John Smoltz achieved two rarities in one fell swoop on Friday. The future Hall of Famer made blog headlines on arguably the slowest day of the baseball regular season and he did so by praising the New York Mets. Crazy, right? I’d wager Jacob deGrom’s strikeout-fest during the All Star Game on Tuesday night played into this one way or another for Smoltz.
Smoltz made some very positive comments about the Mets’ current pitching staff that features young stars Matt Harvey, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and the injured Steve Matz to the New York Daily News:
"“They’re way better,” Smoltz said of the Mets in comparison to his Braves rotation, which featured five elite pitchers all under the age of 30, including Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. “They’ve got more talent than we could ever have.”"
That’s pretty good considering, as noted, the Braves core pitching staff of the 90s sent three players to the Hall of Fame. Talent is the key word here since none of the players Smoltz is talking about have long track records in the Majors.
Harvey’s only made 53 starts, while de Grom, last year’s Rookie of the Year, has 39. Syndergaard’s made 11 starts while Matz logged 13 2/3 innings before hitting the disabled list.
That said, the current Mets’ staff is showing more than the franchise’s ill-fated “Generation K” ever did in the mid-90s.
Smoltz continued to say that the way young pitchers are used in modern baseball will likely prohibit them from compiling the long-term numbers the Atlanta staff did.
More specifically a couple other factors could keep the Mets staff from those heights. For one, the Mets could trade one or more of their pitching assets to help their lineup. Fortunately for New York their two top arms at the moment — Harvey and deGrom — are under team control for the foreseeable future. Harvey isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2016 and deGrom isn’t until 2018. They’re both years away from free agency. The cost for starting pitchers continues to skyrocket, so by the time its 2019 or 2021 they might be looking at $30 million per year deals and its unlikely any team can afford more than one of these type starters.
Of course there remains the possibility that Smoltz was simply trying to reverse jinx the Braves old rivals.