Former Mets Pitching Phenoms In 2022 World Series
Just because the New York Mets lost in the 2022 Wild Card Series to the San Diego Padres does not mean the Mets will somehow not be represented in the World Series. In fact, both teams have some of the once top rated Mets pitching prospects in this series.
If you can recall back to the 2014 season, we can remember the Mets had viewed Jacob deGrom as a future reliever. At the time, they did not know they had someone who would be the best pitcher in baseball. Instead, deGrom was a too old for his level pitching prospect who was a converted shortstop.
Standing in deGrom’s way was Rafael Montero. He was famously a prospect the Mets held onto for too long while getting rid of him too soon. That was just the way things were when the Wilpons were in charge of the franchise.
Montero never panned out as a starting pitcher. It was not until he went to the Texas Rangers that he found a role for himself as a reliever. In typical Montero fashion, it has not been a smooth ride from there. He struggled for a few more years before another breakout season with the Houston Astros.
Montero was phenomenal this season. In 71 appearances, he was 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.6 K/9. So far this postseason, he has only allowed one earned over 5.1 innings. While not as a starter, at 31, he is finally having the level of success the Mets once imagined he would have.
In a twist of irony, the Mets did imagine Montero would be one of the best starters for a rotation which had Matt Harvey was the ace. Behind the two of them was going to be Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Well, Wheeler and Syndergaard are now standing opposite Montero in this series.
The tales of both Wheeler and Syndergaard are both fresh and well known for Mets fans. In terms of Wheeler, the organization really showed its own flaws with their complete inability to self scout. Their player projection and analytics teams looked as ill funded and understaffed as they were.
Wheeler didn’t get to be the pitcher the Mets had hoped he could be when they traded Carlos Beltran for him until the second half of the 2018 season. From there, he was actually one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He was top 15 in FIP and had the second best hard hit rate. Rather than see that and the woeful defense put behind him, the Mets just to foolishly sell fans that Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation as Wheeler, as his replacement.
Predictably, Wheeler has been an ace level pitcher despite arguably not being as good as he was with the Mets. So far, he is 1-1 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.513 WHIP, and an 8.33 K/BB this postseason. He is likely to get the ball in Game 1 of the World Series.
Unlike Montero and Wheeler, Syndergaard actually pitched for the Mets in the postseason. In fact, Syndergaard was the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game. He is the last Mets starter to not allow an earned run in a postseason start (2016 Wild Card Game).
Despite his big game credentials, Syndergaard has only started one game this postseason while making two appearances out of the bullpen. For Mets fans, that was reminiscent of his electric one inning performance in the clinching Game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things haven’t been great for Syndergaard since he looked like a future Cy Young in 2016. He dealt with a number of injuries. He worked hard to pitch for the Mets post Tommy John heading towards free agency. He asked for, received, and rejected the qualifying offer much to the dismay of Mets fans.
His choice of the Los Angeles Angels proved less than inspired. He would talk about his mental difficulties in New York, and after he was traded to the Phillies, he avoided the Mets the two times he was lined up to face them.
This may not be too different than most Mets pitchers returning from Tommy John. For whatever which reason, Mets pitchers seems to have a steeper mountain to climb in their returns. When you look at their current pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner, you realize some never make it all the way back to a Major League mound.
Despite all that, while he’s not Thor, Syndergaard is pitching for a team who just won the pennant. He is back on the stage he was seven years ago, albeit in a far different role. He’s also with a once hated rival. Remember, he is the guy who “threw” at beloved former Phillie Chase Utley.
As noted, that was all seven years ago. Things are far, far different. Things are much different than they were in 2012 when these three were all uber prospects that were going to lead the Mets to a World Series. Instead, now, they are pitching in the World Series for different teams, and at least one of them will get the ring we thought they would one day with the Mets.