2016 Opening Day Countdown: New York Mets Preview

By Paul DiSclafani

2015 Record:  90-72 | NL East Division Champions

2015 Recap:  The Mets struggled offensively most of the season but kept within striking distance of the Division leading Washington Nationals thanks to solid starting pitching, led by Matt Harvey’s successful return from Tommy John surgery and the emergence of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as Top-of-the-Line pitchers.  But it wasn’t until the trade deadline acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers that propelled the Mets to 21 wins in the month of August, turning a three-game deficit into a nine-game lead and blitzkrieging the Nationals into oblivion.  Riding the unexpected home run power of Daniel Murphy, who set a major league record by hitting a HR in six consecutive post season games, the Mets went on to beat the Dodgers 3 games to 2 in the NLDS, then swept the Chicago Cubs 4-0 in the NLCS to win their first National League Pennant since 2000.  But they ran into an immovable force in the Kansas City Royals in the World Series, winning just one game in the Fall Classic.  The Mets had a lead in every game in the series, but could not hold late leads in games four and five at home.

2016 Outlook:  The Mets have made the post season in consecutive years only once in franchise history (the late 90’s), but this offseason they spent the time (and money) to improve.  Even thought they won the National League East and represented the NL in the World Series, they still had some glaring holes once the season came to an end:  The infield defense (which was exposed during the WS), a gap in the middle of their lineup (Cespedes was a free agent) and the bullpen (again).  They shored up their infield defense by trading for second baseman Neil Walker (Pirates) and signing SS Asdrubal Cabrera (Angels) to help what could be the best rotation in baseball avoid having to get extra outs.  The Mets might not have led the league in errors in 2015 (the Pirates did), but they certainly led the league in bone-head decisions and failures to make routine plays that don’t show up in a box score as errors or unearned runs – but still result in extra outs for the opponent.  Then they swooped in and resigned Cespedes to anchor the middle of their lineup.  Then Sandy Alderson plugged some holes in the bullpen bridge to closer Jeurys Familia with Antonio Bastardo as a left-handed option to go along with Addison Reed.  The Mets will not be sneaking up on anyone this year and instead, start the season with a huge target on their back.  But no team in baseball can boast three top notch starters in Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard (who may turn out to be the best in the bunch), then follow them up with rookie Steven Matz and the ageless Bartolo Colon (43).  Don’t forget that Zack Wheeler is due to return in July fro his TJ surgery.  No team gets a pass against this rotation this year – they are going to face one of them (and possibly all three) in each series.  Mets will win the East again and hopefully they learned a thing or two about what it takes to be a Champion from watching the Royals show them how its done in the World Series.

Key Additions:  Neil Walker, 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera, FA-SS; Antonio Bastardo, FA-RP; Yoenis Cespedes, FA-OF; Bartolo Colon, FA-SP

Key Losses:  Daniel Murphy, FA-2B; Kelly Johnson, FA-INF; Juan Uribe, FA-INF; Reuben Tejada, SS

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Curtis Granderson (RF)
  2. David Wright (3B)
  3. Yoenis Cespedes (CF)
  4. Lucas Duda (1B)
  5. Niel Walker (2B)
  6. Michael Conforto (LF)
  7. Travis d’Arnaud (C)
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Bartolo Colon

Closer:  Jeurys Familia

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