Every team has a story of where it came from and how it was put together. The Mets are not unique in this regard.
What is unique is the sheer amount of talent that is involved in the team's starting rotation, talent that Fangraphs ranked as the number one rotation in all of baseball and has others using phrases such as: "truly special", "best of all time", and "one of the best rotations of this generation."
This story begins in 2007,a year that Met fans remember mostly for the team's historic collapse in September. But something else happened in 2007, and it wouldn't even cause a ripple in the pond surrounding the Mets that year.
The Angels drafted a notoriously stubborn 18-year-old pitcher in the third round of the draft. The stubbornness was on full display when he refused to sign without a $2 million bonus. The Angels would not budge off an offer of $1 million, and the pitcher, Matt Harvey, decided to pitch for the University of North Carolina instead. He would not be eligible to be drafted again until the year 2010.
Two years later, the Mets limped into Citi Field, finishing fourth in the NL East with a 70-92 record. There was, however, some impressive talent in the 2009 draft. With the sixth overall pick, the San Francisco Giants chose pitcher Zack Wheeler. The Mets did not have a pick until the second round, and with it they chose a local kid from Long Island, Steven Matz.
After the draft in June, the clock was ticking for the Mets to sign their new lefty. With the August 15 deadline fast approaching, Matz packed his bags to head to college orientation. Ten minutes before the deadline, the call came in. A deal was done and Matz would become a player for the Mets' organization instead of a student at Coastal California.
The big league ball club saw little improvement in 2010. The team once again finished fourth in the NL East with a 79-83 record. In October, the Mets announced that Sandy Alderson would be their new general manager taking over for Omar Minaya. Before he left, Minaya had made several decisions that would have lasting effects on the team. In 2009, he signed R.A. Dickey, and in 2010 he would draft that stubborn pitcher the Angels were unable to sign three years earlier. 266 draft picks after Harvey, Minaya would choose Jacob deGrom. The Blue Jays had their eye on pitching as well, and with the 38th pick they chose Noah Syndergaard. The 2010 draft was the first time the names Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom were all brought together. They will forever be linked as graduates of the 2010 draft class, like Wheeler and Matz in the previous year
Young Matz he would require Tommy John surgery in 2010, delaying the start of his career. He experienced multiple setbacks while recovering, which would force him from action for two years.
In 2011, Sandy Alderson was handed an organization reeling from the Bernie Madoff scandal and a team that was headed for another dismal season. It was time to unload some big contracts and Carlos Beltran was a prime candidate. After talks initially stalled with the Giants over Brandon Belt and a deal could not get done with the Rangers, the Mets accepted a deal that brought Zack Wheeler over for Carlos Beltran.
If 2010 was an important year for this current crop of pitchers, 2012 doubled down on those events with a series of near misses and milestones. In May Jacob deGrom was considered as a trade piece to the Red Sox for catcher Kelly Shoppach. Steven Matz finally made his return to professional baseball but was told he might require a second Tommy John surgery. After starting the year in AA, Zack Wheeler made the jump to AAA. Matt Harvey made his electric debut in Arizona that July and in December Noah Syndergaard was acquired in a deal with the Blue Jays for R.A. Dickey, though the Mets checked in with the Orioles first asking if they would trade pitching prospect Dylan Bundy.
2013 produced "Super Tuesday", a doubleheader in Atlanta, with Matt Harvey pitching the first game and Zack Wheeler making his debut in the second. On that day each showed flashes of brilliance. Harvey hit 100 miles per hour and struck out 13, taking a no-hitter through six innings, and Wheeler followed that up with six scoreless innings while striking out seven.
In 2014, the Mets added the veteran Bartolo Colon by signing him to a two-year deal, and it was Jacob deGrom's turn to make his major league debut, even though he was originally called up to replace Gonzalez German in the bullpen. When Dillion Gee could not make the start against the Yankees, deGrom was pressed into service and pitched seven innings and struck out six.
In 2015, it was another Gee injury that led to Syndergaard's debut in May, and once he was designated for assignment in June, Steven Matz had a path to make his debut. He was the first one of the "Fab Five" the Mets acquired, and the last one to make his debut for the big league club.
Last season was not without its drama. The young pitchers were all in the majors putting on a dazzling display, except for Wheeler, who was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The now infamous trade that wasn't made kept Wheeler in a Mets uniform and the possibility of a historic rotation intact for another year.
This is the story of how this rotation came together. The baseball gods saw fit to link these five together when it realistically could have gone another way. Granted, the season still needs to be played, but the possibility of a "truly special" season exists. How exciting.