The Mets have been a lot more promising than the stereotypical Mets of yesteryear. Two straight postseason appearances, including a trip to the Fall Classic, has given Met fans championship-level hype. The team has many positives, but the most worshiped is the elite number of high-velocity arms the team has to offer at starting pitcher.
Barring injuries, the Mets rotation is widely considered number one in the league. That is a big obstacle to avoid, especially with the risk of an elbow blowing on any run-of-the-mill 97 mile-per-hour pitch. We’ve seen it happen to this team; Syndergaard pitched with a bone spur, Harvey missed two seasons dealing with Tommy John Surgery and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Matz has dealt with his fair share of elbow issues, and so did deGrom down the stretch in 2016.
What other problem could be important with the extreme injury risk this rotation holds?
While many studies have been done on the effects of pitch sequencing, not many have been done on the effects of having two extremely similar pitchers in the same rotation. Given, if you separate their scheduled pitching days, the problem fades.
Here’s where the Mets problem comes in. Not only do the Mets have two pitchers with similar repertoires, every pitcher in the Mets staff essentially throws the same stuff. Here are the collection of pitches, with percentages of each pitch thrown (2014-2016), sorted by fastball usage. (via Fangraphs)
|1||Jacob deGrom||Mets||479.1||61.4%||17.0%||10.0 %||11.5 %|
|2||Noah Syndergaard||Mets||333.2||61%||12.5%||15.1 %||11.4 %|
|3||Matt Harvey||Mets||282.0||63.2%||16.7%||11.2 %||8.9 %|
|4||Zack Wheeler||Mets||185.1||66.5%||14.4%||15.7 %||3.5 %|
|5||Steven Matz||Mets||168.0||63.2 %||7.6%||17.4 %||11.8 %|
|6||Robert Gsellman||Mets||44.2||63.9%||20.5%||10.7 %||5.2 %|
Each pitcher in the rotation has the same four main pitches; a variation of fastballs, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. Granted this is the generic repertoire, the usage rates are frighteningly similar. The velocities are all in the same range too, sitting mid-90’s on the fastball, upper-80’s on the slider, and mid-to-low 80’s on their changeups.
The only wild-card in the rotation is Steven Matz. Not only is he a lefty, but his usage is slightly different from that of the righties.
While there is no concrete proof that an actual problem exists, the fact that opposing teams will essentially see the same pitches each day out threatens pitcher variance. Seeing the same pitches day in and day out gives the opposition a better chance to approach what is coming.
The Mets rotation still has a bright future ahead of them, flashing memories of the 90’s Braves rotation, which showcased three hall-of-famers.
Hard to complain when you have a staff of this caliber.