The Mets will look to build on their most successful campaign in years when they open their 2016 season on Sunday night. They’ll travel to face the team that knocked them out of the World Series five months ago, the Kansas City Royals.
Fortunately for Mets fans, it looks like they can expect another winning season in 2016. Their pitching rotation is amongst the best in baseball, and it is led by Matt Harvey, who gets the Opening Day start. Harvey (13-8, 2.71 ERA in 2015) said of facing the Royals in Game 1 of 162: “It’s going to bring back a lot of memories, but it’s also going to bring back a lot of fire.”
It’s still unclear how the Mets will handle their starters in the early going, considering they’ll play just two games between April 3 and April 7, but the logical candidate to be the number two starter is Jacob deGrom. The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom had an equally excellent 2015, going 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA.
Behind him is sophomore Noah Syndergaard. He had his early struggles, but Syndergaard showed poise in the postseason, and his 9-7 record with a 3.24 ERA from the regular season is nothing to be sneezed at.
Steven Matz, who had a brief but brilliant rookie campaign (4-0, 2.27 ERA in 35.2 IP), is expected to be named the fourth starter. He’s had some difficulty getting batters out in Spring Training, but management is hopeful he’ll put it together when it counts.
Bartolo Colon (14-13, 4.16 ERA), the ageless wonder and 2015’s Opening Day starter, is expected to hold down the fort at the back of the rotation until promising prospect Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery this summer.
Meanwhile, the Mets’ lineup is as stacked as it’s been in years, thanks primarily to Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes, who apparently took a pay cut to return to New York, is hopeful he’ll pick up where he left off in 2015.
“I loved my experience with the Mets last season,” Cespedes said in a statement after re-signing with the club. “In a short period of time, my teammates and the fans made New York feel like home, and I truly felt embraced by the entire organization.”
Cespedes is expected to stay in the heart of the order, while Curtis Granderson leads things off. Granderson thrived in this role last year after a disappointing 2014. Behind him is Mets cornerstone third baseman David Wright, who can hopefully stay healthy this year. Lucas Duda, the Mets biggest power threat, should be either third or fourth in the lineup. He’s followed by free agent pickup second baseman Neil Walker, who will try to do his best Daniel Murphy impression. Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Conforto, and Wilmer Flores are expected to complete a very promising lineup.
And for the first time in a long time, the Mets have a reliable bench to turn to; Juan Lagares, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kevin Plawecki are all expected to make big contributions.
Finally, the Mets bullpen is among the most feared in the game. Jeurys Familia, who compiled 43 saves in his first full year as the closer, is the overriding reason. But he has company in the form of free agent acquisition Antonio Bastardo, as well as 2015 deadline pickup Addison Reed. Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins, among other reliable options, are expected to pitch some important innings as well.