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The Best 5 Starting Pitchers In Mets History

It’s not yet late July or early August, but if Spring Training was long enough to have Dog Days, this week would be those doldrums. More than a month has passed since the opening of Major League camps and by now fans are tired of practice games, and stories about free agents their team didn’t sign.

The Dog Days, which are so named as a reference to Sirius, (not XM), the Dog Star. Sirius is part of Canus Major, the Greater Dog, one of the constellations.  There are more ‘Dog Days’ in July than August normally but for some reason they are associated with August.  

But for the Mets, the Dog Days of the spring are right here and right now. So what better time than to consider more pleasant things such as which are the greatest Mets five starting pitchers in team history?

The top three are easy-peasy

Tom Seaver

Jacob DeGrom

Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden

Beside the big three who else?

The baseline criteria is that the pitcher pitched at least five years for the Mets Tom Seaver pitched 12 seasons for the Mets, DeGrom nine, and Doc Gooden 11. All three of those pitchers won Cy Young awards (Seaver won three and was probably robbed of at least one more and DeGrom won two, also might have been robbed in 2020). The only other Met pitcher to win a Cy Young award was R.A. Dickey in 2012. Nobody is going to argue that R.A. Dickey is one of the top five starting pitchers of all time.


Yet numbers four and five are not nearly as easy as 1-3. Two-time All-Star Jerry Koosman comes first to mind since he pitched 12 years for the Mets, won 140 games, third all-time in Mets history. He pitched when making starts and being the game-winning pitcher was much more important. Koosman went 2-0 in the 1969 World Series and won the decisive game 5 pitching a complete game. Koosman however, lost more games than any Mets pitcher in team history, mostly because he lost 35 games in two seasons in 1977-78 when the team was awful. Oddly enough when it comes to the most losses by a Met pitcher, Seaver is 2nd and Gooden 3rd on the all-time list.

If Koosman is number 4, then who are the candidates for number 5?

Jon Matlack (7 seasons)

Ron Darling (9 seasons)

Sid Fernandez (10 seasons)

David Cone (7 seasons)

Al Leiter (7 seasons)

Johan Santana the owner of the only complete game no-hitter in team history, only pitched four seasons in Queens. For those of you who feel Nolan Ryan always gets forgotten, although he did play five seasons for the Mets his 29-38 record and nearly 1.4 WHIP takes precedence. Met fans know all too well that Ryan was a HOF pitcher after he left the Mets.

All five of the contenders for the final slot had winning records pitching for the Mets.

Jon Matlack (82-81 as a Met) was a three-time All-Star with the team and was a key member of the 1973 World Series losing team.

Ron Darling (99-70) since he pitched behind Dwight Gooden, never gets the credit he probably deserves. An All-Star in 1985 and a stalwart for the 1986 Mets during the season and in the 1986 World Series, Darling was a terrific fielder winning a Gold Glove in 1990, was an excellent bunter (not much of hitter though) AND was also used as a pinch-runner which is something you didn’t see much from pitchers then or now. 

Sid Fernandez (98-78) pitched 10 seasons for the team. Did you remember that? I didn’t. Sid made 255 starts in those 10 seasons yet some Met fans seem to remember he wasn’t always used as a starter, most notably in the 1986 World Series when he pitched in relief three times to an E.R.A. of 1.35 with 10 strikeouts. His career WHIP of 1.14 (1.11 with the Mets) is elite.

Al Leiter (95-67) vied for the Cy Young in 1999, was an All-Star and key member for the 2000 Mets who lost to the Yankees in the World Series that season. The one-game playoff Leiter pitched in 1999 vs. the Cincinnati Reds, a 5-0 two-hit shoutout in Cincinnati, was one of the great clutch performances by a Met pitcher.  

David Cone (81-51) a two-time All-Star with the Mets, might have won his first Cy Young in 1988 when he went 20-3 striking out 213 and pitched to a 1.11 WHIP and 145 ERA+. But Orel Hershiser was just a bit better that season. Cone left the Mets in 1992 at age 29 and it always felt as if he left way too soon. He did win a Cy Young with the Royals in the strike year 1994. Unfortunately, Cone pitched in only 3 postseason games for the Mets all in 1988 winning one and losing one vs. the eventual champion Dodgers.

Who would you pick? Please feel free to comment below. All five won between 80 and 100 games as Met pitchers. All five made All-Star teams while a member of the team. All pitched important games in the postseason. In truth, I am not able to make a definitive choice. So, I won’t for the moment.  I am still thinking about it and that’s more fun than waiting for the 2024 season to begin! 

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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