Number Five Starter
Jerry Koosman – 1968
Minnesota farm boy, Jerry Koosman, burst onto the scene as a rookie in 1968.
After an impressive spring training that saw Koosman secure a spot in the Mets rotation, he was ready to hit the ground running once the ’68 regular season gun sounded.
And Koosman proceeded to set the tone for his rookie season early and often. He threw a shutout in his first start in 1968, followed that up with another shutout, then finally allowed a single run to go with ten strikeouts in a complete game effort in his third outing.
Jerry Koosman had arrived.
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And this made fans of the lovable loser Mets take notice. It may have even sparked some hope for big things to come if they hadn’t been trained to know better (or believe in miracles).
The young lefty finished half of the games that he started in 1968 for a total of seventeen complete games. Seven of those being shutouts.
He went 19-12 to go along with a career-best 2.08 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in his rookie season.
Kooz just missed out on winning the Rookie of the Year in 1968 (10.5 first-place votes to 9.5 first-place votes), finishing second in voting to the man that most people consider the greatest catcher in the history of the game, Johnny Bench.
Koosman had a knack for playing second fiddle to all-time great Hall-of-Famers and certainly excelled in this role.
But don’t take this second fiddle thing the wrong way. Jerry Koosman was a fierce competitor on the mound who didn’t back down from any challenge.
Like his real-time rotation-mate, Seaver, and unlike Gooden, Dickey, and deGrom, Koosman had more than a few seasons to choose from for the purposes of this rotation, but in the end, I just couldn’t pass up on Koosman’s rookie campaign for the final spot in the Mets’ ultimate starting five.