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JUPITER, Fla. — The ranking was both meaningless and a reminder of how much meaning this season can have for the Mets.
On paper — or the 2022 version, on a website — the Mets might have the best rotation in baseball. In fact, they do, according to MLB.com, which determined a group led by Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer is better than the Brewers’ loaded and deep rotation (which was rated second) and the Blue Jays’ collection of potential aces (third).
“It’s not news to me,” said catcher James McCann, who has been and will be catching the perhaps best rotation in baseball this season.
But McCann was thinking bigger than this season. How about the best rotation ever?
“You take the top of our rotation — I’d put it up against probably, on paper, anyone in the history of the game, if you think about it,” said McCann, who might be right: The duo at the top is just the seventh pairing of multi-time Cy Young Award winners to share a team.
Behind the overpowering and expensive ace and co-ace are Chris Bassitt — who might be the best No. 3 in the majors, fresh off a 27-start, 3.15-ERA season with Oakland — and likely high-risk, high-reward injury risks in Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker.
Carrasco, coming off elbow surgery, and Walker, who had offseason knee surgery and who scuffled in the second half last season as his innings piled up, have been aces in prior phases of their careers, McCann pointed out.
“The fact you have such established starters 1-through-5, it’s amazing,” said McCann, who was set to start Tuesday night against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium for the first time in a week, having recovered from back stiffness. “It’s exciting. I chose to come into this because the pieces that were in place and the pieces that were going to be put into place gave us potential to win the World Series. That was just coming to fruition with the pieces they added.”
Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams likely would be the first options when the Mets need depth, which they will.
The analytical projections think highly of the Mets, too. Fangraphs has projected them as the top rotation in baseball with an educated guess of a cumulative 3.68 ERA.
This means little, especially with injury risks everywhere. DeGrom did not make a start after July 7 last season and Scherzer, as overwhelming as his résumé is, is 37 years old. In what was supposed to be his most recent major league start, he was scratched from Game 6 in the NLCS last year with an arm that was “overcooked.”
Still, under the March, Florida sun, with glances at the ceiling rather than the floor, the future looked pretty.
“I hope,” manager Buck Showalter said, when informed about the MLB.com rankings. “We have the potential to be a good rotation — I’m not getting into the numbers. The big thing is health.”