We all thought that the New York Mets were going to have the best starting rotation in baseball history. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom were going to make Mets fans forget all about those guys known as Generation K – Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher, and Bobby Jones.
But, alas, somewhere, it all fell apart.
Matt Harvey was the first to leave. Actually, he was jettisoned out during the 2018 season (was it that long ago?) after his poor attitude and behaviors were proving to be too much of a disruption. Since becoming an ex-Met, Harvey has gone 9-22 with an ERA of 6.83 for the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, and the Baltimore Orioles. He didn’t pitch at all in 2022 and…well…he is lucky to not be playing ball for a prison team.
Zack Wheeler was the next to leave via free agency following the 2019 season. Most would say that Wheeler failed to reach his full potential with the Mets. And while that might be somewhat true, Wheeler had to overcome surgeries that delayed his progress. He has since flourished with the Phillies, going 30-19 with a 2.89 ERA and a WHIP of 1.045 in his three seasons in Philly (including the shortened 2020 season).
Steven Matz, after an embarrassing 2020 season when he went 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA, was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays. The change of scenery seemed to help as Matz won 14 games for the Blue Jays with a 3.82 ERA. But after a year in Toronto, Matz is again struggling to regain his form with the Cardinals, having started 10 games and pitching to a record of 5-3 and 5.25 ERA in 2022.
Noah Syndergaard was inconsistent at best during his Mets career. He showed signs of having super powers at times and then seemed to be a mere mortal at other times. His 2019 season was baffling as he pitched to a 4.28 ERA and actually led the NL in earned runs allowed. Syndergaard had surgery that kept him out all of 2020 and all of 2021, except for one game at the end of the season. He bolted on a one-year free agent contract and his diminished “super powers,” bounced between the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies in 2022. He made a total of 24 starts and went 10-10 with an ERA of 3.94. Thor decided to head back to California, this time he’ll try again to exude his power with the Dodgers.
Now that Jacob deGrom is no longer with the New York Mets, the Fab Five are all gone
The entire baseball universe knows where Jacob deGrom…the last one to leave…is now residing.
Jacob deGrom, funny enough, was the least heralded of the five. He came out of nowhere to be the most successful of the group. He was the one who won the Rookie of the Year (in 2014). He was the one who won a Cy Young Award. In fact, he won two – back to back – in 2018 and 2019. And those weren’t even his BEST seasons. His best season was, actually, 2021 when he was 7-2 with an ERA of 1.08 and a WHIP of 0.554. He was striking out hitters at an amazing clip, averaging 14.3 batters per nine innings.
But, then, after just 15 starts, his season ended after a non-decision on July 7, precluding him from garnering his third Cy Young Award. He returned to pitch 11 games down the stretch in 2022, but although he was still striking out batters at an alarming rate, he was proving to be a mere mortal (relatively speaking) and was fairly hittable. deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA.
deGrom chose to opt out of his contract after finishing his Mets career with a record of 82-57 (It’s mind-boggling how he didn’t win 100 games) with an ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 0.998. He struck out 1,607 batters while walking only 303 in 209 starts.
deGrom, if he had wanted to be a lifetime Met, could have been the next David Wright. His pitching prowess put him right up there with the great Mets who called the mound at Shea and Citifield their office, including Doc Gooden, Jerry Koosman, and even the immortal Tom Seaver.
But think about this. Gooden, as great as he was, pitched his last game as a Met at 29 years old. He toiled for the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees. Doc pitched his only no-hitter as a member of, gulp, those New York Yankees.
Jerry Koosman, who deservedly had his number retired, finally, was already 35 years old when he threw his last game as a Met, during some of the organization’s worst years in the late 70’s. He was unceremoniously traded to his hometown Minnesota Twins for, believe it or not, Jesse Orosco. Kooz would end up winning 20 games for the Twins in his first season with the club. He would also spend time with the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies before calling it a career.
Even Tom Seaver was not a life-long New York Met
With everything Seaver accomplished as a Met, his only no-hitter came as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. His 300th victory came as a member of the Chicago White Sox. And his last World Series? It was 1986…but as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Harvey, Wheeler, Matz, Syndergaard, and deGrom did not become the rotation for all of baseball eternity. But they also did not turn out to be the complete dud of Isringhausen, Wilson, Pulsipher, and Jones either. They’ve each moved on, for better or for worse. And whether deGrom continues on and becomes the next Nolan Ryan or the Rangers totally misjudged the situation and deGrom comes back down to earth and proves to be simply human. Nobody wowed the crowds like deGrom has done for the last nine years.