PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Stack each Major League team up against each other in terms of talent alone, and the Mets rank highly. Their rotation remains among the best in baseball. Their lineup is deeper than it has been in years. Their bullpen is improved -- though how much
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Stack each Major League team up against each other in terms of talent alone, and the Mets rank highly. Their rotation remains among the best in baseball. Their lineup is deeper than it has been in years. Their bullpen is improved -- though how much so remains a matter of contention.
Put all those ingredients together, and it’s no surprise that baseball’s most well-regarded projection systems -- PECOTA, Steamer and the like -- give the Mets as good a chance as anyone to win the stacked National League East.
Doing so will require far more consistency than the Mets showed in 2019, when their mediocre start gave way to a blazing hot August, then a slight September letdown. The Mets feel they’re up to that challenge. Here’s a look at where they stand heading into 2020:
What’s the goal?
With the reigning NL Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year Award winners in-house, to go along with several other All-Star-caliber players and one of the game’s best pitching staffs, the Mets are in win-now mode. Nothing short of a postseason berth will satisfy them in 2020.
How do they get there?
No longer does the Mets’ path rely entirely on starting pitching. This is still a stacked rotation, led by two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. But the Mets also boast one of the game’s deepest lineups and an improved bullpen.
That last part -- the bullpen -- will be key. The Mets are hoping for bounce-back seasons from both Edwin Díaz and Jeurys Familia, plus big things from free-agent signing Dellin Betances and a repeat performance from swingman Seth Lugo. If they get all that, they’ll almost certainly enjoy a better fate than in 2019, when their bullpen ranked 25th in the league.
What could go wrong?
The Mets’ most obvious weakness is team defense, though they’re hopeful shortstop Amed Rosario’s improvements in that department are for real. More importantly, the Mets need to avoid the types of injuries and performance issues that plagued their bullpen last season. Same goes for the rotation, which was uncommonly healthy last season. (The team’s top six pitchers started 154 of their 162 games). If the Mets can’t keep deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and friends on the mound, their best-laid plans may quickly go sideways.
Offensively, the team needs Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis to prove that their 2019 performances were for real. Even if Alonso takes a slight step back in his sophomore season, the Mets need him to be the anchor of their lineup.
Who might surprise?
How about Robinson Canó? Coming off an injury-plagued season in 2019, Canó spent his winter strengthening his legs in an effort to avoid the sort of soft-tissue muscle pulls that affected him often. There’s not much buzz surrounding Canó entering his age-37 season, but he is an eight-time All-Star batting in the middle of the lineup who still might have some gas in his tank.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.