Dan's Dugout: Mets Conjure Up Memories of Atlanta Aces • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Mets Conjure Up Memories of Atlanta Aces

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CINCINNATI — Jacob deGrom isn’t starting the All-Star Game for the National League Tuesday. But he should be starting many more.

Jacob deGrom has moved to the head of the Mets rotation

Jacob deGrom has moved to the head of the Mets rotation

The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year has already established himself as one of the game’s best young arms — and the leader of a rotation that makes the Mets resemble the pitching-packed Braves of the early ’90s.

Those were the days when Atlanta had three aces named Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz, plus another live arm in Steve Avery, most valuable player in the 1991 NL Championship Series against Pittsburgh. All but Avery are now Hall of Famers.

This year’s Mets have deGrom, Noah Syndegaard, rookie southpaw Steven Matz, and Matt Harvey, who’s already started an All-Star Game and won a Rookie of the Year award.

Though Matz is currently on the mat with an injured lat, he may be

Noah Syndergaard is having a fine rookie year for the Mets

Noah Syndergaard is having a fine rookie year for the Mets

the best of the group. The sky’s also the limit for Syndegaard, who comes with the intriguing nickname Thor because of his Scandinavian heritage and ability to throw thunderbolts, and Harvey, who has proven healed from Tommy John surgery.

In the National League East, the only team with a comparable Big Four is the front-running Washington Nationals. But that quartet could be history soon with free agency looming for Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister.

The Mets will keep their quartet intact for at least three more years — more if general manager Sandy Alderson attempts to sign them to long-term deals before their current contracts expire.

Atlanta managed to keep the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz troika intact for a decade — difficult to do in this era of seven-figure contracts — but New York would be wise to follow suit.

Tom Glavine (left), and Greg Maddux (right) flank Frank Thomas at their 2014 Hall pof Fame inductions.    ( Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Tom Glavine (left), and Greg Maddux (right) flank Frank Thomas at their 2014 Hall pof Fame inductions.
( Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Braves won the most pennants of any team in the ’90s mainly because they rarely lost three games in a row. If one of their aces failed, another would stop the bleeding the next day.

So it is with the Mets, who are showing just how powerful their young arms are. If the team offered them decent support, it would be looking back at Washington and the rest of the division.

Instead, the better-balanced, better-financed Nats are poised for a powerful second half, albeit with the Mets in hot pursuit. Now that there are two wild-card winners, both could reach the playoffs.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole is already a big winner this year.

Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole is already a big winner this year.

One reason the Pittsburgh Pirates are pushing the St. Louis Cardinals for supremacy in the NL Central is the powerful pitching of Gerrit Cole, who won a dozen games before the All-Star break while establishing himself as the main threat to Zack Greinke (Dodgers) for the NL’s Cy Young Award . . .

You-never-know dept.: Kirk Neuwenhuis, twice outrighted and once traded this season, became the first Met to hit three homers in a home game — after having no previous home runs this season and just three in his career . . .

The Futures Game, featuring minor-leaguers representing American and World teams, did much more to promote the game than every-fourth-year World Baseball Classic . . .

With Jason Grilli sidelined for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, could be the Braves consider reacquiring the very-available Craig Kimbrel from San Diego? . . .

Could Craig Kimbrel be heading back to the Braves?

Could Craig Kimbrel be heading back to the Braves?

Justin Verlander (Tigers) is competing with CC Sabathia (Yankees) to see who’s more over the hill . . .

On the other hand, Albert Pujols (Angels) is showing there’s still lotjs of life in his bat . . .

Star southpaw Chris Sale (White Sox) tied a 1999 Pedro Martinez mark by reaching

Chris Sale is piling up strikeouts

Chris Sale is piling up strikeouts

double digits in strikeouts for eight straight starts . . .

Brazil may not be a baseball haven but the Royals are relishing the work of Paulo Orlando, whose second home run was a game-winning grand-slam against Tampa Bay’s All-Star closer, Brad Boxberger . . .

Before his recent assignment to Cleveland’s disabled list, ex-Yankee outfielder Nick Swisher was ticketed for Atlanta in a trade for third baseman Chris Johnson . . .

Wrigley Field was free of advertising all these years because former owner P.K. Wrigley, the gum magnate, ruled there would be no ads in his ballpark . . .

The Miami Marlins have brought back Casey McGeehee, possibly setting the stage for a Martin Prado deal before July 31 . . .

Jesus Montero (Mariners) is a classic example that naming your son after a famous celebrity does not always help . . .

Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado, obviously recovered

Manny Machado has become a force for Baltimore

Manny Machado has become a force for Baltimore

from separate surgeries on each knee, once injured himself by tripping on the sidewalk . . .

It took 17 years but A.J. Burnett (Pirates) is an All-Star for the first time . . .

High-priced lefty Jon Lester, signed by the Cubs as a free agent, finally got his first major-league hit but still has huge problems getting men out in the first inning . . .

Prince and Cecil Fielder have joined Barry and Bobby Bonds as the only father & son tandems with 300 home runs each . . .

A recent Royals-Rays game featured two inside-the-park homers, one each by Logan Forsythe and Jarrod Dyson, for the first time since 1997 . . .

Cubs southpaw James Russell, strangely released by the bullpen-strapped Braves this spring, has been amazingly successful at stranding inherited runners this season . . .

Speaking of the Cubs, the flagpoles on the enormous hand-operated center field scoreboard were deliberately designed to resemble the masts of a yacht on nearby Lake Michigan . . .

Yankees manager Joe Girardi predicts a tight race for the AL East title during the second half . . .

Hank Aaron, 81, plans to leave the Atlanta front office after this season but still made it a point to attend the All-Star Game . . .

Cleveland rookie Cory Anderson, making an immediate impression, took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his second start . . .

After paying Robinson Cano $240 million over 10 years to leave the Yankees, Seattle expected more than three home runs during the first half . . .

Andy MacPhail has a tough row to hoe in Philadelphia

Andy MacPhail has a tough row to hoe in Philadelphia

Andy MacPhail, who won two world championships as general manager of the Minnesota Twins, has a tough task in Philadelphia, which has fallen upon hard times after winning five straight division crowns, two pennants, and the 2008 World Series . . .

Now that he’s decided upon a six-man rotation, Mets manager Terry Collins may adopt the Leo Mazzone strategy of having pitchers throw twice between starts . . .

Manny Machado could become Baltimore’s first 30/30 player . . .

San Francisco’s best first-half pitchers were Madison Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series MVP, and rookie Chris Heston . . .

Believe it or not, some 276 players — not all of them pitchers — have had Tommy John surgery since the year 2000 . . .

Robin Ventura got away with murder when he ordered White Sox

Robin Ventura refused to let Miguel Cabrera beat him

Robin Ventura refused to let Miguel Cabrera beat him

closer Dave Robertson to walk Miguel Cabrera with two outs and runners on first and second in the ninth inning. The move put the tying run on third and the winning run on second but Robertson fanned the next hitter for the final out in an 8-7 win . . .

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus believes new Hall of Famer Craig Biggio would not have reached Cooperstown without moving from catcher to second base. “Once he had his legs under him, he became a much better offensive player. He drove the ball, hit more home runs and more doubles, and stole more bases,” said Ausmus, a long-time Biggio teammate in Houston.

 

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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