New York Mets 2018 Season Preview

The National League East is a division of the “have’s” and the “have not’s.” The Washington Nationals have virtually all the pieces to be a World Series contender. The Atlanta Braves have maybe the best collection of young talent in all of baseball. The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies are the “have not’s,” as they’re firmly mired in rebuilding projects that have left them years away from contending.

Which category does this team fall under?

So the question that everyone is asking about the New York Mets is: which category does this team fall under?

At one point in time, the Mets’ pitching rotation was considered to be one of the most dangerous in baseball, with the potential to have “five aces” in said rotation. But to say that that injuries have ravaged this once-promising staff would be an understatement. New York has had exactly one pitcher who’s thrown for more than 200 innings in a season since 2015; Jacob deGrom barely topped that mark with 201.1 innings last year.

Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all had prolonged stints on the disabled list, and weren’t anywhere up to their own individual par when they did pitch. The makeshift group finished with the second-worst ERA in the Majors last year, with a collective 5.01 ERA.

First-time manager Mickey Callaway

One of the biggest reasons the Mets hired first-time manager Mickey Callaway was the fact that he’d approach the roster with more of a player health-centric approach. That approach is going to have to extend to both the aforementioned pitching staff, but also the current group of hitters as well.

This just in: @nsyndergaard can chuck it. #Thor #SpringTraining #Mets

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Offensively, an optimist might point to the fact that the Mets crushed 224 home runs last year, which was the seventh-highest total in baseball. A realist, however, might point to the fact that the guys who accounted for just under 44% of that number are no longer in New York. And among the guys who are left, there are still questions about where they fit in within the batting order, and yes, whether they can stay healthy enough to be relied upon.

Figuring it out

The Mets are still sifting through a handful of guys, to figure out who is going to be in the leadoff spot. Michael Conforto (whenever he’s healthy enough to play) and Jose Reyes (who isn’t looked upon as an everyday player) are the leaders in the clubhouse for the top of the batting order. Yoenis Cespedes, and new acquisition Todd Frazier will probably come next in the batting order, but it gets really suspect after that.

The Mets are really hoping that minor leaguers Luis Guillorme and Gavin Cecchini are ready to contribute sooner rather than later, as the early reviews for both are very positive, with the caveat that they might still be a little bit away from replicating the same success in the bigs. There’s also the Tim Tebow experiment, but you could argue that he’s just as much a publicity stunt for the fans, versus being someone the Mets can actually utilize.

The latter versus the former

If things all fall the right way for the Mets, they might have the potential to contend for one of the two Wild Card spots in the National League. But, that would take a lot of things going the right way for New York, which has been the exact opposite of what we’ve seen from this team in recent years. The line between them being a good team and being a bad team this year is very thin, even if the odds are more in favor of the latter versus the former.

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