Keith Hernandez

The New York Mets' starting pitching staff is nasty. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey have led the way, while Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz supplied reinforcements as mid-season call-ups. Veterans Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese keep the young guns in line.

Thanks to their arms, since July 31, the Mets are 31-13 and the team's magic number to clinch its first NL East title since 2006 is 10. But this pitching staff is may not be the team's best ever. Ask Keith Hernandez.

"Oh, they haven't proved it yet," the five-time All-Star and former Met says. "They certainly have a high potential, but you know what high potential means. Bob Gibson told me about potential one time. He said it means you haven't done it yet."

Hernandez notes that his 1986 Mets did do it. That team had a young staff that featured Bob Ojeda, Ron Darling and Dwight Gooden, who all finished in the top five in the NL in ERA. Sid Fernandez was also an All-Star. The Mets won their last World Series title in seven games in 1986.

Hernandez says the current pitching staff can become comparable to that 1986 group, but it needs results.

"They have a high ceiling," Hernandez says. "This is the best young rotation with age, the oldest being deGrom at 27 and the youngest being Matz and Syndergaard. I have not seen as young a starting five like this in a long time."

Mets Pitching Staff

Harvey and deGrom are among the top seven in the NL in ERA. Matz, 24, would be second in the league if he qualified. Syndergaard, 23, would make the top 15 if he qualified. As a team, the Mets are fourth in the National League in ERA at 3.40.

Among the Mets' Big Four youngsters, Harvey, 26, made the roster first. In 2013, he started 26 games, going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He made the All-Star Game, but in August, Harvey was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Tommy John Surgery was required and Harvey missed 2014.

In 2015, Harvey has returned to top form, but his relationship with the Mets has been in flux. His agent, Scott Boras, called the Mets out earlier this month, as Harvey approached the apparent 180-innings limit recommended by Dr. James Andrews.

"It's just amazing that it number one, has gone public, and that number two, the innings pitched thing wasn't etched in stone long before the season started," Hernandez says of the knowledge that suddenly popped up in a pennant race. "The Mets' side say 195 plus playoffs. Dr. Andrews, who is the surgeon, [a] very respected [surgeon], says 180. Everybody wants to get lost in Scott Boras, the agent. It's coming from Dr. Andrews. Someone is not being forthcoming on either side about this innings pitched."

Keith Hernandez Interview

Hernandez, the Mets' TV color commentator on SNY, sees Harvey every day, but they don't really talk.

"Matt's fine," Hernandez says. "He doesn't bother me. I don't bother him. I don't like to bother the players because it's so much media day-in, day-out and they have so many papers covering them. There's so much. I played here."

Harvey and the Mets have since reached an agreement, which he announced on The Players Tribune, that will allow him to pitch through the season and the playoffs.

While Hernandez remains political about the situation, one of his 1986 teammates does not. Gooden, who won the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year Award at age 19, had this to say:

Gooden pitched more than 200 innings just four times in the ensuing 14 years.

In the meantime, Hernandez cleared up rumors of The Magic Loogie.

Hernandez has also been a spokesperson for Just for Men, along with Walt Frazier. The Mets and Knicks legends paired for a commercial in 1998 and another ad this month.

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-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.