With Sandy Alderson and his GM counterparts still working to finalize their teams’ Opening Day rosters, it’s too early to make predictions for the 2017 season. However, let’s take a look at where the Mets stand as we approach New Year’s Day. In this edition, we’ll take a look at their pitching staff.
The Mets are built around their starting pitching. When healthy, the Mets have one of the best rotations in baseball. Of course, “when healthy” is the caveat here. 2016 ended with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz all on the shelf, and Zack Wheeler missed his second consecutive season coming off of Tommy John surgery. Noah Syndergaard emerged as the team’s ace, but he battled through bone spurs of his own. If Thor, deGrom, Harvey, and Matz can all stay healthy and pitch to expectations, the Mets can reasonably expect to complete for the NL East crown in 2017.
As for Wheeler, it’s hard to expect anything from him given his long hiatus. Maybe he finds some success in a bullpen role, but the Mets cannot count on him for any major contribution in 2017. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo came out of nowhere to help propel the Mets into the postseason last year. I would expect Gsellman to start the year as the team’s fifth starter, with Lugo joining the bullpen.
Jeurys Familia set the Mets’ single season record for saves last year, but his Wild Card Game performance is what Mets fans will remember the most from his 2016 campaign. Despite his postseason struggles and anxiety-filled ninth innings, Familia is still one of the league’s better closers. The Mets are still awaiting word on what punishment Familia will face for his domestic violence incident, but it’s reasonable to expect that the Mets may need to get through April without their closer. In his absence, Addison Reed will be counted on to take over the ninth inning. Reed had a career year in a setup role in 2016, finishing with a 1.97 ERA. Can he pick up where he left off last year? Even if Reed maintains his dominance and excels filling in for Familia, who will take over the eighth inning?
Sandy Alderson’s most important task for the rest of the offseason is to find a solid arm for the back of the bullpen. Reed and Familia were both overworked in 2016, and even without Familia’s pending suspension, the Mets needed another reliable arm for Terry Collins to go to in the late innings. In an ideal world, Alderson would be able to turn Jay Bruce into that reliever, but it’s unlikely Bruce (or Curtis Granderson) will get the Mets the arm that they covet. Alderson also needs a reliable lefty for the bullpen. The return of Jerry Blevins would be the best-case scenario, but if another team is willing to give him a three year contract, the Mets will be looking elsewhere.
Stay tuned for Part 2 for my thoughts on the Mets’ offense.