The Top 10 Greatest Pitchers in New York Mets History (2024)

Analysis

Between Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets have been represented by some of the most dominant arms in MLB history.

The New York Mets began play in 1962, giving the city a second team to pair with the Yankees after both the Dodgers (1957) and Giants (1958) left for California.

While the Mets may not have a ton of runs of sustained success in their franchise’s history, they’ve certainly employed some great pitchers over their 60+ seasons of play.

Though they were more associated with other franchises, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Bret Saberhagen all had brief, but successful stints in Flushing. John Franco and Billy Wagner are seventh and eighth in saves in MLB history, and both had memorable runs with the Mets, particularly the former.

The trio of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler may not have had the extended runs of dominance in New York that it once seemed they would, but all three had excellent stretches with the team, sharing rotations with the likes of Bartolo Colon and one of the top three pitchers ultimately on this list.

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If all of those names weren’t able to crack the list, that gives you an idea of how exclusive our countdown of the top 10 greatest pitchers in Mets history is.

No. 10: Johan Santana (2008-2010; 2012)

Best Season as a Met: 2008 – 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA, 166 ERA+, 3.51 FIP, 1.148 WHIP, 206 strikeouts, three complete games and a 5.2 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA, 127 ERA+, 3.67 FIP, 1.201 WHIP, 607 strikeouts, nine complete games and 13.9 fWAR

Johan Santana won a pair of AL Cy Young Awards (2004 and 2006) while pitching for the Twins, but a small-budget Minnesota team traded him to the Mets in January of 2009 before his free-agent walk year. On the way in the door, Santana signed a six-year, $137.5 million extension.

Over the course of his first three seasons in New York, Santana went 40-25 with a 2.85 ERA over 600 innings pitched. He finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2008, and was an All-Star in 2009. The Mets really got the back-half of one of the better pitching peaks of the last 30 years.

June 1, 2012: Johan Santana throws the Mets franchise’s first ever no-hitter. pic.twitter.com/9t6BR7t0wr

— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) June 1, 2020

Santana would miss all of the 2011 season as he recovered from left shoulder surgery. He would return in 2012, even throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history on June 1, 2011. However, the 134-pitch no-hitter came with a cost, as it was really the last great performance of Santana’s career, as 2012 proved to be his final MLB season.

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No. 9: Ron Darling (1983-1991)

Best Season as a Met: 1986 – 15-6 with a 2.81 ERA, 128 ERA+, 3.43 FIP, 1.198 WHIP, 184 strikeouts, four complete games and a 3.5 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 99-70 with a 3.50 ERA, 101 ERA+, 3.81 FIP, 1.288 WHIP, 1,148 strikeouts, 25 complete games and 15.7 fWAR

Before he was a broadcasting star both locally and nationally, Ron Darling spent the first eight-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Mets, who acquired him in the trade that sent Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers in April of 1982.

Over the course of his time with the Mets, Darling made an All-Star team in 1985, finished fifth in NL Cy Young Award voting in 1986 and won a Gold Glove Award in 1989. Darling logged six seasons of 200 or more innings pitched for the Mets, peaking at 248 frames in 1985.

Darling posted a 1.53 ERA across three starts against the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Despite walking six batters, Darling pitched seven shutout innings in Game 4 of the World Series, helping the Mets to win their second title.

No. 8: Sid Fernandez (1984-1993)

Best Season as a Met: 1986 – 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA, 102 ERA+, 3.01 FIP, 1.233 WHIP, 200 strikeouts, two complete games and a 4.0 fWAR

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Career Stats as a Met: 98-78 with a 3.14 ERA, 113 ERA+, 3.29 FIP, 1.113 WHIP, 1,449 strikeouts, 23 complete games and 26.2 fWAR

The Mets acquired Fernandez from the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1984 season, and it proved to be one of the better transactions in franchise history.

In parts of 10 seasons with the Amazins’, Fernandez made a pair of All-Star Game appearances in 1986 and 1987, finishing seventh in NL Cy Young Award voting in the latter season. Fernandez led the senior circuit in H/9 on three occasions, doing so in 1985, 1988 and 1990.

Fernandez was lights out in the 1986 World Series as well, posting a 1.35 ERA across three relief appearances. Perhaps most notably, he pitched 2 1/3 innings of hitless ball in relief of Darling in a Game 7 victory over the Red Sox.

No. 7: Al Leiter (1998-2004)

Best Season as a Met: 1998 – 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA, 170 ERA+, 3.15 FIP, 1.150 WHIP, 174 strikeouts, four complete games and a 4.8 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA, 124 ERA+, 3.92 FIP, 1.300 WHIP, 1,106 strikeouts, 10 complete games and 23.8 fWAR

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The Mets were the beneficiaries of the Florida Marlins post-1997 World Series win firesale, acquiring Al Leiter in the first of two megadeals with the Fish in the matter of one year. The second, of course, netted them future Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza in May of 1998.

Leiter may not have had the same impact as Piazza, but still put together a tremendous seven-year stretch with the Mets. As a Met, Leiter pitched over 200 innings in three seasons (1999, 2000 and 2002). He also finished sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting in 1998, and was an All-Star in 2000.

While Leiter’s full postseason resume for his career was a mixed bag, he was excellent for the Mets in 2000, posting a 2.93 ERA for a team that won the NL pennant.

No. 6: David Cone (1987-1992; 2003)

Best Season as a Met: 1988 – 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA, 145 ERA+, 2.58 FIP, 1.115 WHIP, 213 strikeouts, eight complete games and a 5.3 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 81-51 with a 3.13 ERA, 112 ERA+, 2.98 FIP, 1.192 WHIP, 1,172 strikeouts, 34 complete games and 24.8 fWAR

David Cone won a World Series with the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, was the AL Cy Young Award winner as a member of the Kansas City Royals in 1994 and threw a perfect game with the Yankees in July of 1999. But it’s still the Mets that he spent the largest chunk of his career with.

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Cone was a 20-game winner in 1988, finishing third in NL Cy Young Award voting that season. As a Met, he led baseball in strikeouts in both the 1990 and 1991 seasons, posting a league-best 2.52 FIP in the second of those seasons.

The Mets would trade Cone to the eventual World Series Champion Blue Jays in 1992, allowing him to win the first of five titles he would take home in his career. None of those came with the Mets, but he was an All-Star for the first time prior to being dealt in 1992, and his 8.73 K/9 are fourth among all starting pitchers in franchise history.

No. 5: Jon Matlack (1971-1977)

Best Season as a Met: 1976 – 17-10 with a 2.95 ERA, 111 ERA+, 3.05 FIP, 1.118 WHIP, 153 strikeouts, 16 complete games and a 4.4 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 82-81 with a 3.03 ERA, 115 ERA+, 2.88 FIP, 1.195 WHIP, 1,023 strikeouts, 65 complete games and 28.7 fWAR

The No. 4 overall pick in the 1967 MLB Draft, Matlack wasn’t yet in the picture at the MLB level when the Mets won the 1969 World Series. Nonetheless, he was still able to carve out a tremendous legacy with the Mets.

With eight complete games and a 2.32 ERA, Matlack won the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year Award. Matlack made three consecutive All-Star Game appearances from 1974-1976. He led the NL with a 2.42 FIP in 1974, and finished sixth in senior circuit Cy Young Award voting in 1976.

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Matlack may not have had a 15-year run with the Mets, but his star burned bright at his peak, as he pitched more than 225 innings five times in his six full seasons with the Mets. He also racked up 65 complete games with the Mets, good for fourth in franchise history.

No. 4: Jerry Koosman (1967-1978)

Best Season as a Met: 1976 – 21-10 with a 2.69 ERA, 121 ERA+, 2.83 FIP, 1.096 WHIP, 200 strikeouts, 17 complete games and a 4.9 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 140-137 with a 3.09 ERA, 113 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.219 WHIP, 1,799 strikeouts, 108 complete games and 41.1 fWAR

“Kooz” spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the Mets, finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 1968 and helping the team to win their first World Series title a year later.

Koosman was dominant during the 1969 World Series, going 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA over 17 2/3 innings pitched. He took the ball in Game 5 of the World Series at Shea Stadium, pitching a complete game against a Baltimore Orioles lineup that featured future Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson.

In total, Koosman had two top-six finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting with the Mets, including finishing runner-up to Randy Jones for the award in 1976. Koosman is third in Mets history in strikeouts (1,789), while having the second-most complete games (108) and innings pitched (2,531 2/3) for the franchise. Koosman’s No. 36 was retired by the Mets in 2021.

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No. 3: Dwight “Doc” Gooden (1984-1994)

Best Season as a Met: 1985 – 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA, 229 ERA+, 2.13 FIP, 0.965 WHIP, 268 strikeouts, 16 complete games and an 8.9 fWAR

Career Stats as a Met: 147-85 with a 3.10 ERA, 116 ERA+, 2.77 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 1,875 strikeouts, 67 complete games and 52.3 fWAR

Gooden had one of the most dominant starts to a career that a pitcher has ever put together. Because of that, he’s on the short list of the greatest pitchers in franchise history.

In 1984, Doc won the NL Rookie of the Year Award at age 19, while finishing runner-up in NL Cy Young Award voting. No problem, he came back a year later at age 20 and led the NL in wins (24), ERA (1.53), complete games (16), innings pitched (276 2/3), strikeouts (268), ERA+ (229) and FIP (2.13).

Addiction problems perhaps kept Gooden from putting together a Hall of Fame-worthy career, but he still managed to make four All-Star Game appearances, and help the team to win the 1986 World Series. The Mets retired Gooden’s No. 16 in April of 2024.

No. 2: Jacob deGrom (2014-2022)

Best Season as a Met: 2018 – 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 218 ERA+, 1.98 FIP, 0.912 WHIP, 269 strikeouts, one complete game and a 9.0 fWAR

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Career Stats as a Met: 82-57 with a 2.52 ERA, 155 ERA+, 2.62 FIP, 0.998 WHIP, 1,607 strikeouts, four complete games and 41.2 fWAR

DeGrom’s career might go down as one of the biggest “what-ifs” in MLB history, because between not debuting at the MLB level until age 26 and having injuries derail him the last few seasons, his resume will probably fall short of being Cooperstown worthy, despite no questions of whether he pitched at a Hall of Fame level at the height of his powers.

In 2014, deGrom won the NL Rookie of the Year. With one of the nastiest repertoires a pitcher has ever had at his disposal, deGrom made four All-Star Game appearances in nine years with the Mets. He may not have been an ironman during this period, but between 2018 and 2021, deGrom had one of the most dominant stretches in MLB history, posting a 1.94 ERA, 2.14 FIP and 0.881 WHIP over 91 starts. He won back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019, and finished third in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Among all starting pitchers in Mets history, deGrom is fourth in strikeouts (1,607), third in WAR (41.2) and first in ERA (2.52), FIP (2.62) and K/9 (10.91).

There’s a debate to be had about whether he or Gooden should be No. 2, and it was ultimately the second Cy Young Award and slight advantage in peak dominance that pushed deGrom to second. Either way, his No. 48 should be retired one day alongside Gooden’s.

No. 1: Tom Seaver (1967-1977; 1983)

Best Season as a Met: 1971 – 20-10 with a 1.76 ERA, 194 ERA+, 1.93 FIP, 0.946 WHIP, 289 strikeouts, 21 complete games and a 9.1 fWAR

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Career Stats as a Met: 198-124 with a 2.57 ERA, 136 ERA+, 2.67 FIP, 1.076 WHIP, 2,541 strikeouts, 171 complete games and 67.1 fWAR

Even with Gooden and deGrom as competition, Seaver is the clear-cut choice as the greatest pitcher in Mets history.

“Tom Terrific” spent the first 12 years of his illustrious career with the Mets, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1967 and capturing the NL Cy Young Award in 1969, 1973 and 1975.

Seaver won the NL ERA title on three occasions (1970, 1971 and 1973) and made 10 All-Star teams as a Met. Seaver is the Mets all-time leader in wins (198), strikeouts (2,541), complete games (171), innings pitched (3,045) and fWAR (67.1) He also, of course, was at the forefront of the team’s 1969 World Series title.

Seaver’s No. 41 was retired by the Mets in 1988, four years before he was elected the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Not only is he the best pitcher in Mets history, but he’s one of the inner-circle arms to ever grace an MLB mound.

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