One of the biggest debates among New York Mets fans that I've seen on social media over the last several weeks has been surrounding the topic of Justin Velander being an upgrade on former Mets ace Jacob deGrom. Going into last season the baseball world was turned upside down with the Mets signing Max Scherzer and putting fear in opposing lineups with the lethal one-two punch of Scherzer and deGrom.
Unfortunately due to deGrom suffering a stress fracture injury in his right scapula in Spring Training, we would not see him make his season debut until August 2nd. Over deGrom's first several starts it seemed that the organization was handling him with kid gloves as he was on strict pitch counts and down the stretch deGrom had allowed at least three runs in four straight starts which left a bad taste in Mets fans' mouths.
While those numbers would be good for any pitcher, deGrom was held to an impossibly high standard, and rightfully so, but the one-two punch we expected to see dominate the league last season ultimately never came to fruition. Now insert reigning 2022 American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander who signed a whopping 2-year $86.7 million deal with the Mets this winter which ties him with Max Scherzer for the highest annual average value in MLB history.
The Mets are on track to have a significantly better duo at the top of the starting rotation in 2023 than they did last season
Scherzer and Verlander provide an intimidating one-two punch for the Mets-vaunted rotation and it will be an immediate upgrade on deGrom from the standpoint that if Verlander can make more than 11 starts and pitch more than 64 innings, they would've gotten significantly better than they were with deGrom. Those numbers were what deGrom provided the Mets last season in which he was expected to be a large contributor to the team's overall success.
Verlander had a remarkable campaign in 2022 as over 28 starts, he had pitched to a 1.75 ERA, 0.289 WHIP, and had a 182/29 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 175 innings. If Verlander had those numbers with the Mets last season, we may not have been even having a conversation about them losing the division to the Atlanta Braves late in the season.
For comparison sake, Verlander had a 5.5 WAR with the Astros last season, and deGrom had a WAR of 1.4 with the Mets. Max Scherzer also produced an eerily similar 5.4 WAR last season with the Mets which shows how much different this rotation could be next season, provided both Scherzer and Verlander are healthy.
The Mets won 101 games last season with deGrom only appearing in 12 of those games. If the Mets can get a combined 60 games between Scherzer and Verlander, the Mets will be a significantly better team next season and I'll take the over in wins from the 101 they won last season.