Can you imagine where the Mets would be without Jacob deGrom? Well, probably not as bad as you think. The Mets “Core Four”, if you will, has begun to show its potential. The oft-injured group has been mostly healthy this year and been very productive. When healthy, Noah Syndergaard has continued to be an ace. Steven Matz, if he had enough innings, would be a top-ten ERA leader in the National League. Zack Wheeler has fallen on tough luck, whether it is being left in for too long, relievers allowing inherited runners to score, or a lack of run support. However, he is still managing to have a breakout year. The Mets four frontline starters have combined for a 3.07 ERA.
The Mets have also seen a rotating door for the fifth starting spot, seeing players like Seth Lugo, Jason Vargas, Scott Copeland, Jerry Blevins and Chris Flexin make starts. Corey Oswalt is starting to seem more and more like an answer rather than a question mark, which is huge for the Mets. The collective ERA from the starters that aren’t Matz, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard is 5.73. The Mets have seen both the bad and the good from their rotation this season, and can only hope the former is the rotations true identity.
Jacob deGrom is having a Cy Young season, and should win his first award this fall if he continues to pitch the way he has. Following a stellar 2017, deGrom has turned it into another gear this season. He leads the N.L. in ERA, has a sub-one WHIP, is striking out over ten batters per every nine innings, and walks less than two-and-a-half batters in that same time frame. Every time Jake toes the mound, the Mets are in their best position to win. His 2.32 FIP and 228 ERA+ both lead the majors, and he was selected to his second All-Star Game to top it all off.
Overall Grade: A+
It has really been a tale of two pitchers. Vargas, a 2017 All-Star who signed a two-year deal in the offseason has seen some really good and really bad as a Met. In five of his starts, Vargas owns a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings pitched. In his four others, he has a 15.79 ERA. Vargas is locked into seven million dollars for the next two years, and has a club option on a third year, which seems like a certainty to not be picked up right now.
Overall Grade: D-
As was the case in 2017, Syndergaard opened the year sharp, but then fell to injury and missed time. Thor returned to the bump against the Nationals, and he was solid in five innings and on a pitch restriction. His 2.97 ERA and 1.22 WHIP are both in line with his career averages and shows that he is still an ace-quality pitcher. His fastball is averaging at 98 MPH, ranking 13th in the majors. But as it is with many other Mets, it is a matter of durability. This is the second season in a row that Syndergaard has missed over a month of time due to injury, and the Mets went 10-29 between his starts, with more than a few of these starts coming on days that should have been Noah’s.
Overall Grade: C
Steven Matz didn’t start the year on the best of notes. After posting a 4.98 ERA in April, Steven has grown mentally and perfected parts of his game, posting a 2.91 since the beginning of May. Steven has shown ability to work deeper into games, avoid big innings, and work with his arsenal of pitches. Matz’s start to the season saw an implosion in St. Louis, which ended up being the turning point on his season. Matz has shown ability to work out of trouble and gut out performances when he doesn’t have his best stuff, a deGrom-like ability. Matz has brought his K/9 up from last year, and has lowered opponents slugging percentage, BABIP, OBP, and OPS against him. Steven still has much room for improvement, but has shown great signs this season.
Overall Grade: B-
Zach Wheeler missed a chunk of time last season, which was his first back after Tommy John, and he has enjoyed some major success in his second year removed from it. Wheeler has a new pitch, his splitter, that is now featured to go with his live fastball and mixed in with his off-speed pitches. Although his line may not show it, 3-6 with a 4.44 ERA, Wheeler has his average fastball clocked at 96 MPH, holds a WAR of 1.1, is averaging six innings per start, a 3.73 FIP, a K/9 just under ten, and has raised his K-BB% 3.7%. Wheeler has been very solid and like Matz, has shown signs of being able to take his game to the next level in the coming years.
Overall Grade: B+