Just in time for the holiday season, Mets 101's Seven in Seven series returns as our gift to you. Each week, the Mets 101 staff will begin a countdown of topics related to the New York Mets (i.e. best third baseman, worst defeat, etc.). We will begin our countdowns with the number seven and work all the way to number one. This week's Seven in Seven list follows last week's biggest blockbusters with the complete opposite: the biggest busts in Met history. Today we take a look at the fourth biggest busts in Mets history, the trio of pitchers that came to be known as "Generation K".
4. Generation K-Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, and Paul Wilson
All Time Mets Stats:
Bill Pulsipher: 5-9, 4.63 ERA, 34 Games, 20 Starts, 147.2 Innings Pitched, 157 Hits, 101 Walks, 101 Strikeouts, 1.44 WHIP
Jason Isringhausen: 21-24, 4.59 ERA, 113 Games, 52 Starts, 3 Complete Games, 1 Shutout, 8 Saves, 380.1 Innings Pitched, 397 Hits, 172 Walks, 269 K's, 1.50 WHIP
Paul Wilson: 5-12, 4.98 ERA, 26 Games, 26 Starts, 149.0 Innings Pitched, 157 Hits, 71 Walks, 109 K's, 1.53 WHIP
Analysis: This entry is a unique one on the list as it is not focused on just one individual, per se. To understand the enormity of Generation K requires understanding how the 1980's Mets fell apart. The mid 80's Mets rose and fell like a meteor, particularly after both Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden developed drug problems. The fall of Doc and Darryl, along with the failure of many high priced free agents, left the Mets looking towards a trio of prized pitching prospects to rejuvenate the franchise. That trio consisted of lefty Bill Pulsipher and righties Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson. The Mets built their whole organization in the mid 90's around the idea that the trio, dubbed "Generation K", would form a dominant home grown rotation to lead the franchise back to the promised land in the years to come.
Pulsipher was the first to arrive in the Big Apple, making his debut in June of 1995. Isringhausen followed one month later while Wilson, who was considered the best of the three, arrived in the majors in 1996. All three came up with high expectations and all three managed to flop, a failure that would set the organization back for years. Pulsipher ran into arm troubles early and often after being overworked in 1995. Pulsipher threw a combined 218 innings between the majors and minors that season and pitched effectively to the tune of a 3.98 ERA. Pulsipher then missed nearly two years following surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament, and he never looked the same after the injury. Pulsipher returned to New York and pitched poorly in relief in 1998 and was traded to Milwaukee for utility man Mike Kinkade. Pulsipher was bad in Milwaukee and eventually was traded back to the Mets for infielder Luis Lopez, where he continued to struggle until he was sent away for good to the Diamondbacks in exchange for pinch hitting specialist Lenny Harris.
Isringhausen came up in July of 1995 and was arguably the team's best best pitcher in the second half, going 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA. After an assortment of injuries led to an ERA near five in 1996, Isringhausen missed most of the 1997 season after suffering a broken wrist. Isringhausen then missed the entire 1998 season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery and was traded at the 1999 trade deadline to Oakland for reliever Billy Taylor. Taylor was a complete bust for New York while Isringhausen developed into an effective closer in Oakland and St. Louis. Isringhausen ended up having the most effective career of the trio, but the majority of his success came outside of New York. Izzy returned home for the 2011 season and even became the closer for a brief stint, but he was a shell of his former self at that point.
Paul Wilson was the last of the three to arrive. Even though he was supremely talented, Wilson had poor mechanics that led to significant injury problems. Recurring shoulder injuries derailed his Mets career and he was never heard from until he resurfaced in Tampa Bay in 2000. Wilson had a late career renaissance as a back of the rotation starter for the Devil Rays and Cincinnati Reds, but injuries again resurfaced to cut his career short.
All told, the Mets received a grand total of 31 wins and three saves from the trio of pitchers that were supposed to be franchise saviors. Their collective failure was devastating for both the team and its fans, who had been promised that the pitchers would lead the next great Mets teams. The Mets would have to re-build their entire rotation and team without its trio of young stars, whose injuries derailed what could have been promising careers. The Mets were not able to recover from the failure of Generation K until the team traded for Mike Piazza in 1998. The failure of this group is worth revisiting now as the Mets appear poised to be building a promising young rotation of their own today, led by youngsters Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and the newly acquired Noah Syndergaard. While their potential has yet to be seen, one thing to keep in mind is that the current regime has ensured that the youngsters are not overworked and will be ready to handle life in the big leagues when the time comes. Mets fans can rest assured that the chances of this group of young pitching is likely to be much more successful than Generation K ever was.
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