As we ponder entering the playoffs on Friday, we are already reminded that 2015 is the Year of the Starting Pitcher.  

·       20 game winners Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta toss shutouts in the two wild card contests.  

Not to be outdone: 

·       The Dodgers are bringing two greats at the Mets: Clayton Kershaw and Zach Grienke.

·       We counter with 3 stellar laser-equipped starters in Jake deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard. 

So how do the latter 3 compare to Mets rookie starting pitchers of yore.  Well, on Tuesday I posted on this site a comparison between Noah S. and Doc Gooden over similar periods in their rookie years...performances virtually identical.   

Of course, over the next one and a quarter seasons, spanning late 1984 and early 1985, Doc went on an unparalleled 32-5 run with an ERA of about a buck and a half. Stunning.

In the following comparison of Mets rookie pitchers over their first 2 years, Gooden is the clear gold standard, despite tough competition

Doc went a ridiculous 41-13 those 2 seasons. ERA of about 2.00, a few dozen CG (complete games), 11 SO (shutouts), around 550 Ks. Not only the best in Mets history...the best for a guy who'd not yet turned 21 in baseball history. So Doc over 2 years is #1 on the list. Ended up 194-112, 3.51 for his career.

From here on out, it gets tougher. But my rules are, if a guy had a short cup of coffee in the bigs, I count that along with their first 2 years. Which especially makes sense in Harvey's case.

#2 - Jerry Koosman - after a shaky cup of coffee in late 1967, Kooz went 36-23 through 1969, with a jaw dropping 33 CG and 13 SO, with a skimpy 2.33 ERA (2.18 in his 2 full years of 1968-69). He struck out 369 in those first 527 IP.  A very fine 19 year major league career that saw him as both a 20 game winner and a 20 game loser, due to poor run support).

#3 - Tom Seaver - pitching for the Mets in 2 offense-starved years, Seaver went 32-25 with a 2.47 ERA over 529 IP, with a whopping 32 CG and 7 SO, and 375 Ks, and rookie of the year honors in 1967. That Cy Young 1969 season was a true sign that Tom Terrific would one day make the Hall of Fame, ending up with a career record of 311-205, 231 CG, 61 SO, and 3640 strikeouts. Maybe 400 wins if he pitched for the Reds his whole career. Wow.

#4 - Jake deGrom and Matt Harvey - take your pick.  A tie: 

 - #4a deGrom in about 1 3/4 seasons in 2014 and 2015 has gone an amazing 23-14, 2.61 over 52 starts, no complete games (it ain't the late 1960s anymore) and a sizzling 349 Ks in 331 IP.

 - #4b - Matt Harvey has been terrific and the media should cool it. He has gone 25-18, due to lots of crappy run support, in 65 starts spanning his short 2012 debut, his spectacular injury shortened 2013, and his return in 2015. He has put up a sparkling 2.53 ERA, 429 Ks in 427 IP, and 1 SO.  It would be a Dark Night in Gotham without him. 

#6 – Another Mat, Jon Matlack, a very fine lefty, went 29-29 in 1971-73 (oh, that lousy offense), with 22 CG, 7 SO, 2.85 ERA, and 398 Ks in 523 IP.

#7 - the Darling of the broadcast booth, Ron Darling, went 29-18 in his first 2+ years in the promising mid-1980s,489 IP, 326 K, 3.27 ERA. He finished his career with a fine 136-116 record and nearly 1600 K's.

#8 - Zach Wheeler - get well soon. In 2013 and 2014, he went 18-16 (yep, lack of offensive support) with an ERA of 3.50 and a terrific 271 Ks in 285 IP.

#9 - another mid 1980's daling, El Sid, Sid Fernandez....in 42 starts, spanning 266 innings, Sid struck out a terrific 251 batters, 3.11 ERA, and went 15-16. He ended up a fine 114-96, 3.36, with 1743 Ks in 1866 IP.

#10 goes to Gary Gentry, another of the late 1960s / early 1970s stud arms.  He went 22-21, 3.53 with 288 Ks in 422 IP. Weaver and Koosman were a tough act to follow then.  But Gentry was fine in his own right those first 2 years.

I was going to stop at 10 but added one more.

#11 - Dillon Gee - yes, the man the Mets just released makes the list.  Dillon, like Matt H, had a short initial season, with one of his next two seasons curtailed by injury. So combining those 2+ years into effectively about 2 full seasons, Dillon was thrillin' with a combined record of 21-15, ERA of about 4.00 over 304 IP, and 231 Ks. He was hurt by allowing 32 long balls over that stretch, hence the higher ERA.

The latter 2 most likely will be supplanted by 2017 by Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz, two terrific up-and-comers who have combined tossed about a full season.  A fine full season.

That's my list.  Thirteen guys in 3 time clusters, with a lot of lean years in between.


Good to see that 5 of the 13 names mentioned will start for the Mets in 2016.  Did I forget anyone?  Have a great day, today, and especially tomorrow for game 1.


Mack Ade said...

Good stuff.

I would give an honorable mention to then then 30-year old 20-game winner, Frank Viola. Not exactly a 'young' Mets pitcher, but a great one still.

eraff said...

Add Cone's 1988 season...25 years old/20-3..... I remember wondering "How the hell did we get THIS Guy for Ed Hearn!!!???"

Thomas Brennan said...

You are so right on Cone, Eraff.

For some reason, my faulty memory had that year as being a bit later in his career, and I neglected to check, but it was only his 2nd year, and really his first full year. He was truly amazing that year. I would have had him 6th on the list, barely behind Jake and Matt. Good catch.

Mack's Mets © 2012