What are the key factors in the 2017 Mets roster? There’s some skepticism about the starting rotation going into the season. Will they bounce back from their respective surgeries? How much of a workload will they be able to handle? But the rotation is not the only key to success for the 2017 Mets roster.
Yes, three of them are coming back from surgeries (four if you count Wheeler’s Tommy-John surgery from two years ago). But they have an incredibly talented staff, with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom and Matt Harvey all being possible aces on most other teams. Matz and Gsellman would be in the top half of most other rotations as well. Granted both need to prove that they can perform over an entire season. Then there is Wheeler, who might begin the season in the bullpen to limit his innings, and Lugo, who proved very serviceable last season. So they have depth and exceptional talent in the rotation. The team should be able to succeed even if one or two don’t fully perform up to expectations.
The true threat in the lineup. The Mets can survive an injury in the rotation, but they won’t succeed if Yoenis Cespedes is out for any extended amount of time. He played thru a nagging quad injury much of last season. Hopefully the move out of center field and back to left field, along with some occasional rest, will keep him healthy. Although it will be tough for Collins to rest him since he is such an offensive force.
Before the game, opposing pitchers will scan the Mets lineup and say “he’s the guy to pitch around when possible”. And that is the problem. Cespedes needs some protection behind him. When he presses at the plate, he has been prone to chasing the high fastball up around his shoulders and the low and away breaking ball. Last season he made good progress in laying off those pitches. If he stays healthy and gets some protection in the lineup, expect another great year from Cespedes.
Catcher, the position where the Mets are most vulnerable. Yet it is probably also the position with the most upside potential over last season. A healthy, productive Travis d’Arnaud would lengthen the lineup and also provide more offensive consistency. In Granderson, Bruce and Duda the Mets have three guys that can hit 30 homers. But they are also incredibly streaky hitters.
d’Arnaud needs to return to a more consistent offensive threat then he’s been recently. He also needs to improve his throwing and game calling (he had a higher era than Rene Rivera). The Mets hope that the addition of coach Glenn Sherlock helps him revive his catching skills. The team has little choice. Rivera proved a valuable backup catcher, but it’s doubtful that he can perform at that level every day. Kevin Plawecki will probably be relegated to the minors and only get called up if there is an injury. He has struggled to get established at the major league level. It’s Travis or bust at the catching position.
So there you have it. The 3 keys of the 2017 Mets roster.
Photo by Keith Allison