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After consecutive losing seasons, the New York Mets put together a solid 2019 campaign, finishing just three games out of a Wild Card spot. Pitcher Jacob deGrom won his second consecutive Cy Young Award while Pete Alonso set a rookie record with 53 home runs on his way to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

The Mets finished 86-76 and in third place in the National League East. The Amazin’s went 46-26 in the second half. They were propelled by second-half performances from Alonso, deGrom, JD Davis, Seth Lugo, and so many more key pieces that are still on the team in 2020.

Manager Luis Rojas has been a part of the Mets’ organization since 2007, but this will be his first season manning the big-league club. There may not be fans at Citi Field this year, but baseball is finally back.

Roster Preview

Starting Pitching

With Noah Syndergaard undergoing Tommy John surgery in late March and Marcus Stroman being put on the injury list for a muscle tear in his left calf, the Mets’ rotation is currently as followed with 2019 stat lines:

Jacob deGrom (R): 11-8 / 2.43 ERA / 255 K / 204 IP / .207 AVG

Steven Matz (L): 11-10 / 4.21 ERA / 153 K / 160.1 IP / .260 AVG

Rick Porcello (R): 14-12 / 5.52 ERA / 143 K / 174.1 IP / .278 AVG

Michael Wacha (R): 6-7 / 4.76 ERA / 104 K / 126.2 IP / .290 AVG

Based on the 30-man roster reveal, it seems as though Corey Oswalt will be the fifth starter until Marcus Stroman returns from injury. This was a surprise to many Mets fans, as they were expecting top prospect David Peterson to make the team instead of Oswalt. This move was most likely made to secure an extra year of service time for the 6-foot-6, hard-throwing left-hander.

Oswalt has made 19 appearances for the Mets over the last two years, including 12 starts. His career stat line of a 6.43 ERA and 1.458 WHIP along with a high walks rate is nothing to be impressed about. However, the Mets’ front office sees enough in him to have him on this year’s Opening Day roster.

Relief Pitching

The biggest signing of the offseason for the Mets was former New York Yankee, Dellin Betances. Betances joins Edwin Díaz, Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson as the core of the Mets bullpen. Last year, the Mets’ bullpen had a 4.99 ERA with 27 blown saves.

If Betances can repeat his success from the 4-year stretch from 2015-18 (11.2 WAR / 14.63 K/9 / 2.22 ERA / 40.3 K%) and Díaz can repeat a fraction of his 2018 season (3.5 WAR, 15.22 K/9 / 1.96 ERA / 44.3 K%), the Mets could potentially own a top-5 bullpen.

Other relievers that made the Opening Day roster include: Paul Sewald, Chasen Schreve, Drew Smith, and Hunter Strickland. Schreve is the only other lefty in the bullpen besides Wilson. Strickland shows the most potential out of these four relievers, especially after his great performance against the Yankees this past Sunday. Strickland pitched a perfect inning while striking out two when two runners were left in scoring position by Oswalt.

Brad Brach, Robert Gsellman, Jared Hughes, and Walker Lockett have all been placed on the injured list to start the season.

Starting Lineup

Below is New York’s ideal Opening Day lineup with 2019 stat lines included:

  1. CF Brandon Nimmo (L): .221 AVG / .375 OBP / .407 SLG / 8 HR / 29 RBI / 34 R
  2. 1B Pete Alonso (R): .260 AVG / .358 OBP / .583 SLG / 53 HR / 120 RBI / 103 R
  3. 3B Jeff McNeil (L): .318 AVG / .384 OBP / .531 SLG / 23 HR / 75 RBI / 83 R
  4. RF Michael Conforto (L): .257 AVG / .363 OBP / .494 SLG / 33 HR / 92 RBI / 90 R
  5. LF JD Davis (R): .307 AVG / .369 OBP / .527 SLG / 22 HR / 57 RBI / 65 R
  6. DH Yoenis Céspedes (R): N/A
  7. 2B Robinson Canó (L): .256 AVG / .307 OBP / .428 SLG / 13 HR / 39 RBI / 46 R
  8. C Wilson Ramos (R): .288 AVG / .351 OBP / .416 SLG / 14 HR / 73 RBI / 52 R
  9. SS Ahmed Rosario (R): .287 AVG / .323 OBP / .432 SLG / 15 HR / 72 RBI / 75 R

If we look back on the 2019 performances of these players aside from Céspedes, the Mets have one of the best offensive lineups in baseball from top to bottom. If Céspedes can look like his 2016 self (.884 OPS / 31 HR / 86 RBI), the Mets will be a dangerous bunch for any opposing pitcher. Expect Davis and Rosario to continue their outstanding 2019 performances which will be key factors in making this lineup complete.

A former superstar, Canó is now 37 years old and it is hard to be consistent at that age. However, he is only two years removed from a .303 AVG / .374 OBP / .471 SLG season with the Seattle Mariners. That should provide some hope for Mets fans.

Bench Players

Utility man Dominic Smith and outfielder Jake Marisnick were already locks to make the roster. Smith’s 2019 season was his best in which he hit .287 with 11 home runs and an .881 OPS. He will likely have the most opportunities off the bench. Marisnick was traded to the Mets from the Houston Astros in early December. He will be a defensive replacement across the outfield, but most often in center field.

Luis Guillorme also made the Opening Day roster, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Guillorme has been a backup for the Mets the past two seasons. He can play third base and second base and gets on base at a career .303 clip in 80 total games.

Eduardo Núñez is a 10-year veteran that will look to give leadership during this shortened 60-game season. He also provides defensive versatility in that he can play at second, shortstop, third, or even in the outfield.

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Tomás Nido and René Rivera will be the backup catchers on the Opening Day roster. Nido has been with the Mets’ big league club since 2017 and looks to have more opportunities than Rivera. Rivera has played in the Major Leagues since 2004 and has been with the Mets in three different seasons during his career. The Mets like Rivera for his experience behind the plate, catching many great pitchers in his career.

The biggest surprise of the Mets’ Opening Day roster reveal was that third-ranked prospect Andrés Giménez had made the big league club. This means that Giménez will make his MLB debut at some point during the 2020 season. 

Giménez most recently played with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 2019 Arizona Fall League where he hit at a .371 clip in 18 games. Depending on the Mets’ situation in two weeks, he could be one of the two players sent back down when the roster cuts to 28.

Schedule Outlook

The Mets will travel approximately 5,427 miles during the 2020 regular season, which is the seventh-lowest across all 30 teams. They play 40 games against divisional opponents consisting of: 10 vs. the Washington Nationals (four home, six away), 10 vs. the Atlanta Braves (six home, four away), 10 vs. the Philadelphia Phillies (four home, six away), and 10 vs. the Miami Marlins (six home, four away).

The remaining 20 games will be played against American League East opponents consisting of six vs. the New York Yankees (three home, three away), four vs. the Baltimore Orioles (two home, two away), four vs. the Boston Red Sox (two home, two away), three at home vs. the Tampa Bay Rays and three away vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Mets have to play the Yankees the most out of any NL East team. Also, it will be very intriguing to see where the games against Toronto are played, as the Blue Jays have yet to find a home stadium to play for the 2020 season.

Toughest Stretch: July 24-Aug. 5

The Mets’ opening stretch will be the hardest as they are without key pieces to their rotation (Stroman), and bullpen (Robert Gsellman) to start the season. This stretch includes seven games vs. the Braves, four against Boston, and two vs. the Nationals.

Easiest Stretch: Sept. 1-9

This stretch should be able to help the Mets gain ground in the division as the Orioles should be the weakest team the Mets play all season. The Phillies should be the second-weakest opponent in the division as well. This stretch includes four games each against Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The Mets’ longest home stretch will be from Aug. 7-13. That will feature three games against Miami and four vs. reigning World Series champion Washington. In a quick turnaround, the Mets’ longest road stretch will be from Aug. 14-20. That will consist of three games in Philadelphia and four in Miami.

Bold Predictions

  • Edwin Díaz will not have a single blown save 
  • Either Rick Porcello or Michael Wacha will pitch under a 3.50 ERA clip
  • Yoenis Cespedes will be the NL Comeback Player of the Year
  • Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, JD Davis, and Yoenis Cespedes combine for 50 home runs or more in the regular season
  • The Mets win the NL East, but fall to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series
  • Jacob deGrom wins his third Cy Young Award in a row
  • Jeff McNeil will receive the most votes for any Met for the NL MVP award

Closing Thoughts

The 2020 season will be like no other, and we will continue to see things we have never seen on the diamond before, in the weeks to come. The Mets have one of their best lineups since 2000 and have the potential to rival the 1986 Mets’ lineup. The Mets have unfortunately already had pitching injuries come to bite them, but the rest of the roster must stay healthy in order for New York to stay competitive.

Prediction: 36-24, first place in NL East.