By Zach Gewelb
Another Major League Baseball season has begun. The Mets opened their season Thursday afternoon and are set to embark on what should be an interesting 2018 campaign, the team’s first under the guidance of new manager Mickey Callaway.
Let’s take a look at what Mets fans can expect to see from their team this season.
The Mets added one new arm to the rotation, but much of their starting staff remains the same. Aces Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom will once again lead the staff, with free agent signing Jason Vargas joining holdovers Matt Harvey and Steven Matz in the rotation. Vargas will start the season on the disabled list with a hand injury, though his DL stint is expected to be short. Seth Lugo will start the season in the rotation, while Zack Wheeler is slated to begin the year in Triple-A.
Just like the last couple of seasons, as the starting rotation goes, so do the Mets. If the rotation is healthy and efficient, then the Mets should remain in the playoff picture throughout the season. If the rotation falls apart like it did in 2017, then it will be tough for the Mets to make a postseason push.
The Mets added Anthony Swarzak to the relief corps this offseason, joining Jerry Blevins, Jeurys Familia and AJ Ramos to form what should be an above average bullpen in 2018. After a breakout 2017 season, the Mets are counting on Swarzak to be a reliable option as a middle reliever, setting the table for late-game options Familia and Ramos. Blevins returns as a solid lefty out of the pen.
The Mets should have a more balanced lineup in 2018 after signing free agents Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier in the offseason. Those two — plus first baseman Adrian Gonzalez — bring some much-needed depth to lineup, which will also consist of holdovers Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d’Arnaud and 22-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario.
Michael Conforto will start the season on the DL, which allows Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo to split time in center field to start the season. Expect to see Nimmo start against righties, while Lagares will likely be in the lineup against southpaws.
Jose Reyes is back again and will provide some depth and versatility off the bench, along with Wilmer Flores and newcomer Phillip Evans, who gets Conforto’s roster spot while the 2017 All-Star is on the DL.
The Mets, while rebounding from their 70-win 2017 campaign, will improve this season, though they will fall just short of earning a sport in the playoffs.
The Mets will finish second in the division behind the Washington Nationals — who will clinch the NL East for the third consecutive season — and will just miss out on the final Wild Card spot, which will go to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Mets will have better luck with health this season, but it won’t be enough to make the playoffs, making 2018 the second straight year out of the postseason for New York.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe