John Harper: ‘Syndergaard Will Be Best On Mets Staff’

For the first time since 2000, the New York Mets are in the World Series. That’s right, the Mets – the franchise that finished with a losing record in six consecutive seasons from 2009 to 2014.

Can you believe the Mets are back in the Fall Classic?

“Not really, no,” New York Daily News MLB columnist John Harper said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s the Mets. After all, we’ve seen how many years of something always goes wrong for them? (There’s been) kind of a lot of ineptitude over the years, especially the last six or so. It’s really amazing how this thing’s come together when you think about it. Even in July they couldn’t score runs. John Mayberry Jr. was hitting cleanup against lefties. They’re 52-50 and then they make some trades, bring in Cespedes and the whole thing turns around – and it is led by this pitching. That was the difference certainly in the Cubs series. The debate at the start of the series was who would you rather have: the Cubs’ young hitters or the Mets’ young pitchers? At least for right now, it’s no contest.”

After scoring 20 runs in the final three games of the NLDS, the Cubs scored just eight in the entire NLCS, as the Mets’ rotation has become must-see TV. But which Mets hurler is the best? Matt Harvey? Jacob deGrom? Noah Syndergaard?

“I got to go with deGrom right now,” Harper said. “He is really something. At his best, he can blow people away with his fastball – up, down, in, out. But then you’ve seen in these playoffs I think he’s maybe running out of gas a little bit. In Game 1 against the Dodgers, he had 13 strikeouts, blew them away. In Game 5 against the Dodgers and then in the Cubs series he really had to become a pitcher more than using his fastball and was able to get by with his curveball and his change-up. The guy has really turned into an all-around pitcher.

“But if I had to maybe pick one as far as three or four years from now, I might choose Syndergaard,” Harper continued. “His stuff is unbelievable. When they clinched in Cincinnati a few weeks ago, he pitched a great game. I talked to Todd Frazier, who said he’s one of the two best pitchers I’ve ever faced in the big leagues in four-and-a-half years in the big leagues. That’s saying a lot. But that’s how good this guy’s stuff is and how good he can be. He’s only been in the big leagues since May.”

The Cubs, meanwhile, simply couldn’t string enough runs together against New York. Still, Theo Epstein has certainly built a roster with staying power.

“Yeah, he knows what he’s doing, there’s no doubt,” Harper said. “If he breaks that curse and they win a championship, I would think he’s got to go down as the greatest executive in baseball history, winning titles in both those places. You never know from year-to-year with baseball. Just look at the Nationals, how they’ve fallen apart. But yeah, you look at the talent – they have all the position-player talent, the big hitters. Right now there’s a lot more good young pitching in baseball than there is good young hitting. That’s why a lot of people think that the Cubs are really built to last. They’re going to hit. Over the course of 162 games, that offense is going to get them to the playoffs just about every year. Then it’s a matter of do you have enough pitching when you get to to October to match up with teams like the Mets right now? But yeah, Epstein knows what he’s doing.”

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