Friday July 17th, 2015

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz says the pitching staff of the New York Mets is “way better” than the rotation of the Braves that pitched in the 1990s.

Smoltz, who will be inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame later this month, complimented the hard-throwing Mets staff, but also wondered if the pitchers could have the same careers that the Braves pitchers had.

“They’re way better,” Smoltz said to the New York Daily News. “They’ve got more talent than we could ever have.”

Fellow Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, along with Smoltz won seven National League Cy Young Awards in the decade, helping Atlanta win one World Series, five NL pennants and eight division titles.

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The Mets have five pitchers in their rotation under the age of 28: Jonathon Niese (5-8, 3.61 ERA), Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.14 ERA), Matt Harvey (8-6, 3.07 ERA), Noah Syndergaard (4-4, 3.11 ERA), and newcomer Steven Matz, who has won both of his starts since being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 26.

Matz is currently on the disabled list with a partial tear of the left lat muscle.

Another young pitcher, 25-year-old Zack Wheeler, is out for the year following Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and flexor pronator tendon. Harvey, Matz, Niese, and deGrom have each had Tommy John surgery at some point in their careers.

Smoltz says that today’s pitchers are anointed with stardom too early because everyone has high expectations and wants quick results.

"The opportunities that exist today won't allow a lot of staffs to find out what kind of staff they can be," Smoltz said. "That's the shame of the game. The injuries have taken over. ... There's no doubt that the dynamic arms are way better than we've ever seen.”

This season, the Mets starting pitchers have an ERA of 3.42, which ranks seventh in the majors and have only walked 121 batters in 558.2 innings.

New York (47-42) starts the second half of the season two games out of first place in the NL East.

- Scooby Axson

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