Ranking the Best Starting Pitchers in the History of the New York Mets

By Gil Martin

The New York Mets have been known as a pitching-first franchise from almost the moment they joined the National League back in 1962. All three of their home stadiums, the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium and now Citi Field, have all been parks that favor good pitching.

But who are the best pitchers in New York Mets history? Here is a look at the five best starting pitchers the Mets have ever had. These rankings are based on the performance of these players as Mets only. So, a pitcher like Nolan Ryan, who was inconsistent early in his career with the Mets and then went on to stardom in with the Astros and Rangers, is not on this list.

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  1. Jon Matlack

Matlack is largely forgotten today because he pitched for a lot of mediocre Mets teams in the 1970s and rarely got much run support. Still, the lefthanded hurler from West Chester, Pennsylvania, was a talented pitcher.

He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1972 after going 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA. He tossed eight complete games and four shutouts.

Matlack was a key part of the Mets run to the 1973 World Series and blanked the mighty Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS, recording a two-hit shutout. He also won a game and had a 2.16 ERA in three starts against the Oakland A’s in the World Series that year.

Matlack represented the Mets three times in the All Star Game in 1974, 1975 and 1976 and was the All-Star Game co-MVP in 1975. He was traded to the Texas Rangers after the 1977 season in the deal that brought Willie Montanez to the Mets. He is a member of the Mets Hall of Fame.

  1. Jerry Koosman

Few pitchers in Mets history were as clutch as Jerry Koosman. In the postseason when it counted, the hard-throwing lefthander found ways to win time and again.

Koosman was a part of the 1969 Miracle Mets and the 1973 NL championship team. His record in postseason games for the Mets was 4-0 with two wins in 1969 against Baltimore including the series clincher, and one game in the 1973 NLCS against the Reds and another in the World Series against Oakland.

Koosman won 20 games for the Mets in 1976, going 21-10 with a 2.69 ERA. Amazingly enough, he lost 20 games despite pitching well all season. Koosman was 8-20 in 1977 despite a 3.49 ERA and six complete games.

While he was overshadowed by Tom Seaver for most of his career with the Mets, Koosman was a great pitcher in his own right. The two-time All Star was clutch, tough to hit and a great competitor.

  1. Jacob deGrom

deGrom is one of the best pitchers in baseball today and is close to moving up to the number two spot on this list. The Florida native won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019 and was also named Rookie of the Year back in 2014.

Because he throws such nasty stuff, deGrom is tough to hit. He led the National League with an impressive 1.70 ERA in 2018 while allowing just 152 hits in 217 innings pitched.

Like most of the pitchers on this list, deGrom has struggled with a lack of run support. Amazingly enough, during his 2018 Cy Young Award season, he won only 10 games in 32 starts.

deGrom also played well in the postseason in 2015 when the Mets reached the World Series. He won three postseason games that year and helped the Mets win the NL pennant.

deGrom remains one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball today and has become a fan favorite in Flushing.

  1. Dwight Gooden

Few pitchers burst onto the scene and were as dominant at the start of their careers than Dwight Gooden. “Dr. K” had only two pitches, a blazing fastball and a curve that dropped effectively but that was more than enough to overpower hitters.

In 1984, he led the NL with 276 strikeouts in 218 innings pitched and was named the NL Rookie of the Year. He was just 19 years old.

One year later, Gooden had one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history. He won 24 games while losing only four and finished with a 1.53 ERA. He struck out 268 hitters and threw 16 complete games, eight of them shutouts.

Unfortunately, Gooden’s problems off the field quickly unraveled his career. Immaturity and drug use caused Gooden to miss the start of the 1987 season when he was suspended to start the season. Although he won 17 games, his ERA went up to 2.84.

Gooden remained a darn good pitcher but was not as dominant as he was in his first two seasons. He didn’t have a losing record in a season in his first eight Major League seasons. He finished his Mets career with a 157-85 record in 11 seasons and was the ace of the staff when the Mets won the World Series in 1986 and the NL East pennant in 1988.

Gooden won 194 career games and later threw a no-hitter with the Yankees, but he will always be remembered as the teenager who dominated baseball for the Mets.

1a. Tom Seaver

The Mets have never had a better player than Tom Seaver. His nickname was “The Franchise” and that’s because he was the difference maker for the Mets.

He won three Cy Young Awards with the Mets and was the catalyst for the 1969 Miracle Mets. He also struck out 200 or more batters for a Major League record nine straight years.

Before Seaver arrived, the Mets were lovable losers, but his dedication and determination helped make losing unacceptable.

Seaver represented the Mets in nine All Star Games. On June 15, 1977, he was traded to the Reds in a trade that became known as “The Midnight Massacre.” He returned to the Mets in 1983 before being claimed the following year by the White Sox.

Seaver finished his career with 311 wins and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 with what was then the highest vote percentage in history.

No player has had a bigger impact on the New York Mets than Tom Seaver.