Entering the 2016 MLB season, the New York Mets had all the momentum in the world. Out of nowhere, the Mets propelled themselves with a phenomenal second half all the way to the World Series. In spite of a 4-1 series loss to the Kansas City Royals, things were looking up for the Amazins’.
Following the team’s breakout season, it looked as if the Mets starting rotation could go on to do historic things. Nevertheless, as it is now known, injuries and questionable front office decisions led to the downfall of the “what could have been” Mets mid-2010s pitching staff.
The rise of the Mets starting rotation
The dark knight
For those who do not recall, Matt Harvey was a bonafide ace in 2015. Pitching his first season since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Harvey tossed 189.1 innings for a 2.71 earned run average. For the Mets, Harvey was the focal point to the turnaround, being one of the first “core pieces” to the team’s rise.
The beloved veteran
There was also the soon-to-be 43-year-old Bartolo Colon, who had become a fan-favorite for his flashy play in his first two years in Queens. 2016 marked his third and final year of being the Mets a beloved reliable innings-eater.
A rising superstar
At the same time, Jacob deGrom was only getting started, coming off of his first All-Star appearance in 2015. Obviously, deGrom would go on to win two Cy Youngs and become one of the most dominant pitchers in history. But back then, deGrom was not yet viewed as the starter with the highest ceiling.
The young hurlers
Coming into 2016, the Mets were set to fully-implement Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz into their starting rotation. Both being top prospects at one point in the Mets organization, there were high expectations for them. Not to mention, both were huge in the Mets second-half World Series run.
Syndergaard, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade, started 24 games in 2015 with a 3.24ERA. By many accounts, Syndergaard was only getting started. Throwing some of the fastest pitches in the game, it seemed as if Syndergaard was destined to be in Cy Young conversations every year.
As for Steven Matz, the New York native started six games in 2015 with a 2.27ERA and went on to own a 3.68ERA across three starts in the playoffs. The lone southpaw of the rotation, Matz was viewed as a starter with mid-rotation upside, who because of the Mets rotation talent was a back-end starter.
A wild card
Shortly after Harvey arrived, Zack Wheeler made his MLB debut. A former first-round pick by the San Francisco Giants, Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the remarkable 2015 run. Entering 2016, Wheeler was the team’s biggest “what if”, as his season hinged on being healthy.
A storyline that would carry with the Mets starting rotation throughout 2016…