat, and as we recently discovered, in addition to the bone spurs in his elbow, he had a torn UCL. Despite the injuries, Syndergaard pitched like an ace level pitcher. For example, in 2019, he was 18th in the Majors in FIP, and he had the second best hard hit rate.

In fact, since his debut in 2015, Syndergaard has the 10th best WAR and FIP in the majors. During that time frame, he has also been etching his name onto the Mets record books. In fact, despite all the hand wringing some commentators have about his ability to strike people out, he has the second best K/9 in team history. He has also demonstrated exceptional control with the fourth best K/BB in team history.

In the end, he has the fourth best FIP in team history. He has also established himself as a big game pitcher who you can trust to take the ball with everything on the line. He has already established himself as the best Mets player to ever wear the number 34.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 32 Jon Matlack

When people talk about the Mets as an organization, the common refrain is that this is an organization built on pitching. When discussing the Mets pitching, there is talk about Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. We also hear about Dwight Gooden and Jacob deGrom. There is also the legends who finished their careers here like Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana.

Rarely, you hear about Jon Matlack, who by FIP, is the fourth best pitcher to ever don a Mets uniform. He should be discussed.

Matlack was the fourth overall pick in the 1967 draft, and he would soon show he could be considered the first draft pick the Mets truly nailed.

After a brief cup of coffee in 1971, Matlack began the 1972 season on the Opening Day roster, and he would put together the second Rookie of the Year campaign in Mets history. In 34 starts, he was 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA. To put in perspective how good he was that season, he had a better ERA and ERA+ than Seaver. Expectations were naturally high for him in 1973.

There are many remarkable things which have happened in Mets history, especially on the pitching front. It is really difficult to argue any Mets player did anything more remarkable than what Matlack did in 1973.

On May 8, 1973, Marty Perez of the Atlanta Braves hit a comebacker which not only hit Matlack in the head, but it would also fracture his skull. Somehow, Matlack returned to the mound after missing just two starts. A man with a fractured skull missed just two starts, and he would help the Mets win a pennant.

One area where Matlack’s reputation suffers is he frankly pitched in the wrong era. In the modern game, we have come to de-emphasize win/loss record. That became all the more evident when deGrom won back-to-back Cy Young awards despite winning just 21 games total over the two seasons.

With Matlack, his 1973 season was largely overlooked due to his having a 14-16 record. Lost in that was his being sixth in the league in WAR and FIP (stats not used in 1973) and third in the league in strikeouts. He would not garner one Cy Young vote, nor would he be an All-Star. That didn’t matter because he would be heard from in 1973.

As the story goes, M. Donald Grant was his typical tone deaf self when he delivered that July motivational speech leading to Tug McGraw‘s part inspired, part rallying cry “Ya Gotta Believe!” chant. Part of the reason this was a rallying cry was how the Mets players responded. That included Matlack who was lights out to end the 1973 season.

On the eve of Grant’s speech to the team, Matlack pitched a one hit shutout against the Houston Astros. From that point forward, Matlack had a 2.81 ERA. From August 1 until the end of the year, Matlack was 7-2 with a 2.66 ERA. For a pitcher who struggled getting wins in his Mets career, he certainly got them when they counted.

Matlack was then great in his one and only postseason with the Mets. With the Mets down 1-0 in the series, Matlack had a truly great pitching performance pitching a complete game two hit shut out of a Reds lineup which had some of the greatest hitters of all-time in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose. Here is the full game rebroadcast:

Matlack helped turn that series around for the Mets, and after their huge upset of a Reds team on the precipice of becoming one of the greatest teams of all-time, Matlack got the ball in Game One of the World Series, and he would come within a Felix Millan (uncharacteristic) error of a victory.

Matlack followed that game with a brilliant Game 4 performance. Over eight innings, he allowed just one unearned run over eight innings. He got the victory, and the Mets had tied the series. To hear Howie Rose tell it time and again, Matlack was the victim of one of the biggest blunders in Mets managerial history.

The Mets lead the World Series 3-2 heading back to Oakland. Instead of allowing Gary Gentry pitch Game 6 and reserving Seaver for Game 7, Yogi Berra opted to push Seaver and Matlack on three days rest. Matlack just wasn’t up to the task in Game 7 taking the loss. Even with that loss, he had a 2.16 ERA in his three World Series starts, and he had a 1.40 ERA in his four postseason starts.

No matter how you slice or dice it, that’s a great postseason. It is one which would have been remembered more had the Mets actually pulled out the 1973 World Series. Perhaps, that would have put Matlack more into the memories of current day Mets fans.

While Matlack had been previously overlooked, he was no longer. In each of the ensuing three seasons, Matlack was an All-Star, and in the 1975 All-Star Game he would become the first and only Mets player to be named the MVP. He picked up the win in the game after pitching two shut out innings where he struck out four the six batters he faced.

While an All-Star in 1974, he didn’t get one single Cy Young vote. He didn’t get one despite leading the league in shut outs, FIP, and WAR, and he was third in the league in ERA. If it was 2020, he might have been the Cy Young winner. Instead, he and his losing record didn’t have a shot.

Because of this win-loss record, Matlack would not get a Cy Young vote until 1976. In that year, he again led the league in shutouts. He would have a career best 17 wins, and he would tie fewest losses in a full season with the Mets. It wasn’t his best season, but it was the one which he had the the most notoriety because with the 1970s mentality  there was just more emphasis on wins.

Overall, Matlack is all over the Mets career top 10 pitching rankings. He is seventh all-time in WAR and wins. He is fifth in ERA, which is first among Mets left-handed pitchers. He ranks fourth in complete games and second in shut outs. As noted above, he is fourth in FIP.

That FIP is the best among left-handed pitchers in Mets history giving him a claim to being the best left-handed pitcher in team history. He is certainly the most underappreciated, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 32.

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1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza