The 3 best Mets pitchers to never start for the team on Opening Day

Jon Matlack
Jon Matlack / Focus On Sport/GettyImages
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Opening Day is quite an honor for any pitcher. Sometimes teams start pitchers on opening day for no other reason than it just happens to fit in with the planned days of a pitcher’s work, matchups, the weather, etc. But most of the time the pitcher that opens the new season is the one adorned as the ace of the staff. And for the New York Mets, the one “given” was the Tom Seaver would start on opening day.

And for as long as Seaver was around, Seaver started Game 1…except for his very first season in 1967. But from then on, Seaver pitched in a record ten (10) consecutive opening day games. Oh, and he also started opening day in 1983 upon his return to the Mets.

But along the way, there were some pretty damn good pitchers who never did get that honor.

1) Jon Matlack

Jon Matlack, like Tom Seaver, garnered Rookie of the Year honors. It was Matlack who made losing Nolan Ryan more palatable? Whether that is true or not, Matlack was an outstanding pitcher who not only took a back seat to Seaver, but to Jerry Koosman as well.

Matlack would have been the ace of a lot of other pitching staffs. But with the Mets, he was not only not the No. 1 pitcher on the staff, he wasn’t even the No. 1 LEFTY on the staff. That’s how good the Mets pitching was back in the late 1960’s to the mid 1970’s.

And, so, with Tom Seaver throwing in 10 straight opening day games, and Koosman getting one after Seaver was exiled to Cincinnati, that didn’t leave much room for Matlack. Although, Matlack DID manage to get a Game 1 start…in the 1973 World Series against the Oakland A’s.

Matlack would spend seven seasons with the Mets and pitch to a record of 82-81 with a 3.03 ERA, winning the 1972 Rookie of the Year honors and making three All Star game appearances.