PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Matt Harvey drives a Maserati, was raised in Connecticut and hangs out with models at New York Rangers games. Jacob deGrom has a pickup truck with 40-inch wheels, grew up in rural Florida assisting on a neighbor’s cattle ranch, and is married and awaiting his first child, a son due April 5.
The duo does have some things in common, though. They locker side-by-side in the spring training and Citi Field clubhouses. They were born fewer than nine months apart. And they are both aces for the New York Mets.
Who will have the better season?
Well, manager Terry Collins tabbed Harvey as his Opening Day starter over deGrom, but captain David Wright noted you could “flip a coin” to determine who was most worthy of that honor among the entire Mets staff.
ZiPS projections from ESPN’s Dan Szymborski give the ever-so-slight nod to deGrom. Szymborski has Harvey going 10-6 with a 2.91 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 26 starts during the upcoming season. He has deGrom going 13-7 with a 2.83 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 29 starts.
In reality, Noah Syndergaard has the potential to have a better career than either Harvey or deGrom. Szymborski, using those same ZiPS projections, has Syndergaard ultimately producing the most career wins (152), best ERA (2.96) and most strikeouts (2,586) among the Mets’ young starters, who also include Steven Matz.
Four Mets position players were asked which pitcher is the most intimidating in Major League Baseball. Lucas Duda named Aroldis Chapman. Neil Walker named Clayton Kershaw. Travis d'Arnaud and Wright named Syndergaard.
“Because he’s 6-8, 350 and looks like Thor,” d’Arnaud said.
DeGrom’s velocity actually has been down early in camp. He sat at 91-93 mph in a Grapefruit League appearance last week.
Harvey’s 216 innings in 2015, including the postseason, were the most ever logged by a pitcher in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. So that bears watching.
Still, Mets personnel suggest that Harvey’s slider already is sharper than last season. Harvey’s fastball now seems to have the late giddy-up as it approaches the plate that it lacked a year ago.
“Last year, obviously, there was a lot of unknown -- where things are going to be regarding the surgery,” Harvey said. “I think this year it’s nice not hearing, ‘How is your arm feeling? Are you healthy?’ all the time. ... I think we’re all kind of in the same boat now, except for Zack [Wheeler] obviously, where nobody is really coming off of an injury or a missed year. We’ve all had our experience.”