While Brooklyn Nets fans may be grieving over the break-up of the triumvirate of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, with the trade of Harden to the Houston Rockets, New York Mets fans have to be scratching their collective heads about the disintegration of the Fab Five of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom.
While the Brooklyn Nets were expected to be a dominating force on their way to an NBA title thanks to the Durant-Irving-Harden trio, the New York Mets were expected to overpower the rest of Major League Baseball with the quintet of Harvey-Syndergaard-Wheeler-Matz-deGrom. It’s not going to happen in Brooklyn and it is certainly not going to happen that way in Queens.
New York Mets fans were waiting for a rotation featuring Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaar, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom.
Beginning in 2012, with the arrival of Matt Harvey, the fans and the media anxiously awaited a time when the starting staff would make people forget about Generation K. A staff that would match performances with the one that toiled in the mid to late 1980’s that included the likes of Doc Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and David Cone. Perhaps even the incomparable trio of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack.
Harvey, a highly touted Mets draft pick arrived first in 2012. Zack Wheeler, the main character the Mets received when trading Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants, would join Harvey in 2013. In the spring of 2014, Harvey would go down and miss the campaign. Replacing him was someone who was not really on the radar, one Jacob deGrom, who would join Wheeler in the rotation. Next up was Noah Syndergaard, the focus of the trade of Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays, in 2015. This time it would be Wheeler who would be cut down before the season started and would miss the next two seasons. Harvey would return in 2015 under scrutiny and controversy of innings limits. And home-grown, local product Steven Matz burst onto the season to help the Mets down the stretch on their way to a World Series appearance.
The foursome of deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, and Matz would be together in the rotation for most of 2016, however, while most people expected Harvey or Syndergaard to be some kind of super hero, hence the nicknames The Dark Knight for Harvey and Thor for Syndergaard, and even Matz to be something of a headline maker, it would be deGrom who would begin to establish that he was the special one.
Finally, with the return of Wheeler to the rotation late in the season, the quintet would all finally have a uniform on at the same time during the 2017 season. But with the exception of two turns through the rotation, fans would not get to see them together in the rotation for very long.
Then, 2018, it began to fall apart. Harvey was a disaster and refused to figure it out in the bullpen or in the minor leagues where it wouldn’t hurt the Mets. He was so brutal that they shipped him out to the Cincinnati Reds for a back-up catcher.
In 2019, deGrom dominated and Wheeler was emerging as a force while Matz and Syndergaard were less than stellar.
Of course 2020 was a strange, shortened, season because of Covid, but deGrom continued to dominate while, on the other end, Matz hit rock bottom. Syndergaard went down early and became the last of the group to get surgery, not throwing a pitch. Wheeler departed, signing a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
And, then, there was one…in 2021. With Harvey trying to resurrect his career elsewhere, and Wheeler shining in Philadelphia, Matz was dispatched to the Toronto Blue Jays, and Syndergaard was suffering setback after setback following rehabilitation, it left deGrom as the sole member of the quintet remaining. While Syndergaard would return for an appearance very late in the season, he would sign with the Los Angeles Angels in the off season.
And lest we forget that deGrom was shut down for a good part of the 2021 season, leaving us to question whether there are any survivors.
So after 10 years, what was thought to possibly be the best rotation ever, would only be together for a very, very short time during the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. The rotation that was supposed to be the next great group of flame-throwers banded together by hope and hype, has now been disbanded and rather than be talked about with the likes of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman or Doc and Cone, they will unfortunately be linked with the likes of Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher.