The White Sox’ Starting Trio Might Be Better Than the Mets’

The New York Mets’ young trio of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard have garnered quite a bit of attention of late. Our own Dave Cameron put all three pitchers in the first 30 names in his Trade Value series. The Mets were the only team with three pitchers on the list, and all three are 27 years old or younger. The Mets staff has carried a woeful offense and kept them in contention for a playoff spot. John Smoltz recently called the Mets’ young collection of talent “way better” than the 90s Braves teams that included Hall of Famers Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. While the young group is no doubt talented, how do they compare with other young groups around the league?

The young Mets contingent is very impressive and doesn’t even account for Steven Matz, who is currently on the disabled list, or Zack Wheeler, who is out for the year. Below are a few relevant statistics for Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard. (ROS WAR denotes projected rest-of-season WAR. Years to FA begins with 2016 season).

Mets Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Jacob deGrom 27 113.2 2.14 2.61 3.1 1.4 5
Noah Syndergaard 22 73.2 3.05 2.69 1.9 1.4 6
Matt Harvey 26 118.1 3.19 3.54 1.9 1.4 3
TOTAL 298.2 6.9 4.2 14

To provide potential comparisons, I looked for major-league teams with three starting pitchers all 28 or younger with an average age under 26 years old. Requiring at least four total wins from each group thus far and positive contributions from each member of the trio leaves nine teams, including the Mets (ROS projections from FanGraphs Depth Charts).

TOP YOUNG MLB SP TRIOS- 2015 WAR

The Astros present a relatively interesting case, as much of the production is due to 27-year-old Dallas Keuchel. Adding in 28-year-old Collin McHugh does not make the group overly young, but the inclusion of 21-year-old Lance McCullers allows the group to meet the age cutoff.

Astros Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Dallas Keuchel 27 144.1 2.12 2.64 3.9 1.7 3
Lance McCullers 21 64.1 2.52 2.56 1.9 0.4 6
Collin McHugh 28 120.0 4.35 3.87 1.5 1.1 4
TOTAL 328.2 7.3 3.2 13

Substituting Vincent Velasquez for McHugh would certainly make for a younger group, but the production would fall close to the middle of the pack in the group above and leave almost all rest of the season production to Dallas Keuchel. It is an impressive group, but it is lacking in immediate impact as the group’s rest-of-season numbers below indicate.

MLB TOP YOUNG SP TRIO- REST OF SEASON WAR

The Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, and Tampa Bay Rays all have solid groups, but lack production from all three pitchers.

Braves Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Shelby Miller 24 119.2 2.33 3.15 2.3 0.9 3
Alex Wood 24 105.1 3.76 3.19 2.0 1.2 4
Julio Teheran 24 113.1 4.53 4.56 0.4 1.0 5
TOTAL 338.1 4.7 3.1 12

 

Rays Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Chris Archer 26 128.2 2.73 2.68 3.3 1.5 6
Jake Odorizzi 25 86.2 2.8 3.38 1.5 0.7 4
Erasmo Ramirez 25 72.0 3.00 3.72 1.0 0.6 4
TOTAL 287.1 5.8 2.8 14

 

Athletics Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Sonny Gray 25 129.2 2.29 2.84 3.2 1.5 4
Jesse Hahn 25 96.2 3.35 3.43 1.5 0.6 5
Kendall Graveman 24 82.2 3.37 4.21 0.5 0.3 5
TOTAL 309.0 5.2 2.4 14

The difficulties of Julio Teheran have been somewhat surprising this season, although the projections expect a little bit better going forward. The Braves have gotten good production from Miller after being acquired in the trade for Jason Heyward over the winter. This season has also seen the debut of two other young pitchers acquired in recent trades with Mike Foltynewicz and Matthew Wisler having been acquired from the Astros and Padres, respectively.

The Rays, missing Alex Cobb for the season, would have a great trio between Cobb, Archer, and Odorizzi. The Rays have Archer under control for six more seasons thanks to a contract extension, and that deal combined with his emergence as ace this season placed him No. 10 in Dave Cameron’s Trade Value Series. Odorizzi has pitched well this season, but missed some time on the disabled list. Dropping Cobb from the list and adding in Erasmo Ramirez prevents the Rays from competing with the best group of three.

I questioned whether or not to include the Athletics in this piece with Hahn on the disabled list and so much of the present production coming from Sonny Gray, but the group does deserve some mention. If Jameson Taillon had been healthy, the Pirates and Gerrit Cole also likely would have merited inclusion in this list. Teams might actually choose some of the above groups ahead of the next team, who has considerable production, but lacks the same type of team control before the players hit free agency.

Yankees Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Masahiro Tanaka 26 74.0 3.65 3.77 1.1 1.7 2
Michael Pineda 26 112.1 3.77 2.89 2.9 1.5 2
Nathan Eovaldi 25 98.0 4.50 3.53 1.7 0.8 2
TOTAL 284.1 5.7 4.0 6

Nate Eovaldi continues to throw the ball near 100 mph, but the results have not been more than slightly above average. Michael Pineda has pitched extremely well this season, but service time accrued while on the disabled list results in free agency after 2017. Tanaka is signed for longer than two years, but he does have an opt-out clause in his contract that would make him a free agent after two more years. The Yankees have two very good young starters, and a solid third option, but none of the players will be with the Yankees after 2017 absent a significant outlay of guaranteed money.

Cardinals Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Carlos Martinez 23 106.1 2.54 3.44 1.5 1.0 4
Lance Lynn 28 103.1 2.79 2.78 2.6 1.3 2
Michael Wacha 24 107.1 2.93 3.06 2.2 1.4 4
TOTAL 317.0 6.3 3.7 10

The Cardinals’ situation is not anywhere near as drastic as the Yankees’, but their 10 years total team control is the second-lowest among teams listed. Wacha and Martinez made Dave Cameron’s Trade Value series and the All-Star team, but Lynn has accumulated the most WAR of the three this season despite a stint on the disabled list. He is signed just through 2017, although at just $7.5 million per season.

This next group is quite good and does not even include the team’s best pitcher, Corey Kluber, who is also fairly young and signed to a team-friendly contract.

Indians Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Danny Salazar 25 98.2 3.74 3.36 1.7 1.4 5
Carlos Carrasco 28 114.1 3.94 2.80 2.8 1.8 5
Trevor Bauer 24 109.1 4.03 4.05 1.2 0.8 5
TOTAL 322.1 5.7 4.0 15

Combining in-season numbers with rest of the season projections reveals the one team with a realistic claim to a better trio than the New York Mets.

MLB TOP YOUNG SP TRIOS- UPDATED PROJECTED WAR

While no other team had three pitchers make the Trade Value list like the Mets, the White Sox had two players make the list, and a third, Carlos Rodon, receive Honorable Mention.

White Sox Age IP ERA FIP WAR ROS WAR Years to FA
Chris Sale 26 125.2 2.86 2.37 4.1 2.5 4
Jose Quintana 26 120.0 3.83 3.24 2.3 1.3 5
Carlos Rodon 22 60.0 3.90 3.69 0.8 0.6 6
TOTAL 305.2 7.2 4.4 15

Attempting to choose between the two is a difficult task. The Mets appear to have three pitchers better than Jose Quintana, the White Sox’ number-two pitcher, but Quintana is not too far off and Chris Sale is above all three of the Mets’ pitchers. Carlos Rodon is just a year removed from the draft and is the youngest of the six players on the two teams. Beliefs on Rodon’s future could shape the way you think about which group you would rather have. The White Sox have one more year of control than the Mets due to Harvey’s eligibility for free agency after the 2018 season. Both teams are finding out what it is like to have great pitching and terrible offenses, as only the Phillies have a worse wRC+ than the Mets’ 87 in the National League and the White Sox have a mark of 78, worst in baseball. The Mets have received a lot of attention for their young group of pitchers, and deservedly so, but the White Sox, with the incredible Chris Sale at the top of the rotation, have a trio that rivals, and might even surpass, the group from New York.





Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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Yinka Double Dare
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Yinka Double Dare

I assume Smoltz’s comment is in part because the Mets also have Wheeler and Matz in addition to the three mentioned here?

The Sox three I think are a good bet to be better than the Mets not just because of similar to perhaps better talent but also because I’d bet on Herm Schneider and his staff to keep them on the mound moreso than the Mets staff given the track records of the teams.