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Mets starting rotation threw more shutouts than you would expect in 2002

New York Mets pitcher Shawn Estes throws against the New York Yankees in the second inning of game two of the subway series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY 15 June, 2002. Estes hit a two-run homer and pitched 7 innings allowing 5 hits and no runs as the Mets beat the Yankees 8-0. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL / AFP) (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Mets pitcher Shawn Estes throws against the New York Yankees in the second inning of game two of the subway series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY 15 June, 2002. Estes hit a two-run homer and pitched 7 innings allowing 5 hits and no runs as the Mets beat the Yankees 8-0. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL / AFP) (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
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The mostly forgettable 2002 New York Mets starting rotation somehow managed to have five starters all throw a shutout.

I was recently reading about something completely unrelated to the 2002 New York Mets starting rotation when a few of the numbers caught my eye. Specifically, I saw the name Pedro Astacio and it jogged my memory that he was once with them.

Astacio is one of the more forgettable yet somewhat notable Mets pitchers from this period of time. I think a lot of us tend to focus on the position player busts. Astacio, on the other hand, was a bust from the mound.

I don’t want to dive too deeply into Astacio’s numbers. His league-leading 32 home runs and 16 hit batters are, however, notable. I think they tell a good story as to why the 2002 Mets were an underachieving squad.

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It wasn’t just Astacio, though. At 12-11, he was actually the only regular starter with a winning record. Despite having an inflated 4.79 ERA, Astacio somehow managed to win more than he lost. Go figure.

The team’s two best pitchers this year were Al Leiter and Steve Trachsel. Leiter went 11-11 with a 3.48 ERA while Trachsel went 11-11 with a 3.37 ERA. Both did a nice job at run prevention. Neither seemed to be rewarded with the number of victories they may have deserved.

Rounding out the rotation, we find Jeff D’Amico and Shawn Estes. D’Amico was 6-10 with a 4.94 ERA this year. Estes went 4-9 with a 4.55 ERA for the season.

There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about any of their individual statistics either. On a sub-.500 team, it’s about what one might expect.

It’s what all five of these pitchers did that I find interesting. In 2002, the Mets had five starters throw a shutout.

This might not get too many old-timers excited. I’m sure it happened plenty more in the Tom Seaver era. In 2002, as complete games were becoming less common already, for the staff to have five men throw shutouts is quite remarkable.

Maybe I’m just easily impressed. But let’s take note of a few things. Jacob deGrom only had one shutout coming into the 2021 season. He added one more, giving him a grand total of just two.

For a pitcher to go the distance and not allow a run makes me feel all gooey inside. It’s especially interesting to see it happen with a group of five men that didn’t have their best season.

For some specific numbers, each starter had one shutout except for Leiter who tossed a pair of them. The only man among them to throw a complete game that wasn’t a shutout was my old buddy, Astacio. He actually pitched two non-shutout complete games for a total of three.

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I’m not sure how many Mets fans could honestly name the five starters from 2002 with 20 starts or more. Whether they can or cannot, there’s no taking away this odd feat.

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