Ranking the Top 4 1-2 Starting Rotation Duos in Mets History

Shale BriskinContributor IIIJune 27, 2013

Ranking the Top 4 1-2 Starting Rotation Duos in Mets History

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    Over the years, the Mets have been blessed with some of the best starting pitchers in the league.

    Whether it was members of the 1969 World Series champions, the 1986 World Series champions or some of the more recent Mets who have become All-Stars and some of the better pitchers of their time, the Mets certainly have had some of baseball's best on the mound.

    Today, the Mets' rotation is led by the young and very promising duo of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. In just his first full season in the major leagues, Harvey is 6-1 with a National League-leading 2.05 ERA. He also leads the league in strikeouts (121) and WHIP (0.882).

    As for Wheeler, he has made his first two major league starts this month and is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA. He will most likely stay in the Mets' rotation for the rest of the season as the Mets take their next step towards competing for the future.

    How will Harvey and Wheeler stack up against other top rotation duos in Mets' history? It's too early to tell yet, but here is a look at the Mets' all-time top-four starting rotation duos.

4. Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez (2005-07)

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    While both Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez were in the latter stages of their careers by the time they were in a Mets uniform, they were still two of the better pitchers in the National League in the mid-2000s.

    They also led a 2006 Mets' staff that pitched New York to its most recent NL East division title.

    Glavine had already been with the Mets for two seasons when the team signed Martinez in the 2004-05 offseason. Martinez paid immediate dividends with a 15-8 record and a 2.82 ERA in 2005, as the Mets finished with their first winning record since 2001. He also finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting that year.

    Glavine, meanwhile, went 13-13 with a 3.53 ERA that season as he continued a career that has him pegged for the Hall of Fame.

    In 2006, Martinez was 9-8 with a 4.48 ERA, but missed over two months of the season due to injuries. Glavine though turned in yet another healthy season and went 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA. Martinez was unfortunately not able to pitch in the postseason that year, but Glavine went 2-1 in three postseason starts with a 2.45 ERA.

    In 2007, Martinez was lost for nearly the entire season as he recovered from shoulder surgery from the previous offseason. In his first start late in the 2007 season, Martinez became only the 15th player in MLB history to achieve 3,000 career strikeouts. He made four more starts that season, finishing with a 3-1 record and a 2.57 ERA.

    In his final season as a Met, Glavine went 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 2007. While he did pick up his 300th career win that season, Mets fans will remember his swan song in New York mostly for his final start.

    It occurred on the final day of the season in one of Glavine's worst starts of his career. He allowed seven runs in the first inning to the Florida Marlins and was removed after just one out, as the Mets lost, 8-1. The defeat cost the Mets a playoff spot and capped one of the worst late-season collapses in baseball history.

    Martinez and Glavine only spent three seasons together, but they were some of the decade's best seasons for the Mets as the two veteran hurlers played a big role in getting the franchise back into postseason contention.

3. Al Leiter and Rick Reed (1998-2001)

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    After the Mets' dominance through most of the 1980s had ended, the team struggled to win from 1991-96.

    At first, the Mets signed a group of veterans who failed to live up to their expectations. In the middle of the decade, the Mets decided to rely on their farm system, but those expectations were not met either.

    To the surprise of many, the Mets suddenly began to win a lot more in 1997 and did so without any major superstars. Instead, a good number of role players stepped up to help the Mets win 88 games.

    One of those players was journeyman pitcher Rick Reed.

    A one-time MLB replacement player, Reed made the Mets' 1997 Opening Day rotation out of spring training. Reed certainly made the most of his opportunity, going 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA for the sixth best ERA in the National League. He became known for his great command with a 113-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    In 1998, the Mets began making moves to get to the next level. One of their big moves was acquiring Al Leiter from the rebuilding Marlins.

    Leiter immediately became the ace who the Mets desperately needed in their rotation. Leiter had arguably the best season of his career in 1998 with career bests in wins (17) and ERA (2.47). Not to be outdone, Reed went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA and made his first career appearance in the All-Star Game.

    The Mets finally ended their postseason drought In 1999 by winning the NL wild-card berth. Leiter did not fare as well in 1999 with a 13-12 record as his ERA went up to 4.23, but he turned in the best game of his career when the Mets needed it most.

    With the Mets and Cincinnati Reds ending the regular season tied for the National League Wild Card, the two teams met in a one-game playoff to determine which would make the postseason. Leiter threw a two-hit complete game shutout against the Reds as the Mets won, 5-0, to advance to the postseason for the first time since 1988.

    Reed had another solid season in 1999, going 11-5  with a 4.58 ERA. He pitched well during his two postseason starts, winning one and taking a no-decision in the other while allowing just two runs in each outing.

    In 2000, Leiter and Reed helped the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 1986. Leiter had a much better season in 2000, reaching his second All-Star Game and his first as a Met. He went 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA.

    He also pitched well in Game 1 and Game 5 of the Fall Classic against the Yankees, but the Mets lost both and eventually the Subway Series, 4-1.

    Reed continued his success that season by going 11-5 and lowering his ERA to 4.11. He pitched well during his first postseason start that year in the NLDS, but did not make it past the fourth inning in his only start of the NLCS.

    In the 2000 World Series, Reed was the starting pitcher in the only game the Mets beat the Yankees. He went six innings and gave up just two runs and six hits, as the Mets rallied late for the win.

    In 2001, the Mets' offense did not give Leiter as much support. He finished 11-11 despite a 3.31 ERA while Reed went 8-6 with a 3.48 ERA before getting traded to the Minnesota Twins for Matt Lawton at the trade deadline.

    Reed remained with the Twins through 2003 before retiring while Leiter stayed with the Mets through 2004. He spent 2005 with the Marlins and Yankees before retiring as well.

    Leiter and Reed were two big reasons why the Mets were as successful as they were from 1998-2000 and were certainly one of the best pitching combos in team history.

2. Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling (1984-91)

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    As the Mets began the best seven-year stretch of their team history from 1984-90, two of the most significant pieces to their success were baseball's top two starting pitchers at the time, Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling.

    Darling was the first of the two to make it to the major leagues with a 1-3 record and 2.80 ERA in five starts in 1983. In 1984, Gooden made his major league debut in a big way.

    The 19-year old hurler won the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year Award by going 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA. Darling had an impressive rookie season of his own with a 12-9 record and a 3.81 ERA as he finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    If everyone had thought Gooden was amazing in 1984, he turned it up a few notches in 1985. In a career season, Gooden won pitching's  Triple Crown by going 24-4 with a remarkable 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts to lead the NL in all three categories.

    He also won his only NL Cy Young Award that season and still remains the youngest player to ever win the award. In July, he made his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance.

    Darling had another fine season in 1985. Although Gooden got all the attention for his Cy Young Award and record, Darling was not too far behind. He went  16-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.90. He also made his only All-Star team that year, but did not participate.

    In 1986, the Mets finally put it all together won their second championship in franchise history. On the pitching end, Gooden led the way and went 17-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 200 strikeouts, as he helped lead the Mets to their World Series win over the Red Sox. He made his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game as well, becoming the youngest pitcher to ever start in an All-Star Game.

    In the 1986 NLCS, Gooden lost a 1-0 pitchers duel to the Houston Astros and 1986 NL Cy Young Award-winner and former Met Mike Scott. Gooden then took a no-decision in Game 5 after pitching 10 innings and giving up just one run.

    Like  former Mets ace Tom Seaver in the 1969 and 1973 World Series, Gooden did not pitch like an ace in the 1986 World Series. He did not get past the fifth inning in either of his two starts against Boston, but the Mets ended up winning the World Series in seven games.

    Darling was 15-6 and had a career-best 2.81 ERA that year. He even received a few Cy Young votes for the only time in his career, finishing fifth.

    Darling did not pitch well in Game 3 of the NLCS vs. the Astros, but the Mets came from behind to win. Darling did come up big in the World Series, picking up the slack as Gooden struggled.

    Darling pitched well in Game 1, but lost, 1-0, to Bruce Hurst. In Game 4, Darling extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings and pitched well once again as the Mets won, 6-2. Even though he was relieved early in Game 7, the Mets still won the world championship and all was forgotten.

    Gooden's 1987 season was marred with a stint in a rehabilitation facility and his season did not begin until June. After he returned, Gooden went 15-7 with a 3.21 ERA.

    Darling on the other hand, regressed a bit as he struggled throughout the first half of the season. After the All-Star break, he won six straight starts, but was injured in September while the Mets were trying to fight off the Cardinals for the division crown. He finished the season 12-8 with a 4.29 ERA.

    In 1988, the Mets got back to the postseason, but lost in seven games to the eventual World Series champion Dodgers.That year, Gooden went 18-9 with a 3.19 ERA as the Mets made the postseason for the second and final time in Gooden's career with the Mets. He also made his final trip to the All-Star Game that year.

    Darling bounced back in a big way and won a career-high 17 games with an ERA of 3.25, although he struggled on the road, as 14 of his wins came at Shea Stadium.

    In 1989, Gooden went 9-4 with a 2.89 ERA, but missed two months due to injuries. Darling was inconsistent in 1989 and finished 14-14, despite a 3.52 ERA. On a brighter note, Darling did become the first and only Mets pitcher to win a Gold Glove.

    Gooden bounced back in 1990 with a 19-7 record and a 3.83 ERA while Darling struggled and was sent to the bullpen for the first time in his career. He endured his first losing season and was traded to the Expos in July of 1991 with a 5-6 record and a 3.87 ERA.

    Gooden remained with the Mets until 1994, when he was suspended 60 days for testing positive for cocaine a second time. During his suspension, he tested positive yet again and had his suspension extended through the entire 1995 season, effectively endinig his time with the Mets.

    The Mets, however, most likely would not have achieved the same amount of success from 1984-90 if it was not for the efforts of Gooden and  Darling, the second-best starting rotation duo in Mets' history.

1. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman (1967-77)

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    When the Mets came into existence in 1962, they struggled for years to find an identity. The losing seasons piled up in New Y ork and by 1967, the Mets were still one of the biggest laughingstocks in baseball.

    The Mets finally turned the corner at the end of the decade with great pitching and just enough hitting to win.

    What exactly made the Mets' pitching so great at the time? The two biggest reasons by far were Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, a duo that defined the Mets for over a decade.

    After spending one year in the minor leagues, Seaver was brought up to the Mets in 1967 and became the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award as he went 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA. Seaver also made the first of his seven consecutive trips to the All-Star Game that year.

    Koosman made his major league debut in 1967 as well, going 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA in three starts and nine total appearances.

    In 1968, Seaver went 16-12 with a 2.20 ERA and 205 strikeouts, while Koosman went 19-12 with a 2.08 ERA and 178 strikeouts in his rookie season. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    A year later, the Mets came out of nowhere to win the 1969 World Series for their first championship in team history. Seaver won his first NL Cy Young Award by having arguably the best season of his career. He went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA and 208 strikeouts.

    His 25 wins are still a single-season franchise record. Koosman also held his own and went 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA and 180 strikeouts to make his second and final All-Star Game appearance that year.

    Despite losing the first game of the 1969 World Series, Seaver pitched a 10-inning complete-game in a 2-1 win for the Mets in Game 4. The World Series' spotlight though was on Koosman, who won both Games 2 and 5. He pitched over eight innings in Game 2 and went the distance in Game 5, leading the Mets to the World Series title.

    In 1970, Seaver was 18-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 283 strikeouts to set a single- season franchise record while Koosman went 12-7 with a 3.14 ERA.

    A year later, Seaver broke his own club record with 289 strikeouts, which still stands as the Mets' single-season high. He went 20-10 with a career-best 1.76 ERA. Koosman experienced the first of two consecutive losing seasons in 1971 with a 6-11 record and a 3.04 ERA.

    In 1972, Seaver continued his dominance with a 21-12 record, a 2.92 ERA and 249 strikeouts while Koosman went 11-12 with a 4.14 ERA.

    A year later, the veteran duo led the Mets back to the World Series, where they ended up losing in seven games to the Oakland A's.

    Seaver won his second NL Cy Young Award in 1973 by going 19-10 with a 2.08 ERA with 251 strikeouts. Koosman bounced back with a 14-15 record and a 2.83 ERA.

    In 1974, Seaver had the first non-winning record of his career, going 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA and 201 strikeouts. It was also the only year in his original 11-year stint that he did not make the NL All-Star team. Koosman went 15-11 with a 3.36 ERA and 188 strikeouts.

    The following year saw Seaver win a third NL Cy Young Award by going 22-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 243 strikeouts. Koosman continued his success with a 14-13 record and a 3.42 ERA.

    The 1976 season turned out to be Koosman's career year. He went 21-10, with the 21 wins marking a career high. Koosman also had a 2.69 ERA, and a career-high 200 strikeouts. He finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting, losing to Randy Jones. Seaver held his own with a 14-11 record, a 2.59 ERA and 235 strikeouts.

    Seaver's time with the Mets come to an end in 1977 as he was traded in June during the "Midnight Massacre" to the Reds. Seaver was 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA before the trade.

    He stayed with the Reds through 1982 before spending another season with the Mets in 1983. Seaver also spent time with the White Sox (1984-86) and wound up with the Red Sox before retiring after the 1986 season.

    Koosman remained with the Mets through 1978. He struggled mightily though in his last two seasons there, including an 8-20 record and a 3.49 ERA in 1977 and a very disappointing 3-15 record and a 3.75 ERA in 1978. Koosman spent 1979-81 with the Twins, 1982-83 with the White Sox and 1984-85 with the Phillies before retiring.

    In the late 1960s, the Mets had finally found their identity and it was built around Seaver and Koosman —the greatest starting rotation duo in Mets' history.