Jordan Yamamoto

Luis Rojas Not To Blame For 2021 Season

One day, you’re in first place, and you’re a potential NL Manager of the Year. The next, your team is eliminated from postseason contention with no hope of having a .500 record.

That’s the type of year it has been for Luis Rojas and the New York Mets. As is standard, when a team falls short, the manager faces scrutiny.

It comes with the territory. Obviously, Rojas hasn’t been perfect. Assuredly, he’s made bad decisions, and there are times you wonder what in the world he’s doing.

Go pinpoint your most maddening moment. Make it out to be more than it is. Throw a few more moments on there. Magnify that.

Guess what? That’s not the reason the 2021 Mets didn’t make the postseason. It’s far from it.

In fact, for a while, Rojas was one of the things ruse was right about the Mets. At least, that was the narrative. In the end, blaming or crediting Rojas was just that – narrative.

The truth of the matter is it all fell apart. It wasn’t all at once, but rather in pieces. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker were the only two starters to last the year with Stroman the only one to have sustained success into the second half.

Offensively, the Mets went with Chili Davis only to utilize advanced data which runs counter-intuitive to what Davis does. We saw the offense have a big letdown.

Francisco Lindor had a slow start. Michael Conforto dealt with COVID and a career worst year. That’s the tip of the iceberg with everyone not named Brandon Nimmo and maybe Pete Alonso having poor to flat out bad years.

Speaking of Nimmo, there were just so many injuries. So, so, so many injuries. When players like Jose Peraza and Jordan Yamamoto were injured, you saw the backups to the backups get hurt.

For his part, Rojas listened to the workload management rules. The front office specifically said it was the player’s fault they got hurt.

That brings us in a roundabout way to a big part of the issue. With last year being a COVID impacted year, depth was more important than ever. For some reason, the front office was cavalier with it.

Steven Matz was traded for two relievers who had little impact and another flipped for the poor performing Khalil Lee. They also made odds unforced errors like designating Johneshwy Fargas for assignment. For our mental health, we probably should’ve dwell too much on Jerad Eickhoff pitching in five games.

Fact of that matter is if Jacob deGrom was healthy, much of this season goes much differently. If the Mets hitters were just a reasonable facsimile of their career stats, the season is far different.

For that matter, if the front office looked at the roster problems and attacked them at the trade deadline, things go differently. At the end of the day, this was a first place team at the trade deadline, and the organization opted to fight another day.

In what way is all of this Rojas’ fault? The simple truth is it isn’t.

We can and should have the debate over whether Rojas is the right man for the job. Realistically speaking, he’s only had one year at the helm, and in that time, he’s shown good and bad.

The issue for any pure novice manager is whether he can grow. No one knows that yet. No one.

What we do know is the Mets shown they can win and fall apart with Rojas at the helm. Both instances were entirely tied to the strength of the roster. That brings us to the front office.

In the end, feel however you want about Rojas. It doesn’t matter because he’s not the reason the Mets disappointed this year. He may eventually be the fall guy but things aren’t magically improving because there’s another manager. The only way that happens is if the roster improves.

Tylor Megill Reminiscent Of John Maine

Back in 2006, the New York Mets were in first place, but they were running out of starting pitchers. As a result, they called up John Maine.

Maine was a hard throwing right-handed pitcher who never quite looked ready for the majors, at least he didn’t in Baltimore. However, with Rick Peterson and Willie Randolph, something clicked.

Maine was able to use his fastball and slider to earn a permanent spot in the Mets rotation. Maine began to really force the issue at the end of his July 8 start.

Maine had allowed a go-ahead homer in the sixth before retiring the final two batters of the inning. That started a stretch of 26 innings. By that time, a Mets team looking to add a starter felt comfortable balking at the steep prices, and of course, they had to pivot due to Duaner Sanchez’s cab ride.

Maine would have a strong 2006 season going 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA, 122 ERA+, 1.113 WHIP, and a 7.1 K/9.

What ensued was a crazy postseason where he was an emergency replacement for an injured Orlando Hernandez right before Game 1 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maine was terrific that postseason including his picking up a win in Game 6 of the NLCS.

What Maine did that season is difficult to emulate, but as previously noted, Megill is emulating that right now. We saw another sign in his last start where he went toe-to-toe with Brandon Woodruff over five innings.

Like Maine in 2006, Megill is only in the majors due to injuries, and he may be here to stay because of them. Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to pitch this season, and their time tables keep getting pushed back.

Joey Lucchesi had season ending Tommy John surgery. Jordan Yamamoto is on the 60 day IL. David Peterson has hit the IL. The end result has been Megill rushed to the majors and getting his opportunity, and the Mets suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly being in a position where they’ll need to look to add a starter at the trade deadline.

With every start, Megill is alleviating those concerns. Working with Jeremy Hefner and Luis Rojas, he’s taken his game to another level. Working predominantly with his fastball and slider, he increasingly looks like a Major League starter.

So far, he’s made three starts. He hasn’t registered a decision yet, but he has improved with each start. He has a 104 ERA+ and a very impressive 11.9 K/9. That’s even with him walking a couple of batters more than you’d like . . . much like Maine.

With his poise, repertoire, demeanor, and this coaching staff, there’s no reason to believe Megill won’t continue to improve. With each successive start, he’ll make the case he not only should be a part of this rotation, but he can be a part of a World Series contending team.

Again, that’s where the Mets were in 2006. John Maine gave them some comfort they could address other needs because Maine stabilized the rotation. When the pitchers didn’t heal like the Mets had hoped, and others pitchers got injured, Maine had a strong postseason giving the Mets every opportunity to win the pennant.

Megill is showing he can be that type of pitcher. He can be the stopgap. He can be the pitcher who convinces the Mets they don’t need to add pitching at the deadline. He can have a real impact this postseason.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Get Marlins Slip Through Their Grasp

The New York Mets had a chance to put further distance between themselves and the rest of the NL East. Instead, they lost a tough series:

1. Of course, Jordan Yamamoto got hurt because there can’t be a Mets game without an injury.

2. The same fans who wanted Joey Lucchesi pitch the fifth are the same ones who wanted everyone warming when David Peterson last pitched.

3. Johneshwy Fargas belongs.

4. If you wanted proof Baseball is a cruel sport, look no further than Jake Hager being designated for assignment the day after celebrating his first MLB hit.

5. Marcus Stroman cheering on Miguel Castro after Castro blew Stroman’s win speaks volumes about Stroman as a person and teammate.

6. At this rate, and after his strong rehab start, Noah Syndergaard may be the first person back from the IL. Okay, it’s really going to be Jacob deGrom, but you get the point.

7. Tomas Nido gave an inch in this series with the dropped ball, but James McCann again showed no reason why he should play over Nido right now.

8. The Mets are really banged up, but there has to be better options available than Brandon Drury and Cameron Maybin . . . right?

9. Jonathan Villar has been abysmal of late.

10. There’s literally no point in complaining about the lineups right now because there are zero good choices to put out there.

11. Dominic Smith really is a terrific defensive first baseman. Hopefully, his getting time where he’s most comfortable can get him swinging better.

12. Well, except for clutch situations. He’s as good as gold in those situations right now.

13. With Robert Gsellman and Sean Reid-Foley, the Mets have been getting phenomenal performances from the long men in the bullpen.

14. Really, the bullpen has been great from top to bottom. You just have to wonder how much longer they can withstand this usage rate.

15. Luis Rojas and Jeremy Hefner aren’t getting nearly enough credit.

16. Mets need more from Francisco Lindor. They’ll get it eventually. Until that time, just enjoy the great defense and the hugs.

17. The game winning hit was fun and all, but Khalil Lee is completely and utterly overmatched at the plate right now.

18. It’s awesome to see MSG rocking for Knicks playoff basketball. It’s been so desperately missed.

19. The last time the Knicks and Mets made the playoffs in the same year was 2000 when the Mets lost the World Series, and the Knicks lost to the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

20. The Colorado Rockies are coming to Citi Field at a time the Mets weakened roster needs a truly putrid team they can beat.

20/20 Hindsight: M*E*T*S* Nearly Sweep Braves

The New York Mets have been an injury a minute, and somehow, they went to Atlanta and took two out of three from the Braves:

1. If Tomas Nido keeps this up, the discussion may shift from whether he should be the everyday catcher to whether he’s one of the best catchers in the game.

2. Khalil Lee can keep striking out if he is going to continue to make outstanding game saving catches in right field.

3. Kudos to Edwin Diaz to taking that significant step in his career where you can rely on him on consecutive days.

4. The front office people who told Diaz to put on more weight deserves a raise. The same goes to Jeremy Hefner, who is getting all you can out of Diaz and the entire bullpen.

5. The same goes for the people designing the Mets shifts. They’re shifting nearly more than everyone, and they’re doing it better than almost everyone.

6. Seeing how the Mets played this series and the improvements he seems to be making, Luis Rojas should be getting more credit than he is.

7. Jonathan Villar is a guy with poor numbers across the board, and yet, he just finds a way to have an impact in nearly every game.

8. Kevin Pillar suffered the worst HBP this side of Ray Chapman. It’s miraculous he didn’t suffer more than multiple nasal fractures.

9. Pillar certainly made himself more fans with his play and his talking about how it’s breaking his heart he can’t be out there when his team needs him.

10. That should serve as a reminder we shouldn’t be rushing to judgment to players after a week. Remember, there were plenty of very vocal fans who were convinced Pillar would do nothing this year.

11. It’s not hyperbole to say the Mets play a game and someone else turns up injured. It’s so bad we find out Pete Alonso suddenly has a wrist issue and can’t play.

12. It looks like Dominic Smith could supplant Alonso as the first baseman for now. Hopefully, that helps get him going.

13. For as much as the Mets didn’t want to give Jordan Yamamoto a real chance, they have no choice now. Oh, and we’re probably going to see Thomas Szapucki soon.

14. There’s joy, and then there’s Tommy Hunter, a 14 year MLB veteran, getting his first career hit.

15. Good job by the Chicago Cubs honoring their commitment to Cameron Maybin by trading him to the Mets for $1.

16. It wasn’t that long ago Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon didn’t honor their agreement to Devin Mesoraco. That led to Mesoraco retuning, rushing to activate Travis d’Arnaud, and then rage cutting d’Arnaud.

17. If you’re looking for a comp for David Peterson, it’s Mike Pelfrey. Both were sinkerball first rounders rushed to the majors from Double-A, and the team didn’t let them go back and develop after the initial panic call-up.

18. If you’re even being competitive with a Maybin-Johneshwy Fargas-Lee outfield, you’re doing something right. Seriously, what the Mets did in this series was beyond impressive.

19. Think of everything that has gone wrong with this team. They’re still over .500 and in first place.

20. Sometimes teams just have one of those special seasons. So far, this is shaping up to be one of them.

Game Recaps

Mets Win Game And Lose Two More

Tomas Nido Wins It

Mets Bullpen Too Exhausted To Hold On

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Swept Up In Rays

The New York Mets went to Tampa Bay flying high, and now, their winning streak is over, and they over wounded . . . literally. It was about as bad a weekend as they’ve had all season:

1. For all the talk of depth, it is very difficult to overcome the loss of Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. Those are arguably your three best hitters.

2. The Mets “Bench Mob” has done their job, but you do wonder how long they can hold on as the regulars are injured and don’t appear set to get back to their healthy forms soon.

3. In terms of injuries, Marcus Stroman hasn’t been the same since his hamstring issues.

4. With Joey Lucchesi struggling in his current role, the Mets have to question what exactly he is. Is he a starter which gives you maybe four innings? Is he a long reliever? Seriously, what is he?

5. You really do have to question why Lucchesi is constantly allowed to fail when the Mets could just call-up Jordan Yamamoto. Seriously, he can’t be any worse.

6. Again, the Mets trading Steven Matz has come back to bite them. They simply didn’t have the rotation depth to just part with a legitimate starter.

7. David Peterson had a great start just when he needed to have a great start. That said, he needs to get through the bottom third of that Rays lineup unscathed.

8. This isn’t the postseason. You simply cannot have relievers warming up all the time. Teams need to navigate a 162 game schedule, and that is made all the more complicated by last year’s shortened season.

9. Not every loss is Luis Rojas‘ fault, and that loss was certainly not on Rojas. The Mets ran into Tyler Glasnow, they didn’t hit with runners in scoring position, and then their bullpen didn’t perform up to standards.

10. Just like Peterson had to get through the bottom of that lineup, Trevor May has to get out Manuel Margot in that spot. Margot is terrible against right-handed pitching, and he is terrible with two outs and runners in scoring position.

11. With Jacob deGrom going down, the Mets are in danger of running through their bullpen depth by the end of May.

12. At some point, James McCann is going to have to do something. His offense hasn’t come along, and even worse, his framing numbers have been terrible. Maybe, this is his year of adjustment, or maybe, he needs more rest than he’s getting. Whatever it is, with all the Mets injuries, the team needs him to figure it out now.

13. While he’s played a flashy third base, Jonathan Villar has been predictably poor over there. So far, he has a -2 DRS and a -1 OAA. It’s hard to see how he keeps playing everyday when J.D. Davis is ready to return.

14. Who knows how long he can keep it up, but Patrick Mazeika is becoming the fell good story of the season. When he finally gets his first hit, it’s a homer.

15. Fair or not, the Mets need more from Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, and Francisco Lindor. They’re good enough to carry this offense with the other injuries.

16. Alonso has hit a lot of special homers in his young career, but homering in his hometown had to mean a little bit more to him. Hopefully, that homer sparks a hot streak at the plate which this team so desperately needs.

17. It’s insane to think Jose Peraza has been this good so far. Right now, the Mets have no other option than to just see how long he rides this wave.

18. The Mets are fortunate the NL East can’t get out of their own way right now. They get swept by the Rays, and they still stay in first place.

19. For all the criticism over Lindor and the ratcoon joke, Joe Girardi outright refused to answer questions about his issues with Jean Segura. While some may want to think that’s the better way of handling it, it’s hard to see how that helps brings the team together and fire up the fanbase like the ratcoon joke did.

20. Injured or not, the Mets begin an important stretch with series on the road against the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. Fortunately, they’re going to put their best foot forward with Taijuan Walker on the mound.

 

Game Recaps

Mets Lost Due to Glasnow and Clutch Rays Hitting

Joey Lucchesi Beings Bullpen Game Implosion

Mets Banged Up

Mets Split Bizarre Doubleheader

The first game of the doubleheader between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets was just an ugly game. Really, almost everything about it was bad.

The Mets were 0-for-5 with RISP leaving five men in baseball. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

The Mets loaded the bases in the fourth wig no outs. They only scored one run on a James McCann fielder’s choice. On the play, Nolan Arenado fielded the ball while stepping on the bag simultaneously.

After that, Jonathan Villar and Albert Almora struck out to end what was the Mets only rally of the game.

Of course, no discussion of that fourth inning is complete without discussing the Kwang Hyun Kim interpreter controversy and ensuing roughly 10 minutes of deliberations and replay.

Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizer went to the mound to talk with Kim, and Kim’s interpreter came from the dugout to the mound. Later in the inning, the interpreter joined Mike Maddux, Luis Rojas correctly pointed out that was technically a second mound visit necessitating Kim be removed from the game.

The umpires blew the call because they didn’t know the rules, and the replay officials got it wrong even when they informed them of the rule, they let Kim stay in the game.

Sadly, Marcus Stroman, who was making a start on a sore hamstring, made the mistake of allowing two earned runs.

The first was a Paul Goldschmidt first inning homer. In the third, Arenado had an RBI single. That’s all the runs the Cardinals would need.

The final score was 4-1 as Francisco Lindor threw a ball away with two outs, and Paul DeJong continued being a Mets killer by hitting a two run homer.

While we wouldn’t see the Mets offense respond to the Chili Davis firing in the first game, we would in the second.

After a scoreless first where we saw the Mets use Miguel Castro as an opener, the Mets bats would put runs on the board for Castro and Jordan Yamamoto, who was making his first Mets appearance.

Dominic Smith started a rally against Cardinals starter Johan Oviedo with a lead-off single. He’d move to third on a Kevin Pillar double.

With respect to Pillar, he’s really stepped up when the Mets needed it most. Their best hitter, Nimmo, was injured and finally hit the IL. Since Nimmo has gone down, Pillar is 8-for-16 with four runs, a double, two homers, and four RBI.

After two quick outs, you were left wondering if the Mets would ever score. That made Oviedo’s wild pitch allowing Smith to score a relief. What was even better was Tomas Nido‘s ensuing two run homer:

The Cardinals had a chance to respond in the second. Former Met Ali Sanchez doubled, and Oviedo tried to help his own cause, but Pillar would gun down Sanchez.

Villar increased the Mets lead to 4-0 with a solo homer in the fourth.

The Cardinals put a rally together in the fourth. Yamamoto hit Tyler O’Neill to start the inning, and he’d be on second with two outs when the Mets went to the bullpen.

Aaron Loup relieved Yamamoto, and he’d allow an inherited runner to score on a Dylan Carlson pinch hit RBI single. Things were getting dangerous after a Tommy Edman single, but Loup would retire Matt Carpenter to get out of the inning.

After the Cardinals scored one in the bottom of fourth, the Mets would get one back and then some in the fifth.

What was impressive was the Mets delivered with two outs again. With runners on first and second and two outs, Pillar and Villar hit consecutive RBI singles to increase the Mets lead to 6-1.

Villar, the surprise starter at short had a very good game. In addition to the two RBI, he’d later make a very good play in the hole.

From there, Trevor May pitched a scoreless fifth, and Robert Gsellman allowed one run in the sixth.

With Bernardo Flores Jr. wild, the Mets took advantage loading the bases and scoring a run on a Pillar RBI groundout.

The Mets sent Jeurys Familia to the mound to close out the five run lead. Even though such an act was impossible earlier in the week for Edwin Diaz, Familia took care of business securing the 7-2 win.

In a bizarre series of games, the Mets secured a split of the doubleheader, and they are in position to split the series with a win tomorrow. That closes out a wild 72 hours.

Game Notes: Sean Reid-Foley was the Mets 27th man for the doubleheader. Lindor is hitless over his last 24 at-bats, the second worst stretch in his career. Brandon Nimmo was put on the IL between games with Patrick Mazeika getting called up off the taxi squad. Keith Hernandez was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Mets Front Office Hurts Mets Chances To Win

Honestly, the New York Mets lost this game when the front office made a baffling decision. The St. Louis Cardinals are dangerous against left-handed pitching, and they relatively struggle against right-handed pitching.

Knowing that, the Mets decided to call-up Joey Lucchesi to make the start. Not Jordan Yamamoto, who has good numbers against the Cardinals. They didn’t even look to pitch Robert Gsellman or Sean Reid-Foley.

No, they went with Lucchesi, and it backfired spectacularly. Keep in mind, the Mets offense handed Lucchesi a 5-2 lead heading into the third.

In the second, Adam Wainwright got wild. With runners on first and second and one out, Mike Shildt made the odd choice to intentionally walk Jonathan Villar to load the bases.

That decision backfired as Wainwright plunked Tomas Nido to force in a run. After striking out Lucchesi, Wainwright walked Jeff McNeil to force home a second run.

The rally ended there as Francisco Lindor struck out to end the inning. Again, Lindor’s struggles at the plate continue. However, his defense remains as magnificent as ever:

The Mets would get back at it in the third starting with a Michael Conforto lead-off walk. After Pete Alonso hit his second double of the game, Dominic Smith drove home a run with an RBI groundout. Kevin Pillar followed with his second homer in as many days:

With a 5-2 lead, Lucchesi retired the first two batters he faced in the third. He then completely fell apart.

After allowing back-to-back singles to Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt, Lucchesi would surrender a game tying three run homer to Nolan Arenado. For some odd reason, Luis Rojas didn’t have anyone ready to relieve him.

Paul DeJong would continue being a Mets killer hitting a double. He’d then score on a Tyler O’Neill RBI double. With that, the 5-2 lead became a 6-5 deficit, and Lucchesi would be out of the game.

The real shame is Gsellman (2.1 IP) and Reid-Foley were terrific (2.0) over 4.1 scoreless innings. They’d combine to allow just two hits while walking none and striking out four.

When you throw in Jacob Barnes, the bullpen pitched 5.1 scoreless. Converse that with Lucchesi who allowed at least one run over each of the first three innings.

Both bullpens did their job not allowing any runs after that third inning. Of course, that meant the decision to start Lucchesi was the big factor which cost the Mets this game.

It’s a shame because the Mets scored five runs, played good defense, and pitched well in the pen. Someone should be accountable for that, but instead, Rojas will have to face the criticism for it.

Game Notes: J.D. Davis was put on the 10 day IL. Stephen Tarpley was called up to take his place.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Finally Lose Opening Series

After the opening series against the Washington Nationals was canceled due to COVID19, the New York Mets finally played their first series of the season. They should’ve taken the series, but didn’t;

1. That was your typical Jacob deGrom start. He’s dominant. The Mets don’t score. The bullpen blows it.

2. Much was made of deGrom coming out after six. People overlook deGrom being part of and agreeing with the decision. He had a long layoff, and it’s going to be tricky getting everyone through the season.

3. James McCann was a mixed bag. He called a great game, and he was great framing it. However, he did let some balls get behind him, and he did a Wilson Ramos impersonation on Luis Guillorme‘s throw.

4. With J.D. Davis being down, Guillorme and Jonathan Villar may get a chance to prove they should play everyday. So far, they’re making a good case.

5. Pete Alonso looks like a man on a mission. He’s completely locked in at the plate, and his defense has never looked better. He could be on the verge of an MVP type season.

6. It was actually surprising to see his ball didn’t go out on Tuesday night. Last year and the year before those balls might’ve been 20 rows deep. Instead, that ball died at the wall. That may be a real sign the ball isn’t traveling like it did in prior years.

7. The Mets were down because the bullpen hasn’t been great so far.

8. Trevor May has struggled in both games, but it was good to see him come into the second game, fight it, and get out of the inning unscathed. That and his taking ownership of his poor performance is an indication he is going to be just fine in New York.

9. The Aaron Loup signing was curious, especially given the three batter rule. We saw just how that can help a team implode. After he plunked Bryce Harper, he was facing J.T. Realmuto. It should come as no surprise that inning got out of control.

10. There were some good signs out of Jeurys Familia and Miguel Castro. Overall, with Edwin Diaz not getting into a game, the Mets best reliever in the series was Joey Lucchesi, who is also their fifth starter.

11. There could be some questions as to how Luis Rojas managed these games, but it is first important to remember he is not the one who fills out the lineup card. Some of his decisions are also very defensible like leaving in Kevin Pillar in the fourth inning of a game where the Mets had deGrom on the mound and had a 2-0 lead.

12. The fact the Mets would not bat Brandon Nimmo atop the lineup is beyond crazy. Even with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, it’s crazy. In fact, Nimmo has been the Mets best hitter against left-handed pitchers the last two years. The second best? Dominic Smith.

13. Dominic Smith isn’t a platoon player, and he shouldn’t be treated as such. He showed that on his first at-bat of the season.

14. Jeff McNeil has hit the ball with real authority so far this season. It was probably a good idea to get him a mental break ahead of coming to New York.

15. On that note, we are likely going to see a number of players miss some unexpected games here and there as they get vaccinated and deal with the side effects. Well, everyone except Davis.

16. Marcus Stroman was great on the mound, and he not only looks like an All-Star with that new forkball, but he could be a very real contender for the Cy Young this season.

17. Francisco Lindor has been everything as advertised so far this season. His defense has been great. He is giving good at-bats. He was a real leader talking to David Peterson after a rough outing. The Mets are very lucky to have him around for the next decade.

18. The long layoff was probably a factor, but Peterson showed he probably needs more time in Triple-A, which is fine. It would’ve been better to put Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation to start the season. That goes double when the Mets could have skipped the fifth starter, which they are.

19. Michael Conforto struggled with runners on base during this series, so naturally people are going overboard in their reaction. Fact is, Conforto is still a .271/.393/.512 hitter with runners in scoring position in his career. He’s going to be fine, and the Mets should still be pushing to sign him to an extension to make him a Met for life.

20. The Mets were put at a disadvantage not playing the Nationals series, and the Atlanta Braves got to fact that decimated Nationals team. Mets showed some rust, but this is still a very good team. They’re now in the flow of things, and we should look for them to have a good first homestand of the season.d

Mets Will Win 2021 NL East Title

Maybe this is just the excitement which comes from Opening Day. Certainly, that is amplified by new ownership, the Francisco Lindor extension, and Jacob deGrom taking the mound. However, taking everything into account, this New York Mets team is the best one we have seen since 2015 and probably 2006.

Like most times the Mets are good, they are going to be led by pitching. Their starting staff is great, and when healthy, it is the best in baseball. Part of the reason why is deGrom is still the best pitcher in baseball. Behind him right now is Marcus Stroman. Stroman has made adjustments and added new pitches, and he looks set for a career year. That is really saying something considering he has been a gamer his entire career, and he was the World Baseball Classic MVP.

Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco may be the two most underrated pitchers in baseball. Looking at their FIP, they pitch at or near an ace level. In this rotation, they may be no better than third or fourth starters. It’s not just doing deGrom-Stroman-Syndergaard-Carrasco. This is one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball.

Behind that quartet is Taijuan Walker who was once a top 100 prospect, and he seems poised to take a big step forward after using analytics to help him improve. After Walker, the Mets have David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto, each of whom could be around a three in most rotations. For the Mets, they will eventually be on the outside looking in.

They are all going to be better pitchers because they have the tandem of James McCann and Tomas Nido behind the plate. Both of these players are strong catchers who are excellent pitch framers. Having catchers like that behind the plate make good pitchers even better. When your starting pitching is great and operating at a high level, you are going to win a lot of games.

This is paired with an incredible lineup. They Mets have an embarrassment of riches on that front. Consider Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have each been All-Star lead-off hitters, and they aren’t even the Mets best lead-off hitter. That’s Brandon Nimmo. With that group plus Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, their 1-6 of their lineup can and probably should be hitting in the middle of the order.

Now, this Mets team isn’t perfect. Far from it. The first problem is their bullpen. The good news on that front is between Edwin Diaz and Trevor May, they have the last two innings covered well. The hope is at least one of Dellin Betances, Miguel Castro, or Jeurys Familia can figure it out to become that seventh inning reliever. That is at least until Seth Lugo is good to return. When that happens the Mets bullpen will be in great shape.

Another factor there is the Mets have some other interesting options. Sooner or later, Drew Smith will be healthy and ready to rejoin the bullpen. It should also be noted when the Mets have their full rotation, someone like Lucchesi can move down to the bullpen where his churve could be a weapon on par with Lugo’s curveball.

The other issue is the defense. Simply put, having J.D. Davis at third is unacceptable. He can’t remotely field the position. Having Dominic Smith behind him makes the left side defense one of the worst in baseball. To that, they may not be the worst in the division with the Atlanta Braves probably being worse with Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna.

It’s very possible Brandon Nimmo can succeed with positioning in center. After all, he’s had positive OAAs in center most of his career, and he does have the speed for the position. Jeff McNeil seems more comfortable at second, and while Alonso has his defensive issues, he is quite adept and receiving throws around first.

While the lineup has serious defensive issues, the bench does not. Luis Guillorme is a Gold Glove caliber defender. Albert Almora and Kevin Pillar are also quite good. With the lead, we can and should see Luis Rojas run all three out with Smith moving to first base. When that happens, the Mets defensive alignment turns from questionable to really strong.

Therein lies the key. Aside from health, Rojas is going to be the biggest key to this Mets season. He is going to need a deft touch as to when to utilize his defensive replacements. He and Jeremy Hefner are also going to have to get their rotation healthy through the season, which is all the more challenging because of the shortened season last year. They are also going to have to find the right mix in the bullpen while making sure they don’t overuse their best relievers.

Right now, the Mets have the right mix to have a great season. They also have an owner willing to invest in the team, and they have Sandy Alderson in charge, who we know will not be shy making a key trade or two to improve this Mets roster.

Looking at the Braves, their pitching has durability issues, and their defensive issues may be worse than the Mets. The Phillies don’t have the starting pitching, and their bullpen was a disaster last year. The Marlins are young and not deep. The Nationals still don’t know what they are going at key positions on the field.

Taking everything into account, the Mets are the best team in the National League East. If Rojas is up to the task, and there is every reason to believe he will be, the Mets are well poised to return to the postseason again and let their pitching take them back to the World Series.

20/20 Offseason Hindsight: Let The Steve Cohen Era Begin

Steve Cohen purchased the New York Mets, and suddenly, everything got better. After Cohen purchased the Mets, things were different, very different:

1. It’s still unbelievable to think the Mets added $92.1 million to the 2021 payroll alone. If nothing else, that announced everything was different.

2. The Francisco Lindor trade was a franchise defining trade. He’s a superstar as future Hall of Famer.

3. It’s still hard to believe a contract extension won’t get done. After him, Noah Syndergaard may get one next.

4. It’s hard to see Scott Boras letting Michael Conforto sign an extension now. However, if he does, he will be poised to be the next captain and break a lot of David Wright’s records.

5. Speaking of breaking records, Jacob deGrom looks primed to have a great year. He cane out in midseason form, and it’ll be a shock if he’s not the Cy Young.

6. When Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco return, this will be an all-time Mets rotation.

7. It’s still curious the plan to start the year is to put David Peterson in a position where he bounces back and forth all year.

8. Speaking of curious decisions, how do the Mets make all of these moves and build a ground ball staff only to trust J.D. Davis at third.

9. They’re also putting a lot of stock in Edwin Diaz being great, and Miguel Castro figuring it out. Although to be fair, it’s not the same with Davis as this was the result of Seth Lugo‘s injury.

10. Dellin Betances looks done. With him, we may find out just how much Cohen can tolerate and whether the Mets know how to handle a sunk cost.

11. With Jordan Yamamoto not making the Opening Day roster and Luis Guillorme not getting a starting job, we see Spring Training competitions are a complete fraud.

12. For all the lip service Sandy Alderson gave to making the Mats a better defensive team, he did what he always did in putting multiple first basemen in the field.

13. They may be deadening the ball, but Pete Alonso looks ready to murder them. He’s completely locked in and looks poised to have a monster year.

14. Marcus Stroman also looks set to have a great year. He may be a surprise Cy Young contender, and it may behoove the Mets to lock him up before his price tag soars.

15. Stroman is a reminder the Mets never needed Trevor Bauer. Bauer may have another great year, but he’d be a fifth starter on this team, and he would’ve prevented the Mets from extending their stars.

16. All told, this is a team who has a deep lineup and a very good starting rotation. There are holes, but the team seems confident they can win.

17. The black jerseys returning does give this team big 1999 vibes.

18. Luis Rojas may emerge as a surprise manager of the year candidate. This team is that good and so is he. The key will Be how well he utilizes his defensive replacements in Guillorme (who should be starting), Albert Almora, and Kevin Pillar.

19. James McCann seems like the perfect addition to this team. The pitchers seem to be raving about his leadership and work behind the plate. If he hits a little (and he can hit a lot), he’s going to be great.

20. Everything about this organization is different. The team is vastly improved. They’re looking to keep their best players. They’re beefing up their analytics and player development. Overall, it’s a great time to be a Mets fan.