Let’s face it – the New York Mets have not exactly had a lot to be excited about in recent memory.
In 2013 they are currently 27-40, in 2012 they were 74-88, in 2011 they were 77-85, and from there you get my drift.
In fact, the Mets have not had a winning season since 2008. However, their opening day payroll over that same time period has averaged over $115 million.
A combination of some poor draft picks and free agents signing have led to the issues. One example is the six year/$137.5 million contract of Johan Santana. While you cannot predict the future, the Mets have been hampered by this contract that has only yielded 21 starts since the end of 2010. Also, let’s not forget one of the craziest contracts in baseball history with Bobby Bonilla still on the books from a 1999 contract – they deferred his buyout and the Mets still owe him a bit over a million a year until for another 23 years.
It is fair to say that outside of David Wright, who is at the beginning of an eight year/$134 million contract, the rest of the roster resembles a Triple-A affiliate. A loyal fan base has been waiting a long time for anything to cheer for. That time is now and it resembles the future in the names of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. It is possible that we are watching the current and future number one and two starters for this organization for the next five to ten years.
Matt Harvey is already paying dividends for the organization. The seventh overall pick of the 2010 amateur draft is quickly becoming the ace of the rotation.
Harvey debuted for the big club in 2012 and managed a 3-5 record in 10 starts. You had to look deeper into the numbers to see what he really did. He struck out 70 batters in 59.1 innings and walked 26. A three-to-one strikeout to walk ratio out of the gate is nothing to shake a stick at. Add to that a 2.73 ERA and an ERA+ of 140 and the youngster is on to something.
In 2013 he is pitching ever better. He is toting a 6-1 record with his only loss being a hard luck seven inning, one run defeat. He has 115 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched while only walking 23. That’s right, his strikeout to walk ratio is now almost five to one. His ERA is down to 2.16 and his ERA+ is at an impressive 169 with a .904 WHIP.
Harvey carryies four extremely effective pitches – a mid-90s fastball, a power curve, changeup and a sick slider that has taken on a life of its own since he tweaked his grip at the suggestion of the Mets pitching coach. If the Mets can avoid pulling a Mark Prior or Kerry Wood ala the Chicago Cubs, this could be the front of their rotation for a long time. While pitchers like Strasburg have garnered all the mainstream hype over the last couple of years, it is Harvey who is taking the league by storm.
Quietly Zack Wheeler debuted as the starter in the second game of a day-night double-header for the boys from Queens. He took the ball against the Atlanta Braves and went six scoreless innings striking out seven and walking five on 102 pitches. Wheeler was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants with the sixth pick of the 2009 amateur draft and acquired through the great fire sale of 2011. He was ranked number 11 overall by Baseball America and eighth overall by MLB.com heading into the 2013 baseball season.
In a little over three years in the minors Wheeler progressed from Single-A Augusta to AAA Las Vegas compiling a 28-20 record with a 3.56 ERA in 73 starts. If you look deeper into the numbers Wheeler struck out 420 hitters in 391.1 innings pitched which is good for a 9.6 strikeout per nine inning clip.
Over those three years he also made great strides with his command. At the end of 2010 he averaged 5.8 walks per nine innings and by the time of his call up he is down to 3.5 walks per nine innings. He is a strikeout pitcher. so walks will be expected but his ability to curb that number just shows how far he has come and how special he can be. Why you ask?
At 23 years old Wheeler already owns a high-90s fastball and a curveball that is already a plus pitch. He is also in the process of fine tuning what appears to be a very impressive changeup that has the chance of making him deadly. He is young and inexperienced but if the Mets can show a level of patience, deal with his ups and downs, the fans will truly see what he has to offer they stand to be rewarded for the next eight to ten years.
Harvey and Wheeler are the future of this franchise and they will live or die by their arms. Fortunately it seems the Mets are in great shape as these two will take the ball two out of every five days. If you factor in Bobby Parnell as the closer and Lucas Duda with Wilmer Flores and Travis d’Arnuad coming on, then there is reason to believe for a fan base starving for success. Of course the future is now for Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Sit back, relax, and enjoy as these two begin to climb the mountain that will see them as dominant starters in this league for years to come.