Mets starters giving Giants sense of deja vu

Mets starters giving Giants sense of deja vu

SAN FRANCISCO -- The sellout crowd filing out of AT&T Park after the Giants' 4-1 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday should have recognized what it just witnessed. The Giants themselves certainly did.

Right-hander Jacob deGrom, 27, propelled the Mets by blanking the Giants on two hits through eight innings. He walked one and struck out 10, combining power and command admirably. It was his 39th Major League start. Given his age and potential for further development, more excellence can be expected from him. That's also the case with fellow Mets starters Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, who didn't pitch in this series.

The Giants know the excitement that young, talented starting pitching can generate, having experienced it with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Their blossoming hastened the Giants' ascent to contender status and, from there, to three World Series titles in five seasons.

As the Giants would acknowledge, such success requires more than a strong starting rotation. But the organization's dreams of becoming a consistent winner formed when Cain and Lincecum were in their early-to-mid-20s and beginning to blow away the National League. They were NL All-Stars by the time Bumgarner made his Major League debut in September 2009, which deepened the sense that if the Giants ever were going to win a World Series, this precocious group would lead them there.

Right now, the Mets can only imagine the glory of duplicating the Giants. But the likes of deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard give New York's dreams some legitimacy.

"I would put it against any club's [staff]," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the Mets' hurlers.

"They have a bunch of young arms over there that have the potential to be even better," said Cain, who made his big league debut in August 2005. "Time will tell how it goes, but it definitely was a great recipe to have that starting staff and then kind of build around it."

Much of that building came from within. Lincecum pointed out that the Giants' self-motivation and the healthy competition that resulted from it hastened their improvement and separated them from other teams.

"When somebody had a good outing, it gave us the opportunity to match that or do better," said Lincecum, who joined San Francisco's staff in May 2007. "You see something reminiscent of that [with the Mets] because of how young they are together."

Reliever Jeremy Affeldt joined the club in 2009, one year before San Francisco's first World Series triumph. He observed the magic that fresh, healthy arms -- and health has been an issue for the Mets -- can produce.

"Experience trumps youth a lot of times, but youth will also create stamina, energy, hope. All those things," Affeldt said. "Especially over there [with the Mets]. They've been dry for a little bit. Now there should be some hope."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.