Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The Cardinals won Game 1 of the NLCS by using five pitchers under the age of 26. They started 22-year old Michael Wacha on Saturday and 23-year-old Shelby Miller will start Game 4.
The Mets expect to one day battle in October with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, according to John Harper of the Daily News, which they hope can be one of the best young starting rotations in baseball.
“You just look at the way the game is going, with all of these young, power arms having such an impact at this time of year, and it makes you feel good about what we’re doing,” a Mets official recently told Harper.
This October, the A’s featured 23-year old Sonny Gray, the Pirates were led by 23-year old Gerrit Cole and the Indians stood behind 23-year old Danny Salazar. In case you forgot, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is just 25. It’s not just the rotations, bullpens have been anchored by home grown pitching as well, such as 22-year-old Carlos Martinez and 23-year old Trevor Rosenthal, who has taken over as closer for the Cardinals during the post-season.
“The consensus among baseball people is that young arms are more valuable than ever, in part because pitching is dominating the game in rather dramatic fashion since drug-testing has reduced run-scoring, and in part because more teams have the money to lock up star pitchers before they reach free agency,” writes Harper.
Inversely, it has led to less spending on high-priced offense. The media have granted a patent to the Red Sox for how they signed multiple mid-tier hitters to a short-term deals, rounding out their roster with lots of potential instead of a few big stars. The Giants, however, had already perfected this method, recently winning two World Championships in two years using essentially two different lineups, all while keeping a consistent, powerful, mostly home-grown starting rotation and bullpen.
The day Sandy Alderson was hired, a person familiar with the team’s thinking told me to start studying the Giants. It’s the Giants, more than the Red Sox or Indians, who the Mets aspire to be like. This makes sense when you look at the road behind them…
In the five years prior to winning a championship in 2010, the Giants routinely had a $90 million payroll and won around 70 games. Their focus was mostly on clearing payroll and rebuilding their farm system, specifically their pitching. In 2009, with Tim Lincecum at peak production, they increased payroll to $96 million and won 88 games. They missed the playoffs, but success inspired ticket sales, a bump in payroll to $120 million, and eventually a championship. In 2011, in an effort to acquire more offense, they even traded a previously untouchable top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, to the Mets for Carlos Beltran. Their payroll has since increased even more as they work to fill in and replace parts and pieces around the pitching they spent years harvesting. These days, it’s feeling like they’re chasing previous success, and may even be in need of restocking their farm system. However, the success they achieved and the fun their fans had from 2009 to today has probably been worth the ride.
Read More: Daily News (Harper)