Posted on March 13, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
After reaching the World Series in 2015, the New York Mets have tumbled back down to earth the last few seasons, finishing 77-85 last year. However, new GM Brodie Van Wagenen made some bold moves over the winter. He has put together what he believes will be a winning ball club this season. However, did the Mets make the right moves this winter to become a legitimate competitor in 2019?
When healthy, New York’s rotation is arguably the best in baseball. Jacob deGrom is fresh off a Cy Young campaign in which he was utterly brilliant despite a modest win-loss record. Noah Syndergaard can be just as good. Over the first four seasons of his career, Syndergaard owns a 2.93 ERA. However, injuries have held him back in recent years, so the Mets will need him to stay healthy in 2019.
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The mid-rotation guys aren’t bad either. Zack Wheeler finally had a breakout season last year, posting a 3.31 ERA and winning 12 games. If he can put his injury-riddled past behind him and replicate those numbers, the Mets will be in great shape. The X-factor could be lefty Steven Matz, who has had his ups and downs during his career. However, he bounced back from a brutal 2017 season and registered an ERA under 4.00 in 30 starts last year. That’s good enough to be a no. 4 starter, although his ceiling is much higher.
Of course, the Mets have some concerns about their depth behind those four aces. Jason Vargas was dreadful last year, although he’ll get a chance to redeem himself in 2019. The other problem is that none of their best pitching prospects are likely to be ready in 2019, so injuries to their rotation could derail the Mets, which has been the case in past seasons.
New York’s bullpen was the second worst in the National League last year. However, they’ve made a serious effort to change that. The Mets made a trade for all-star Edwin Diaz, who will be their new closer after saving 57 games for the Mariners last year. The club also re-signed former closer Jeurys Familia to serve in a setup role. With his ability to pitch multiple innings, Familia could be vital if the team isn’t waiting until the 9th inning to use him.
A year ago, the Mets saw Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman both excel in bullpen roles. Both are former starters, so they have more than one or two good pitches and are capable of throwing multiple innings. Now that they’re the bridge guys, they become even more useful and the New York bullpen becomes even deeper. The Mets also brought in Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan to give them a couple of veteran lefties. They should also have a nice contingent of hard-throwing youngsters to help fill out what should be a much-improved bullpen.
The Mets were offensively challenged at times last year, but again, that’s something they’ve addressed in the offseason. Robinson Cano was the big addition, giving them another impact bat to help take some of the pressure off Michael Conforto. The Mets also signed Wilson Ramos, giving them a veteran backstop to handle their pitching staff and a catcher who will contribute offensively as well.
Meanwhile, depth was a big need for the Mets this offseason, and they addressed that as well. Jed Lowrie was brought in to help cover all four infield spots, specifically third base, where Todd Frazier had a down season in 2018. Lowrie can also cover first base if needed, although prospects Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith could both claim that position as their own.
Finally, New York’s season could be determined by the development of their younger players. The Mets are expecting a lot out of shortstop Amed Rosario, who started to come into his own the second half of last season. The same could be said of outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who will be expected to be a spark plug at the top of the lineup. The Mets are also high on utility man Jeff McNeil, who can play most positions and hit .329 last year after being called up in late July.
The Mets seem to have all of their bases covered. They improved their bullpen and added an incredible amount of depth to their roster. That should help them provide an adequate amount of support for their star-studded rotation. If the quartet of deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Matz stay healthy and pitch anywhere close to their potential, the Mets could have a special season. Of course, there are no guarantees, so look for the Mets to flip their record and finish 85-77 in 2019. If nothing else, it’ll keep them in the playoff picture deep into September, but it may not be enough to get them to October.