The Mets enter the 2018 season with a new manager, new pitching coach and a new coaching staff that would put the focus on fundamentals and analytics to winning games. No word though if they can transform ifs into absolutes.
The Mets can be a playoff team if they can avoid injuries. Yoenis Cespedes, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard can’t afford to spend any time on the disabled list. With this franchise, it’s not a sure thing. It just seems the Mets are plagued with Murphy’s Law, which anything can go wrong will go wrong. Already, they had several players such as Dominic Smith, Juan Lagares, Jay Bruce, deGrom, Cespedes and even Tim Tebow suffering injuries in spring training, even though all of them are ready to go on Opening Day. Of course, Tebow will be honing his skills with Double-A Binghamton and Smith will work his way up to the majors by starting the season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Metropolitans also can be a playoff team if each member of the starting rotation makes 27 starts and be effective in most of them and if the bullpen can be effective.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Mets start the season with no question marks? The Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros are sure bets to make the playoffs because they are always relatively injury-free and their talent is good enough for them to not underachieve. With the Mets, it’s about ifs.
It would be nice if the Mets can have their everyday players play at least 155 games this season. That has to be the bare minimum if they are going to be a postseason team. Again, it’s if. Already, Michael Conforto is going to start the season on the disabled list, but then again the Mets knew it was going to happen after undergoing surgery last September to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder. There’s no timetable when he will return. Even if he returns, it remains to be seen if he can be an effective hitter.
Syndergaard and deGrom should have their usual good years for the Mets. It’s the other starters that the Mets have to worry. Matt Harvey was so mediocre in spring training, and that’s why the Mets are penciling him as their No. 4 starter. No one knows what Seth Lugo can do for a full season. Jason Vargas is a question mark. No one can question Steven Matz’s talent and ability, but can he stay healthy? Zack Wheeler might as well be a lost cause as a starter after he was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas for several ineffective performances in spring training, not to mention he has showed he can’t be healthy and go deep in games.
It would be nice if all of the Mets five starters be healthy and effective. If that happens, the Mets will be a force in the National League. Again, so many ifs with the back end of the rotation, which is not what the Mets front office envisioned when they were building this team from the ground up in 2010.
The Mets bullpen is always an unknown. Yes, bullpens tend to fluctuate year after year, but the consistent playoff teams always have good bullpen year in and year out. The Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Astros and Indians will make the playoffs because their bullpen has been reliable in recent years. With the Mets, there are too many question marks to start saying this bullpen is an absolute to do well.
The Mets reliable reliever is Jerry Blevins, and he pitches just to get lefties out. The rest of the relievers are dicey from Anthony Swarzak to A.J. Ramos to Jeurys Familia. The Mets should have spent the money on several free agent relievers such as Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, but Mets general manager Sandy Alderson does not believe in overpaying relievers for what they are worth in the market.
If first-year Mets manager Mickey Callaway can somehow make something out of his relievers, he will have earned his reputation of being a pitching guru. He has had success of doing that with the Indians, which is what Alderson is banking on with his new manager.
The Mets won’t win the NL East since the Washington Nationals are loaded offensively and in the starting rotation. But they will compete in the wild-card race this year since baseball loves to reward mediocrity and there’s so many mediocre NL wild-card contenders. They will make the playoffs ifs turn into absolutes.
Just one time, it would be nice to see the Mets be a sure thing. It’s been a long time since that happened. Even in their playoff years, there were always ifs for them to make the playoffs.
Maybe in 2018, ifs turns into a sure thing for the Amazins.