Both of these rotations are outstanding, but the Mets are the obvious choice. Not since the days of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder has there been such an incredible assemblage of young starting pitching in a single rotation. Oakland had their “Big 3,” but the Mets could have a “Big 5” by the time Zack Wheeler returns. Harvey and deGrom flirted with sub-2.00 ERA seasons. Syndergaard may have the most upside of the bunch, and he will begin the season as the number-three starter.
The Mets have an impossibly good collection of young arms, but the Nationals’ starters are no slouches themselves. At the beginning of last year, some were bandying about the “greatest rotation in history” label. Max Scherzer was downright dominant for most of the 2015 season. But for an August blip, Scherzer could have posted a sub-2.00 ERA. On the whole, he came close to throwing at least five no-hitters. He wound up throwing two no-nos. One of them should have been a perfect game but for a misplaced elbow. He struck out 17 in his second no-hitter, tying Nolan Ryan‘s record for whiffs in a no-hit effort. Stephen Strasburg finally put together a truly dominant stretch in the second half. His second-half numbers rivaled those of Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta. This is Strasburg’s walk year, and he must stay healthy. Gonzalez and Roark are questionable. Gonzalez has tailed off the past three years but is still a dependable number-three starter. Ross was very good during his rookie season, showing great poise and command. Roark is the biggest question mark of the bunch, but could be replaced mid-season with A.J. Cole or Lucas Giolito.
The Nationals’ one-two punch of Scherzer and Strasburg can hang with Harvey and deGrom, but their back end is no match for the Mets.
The Verdict: Mets