Our MLB Handicapper breaks down perhaps the best starting rotation in the league below, the New York Mets, for the first four games of the 2015 World Series kicking off tonight.
Mets Starter Game #1 – Matt Harvey: 13-8, 2.71 ERA, 188/37 K/BB, 1.02 WHIP, .222 BAA
Matt Harvey was predicted for 3.3 WAR in 2015, as most projections had him regressing from his insane 6.5 WAR 2014 season. He didn’t disappoint Met fans, as he exceeded expectations and posted a 4.4 WAR over 29 starts. While Harvey throws a fastball in the mid-90’s for just about half of his pitches; he has three additional plus rated pitches in his arsenal, including a curve, slider, and changeup.
Harvey is an undisputed ace, and this being the case, he doesn’t have any noticeable splits between left handed and right handed batters who are hitting .225 and .213 off of him, respectively. Home and away splits are also non-existent, as he is allowing a BAA of .213 at home and .227 away. Don’t get sucked into looking at his ERA home/away split of 2.23/3.42 and trying to find a reason for it. There isn’t one.
One concerning trend that stuck out was Harvey’s September/October ERA of 3.99, after he posted a 0.33 ERA in August. Every inning pitched after this point is a new career high for the young pitcher, so hopefully fatigue isn’t a factor in his performance in the World Series.
Mets Starter Game #2 – Jacob deGrom: 14-8, 2.54 ERA, 205/38 K/BB, 0.98 WHIP, .215 BAA
Jacob deGrom was predicted to post a 1.5 WAR season in 2015, and he went ahead and blew those expectations away while posting 5.2 WAR. You need a breakout performance from a pitcher like deGrom to make the World Series and the fact that he is making $556k/year helps the payroll as well.
Just looking at advanced stats, there are a lot of similarities between deGrom and Harvey, including almost identical line drive, ground all, and fly ball percentages. Their whiff rates are similar as well, with deGrom having a slightly better swinging strike rate of 12.7%.
Unlike Harvey however, deGrom exhibits a strong LH vs RH batter split. He allows a batting average of .243 against left handers and just .174 versus right handers (and a 12/4 HR allowed split between those two groups as well). Expect Ned Yost to use all of the left handers at his disposal against deGrom in Game 2.
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Mets Starter Game #3 – Noah Syndergaard: 9-7, 3.24 ERA, 166/31 K/BB, 1.05 WHIP, .225 BAA
While Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom throw hard and sit consistently in the mid-90’s, Noah Syndergaard averages around 98 mph on his fastball. With such a strong pitch in his arsenal it is not surprising he throws it more than 60% of the time. In a relief appearance in the playoff series versus the Dodgers, he was routinely hitting 100 mph with his fastball. Dude throws hard.
As a rookie, Syndergaard was projected to net just 1.1 WAR for the Mets this year – he went ahead and posted a WAR mark of 3.1. Again, breakout performances like these from rookies are a staple for World Series contenders.
Syndergaard exhibits a strong home/away split, allowing hitters to bat .193 against him at home and .253 against him on the road. Game #3 is a home game for the Mets so expect Syndergaard to be amped up and throwing hard, but look for control to be an issue for the rookie.
Mets Starter Game #4 – Steven Matz: 4-0, 2.27 ERA, 34/10 K/BB, 1.23 WHIP, .250 BAA
Steven Matz was drafted in 2009 by the Mets, but sat out nearly four years of his career while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s posted an ERA in the low 2’s in each of his stops in the minors since then, including a 2.19 ERA in the hitting friendly AAA Pacific Coast League before getting his call up this year.
Matz has a curve in the mid-90’s that he throws 68.4% of the time and he mixes in a plus-curve in the high-70’s. He simply hasn’t pitched enough against major league hitting to display any type of meaningful splits. Matz missed time at the end of the year due to a back injury, but his performance of 4.2 IP of one run ball against the Cubs shows that he’ll be ready to go by Game #4. He’ll be a wild card for the Mets in this series.