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2019 Mets Opening Day preview, predictions, more - Metro US

2019 Mets Opening Day preview, predictions, more

Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto look to lead the Mets to the playoffs. (Photo: Getty Images)
Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto look to lead the Mets to the playoffs. (Photo: Getty Images)
It might not be as supernatural as the Miracle Mets in 1969, but a World Series in 2019 might be as improbable for the Amazin’s.
 
The New York Mets open their regular season down in Washington, D.C. against the Nationals where we will get to see if new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was able to back up his bold prediction of his team being the class of the National League East. 
 
The Mets are competing within one of the toughest divisions in baseball with the top four teams holding promising chances to come out on top, the Mets included in that grouping. 
 
Van Wagenen had to show more aggression on the market than most general managers over the past two decades, but the former agent came away with a solid haul despite the perceived stubbornness from ownership to go out and buy good players. 
 
The offseason yielded upgrades at a number of positions and Van Wagenen started his tenure off with a bang by acquiring veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and the game’s best closer last year, Edwin Diaz, from the Seattle Mariners. 
 
Upgrades also came at catcher with the signing of Wilson Ramos while infielder Jed Lowrie was looked upon as the possible Opening Day third baseman before injuries struck. 
 
The new faces join a familiar cast of names that are attempting a 77-85 season, the second-straight losing campaign experienced by the organization after two successive trips to the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. 
 
With the clock ticking on some of the franchise’s best players, including the prime years of star pitchers like reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and his No. 2, Noah Syndergaard, the Mets will live and die by their pitching like a majority of their existence. 
 
This time around though, there is hope that the offense will be able to come up with a bit more support compared to last year, especially when referring to deGrom.
 
Here is how Metro sees the Mets 2019 season playing out while providing our readers with a guideline on some of the biggest names and stories to watch:

 

Mets 2019 Predictions: Outfielders

Now is the time for outfielder Michael Conforto to put all the pieces together. 
 
Entering his fourth full MLB season, the 26-year-old has yet to prove that he can hit for power and average simultaneously for considerable stretches. 
 
Conforto’s power returned last season following an injury-shortened 2017 campaign in which he batted .279 with 27 home runs — which proved to management that he can cut it in the majors after hitting just .220 in 109 games in 2016. While he blasted 28 home runs last year, including 14 in the final 48 games of the season, his average dipped to .243.
 
The low mark caused many to ask questions about his approach at the plate as he looked tentative following his return from a dislocated shoulder that he suffered by simply fouling off a pitch that ended his promising 2017 season. 
 
There should be no such questions this season after the spring training he’s pieced together. Conforto led the Mets with five home runs and 14 RBI in 19 games, including a streak of four-straight games with a round-tripper. 
 
The Mets would gladly take his spring slash line as well at .276/.323/.552 as the organization looks to ensure there will be offensive production from its outfielders with Yoenis Cespedes likely out for the season. 
 
Add the possibility of 30 home runs and the Mets will likely roll with Conforto as their clean-up man as 2019 starts up.
 
Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, who had the league’s fourth-highest on-base percentage last year, will be mainstays in the Mets’ outfield while Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton are set to split time in center field. 
 
METS OUTFIELDER PROJECTIONS
 
Michael Conforto (RF)- .255 BA, .345 OBP, 30 HR, 88 RBI
Brandon Nimmo (LF)- .267 BA, .395 OBP, 17 HR, 55 RBI
Juan Lagares (CF)- .270 BA, .320 OBP, 3 HR, 24 RBI
Keon Broxton (CF)- .225 BA, .300 OBP, 10 HR, 32 RBI
Jeff McNeil (OF/INF)- .290 BA, .350 OBP, 13 HR, 47 RBI
Dominic Smith (OF/1B)- .243 BA, 11 HR, 44 RBI
 

 

Mets 2019 Predictions: Infielders

Mets fans will finally get to see Pete Alonso up with the big club, the 24-year-old first baseman powering his way to the Opening Day roster. 
 
The Amazin’s are ready to unleash Alonso on Major League Baseball following a jaw-dropping 11 months of play within the organization’s system. 
 
Alonso is the Mets’ reigning Minor League Player of the Year after hitting 36 home runs with 119 RBI in a combined 132 games between double-A and triple-A. 
 
The Mets cited Alonso’s defense as the reason why he wasn’t called up to the majors during the final weeks of the season. 
 
Heading into spring training, it was originally believed that Alonso would make the MLB roster, but would be held in the minors for the first few weeks to ensure the Mets would get one more service year out of him before hitting free agency. 
 
Alonso never got the memo as he forced the Mets to make sure he would be in the majors to start 2019. In 21 spring-training games, Alonso slashed .368/.394/.647 with four home runs and 11 RBI, beating out Dominic Smith — who had an impressive spring himself — for the starting first-base job. 
 
He is just one half of the Mets’ new-look right side of the infield as veteran second baseman Robinson Cano is looking for a fresh start in New York. 
 
At 36 years old, Cano is still expected to be one of the better hitters in the game despite a 2018 season in which he was suspended 80 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. 
 
He still managed to bat .303 in 80 games with the Seattle Mariners last season with 10 home runs and 50 RBI. That kind of production over a full season will be a huge addition to the Mets’ lineup in 2019, especially with veterans like Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie — both favorites for the third-base job — out to start the season because of injury.
 
METS CATCHER/INFIELD PROJECTIONS
 
Wilson Ramos (C)- .294 BA, 15 HR, 60 RBI
Pete Alonso (1B)- .250 BA, 25 HR, 72 RBI
Robinson Cano (2B)- .292 BA, 22 HR, 80 RBI
Jeff McNeil (3B)- .290 BA, 13 HR, 47 RBI
Amed Rosario (SS)- .257 BA, 11 HR, 48 RBI
 
Travis d’Arnaud (C)- .246 BA, 7 HR, 38 RBI
Dominic Smith (1B/OF)-  .243 BA, 11 HR, 44 RBI
JD Davis (3B)- .275 BA, 8 HR, 31 RBI
Jed Lowrie (2B/3B)- .269, 15 HR, 65 RBI
Todd Frazier (3B)- .210, 17 HR, 55 RBI
 

Mets 2019 Predictions: Pitchers

From Seaver to Gooden, to Leiter, to deGrom, the rare stretches of success attained by the Mets have always been built on starting pitching.
 
Once again, that will be the case in 2019 as the Mets’ hopes of competing for a National League East title will rest on the arms of their rotation. 
 
Jacob deGrom finally received his contract extension, a five-year, $137.5 million deal, on Tuesday following his brilliant 2018 Cy Young Award-winning season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and just 46 walks. 
 
The 30-year-old is now guaranteed to stay in Queens until the 2022 season at the earlier (possible opt-out).
 
It smooths over what seemed to be a growing rift between fellow star pitcher Noah Syndergaard and management after the fireballer bashed the organization for not getting something done for deGrom this offseason. 
 
Syndergaard will be a free agent after the 2021 season and was likely keeping close tabs on the situation to get an idea of what he’ll have to deal with when it’s his turn to try and stay with the Mets. 
 
DeGrom and Syndergaard, should they stay healthy, will be among the best one-two punches in Major League Baseball in 2019. It could become one of the best trios should Zack Wheeler continue to feed off his stellar finish to the 2018 season. 
 
The 28-year-old, who finally looks healthy after missing the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, went 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA in his final 11 starts of 2018. 
 
Behind him, the Mets have a pair of lefties who will be keen on proving their worth in 2019. 
 
Steven Matz is running out of chances to prove to the Mets that he can contribute to the rotation. Injuries have derailed the 27-year-old New York native’s development in the majors as he’s failed to find any sort of consistent success. Since the start of the 2017 season, Matz is 7-18 with a 4.61 ERA. 
 
The same goes for veteran southpaw Jason Vargas, who had a disastrous start to his second stint with the Mets in 2018. The 36-year-old sported an 8.10 ERA over his first 13 starts of the season, but rebounded nicely in his final seven outings, going 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA. 
 
They’ll be supported by a bullpen that expects to take a considerable leap forward in 2019. 
 
Van Wagenen’s first big move as Mets GM back in December yielded closer Edwin Diaz, who led the majors with 57 saves to go with a 1.96 ERA. His set-up man will be a familiar face around Citi Field as former closer Jeurys Familia made his return to the Mets. He will be the eighth-inning man ahead of converted starters Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.
 
METS STARTING ROTATION PROJECTIONS
Starters
Jacob deGrom (RHP)- 17-8, 2.53 ERA, 255 K’s
Noah Syndergaard (RHP)- 16-9, 3.13 ERA, 185 K’s
Zack Wheeler (RHP)- 12-7, 3.49 ERA, 168 K’s
Steven Matz (LHP)- 7-12, 4.19 ERA, 145 K’s
Jason Vargas (LHP)- 9-10, 4.02 ERA, 122 K’s
 
Bullpen
Edwin Diaz (Closer)- 2.14 ERA, 41 saves
Jeurys Familia- 3.31 ERA, 75 K’s
Justin Wilson- 3.40 ERA, 69 K’s
Seth Lugo- 3.28 ERA, 78 K’s
Robert Gsellman- 4.02 ERA, 55 K’s
Hector Santiago- 5.13 ERA, 60 K’s
Luis Avilan- 2.96 ERA, 53 K’s

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