Does Pitching Win Championships?

The Mets losing streak has officially hit 6 games and even though they’re well below the .500 mark the NL east is so terrible that they’ve still managed to hang on to second place. And as I continue to watch their steady decline into a place that’s a bit more familiar for the team. I can’t help but wonder if maybe building around young starting pitching was a terrible idea. 

A couple years back the Bleacher Report put out this article dissecting the anatomy of a championship team. The key here it seems, is to have a majority of your players “home grown” from within the team’s farm system. I couldn’t agree more. It’s just that usually those particular players are a bit more spread out throughout their positions on the field. What the Mets had was a talented crop of young fireballers that all came up around the same time. 

This did two things: it depleted their farm system of most of it’s pitching talent (yes we still have one or two left in low A ball) and it meant that there was a bit less of a focus on the young talent of the position players. 

Sure, it was a dream when all the young starters had just come up and were healthy. 2015 was a great year for the Mets. But two years later we’re seeing just how much of a problem it can be to build a team around just those young arms. It looks like some of those teams mentioned in the article have at least, one or two home grown aces on their staff, but it’s the other home grown position players, putting up those offensive numbers as well that became crucial in winning those championships. That’s why the Royals were able to win it all in 2015. Funny how even that bleacher report article from 2011 mentions young Royal’s stars like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Two players who became main fixtures in that team just 4 years later. 

It’s not all bad for the Mets though. Some may consider this year already lost, but I think going forward that championship window is still open for them. I can’t see Harvey sticking around but they’ll at least lock down DeGrom and Syndergaard. Two pitchers who are more than capable of being aces on this staff and have made it clear in the past that they would be thrilled to be able to stay in New York. We need to throw away that pipe dream of the perfect pitching staff and work with what’s actually in front of us. You don’t need a staff of five flamethrowers, round out the rest with some good pitchers with solid command. By that time the Mets will have officially brought up young prospects Dominic Smith (1B) and Amed Rosario (SS) both of whom are currently excelling in triple A. TJ Rivera will stick around to play 3B (I hope) and Conforto has already shown so much improvement and a key to the future as both a hitter and an outfielder. 

If the Mets do it right, this won’t be the fall of Rome. It will just be a little hiccup in what could be very bright 2018-2019 seasons for them. That window of opportunity is still open, now it’s just a matter of whether or not they’ll throw themselves out of it. 

 

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