Updated: Jan 7, 2021
If you’re a Mets fan, I apologize, because I’m sure you get your hopes up every season, thinking, “This year will be different!” Two months later, your team has lost winnable games, frustrated you and crushed your dreams. If you want to avoid any chance of that scenario playing out again this season, maybe consider not reading on, because, frankly, I kind of like the Mets this year.
Let’s start with the obvious: the Mets’ rotation is scary. They have a complete group, with Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher in baseball, leading the staff. Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman round out the top of that rotation. Nothing more needs to be said about deGrom; he has won back-to-back Cy Young awards and is the favorite to claim the award again this season. Syndergaard and Stroman would each be the number one option on quite a few staffs. Syndergaard, when throwing at his best, is one of the most electric pitchers in baseball, and the same can be said about Stroman. While they still trail some other potential 2020 playoff rotations, that group of three is among the best in baseball.
Rounding out the staff are Steven Matz and Rick Porcello. Matz has started 30 games in back-to-back seasons and is projected 1.8 fWAR by ZiPS for the 2020 season. Porcello is as reliable as they come from an innings perspective. In his 11-year career, he has thrown at least 170 innings in all but one season (162.2 innings in 2010). He has also started at least 32 games in each of the past four seasons.
With an elite top three and a dependable back of the rotation, the Mets’ starting arms are reason for optimism this coming season.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports)
The Mets’ lineup is a mix of veterans and young talent. Pete Alonso made himself a household name last season by sending 53 balls soaring over the fence en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Alonso isn’t the only power threat in that lineup. J.D. Davis had somewhat of a breakout season himself last year, blasting 22 home runs and posting a 2.4 fWAR in his first season with the Mets. Additionally, Michael Conforto has averaged just over 29 home runs over the past three seasons. Jeff McNeil will look to build off a strong 2019 in which he produced 4.6 fWAR.
It will be interesting to see what kind of production the team gets from Brandon Nimmo, who missed time last season due to a neck injury, and Amed Rosario, who is only 24 years old and took a big step forward last season.
None of Alonso, Davis, Conforto, McNeil, Nimmo or Rosario is older than 28.
Robinson Canó and Wilson Ramos will be the veterans in the clubhouse alongside Eduardo Núñez. (Fun fact: Canó is just 13 months younger than manager Luis Rojas). Canó struggled in 2019, posting the highest strikeout percentage of his career, 16.3%, without seeing a substantial increase in power. Still, he is more than serviceable at second base, as is Ramos behind the dish. Núñez provides good depth off the bench as well.
The final piece of the puzzle, the bullpen, is what will decide if the Mets are a good or a great team this year. The signing of Dellin Betances was a strong move. He will join Seth Lugo in building the bridge to Edwin Díaz and the ninth inning. Justin Wilson, who has played for five different teams over the past six seasons, can provide value to that bullpen, and Jeurys Familia, if he can return back to his old self, has the potential to also make an impact. Come playoff time, if they make it there, Matz and Porcello will also be factors in relief.
(Photo by Paul J. Bereswill)
Ultimately, the success of the bullpen, and somewhat of the team as a whole, relies on Díaz. As many know, Díaz was dominant in 2018 with the Mariners. His first season in New York, however, was a disaster. Díaz saw batters’ BABIP against him balloon to .381 and his HR/9 allowed shoot up to 2.33 (from 0.61 in 2018). Díaz’ 2019 ERA of 5.59 differed greatly from his FIP of 4.51 and xFIP of 3.07. He’s a good candidate for a bounce-back season, and that is exactly what the Mets need from him if they want to contend.
With one of the top rotations in baseball, an exciting young lineup with power, and an upgraded bullpen, this may actually be the year that things are different for the Mets. Fangraphs currently gives the Mets a 49.4% chance to make the playoffs. If they do make it, and I think they can, look out. The trio of deGrom, Syndergaard and Stroman would be powerful in the playoffs, and if the offense is hot and the bullpen is clicking in October, anything can happen. The Mets have the potential to shock the world, just as the division-rival Washington Nationals did last season, and I’ll be following along for every moment of it.
(Cover photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)