On Monday morning, the Mets made perhaps the most shocking move of the off-season, agreeing to a record-breaking three-year, 130 million dollar contract with pitcher Max Scherzer. The deal signaled a true change of tone in New York, as Steve Cohen’s Mets went from an interesting team to a bona fide championship contender in a matter of moments.
Top Tier Rotation
Fangraphs projects 2022 wins above replacement (WAR) for each player and calculates total batter and pitcher WAR for each team. According to this tool, the Mets 2022 staff is projected to be second in Major League Baseball, with 22.5 WAR. This is in no small part due to the two-headed monster of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, projected for 6.3 and 4.2 WAR each, combining for almost half of the team’s output. This almost certainly makes the Mets new duo the best in baseball, outpacing even the Brewers’ combination of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff.
Over the past several days the Mets have significantly improved their depth, especially on offense. This will hopefully make them better suited to endure the long season and avoid the August downturn that spoiled the 2021 season. Should they make it to the playoffs, it is unlikely any team will be as fearsome as the Mets. Both Scherzer and deGrom are veterans, but both appear to be very much still in their prime. DeGrom has seemingly figured out how to age backward; meanwhile, Scherzer just posted the lowest ERA of his career at age 36. They are also both experienced postseason pitchers, and no team could like their odds in a series where this duo will start more than half of the games.
Since Scherzer was first dangled at the trade deadline this year, Mets fans have been salivating at the idea of a rotation headlined by him and deGrom. It almost seemed too good to be true, like the sort of thing you orchestrate in a video game. But it is real, and the Mets now arguably have the two best pitchers in baseball in one rotation.
In the last five full seasons, four of the National League Cy Young Awards have gone to one of these two pitchers. The one year in which neither one the award — 2021 — saw Scherzer place third with a league-leading 0.86 WHIP, while deGrom posted a 1.08 ERA in 92 innings. This touches on a key reason Scherzer was worth the hefty price tag: should injury strike deGrom again, Scherzer can step in and take over the role of ace. After all, Scherzer has started an average of 31.6 games per year over the last 11 full seasons, essentially the maximum workload for a starting pitcher.
More Additions Coming?
Even after the Scherzer announcement, rumors have continued to link the Mets to other free-agent pitchers including Yusei Kikuchi, Rich Hill, and maybe even Carlos Rodón. The Mets staff could likely still benefit from a veteran lefty presence, especially to abate some of the uncertainty surrounding Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, Tylor Megill, and David Peterson. Obviously, one if not multiple of those guys should play up to their potential this year, but as the Mets love to show us every year, you can never have too much pitching.
Hopefully, the Mets can snag one of these names before the near-certain lockout begins this week. If not, the club likely will look to make a signing shortly before spring training, like last year’s Taijuan Walker deal.
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