New York Mets: How Great Mets Pitchers Fared in Their MLB Debuts

Vinny Messana@v1nsaneCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2012

New York Mets: How Great Mets Pitchers Fared in Their MLB Debuts

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    Tonight, the reeling New York Mets will send top prospect Matt Harvey to the mound in Arizona to stop their six-game losing streak, which has essentially put an early end to their playoff hopes.

    It would be unfair to expect Harvey to dominate from the beginning of his big-league career, but all indications are that he will become a stalwart in the rotation for years to come.

    Here are five of the all-time best pitchers in Mets history and how they fared in their big-league debuts.

Tom Seaver, 1967

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    Tom Seaver is the undisputed greatest pitcher in franchise history. He owns virtually every significant pitching record including wins (198), ERA (2.57), WHIP (1.07), complete games (171) and shutouts (44).

    The Mets drafted Seaver out of the University of Southern California in 1966 after they were awarded the signing right from a drawing which included the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians.

    After a dominant season with the Jacksonville Suns that summer, he made his debut with the big-league club in 1967 on April 13th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Seaver threw 5.1 innings, allowing six hits, four walks and two runs while registering eight strikeouts.

    He did not factor in the decision, but the Mets won the game 3-2 that afternoon.

    Seaver ended up having a fantastic season, winning Rookie of the Year honors while winning 16 games with a 2.70 ERA for the last-place Mets.

Dwight Gooden, 1984

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    The New York Mets selected Dwight Gooden with the fifth overall selection out of high school in the 1982 draft.

    He was utterly dominant in his first professional season in the Class-A Carolina Leagues. He recorded 300 strikeouts in 191 innings while leading the league in the Triple Crown categories.

    The Mets' front office was impressed enough to allow the 19-year-old phenom to begin the season with the big-league club in 1984.

    Gooden made his debut on April 7 of that season against the Houston Astros. He recorded the victory by tossing five innings, yielding only three hits, two walks and one run while recording five strikeouts.

    He became the youngest Mets pitcher to record a victory.

    The lanky right-hander won the Rookie of the Year award that season by winning 17 games and registering 276 strikeouts, which was good for an 11.39 K/9 ratio.

    "Dr. K," as he was affectionately known in Shea Stadium, electrified the building every outing.

John Franco, 1984

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    John Franco was already well known in New York prior to being traded to the Mets, considering his incredible collegiate career at St. John's University, which included two no-hitters as a freshman.

    He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he made his presence known as an elite closer.

    He made his major league debut in 1984 in the ninth inning of a loss to the Atlanta Braves. Franco had a rough inning, as he walked two and yielded two hits, which led to a run.

    Franco was traded to the Mets in 1989 where he stayed until 2004.

    The diminutive lefty saved over 300 games in a Mets uniform, as he was the captain of the 2000 National League pennant-winning club.

    Franco is one of the most revered players in club history and will go down as one of the best closers of all time.

Johan Santana, 2000

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    Johan Santana was drafted in 1995 by the Houston Astros. They made the costly mistake of leaving him unprotected, as he was claimed by the Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 draft.

    He had an immediate impact on the Twins, as they placed him in the bullpen to begin his career.

    Santana made his debut on April 3rd, 2000 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during a 7-0 shutout. The 6'0" left-hander pitched a clean ninth inning and recorded a strike out.

    Johan won two Cy Young Awards with the Twins in 2004 and 2006, as he was the premier left-handed pitcher in the game during that span.

    He was traded to the Mets prior to the 2008 season and has been effective when he has been healthy enough to take the mound.

    Santana easily could have won the Cy Young in 2008 as well, as he recorded a league-best 2.53 ERA and 234.1 innings.

    Johan remains a quality pitcher and is among the active leaders in winning percentage at .647 during his 12-year career.

Al Leiter, 1987

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    Al Leiter had a long and successful career as a big-league pitcher from 1987 to 2005. It was not until 1993, however, that Leiter became an above-average pitcher.

    He made his major league debut in September of 1987 with the New York Yankees against the Milwaukee Brewers.

    Leiter pitched very well and received the win by tossing six innings and allowing only four hits and one run while striking out eight.

    After enduring several arm injuries, Leiter was traded to Toronto and then Florida before he became an established big-league starter.

    The Mets acquired Leiter in 1998, and the left-hander won 17 games for the club. He was the ace of the organization until 2004, and he won 95 games with a 3.42 ERA during his tenure.

    Mets fans will remember his gutsy performance in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series in which he threw 142 pitches before being lifted after Luis Sojo hit the go-ahead single in the ninth inning.

    Leiter was a very competitive pitcher who did not give an inch, even if he did not have his best command on a given day.