Posted on March 6, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Mets
Image via sports.yahoo.com

The New York Mets had a rather odd offseason in the sense that they had to make two different managerial hirings. Regardless of how it happened, first-time manager Luis Rojas is now in charge of a team that underachieved last season and is now expected to make the playoffs in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Do the Mets have enough to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016 or will they give their loyal fanbase yet another year to forget?

Rotation

The Mets lost Zack Wheeler in free agency, but their rotation is still among the best and deepest in baseball. In helps to have back-to-back Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom leading the way. Behind him will be Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. Syndergaard had a somewhat disappointing 2019 season, although he was able to stay healthy and should be moving into his prime years. Stroman, meanwhile, posted a 3.22 ERA between his time in Toronto and New York last year and should be motivated to have a big year before hitting free agency next winter.

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New York also has three options for the final two spots in the starting rotation. Steven Matz is a safe bet if he can maintain the same level he’s had the past two seasons and continue to stay healthy. During the winter, the Mets brought in Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to help replace Wheeler. Porcello was dreadful in Boston last year but is only a few years removed from his Cy Young and should be capable of being a solid no. 5 starter. The same is true of Wacha, who has struggled with injuries the past two seasons but should still be in his prime if he can stay healthy.

Bullpen

New York’s bullpen was a huge issue a year ago and perhaps the biggest reason why the Mets didn’t make the playoffs. This year, the hope is that Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia can both have bounce-back seasons. Diaz was an elite closer just two years ago, so there’s no question he has the stuff to get back there. There’s less certainty with Familia, although he’s surely better than the 5.70 ERA he posted last year. The Mets also signed Dellin Betances in the offseason to give them another late-inning reliever. Of course, Betances missed most of 2019, but when healthy, he’s one of the best setup men in baseball.

The good news for the Mets is they’ll have some solid depth in their bullpen if the trio of Diaz, Familia, and Betances can get on track. Seth Lugo is one of the most underrated relievers in the game, pitching an ERA of 2.70 or better in back-to-back seasons. Robert Gsellman is also a known commodity while Justin Wilson gives the Mets a hard-throwing lefty who can pitch late in games. They’re also taking a shot on Brad Brach, who was solid during a late-season cameo last year. If the likes of Lugo, Wilson, and others are merely the bridge to get to Diaz, Familia, and Betances in the late innings, the Mets have a chance to turn a big weakness into a big strength in 2020.

Lineup

Offensively, the Mets should have enough to at least be middle of the pack in the National League. It’ll be difficult for Pete Alonso to replicate his incredible Rookie of the Year season from 2019, but he should still provide plenty of power after hitting 53 home runs last year. The Mets also have the likes of Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano behind Alonso, although Cano is getting old and saw a considerable drop-off in his production last year. The hope is that Wilson Ramos and J.D. Davis can continue to add depth to the lineup. Plus, Yoenis Cespedes remains a wild card as he works his way back from multiple injuries.

Meanwhile, the Mets should have plenty of capable table-settlers at the top of the lineup. Jeff McNeil was one of the breakout stars in baseball last year, hitting for both a .318 average and 23 home runs. Brandon Nimmo is in line to be the leadoff man if he can avoid the injuries that plagued him last year. Nimmo is one of the best around at getting on base, which should help the guys hitting behind him. Finally, the Mets are expecting good things from shortstop Amed Rosario, who is still just 24 and started to come into his own the second half of last year.

Prediction

The Mets won a respectable 86 games last year and have a projection of 86.5 wins this year. Questions linger about the back end of the bullpen and a few of the team’s young hitters. However, New York’s rotation has high-end arms and an adequate amount of depth and will give them a chance to make noise in the NL East. Look for the bullpen to bounce back and the Mets to win 90-plus games in 2020, giving them a chance to return to the playoffs.

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