N.L. East Prediction: New York Mets
After years of asking if this is the year for the Mets… is this the year for the Mets?
The signing of Francisco Lindor is big. He’s the infield version of Mookie Betts. He can hit for average (.285 career), power (three years of 30 home runs or more), speed (20-plus stolen bases per year) and defense (two Gold Gloves). And he has the personality to elevate the Mets to being on the same pop culture stage as the New York Yankees.
They have the starting pitching. They have the power. And this year they have Francisco Lindor. They absolutely have a chance.
However (a fancy word for “but”) I wonder how much the new baseballs are going to affect the likes of Pete Alonso. Rumor has it they are now kept in the same cold storage containers as the Covid vaccines as Major League Baseball tries to freeze its way out of its “new ball” problem. My hunch is the popsicball will reduce the number of homers by 7-15 percent. Based on nothing more than a guess, I’d say it may rob him of 4-6 home runs. The good news for Mets fans is his power is so prodigious that he should still hit 35 to 40 without much a problem.
The Mets would be wise to use Lindor and centerfielder Brandon Nimmo on the base paths to rattle opposing pictures and get Alonso and infielder/left fielder Jeff McNeil more fastballs to hit. That’s one thing that baseball people who pay too much attention to statistics ignore: just how much a fast runner can put stress on a pitcher and on a catcher who is not particularly good at throwing out runners. Nimmo has speed, which the Mets have rarely used, and his walks-to-strike out ratio fell last year to 4:3. I love McNeil‘s approach at the plate. He had just 75 strikeouts in 2019 while hitting .314 and 23 home runs. There aren’t too many left-handed hitting second baseman around either. Lindor is going to get a lot of love but may be the most valuable guy on the team his catcher James McCann. This is a guy who won the MLPAA Heart and Hustle or Heart and Soul award with two different organizations. He hits for a decent average (.250), decent power (about 15 home runs a year) and he throws out more than a third of would be base- stealers, which is higher than the league average. What’s not to love? If Dominic Smith can play a full season -he hits lefties as well if not better than righties- and Michael Conforto can do the same -they should average 30 homers and hit .260- this club has no holes. Infielders Jonathan Villar and Luis Guillorme fill out the lineup.
If outfielder Albert Almora can regain his 2017-18 form, New York will have an offensive threat at every position and also at the backup of every position.
On the mound Jacob deGrom has 70 wins in his career. That’s nice you might say. Now consider this: that’s out of 183 starts. Dude has a 2.57 career ERA and Mets management has put teams on the field that have supported him not. What a waste. I wonder if that lack of support in the past gets into the heads of Mets hitters when they come up to the plate trying not to be the guy who lets deGrom down again.This year might be the year not the Mets hit and deGrom sees his win total approach 100. I wonder if that lack of support in the past gets into the heads of Mets hitters when they come up to the plate trying not to be the guy who lets deGrom down again. This guy should be a 20-25 game winner every year.
The Mets need more starters. Doesn’t everybody? Edwin Diaz (3.18 career ERA)has been remarkably consistent over his career but he’s always been a guy who comes in and gives you one inning. The Mets may start asking him to give them five or six.
Marcus Stroman (3.72 ERA in 100 decisions) is as good as a number three starter you’re find. He’s back after missing last year when he tore his calf muscle. How exactly do you tear a calf muscle? It’s these weird injuries that we saw all 15 years ago or 20 years ago where everyone was tearing biceps and pectoral muscles give me pause. Not saying. Just saying.
If the Mets could get Noah Syndergaard healthy they have a really good one through five Just in case you forgot Syndergaard has a career ERA of 3.21 and has 775 strikeouts in 716 innings pitched.
In the bullpen they have Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup. The guys know how to pitch and can put guys away and whose ERAs would give a team confidence that this isn’t going to be another botched deGrom start. Do you all know what foreshadowing is? Because the rest of the bullpen is a bunch of guys who give up one run every other inning and that’s where this team’s weak spot is.
Big picture: the Mets have enough starting pitching to win their division and enough hitting to win their division. And they have just enough mess in their bullpen to give away the division. They will win their share and if they can make it to the postseason look out.