New York Mets: Top 20 Starting Pitchers in Mets History—Part 2
After viewing the second tier of the greatest starting pitchers in Mets history, the first tier is next, as we rank the top 10 starting pitchers in Mets history.
The pitchers on this list have certainly made valuable contributions to the Mets franchise during their careers. While some are more well remembered than others, all 10 of these pitchers deserve a lot of recognition for what they did for the Mets.
Here they are: the top 10 starting pitchers in Mets history.
10. Bobby J. Jones
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Bobby J. Jones starts it off at the No. 10 spot. Jones was never a flashy pitcher, but he quietly contributed to the Mets and was arguably the team's best starter in the middle and late 1990s.
A Fresno, California native, Jones was drafted by the Mets in 1991. He was a compensatory pick following the departure of Darryl Strawberry. Many fans were disappointed to see Strawberry leave, but Jones turned out to be one of the best draft picks for the Mets in the 1990s.
Jones made his professional debut on August 14, 1993 and picked up his first career win that day against the eventual NL Champion, the Philadelphia Phillies. In nine starts that season, Jones went 2-4 with a 3.65 ERA.
In his first full season in 1994, Jones became a mainstay in the Mets rotation and had a breakout year. He went 12-7 that year with a career best 3.15 ERA. His wins and ERA were both top 10 in the league.
In 1995, Jones went 10-10 with a 4.19 ERA. He was the only Mets pitcher that year to have at least 10 wins. He also led the team with a career high 127 strikeouts.
Jones followed this up with another strong season in 1996, going 12-8 with a 4.42 ERA.
Jones' career season arrived in 1997. He got off to a great start and was already 10-2 by June. He made his first only trip to the All-Star Game that year and in his only inning of pitching, struck out both Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark McGwire.
Jones' early season dominance was critical as he helped propel the Mets just a few games shy of postseason contention, something that the Mets weren't even close to since Jones had become a part of the team. Despite struggling a bit after the All-Star break, he won a career high 15 games and finished 15-9 with a 3.63 ERA.
In 1998, Jones went 9-9 with a 4.05 ERA. At this point, the Mets' rotation was really coming together as Jones, Rick Reed and Al Leiter all had great seasons in the late 1990s.
By 1999 though, the Mets rotation had gotten crowded following Masato Yoshii 1998 breakout season, plus the addition of the former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser. As a result, Jones ended up being the odd man out. He struggled with injuries that year and only made nine starts with just 12 total apperances. He went 3-3 with a 5.61 ERA and was left off the postseason roster.
In 2000, Jones continued to struggle in the early part of the season and was even sent down to the minor leagues. However, he returned to the rotation in late June and improved his pitching down the stretch. Despite a high 5.06 ERA, Jones went 11-6 that year and was included as the Mets fourth starter on the postseason roster.
In Game Four of the 2000 NLDS, Jones made his first career postseason start and pitched by far the greatest game of his career. He pitched a complete game, one-hit shutout as the Mets clinched the series and moved onto the NLCS. The only hit he gave up was a fifth inning double to former Mets teammate Jeff Kent. It was certainly a wonderful moment for Jones as he overcame two inconsistent seasons to win the biggest game of his life.
Jones then made two more postseason starts. Those starts, however, were not as good. In the NLCS, Jones was pulled after just four innings and gave up six runs and four hits before his exit. In his only World Series appearance, Jones gave up a run in each of the first three innings and ended up taking the loss. This would end up being his final game in a Mets uniform.
Following the 2000 season, the Mets allowed Jones to become a free agent and he signed with the Padres. After two disappointing seasons in San Diego, Jones retired following the 2002 season.
Despite not being one of the most dominant pitchers in the league during his time, Bobby J. Jones was a dependable starting pitcher for the Mets in the 1990s and arguably the best starting pitcher the team had throughout the decade.
9. Bob Ojeda
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One of the final pieces to the 1986 championship team was Bob Ojeda. He was a critical acquisition that year and the postseason run may not have been the same without his contributions.
Ojeda first pitched for the Red Sox from 1980-1985, but once the Boston rotation got rather crowded, Ojeda was moved to the bullpen. He pitched well enough in this role to get traded to the Mets prior to the 1986 season. One of the players that was traded from the Mets to the Red Sox in this deal was Calvin Schiraldi, who would play a pivotal role in the 1986 World Series.
Ojeda had a career season in 1986 by going 18-5 with a 2.57 ERA. His ERA total was the second best in the league. In the postseason, Ojeda pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the NLCS to get the Mets their first postseason win in 13 years. In Game 6, he gave up a few early runs and ended with a no-decision, but the Mets ended up winning this memorable 16 inning game to move onto the World Series.
In the World Series, with the Mets down 2-0 after losing twice at home, Ojeda went back to Fenway Park and pitched very well in a 7-1 win. In Game 6, the Mets needed Ojeda to save them again. This time, Ojeda wasn't as effective by giving up two early runs, but the Mets would end up making the greatest postseason comeback ever and win not only that game, but Game 7 as well to win it all.
In 1987, Ojeda went 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA in his first 10 starts, but then missed the rest of the season due to elbow surgery. He then bounced back in 1988 and went 10-13 with a 2.88 ERA. However, right when the Mets clinched the NL East title, Ojeda accidentally sliced off the tip of his left middle finger thanks to electric hedge trimmers. After microsurgery reattached his finger tip, he missed the entire postseason.
After recovering from his accident, Ojeda had another good season for the Mets in 1989. He went 13-11 with a 3.47 ERA that year. This though would become his last quality season. In 1990, Ojeda ended up being moved to the bullpen for most of the year and went 7-6 with a 3.66 ERA before getting traded to the Dodgers in the offseason for Hubie Brooks.
Ojeda then spent 1991-1992 with the Dodgers, 1993 with the Indians and pitched poorly in just two games with the Yankees in 1994 before getting released and subsequently retiring. During 1993 spring training, Ojeda almost lost his life in a boating accident that killed two of his teammates. Ojeda credits the fact that he was slouching in his seat at the time for saving his life.
Since retiring, Ojeda has spent some time coaching and is now the pre-game and post-game analyst for Mets games in the SNY studio. Prior to his current job, Ojeda also made appearances at Shea Stadium for both the 1986 team's 20th Anniversary in 2006 and Shea Stadium's last game in 2008.
Bob Ojeda may have only had one excellent season as a Met, but the season he had that year was critical to the team's success and the Mets may not have won the World Series had it not been for Ojeda's pitching.
8. Sid Fernandez
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"El Sid" was originally drafted by the Dodgers and pitched briefly with the team as a September call-up before getting traded to the Mets along with Ross Jones for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz prior to the 1984 season.
Fernandez spent 1984 going back and forth between the Mets and its Triple A affiliate, the Tidewater Tides. As a Met, Fernandez went 6-6 with a 3.50 ERA that year.
In 1985, Fernandez found more time on the major league roster and went 9-9 with a 2.80 ERA. He immediately became known as a pitcher that consistently struck out many batters. In fact, in 170 1/3 innings, Fernandez struck out 180 batters and only gave up 108 hits. Both of these ratios were by far the best in the league. The reason for his win-loss total was because he gave up a lot of walks.
In 1986, Fernandez went 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA and 200 strikeouts and made his first trip to the All-Star Game. He pitched much better at home than on the road, but Fernandez would prove to be clutch in the postseason.
After taking the loss by simply getting out-pitched by the Astros' Mike Scott in his only NLCS start, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen for the World Series to provide added depth. In Game 5, after Dwight Gooden had struggled, Fernandez was brought in and pitched four solid innings.
Fernandez's biggest moment though occurred in the decisive Game 7. After Ron Darling struggled, Fernandez came in and retired seven consecutive batters. The Mets offense rallied later in the game and it was enough to give the Mets the World Series title.
In 1987, Fernandez had another great start and made his second and final trip to the All-Star Game. However, he did not pitch as well after the All-Star break and missed a few weeks in August due to shoulder tendinitis. Nonetheless, Fernandez went 12-8 with a 3.81 ERA for the season.
In 1988, Fernandez got off to a poor start, but pitched well later in the season to finish 12-10 with a 3.03 ERA and 189 strikeouts. He was selected to start in the pivotal Game 5 of the NLCS, but fell apart in the fourth inning and then gave up a three-run home run that got him removed from the game.
Despite his poor postseason start, Fernandez came back in 1989 and had the best season of his career. He began in the bullpen, but was quickly moved back into the rotation. He finished with a 14-5 record, a 2.83 ERA and 198 strikeouts. He also set a Mets record by striking out sixteen batters in a game, which is the most by a left-handed pitcher in team history. He even improved his numbers on the road that year.
In 1990, Fernandez did not get much run support and finished with a career worst 9-14 record, despite a 3.46 ERA and 181 strikeouts. A year later in 1991, Fernandez missed most of the season with a broken arm, and after returning in July and going 1-3 in eight starts with a 2.86 ERA, he missed the rest of the season due to knee injuries.
In 1992, Fernandez bounced back with a 14-11 record, a career best 2.73 ERA and 193 strikeouts. However, his success that year was not enough to save his team from becoming one of the worst in baseball.
During his final season as a Met in 1993, Fernandez missed half of the season with a knee injury while covering first base. After returning, he went 5-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 18 starts. The Mets as a team were even worse that year and at that point changes had to be made. As a result, Fernandez opted for free agency as the Mets began to rebuild.
Fernandez spent 1994-1995 with the Orioles before getting released at the 1995 All-Star break. Three days later, the Phillies signed him and he pitched well towards the end of the season. However, despite earning an opening day start for the Phillies in 1996, Fernandez got hurt in June, which ended his season and got him back on the free agent market.
Fernandez then signed with the Astros in 1997, but had elbow problems during spring training. He made one start, went back on the disabled list, and after rehabbing did not go well, he decided to retire in August of that year.
In 2001, Fernandez surprised many people by showing up at the Yankees' Spring Training complex on a minor league contract. He made one minor league start, but ended up with a sore knee that got him on the disabled list, so he retired for good.
One notable fact about Fernandez is that his career total of 6.85 hits per nine innings is the fourth best in MLB history, behind Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez.
Since retiring, Fernandez has stayed active in his home state and has done some coaching. He appeared at Shea Stadium during the 1986 team's 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2006.
Sid Fernandez is one of the best left-handed pitchers the Mets have ever had and he deserves more recognition for what he accomplished during his career.
7. David Cone
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Although some of his more memorable contributions may have occurred as a member of another New York team, David Cone made his mark as a Met and was a great addition to the Mets' rotation in the late 1980s.
A Kansas City native, Cone was drafted by his hometown team and made a few appearances for them in 1986 before he was traded to the Mets along with Chris Jelic for Ed Hearn, Rick Anderson and Mauro Gozzo.
In Cone's first season in 1987, he shuffled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen and finished with a 5-6 record and a 3.71 ERA.
Cone began the 1988 season in the bullpen, but was back in the rotation by May. This was largely due to the 9-2 start he had in the first half of the season. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game that year and ended up going 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA and 213 strikeouts. He finished third in votes for that year's Cy Young award.
In the 1988 postseason, Cone struggled in his first start during Game 2 of the NLCS. He gave up five runs in just two innings of work, but bounced back to pitch a complete game victory in Game 6. He also pitched an inning in Game 3. Unfortunately, the Mets lost the series in seven games and all hopes of a Mets dynasty were gone just like that.
Cone had another strong season in 1989 by going 14-8 with a 3.52 ERA and 190 strikeouts. He followed this up in 1990 with a 14-10 record, 3.23 ERA and 233 strikeouts.
In 1991, Cone went 14-14 with a 3.29 ERA and 241 strikeouts. On the last game of the season, Cone tied the National League record at the time by striking out 19 batters in a three-hit shutout victory against the Phillies. He switched his original No. 44 to 17 that year in honor of former teammate Keith Hernandez.
In 1992, Cone got off to a great start and made his second trip to the All-Star Game and was the Mets' lone representative that year. He was 13-7 with a 2.88 ERA before the Mets traded him to the Blue Jays in August for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. Cone at the time was seeking a long-term deal, but Al Harazin, the Mets General Manager at the time was not willing to give Cone a five-year contract. This trade was certainly one the Mets would regret.
While the Mets did not particularly get much out of this deal, Cone went to the Blue Jays and helped them win their first World Series. In 1993, he went back home to the Royals, where he spent two years. In 1994, he ended up winning his first and only AL Cy Young Award during the strike-shortened season. He made his third All-Star Game appearance that year as well.
In 1995, right after the strike ended, Cone was traded back to the Blue Jays and then traded again to the Yankees at the trade deadline. He would then spend the rest of 1995-2000 with the Yankees. During those years, he won four more World Series championships, made two more trips to the All-Star Game in 1997 and 1999 and also pitched a perfect game in 1999.
Cone then pitched for the Red Sox in 2001 and sat out the 2002 season before making a brief comeback with the Mets in 2003. In four starts and five total appearances that year, he went 1-3 with a 6.50 ERA before retiring for good.
Since retiring, Cone has been an announcer for the Yankees on the YES Network.
David Cone may not been remembered mostly as a Met, but his contributions were significant in the late 1980s and early 1990s and this should not go unnoticed.
6. Al Leiter
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If one were to think of Mets pitching in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one name definitely stands out, and that would be left-hander Al Leiter, who became the Mets' ace throughout his tenure.
A year after helping the Florida Marlins win their first championship in 1997, Leiter was traded to Mets during a typical Marlins fire-sale, where the Marlins would unload all of their high-priced players.
One of those players the Mets happened to trade was a young AJ Burnett. Leiter became the Mets' ace instantly and had one of his best seasons in 1998, going 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA. Those 17 wins were a career high for Leiter as he led the Mets to within one game of a playoff berth.
Leiter did not do as well in 1999, with a 13-12 record and his ERA went up to 4.23, but he turned in the best game of his career when the Mets needed it.
He pitched in the National League Wild-Card clinching game—an extra game added to the regular season because the Mets and Cincinnati Reds finished in a tie. That day, Leiter threw a two-hit complete game shutout and the Mets won 5-0 to advance to the postseason for the first time in 11 years.
Leiter had a much better season in 2000, making his second All-Star team and his first as a Met. He went 16-8, with a 3.20 ERA as he and Mike Hampton teamed up to lead the Mets to the World Series. He pitched well in Game 1 and Game 5 of the Fall Classic, but the Mets lost both games and eventually the series 4-1.
The Mets' offense did not give Leiter as much support in 2001 as he finished 11-11 despite a 3.31 ERA. Similarly, in 2002, Leiter finished 13-13 with a 3.48 ERA. However, in that year, Leiter became the first pitcher in baseball history to defeat all thirty current MLB teams.
Leiter had a bounce-back year in 2003, going 15-9 with an ERA just under 4.00. However, despite his strong season the Mets played poorly and lost 95 games. His last season with the Mets was in 2004 and he was 10-8 that year with a 3.21 ERA on another underachieving team.
After 2004, Leiter's option was declined and he spent 2005 with the Marlins and Yankees before retiring after the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Leiter has since become a broadcaster for the YES Network—much to the displeasure of Mets fans—and eventually the MLB Network. He was even booed for his YES Network affiliation when he was introduced after Shea Stadium's final game in 2008.
Al Leiter is arguably the best left-handed starting pitcher the Mets have had since the days of Bob Ojeda and Sid Fernandez. He was a workhouse and made significant contributions towards the Mets' success in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
5. Jon Matlack
One of the more forgotten great starting pitchers in Mets history has got to be Jon Matlack.
Matlack was drafted in 1967 by the Mets and made his professional debut midway through 1971. In seven appearances that year, he went 0-3 with a 4.14 ERA.
In 1972, Matlack made the Mets' roster out of spring training and had a breakout rookie campaign that year. He went 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA and won the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year Award. On September 30, he gave up Roberto Clemente's 3,000th and final career hit.
In 1973, Matlack's record slipped to 14-16 and his ERA increased to 3.20, but he pitched well late in the season as the Mets won their division. He also struck out 205 batters that year. He then pitched the best game of his career during the 1973 NLCS against the Reds. In Game 2, Matlack pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout as the Mets won 5-0.
In the 1973 World Series, Matlack pitched well in Game 1, but suffered a hard luck 2-1 loss due to a Felix Millan error. In Game 4, Matlack pitched eight solid innings and gave up just one run and three hits as the Mets won 6-1. However, in the decisive Game 7, Matlack did not pitch well in a 5-2 loss and gave up two home runs before being removed after just 2 2/3 innings.
In 1974, Matlack went 13-15 with a 2.41 ERA. Had the Mets offense given him more run support, his record would have been better. He made his first of three consecutive trips to the All-Star Game that year. Matlack then went 16-12 with a 3.38 ERA in 1975 and 17-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 1976. He finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting in 1976.
In 1977, Matlack fell to just 7-15 with a 4.21 ERA on a Mets team that simply began to fall apart. After the 1977 season, Matlack was traded to the Rangers as part of a four-team deal. He then pitched the rest of his career from 1978-1983 with the Rangers before retiring.
Since retirement, Matlack has been a pitching coach in various capacities. He is currently the Tigers' minor league pitching coordinator.
Jon Matlack may not have been the biggest name in Mets pitching during the 1970s, but he was a great addition to the 1973 National League Champions and pitched well in some meaningful games.
4. Ron Darling
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Although overshadowed by Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling was one of the most dependable Mets starters during the middle and late 1980s. Darling came to the Mets in a smart trade made by GM Frank Cashen. He sent the popular Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for Darling and fellow right-hander Walt Terrell.
In Darling's first full season in 1984, he won 12 games and finished with a 3.81 ERA, as he teamed up with Dwight Gooden to form baseball's most formidable one-two punch at the time.
In 1985, Darling had another fine season. Although Gooden got all the attention for his Cy Young Award and 24-4 record, Darling's season was not too far behind. He was 16-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.90. He also made his first All-Star team that year, but did not participate.
In the 1986 championship season, Darling was 15-6 and had a career best 2.81 ERA. He even received a few Cy Young votes for the only time in his career as he finished fifth. In that postseason, Darling did not pitch well in Game 3 of the NLCS vs. the Astros, but the Mets came from behind and won that game.
However, he came up big in the World Series, picking up the slack as Dwight Gooden suddenly began struggling. Darling pitched very 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 championship and all was forgotten.
Even though he won 12 games in 1987, Darling regressed a bit as he struggled throughout the first half of the season. After the All-Star break, he won six straight starts, but got injured at the worst possible time in September when the Mets were trying to fight off the Cardinals for the division.
In 1988, Darling bounced back in a big way and won a career-high 17 games with an ERA of 3.25. He struggled on the road that year though, as 14 of his wins came at Shea Stadium. However, as the playoffs began, Darling struggled mightily against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
He won Game 3 as the Mets made a late comeback and won 8-4, but when everything was on the line in Game 7, Darling did not pitch like he did in the 1986 playoffs.
Matched up once again against the 1988 NL Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser, Darling gave up six runs and was removed in the second inning, while Hershiser pitched a five-hit shutout and gave the Dodgers a trip to the World Series, which they eventually won. The Mets would not make it back to the playoffs after that game for 11 years.
The struggles for Darling only began after the 1988 postseason, as he was inconsistent in 1989 and finished 14-14, despite a 3.52 ERA. On a brighter note, he did become the first and only Mets pitcher to win a Gold Glove.
In 1990, Darling was sent to the bullpen for the first time in his career and endured his first losing season. 1991 wasn't much better for him and in July, he got traded to the Expos. He subsequently got traded again to the A's two weeks later, where he pitched until he retired after 1995.
Since retiring, Darling has become an announcer and has been a Mets' commentator since 2006. He has even won an Emmy Award as the "Best Sports Analyst."
Ron Darling may have been overshadowed by some of his teammates during his time, but he is still one of the best pitchers the Mets have had, and certainly a critical member for the Mets in the late 1980s.
3. Jerry Koosman
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As we get closer to the top, the next pitcher is without question the greatest left-handed starter the Mets have had. That would be Jerry Koosman.
Koosman was drafted by the Mets in 1964 and made his professional debut in 1967. In three starts and nine total appearances that year, he went 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA. However, he led the International League in strikeouts.
In his first full rookie season in 1968, Koosman went 19-12 with a 2.08 ERA and 178 strikeouts. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game and finished second place in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
In 1969, Koosman asserted himself as the left-handed counterpart to Tom Seaver in the Mets' rotation. He went 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA and 180 strikeouts. He made his second and final All-Star Game appearance that year.
In the 1969 NLCS, Koosman did not pitch well in Game 2, but the Mets offense rallied to win that game 11-6. However, he turned it around in the World Series. While Seaver struggled during the series, Koosman picked up the slack and won both Games 2 and 5. He pitched over eight innings in Game 2 and went the full distance in Game 5 as the Mets won the World Series.
In 1970, Koosman went 12-7 with a 3.14 ERA. He then had two unexpected losing seasons in 1971 (6-11, 3.04 ERA) and 1972 (11-12, 4.14 ERA). He also had another losing season when he went 14-15 with a 2.84 ERA in 1973. However, a lack of run support had a lot to do with that. Nonetheless, Koosman pitched well in most clutch situations.
In the 1973 NLCS, Koosman threw a complete game in Game 2 as the Mets beat the Reds 9-2. In the World Series, Koosman started Game 2, but got shelled and was removed in the third inning, but the Mets rallied later on for a 10-7 win. He then won Game 5 as he pitched six and a third scoreless innings as the Mets won 2-0.
In 1974, Koosman went 15-11 with a 3.36 ERA and 188 strikeouts. He followed this up by going 14-13 with a 3.42 ERA in 1975.
1976 turned out to be Koosman's career season. He went 21-10, with the 21 wins being a career high, and had a 2.69 ERA, as well as a career high 200 strikeouts. He finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting, losing to Randy Jones.
However, that was Koosman's last good year as a Met. After going 8-20 with a 3.49 ERA in 1977 and a very underachieving 3-15 with a 3.75 ERA in 1978, Koosman was traded to the Twins for Jesse Orosco and Greg Field. Koosman was the last pitcher of the 1969 and 1973 teams to leave the Mets, with Ed Kranepool departing via retirement a year later.
With the Twins, Koosman bounced back and pitched well in 1979 (20-13) and 1980 (16-13). He then got traded to the White Sox at the 1981 deadline after a disappointing season that year.
After spending the rest of 1981-1983 with the White Sox and 1984-1985 with the Phillies, Koosman retired. His career record was 222-209. He also finished with a career 3.36 ERA and 2,556 strikeouts.
Koosman got inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1989 and has made a few appearances recently at Citi Field, most notably during the 1969 Mets team's 40th Anniversary Celebration.
Jerry Koosman is certainly the best left-handed pitcher in Mets history and only time will tell whether another left-hander can do more for the Mets than he did.
2. Dwight Gooden
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Dwight Gooden carried the Mets during their most dominant winning years in the 1980s and although his career could have ended better, the contributions he made to the Mets were special.
Gooden was drafted by the Mets in 1982 and made the major leagues two years later at just 19 years old. In 1984, Gooden went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and a career high 276 strikeouts. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game that year and also won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He was the second consecutive Met to win the honor following Darryl Strawberry in 1983.
If everyone had thought Gooden was amazing in 1984, he turned it up a few notches in 1985. During his career season, Gooden won the pitching Triple Crown by going 24-4 with a remarkable 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts. That year, he also won his only NL Cy Young Award and he still remains the youngest player to ever win the award. In July, he made his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance.
In 1986, Gooden went 17-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 200 strikeouts as he helped lead the Mets to their World Series win. He made his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game as well and became the youngest pitcher to ever start an All-Star Game.
In the 1986 postseason, Gooden lost a 1-0 pitcher's duel with the 1986 Cy Young Award winner and former Met Mike Scott and then took a no-decision in Game 5 after pitching ten innings and giving up just one run.
Similarly to 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, but the Mets in dramatic fashion ended up winning the World Series in seven games.
Gooden was one of the few Mets players that were not present at the World Series victory parade. The Mets announced that he overslept, but as it turned out, Gooden did not make it due to a cocaine binge.
A couple months later, Gooden's long legal history began. He was arrested for fighting with police in December 1986, and things only got worse for him when he tested positive for cocaine during the 1987 spring training. As a result, Gooden checked into rehab to avoid a suspension and did not make his first start of the 1987 season until June.
After he returned, Gooden went 15-7 with a 3.21 ERA—pretty good for someone who had missed two months.
In 1988, Gooden went 18-9 with a 3.19 ERA as the Mets made the postseason for the second time and final time in his Mets career. He also made his final trip to the All-Star Game that year.
In Game 1 of the 1988 NLCS, Gooden squared off against Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser and the game turned out to be a great pitching duel. Although Gooden exited with the Mets trailing 2-0, the Mets offense rallied to a 3-2 win. In Game 4, Gooden took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning, but he allowed a game-tying home run to Mike Scoscia and the Mets bullpen pitched poorly as the Mets lost 5-4. He then pitched three shutout innings in Game 7 after Ron Darling got removed, but the Mets lost that game 6-0 and their hopes of going back to the World Series were gone.
In 1989, Gooden went 9-4 with a 2.89 ERA, but missed two months due to a shoulder tear. He then bounced back in 1990 by going 19-7 with a 3.83 ERA and 223 strikeouts.
In 1991, Gooden went 13-7 with a 3.60 ERA, but missed a few starts to due to injuries.
By 1992, Gooden's career began to decline. He suffered his first losing season by going 10-13 with a 3.67 ERA. The Mets offense that year was terrible and did not give him much run support. The only good thing about his season that year was that he won his first and only NL Silver Slugger Award. Gooden was always a good hitter for a pitcher, so it was nice to see him get awarded for this.
Gooden and his team did not get any better in 1993. That year, Gooden was 12-15 with a 3.45 ERA. In April, Vince Coleman accidentally hit Gooden in the shoulder while swinging a golf club. That was just one example as to how bad the Mets season was in 1993.
In 1994, Gooden had a 3-4 record and a 6.31 ERA before he tested positive for cocaine for the second time. He was suspended 60 days. During the suspension, he tested positive again and got his suspension extended through the entire 1995 season. The following day, Gooden's wife found him with a loaded gun to his head. At this point, Gooden's time with the Mets was over.
Gooden then signed with the crosstown Yankees in 1996 and was reunited with former teammate Darryl Strawberry. He ended up pitching a no-hitter May of 1996 to the dismay of Mets fans who had hoped he would have done that while he was in Queens. He stayed with the Yankees in 1997 before playing with the Indians from 1998-1999 and splitting 2000 with the Astros, Devil Rays and Yankees.
He retired in 2001 after the Yankees cut him during spring training. Since retirement, Gooden has battled various legal issues, mostly due to drunk driving and probation violations.
Gooden made his first appearance at Shea Stadium seven years after he pitched there for the Yankees in 2001. He then was at Citi Field at the christening of the new stadium in 2009. In 2010, he was one of four people to get inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, which he considered to be quite an honor.
Dwight Gooden's career may not have been as a great as it could have been if he had he not gotten distracted by drug use, among other things. Nevertheless, he is by far one of the greatest pitchers to ever wear a Mets uniform.
1. Tom Seaver
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While Dwight Gooden may have had the most potential of any starting pitcher the Mets have ever had, the No. 1 spot belongs to "The Franchise" himself, Tom Seaver.
One of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Seaver was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1965, but after asking for $70,000, the Dodgers passed on the offer. A year later, he was drafted by the Braves.
However, being that he was already two games into his college season, William Eckert, the Commissioner at the time ruled him ineligible. As a result, a lottery was then created with the Mets, Phillies and Indians being the three participants. The Mets were randomly chosen as the winner and to this day, it has been one of the luckiest moments in Mets history.
After spending one year in the minor leagues, Seaver was brought up to the Mets in 1967. He became the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award and went 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA. He also made his first of seven consecutive trips to the All-Star Game that year.
In 1968, Seaver went 16-12 with a 2.20 ERA and 205 strikeouts. A year later, in 1969, he helped lead the Mets to their first championship in team history. He also won his first NL Cy Young Award by having arguably best season of his career. He went 25-7 that year with a 2.21 ERA and 208 strikeouts. His 25 wins are still a single season franchise record.
In the 1969 NLCS, Seaver outlasted the veteran Phil Niekro in a 9-5 Mets victory. In the World Series, Seaver did not pitch well as the Mets lost 4-1 in Game 1, but he bounced back and pitched a 10-inning complete-game in a 2-1 win for the Mets in Game 4.
In 1970, Seaver went 18-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 283 strikeouts, which set a single season franchise record. Seaver then broke his own his record in 1971 with 289 strikeouts, which still stands to this day. He also went 20-10 with a career best 1.76 ERA that year. Despite those amazing numbers, Seaver finished a close second place to Ferguson Jenkins in the 1971 Cy Young Award voting, mainly due to Jenkins' 24 wins that year.
Seaver continued his dominance in 1972 with a 21-12 record, a 2.92 ERA and 249 strikeouts. He then won his second NL Cy Young Award in 1973 by going 19-10 with a 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts as the Mets became the NL champions.
In the 1973 NLCS against the Reds, Seaver started Game 1 and pitched seven shutout innings, and even drove the only Mets run to support himself. However, he gave up a home run to Pete Rose in the eighth inning before giving up a walk off home run to Johnny Bench as the Reds won 2-1. In Game 5, Seaver pitched well once again and finally got more run support as the Mets won the game 7-2 and clinched the series to move onto the World Series.
In the 1973 World Series, Seaver started Game 3 and pitched well once again, but the Mets bullpen this time did not support him as the A's offense rallied to win 3-2 in 11 innings. Seaver pitched well in Game 6, but Catfish Hunter simply outpitched him as the Mets lost 3-1.
In 1974, Seaver had the first non-winning record of his career. He went 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.
Seaver bounced back in 1975 and won his third and final NL Cy Young Award by going 22-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 243 strikeouts.
In 1976, Seaver went 14-11 with a 2.59 ERA and 235 strikeouts. At this point, more and more of his former teammates were getting traded away or going elsewhere and it was clear that the Mets' core was about to get broken up.
Everything fell apart for the Mets and their relationship with Seaver in 1977. Free agency had begun and Seaver felt that he deserved to be paid as well as the other top pitchers in the game. However, the Mets chairman of the board, M. Donald Grant was very stubborn and did not give in to Seaver's request. Another breaking point occurred when New York Daily News writer Dick Young wrote stories about Seaver supposedly being greedy and how his wife was jealous that former teammate Nolan Ryan was making more money with the Angels and that Seaver's salary should be similar to that.
After hearing his wife get called out by Young, Seaver went to Mets owner Lorinda DeRoulet and General Manager Joe McDonald and told them that he wanted out of New York and he immediately demanded a trade because he felt he would never be able to co-exist with Grant. As a result, Seaver became the headline of the "Midnight Massacre" as he got traded to the Reds for Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman on June 15, 1977. Seaver was 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 starts before the trade.
While the Mets did not recover from this trade for the next six years, Seaver stayed with the Reds from 1977-1982. He ended up throwing the only no-hitter of his career in 1978.
In 1983, the Mets traded Charlie Puleo, Lloyd McClendon and Jason Felice to the Reds to re-acquire Seaver in a move that made Mets fans very happy. However, Seaver did not pitch like he did before and went just 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA. Prior to the 1984 season, Seaver was left unprotected in the compensatory draft. General Manager Frank Cashen didn't think that any team would want a high-priced 39-year-old veteran, but the White Sox ended up selecing him.
Seaver then spent two and a half seasons with the White Sox from 1984-1986. He won his 300th career game on August 4, 1985 at Yankee Stadium during "Phil Rizzuto Day."
In 1986, Seaver almost got traded back to the Mets, but manager Davey Johnson vetoed the trade and Seaver ended up getting traded to the AL Champion Red Sox. A knee injury prevented him from pitching in the 1986 World Series, but Seaver still got a loud ovation during the pre-game introductions.
Seaver was left a free agent in 1987 after declining the offer by the Red Sox. He ended up joining the Mets' Triple A affiliate Tidewater Tides in June despite not signing a contract, but did not pitch well in three starts and subsequently announced his retirement.
Seaver then got his No. 41 retired in 1988 and is the only actual player in team history to this date to have his number retired. That same day, he was also inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
In 1992, Seaver got elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a record 98.84 percent of votes. He is the only player so far to have gotten inducted as a Met.
Since retiring, Seaver has spent time as an announcer. He first worked with NBC and also spent some time calling Yankees games. He became a part of the Mets' broadcast team with Gary Thorne from 1999-2005.
Seaver has also made various appearances to Shea Stadium and Citi Field. He threw the last pitch in Shea Stadium's history to Mike Piazza in 2008 and then threw the first pitch in Citi Field's history to Piazza a year later.
Seaver is currently 18th all time in wins with 311 and sixth all time in strikeouts with 3,640. The vast majority of Mets career and single season pitching records all belong to Seaver as well.
Tom Seaver is without question the greatest pitcher the Mets have ever had and should also be considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He is the standard for Mets pitching and will always be considered a legend to all Mets fans.