Well folks, it’s that time of the year again. The time of year where I see pictures and videos of the Mets down in Port St. Lucie soaking in the sun and playing baseball, preparing for the season. The time of year where I’m stuck in a cruel New York winter, cursing to myself that I’ve yet again missed an opportunity to save money, go to Florida and see my favorite team play some baseball. BUT, it’s okay because when the team takes the field for their first Spring Training game, Opening Day will only be 34 days away and I can sit above left field and (hopefully) watch them start the season with a win. And it’ll be wonderful, even though I’ll more than likely be frozen to death. But enough about me, it’s time to talk some baseball. It’s time to talk about the 2018 season. It’s time to talk Opening Day roster. It’s time for some predictions and boy, oh boy, do I have some predictions for you. Without further a due, allow me to give you my New York Mets’ Opening Day Lineup, Bench, Rotation and Bull Pen. Here we go!
Alright, we’re going to start off with the lineup since it’s likely the easiest to predict. For this lineup, I’m going to imagine that Michael Conforto is healthy by Opening Day. I know that they’ve said he probably won’t be, but I’ve seen videos of him at Spring Training and he seems to be doing well, so I’ll be an optimist and pretend he’s healthy for Opening Day.
1. Shortstop: Amed Rosario – That’s right, I’m stealing John Smoltz’ gimmick and making a bold prediction. I predict that the rookie short stop will get the first at bat for the Mets in 2018. And the reasoning is simple…speed. Dee Gordon, Jean Segura, Billy Hamilton, Trea Turner, all speedy players and all led their team’s batting lineup last season. And with the exception of Gordon and Segura, they’ll likely be doing the same thing this season. It’s a good idea to put your fastest player in the top of the lineup for obvious reasons. They have the best chance of scoring for you. When someone like Rosario gets on base, he has a good chance of making it from 1st to 3rd or from 2nd to home on a base hit to the outfield. Or he can swipe a base and get the team out of a possible Double Play scenario. And if Rosario is going to be the “next Jose Reyes” he’s got to get an opportunity to do so and what better way than leading the team’s lineup on opening day.
2. Center Field: Michael Conforto – Like I said in the introduction, I’m pretending for this scenario that Conforto is healthy. Conforto was given the opportunity to lead off the team last season for a period of time and he was very productive in that spot. But with a speedy guy like Rosario on the team, Conforto leading off the team just doesn’t seem to make much sense. But, Conforto was one of the most impressive players last season with a .384 On Base Percentage and a career high 27 Home Runs. If he can be as productive as he was in 2017, putting him in the 2 hole gives him a pretty good chance of driving in a run if Rosario is on base. If Conforto isn’t healthy enough to be on the lineup for Opening Day, the spot would go to either Brandon Nimmo or Juan Lagares and while the power wouldn’t be there, Lagares is quick enough to avoid a DP and Nimmo knows how to get on base.
3. Second Base: Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera used to never be able to hit when runners were on base. In fact, it was sort of his kryptonite. But he turned that around during the 2016 season and carried that over into the 2017 season. He drove in 59 runs last season, hit 14 Home Runs and had an On Base Percentage of .351. It’s not as impressive as it was in his previous seasons, but that’s because he’s a veteran player, but he still has a lot to offer the lineup. He’s come through in some very clutch moments in the past and if he can get on base, that means he’s got the clean-up guy a chance to hit and drive in some runs.
4. Left Fielder: Yoenis Cespedes – Okay, so I was very torn about who should be the clean-up hitter in this line up. It was either Cespedes or Jay Bruce. Of course Bruce had the better season in 2017, but Cespedes was injured for most of it and even during that injury plagued season he had 17 home runs and a .292 Batting Average. Hopefully with the new training staff, Cespedes will be able to stay hydrated, healthy and able to help the Mets the way he did in 2015 and 2016. And of course if he doesn’t produce in the clean-up spot, there’s always Bruce. Who we’re talking about next.
5. Right Fielder: Jay Bruce – Like I said, I had a hard time deciding between Bruce and Cespedes for the clean-up spot but either way, hitting 5th is still a good spot for Bruce. If you have the two power houses hitting back to back, who knows what’ll happen. Bruce had a career season in 2017 with 36 home runs, 101 RBIs and a .254 Batting Average. If Bruce can bring even half of that with him in 2018, the Mets are in a good place and have a dangerous middle of the lineup for opposing pitchers to get by.
6. Third Baseman: Todd Frazier – Todd Frazier is of course the newest addition to the Mets’ roster but he’s no stranger to being a key player for a team. The 6 spot is a good place for Frazier to show off what he’s got. Like I discussed in my last post, Frazier is a three true outcome player (strikeout, walk or home run.) And hopefully he’ll be able to do more than just those three things, but if he can continue to get on base via walks (which he did 83 times last season), he sets up the number 7 sitter to drive in some runs and that’s something he’s very good at.
7. 1st Baseman: Adrian Gonzalez – When the Mets first signed Adrian Gonzalez I was pissed off. I didn’t understand what he could offer the ball club but then I looked more into his career and realized despite his extremely short season last year, he’s been a pretty consistent player for the Dodgers. In 2016 and 2015, he drove in 90 runs and even though he only played 71 games in 2017, he drove in 30 runs. Hopefully Gonzalez can remain healthy in 2018 and continue to produce some runs and make the bottom of the batting order just as threatening as the top.
8. Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud – Travis is a complicated hitter…actually not so much complicated as he is inconsistent. He has moments where he can be a dangerous hitter at the plate, and then in the blink of an eye he can be swinging at everything and looking absolutely terrible at the plate. But, in 2017 he showed more potential than he had in previous seasons. Really, the job of the 8th guy in the lineup is to make sure that the pitcher doesn’t have to lead off the next inning. So if Travis can get on base in any capacity, he’s doing his job and that’s what I’m looking for out of him and I think keeping the catcher at the bottom of the lineup isn’t something the Mets should mess around with.
9. Pitcher spot
Alright, so there’s my predicted line up. Now let’s discuss the bench players, because the Mets have quite a few guys to decide who will be on their 25-man roster. It’s hard to see where the Mets can fit these guys in, since they’ve stated they intend on using their bullpen a lot this season. So, I’m predicting that the Mets are going with a 5-man bench and going with a 7 man bullpen. But we’ll get into that after discussing the bench.
1. Infielder: Wilmer Flores – Wilmer Flores is someone who I think deserves to be an everyday player and depending on how things go, he may get that opportunity. I personally would’ve had him spend Spring Training really taking the time to learn 1st base and then be the starting 1st baseman for the Mets with A-Gon on the bench. But, I don’t see that happening so Wilmer will likely be a pinch hitter for the Mets unless something goes wrong with the starting lineup.
2. Outfielder: Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo is one of my favorite Mets and I think eventually he’ll be an everyday player. And if Conforto isn’t medically cleared to play by Opening Day, then Nimmo will definitely get a chance to show everyone what he can do. Nimmo has had a few short stints with the Mets and he’s one of the most enjoyable people to watch. He always has a smile on his face, and he can hit. And when he’s not hitting, he’s still getting on base because the kid draws walks like no one’s business (and then smiles as he runs to 1st base faster than most people would after drawing a walk.) Nimmo is someone who has a lot of untapped potential and he’ll likely get the chance to show that potential more in 2018 since all signs point to him being on the 25-man roster to start the season.
3. Centerfielder: Juan Lagares – Juan Lagares is another guy with a lot to offer the team, but unfortunately through injuries, he’s gotten lost in the shuffle of the Mets’ outfield. That’s no knock on Juan either, but when the outfield is full of guys like Bruce, Conforto and Cespedes, it can be hard to get the proper chance to stand out. Despite that, Lagares is a former golden glover and what he may lack in power hitting, he makes up for as a great defensive player and he can be put into a game in the late innings to protect a lead with the impressive range he can cover out in centerfield.
4. Infielder: Jose Reyes – Jose Reyes (as I’ve talked about A LOT) is a great person to have in the club house for the Mets. And not only that but he’s a great guy to have on the bench. Jose is clearly understanding of his role on the team, he’s not going to be a starter, he’s going to be a bench guy and that’s unlikely to change (unless everyone get injured…knock on wood.) But he serves well as a pinch runner if needed, or he can cover any of the infield positions (with the exception of first) if someone needs a day off. Reyes is a guy like d’Arnaud, he can go from hitting homers and driving in runs like crazy, to swinging like a mad man and missing everything. Regardless, Jose is a great guy to have at the Mets’ disposal on the bench.
5. Catcher: Kevin Plawecki – Kevin Plawecki may have made his MLB debut in 2015, but he really didn’t make much of an impact until he came up in 2017. When Plawecki came back up from AAA in 2017, he looked like a different player. He was hitting better , he looked determine to learn and I think he’s going to be a pleasant surprise this season with the opportunity to play a full season in the majors. He’s unlikely to be the starting catcher, but rather someone to fill the position when Travis needs a day off. Or there’s always the chance he can try to lower his ERA and do some relief pitching again.
With the bench now covered, let us move on to the Rotation…which is probably the most difficult one to predict but I did my best with it. So let’s give it a go.
1. Jacob deGrom – I don’t think there’s much of an explanation needed for this decision. I talked about this in length during the “Who should be the Opening Day starter” post I put up last month. To summarize it quickly: Jacob deGrom carried the team on his back when all of his peers were injured during 2017 and he had his best season. He’s earned the opportunity to be the 1st guy in the rotation and have his first chance as pitching on Opening Day.
2. Noah Syndergaard – Much like Jacob deGrom, I talked about this as length in the Opening Day starter post. Noah, despite a season cut short in 2017, is still one of the most feared pitchers in the MLB and with his training being less focused on bulking up (I think he learned his lesson) he’s looking for a comeback season and If deGrom hadn’t had the season he did during 2017, I think Noah would absolutely be the Opening Day starter but much like Noah earned the opportunity to pitch Opening Day last season for the way he carried the team in 2016, Jacob did the same in 2017. Being the second guy in the rotation is still something Noah can be proud of because as far as I’m concerned, the Mets have 2 aces, despite what the rotation order is.
3. Matt Harvey – Okay, so yeah I don’t like Matt Harvey’s personality and I’ve talked about that in length as well. BUT, it looks like he’s changing. I know Spring Training has only been going on for 3 days, but according to the Mets’ new pitching coach Dave Eiland, Harvey had bad pitching habits but is now in good shape. Eiland is a respect pitching coach, and of course having Mickey Callaway (a former pitching coach in his own right) as the team manager, Harvey is very likely to have a bounce back season and I think he’s also got his attitude and priorities in check.
4. Steven Matz – Steven Matz has unfortunately fallen victim to injury after injury in the past few seasons. But when he’s been at his healthiest, he’s been a bright spot for the Mets. Much like Harvey, Matz is looking for a bounce back season and under the tutelage of Eiland and Callaway, his chance of having one is looking good. Also, with the new training staff, hopefully he can stay healthy and not be put on the DL every few weeks like he was when Ray Ramirez was the “trainer.”
5. Seth Lugo – Okay, I’m probably being biased here but I think Lugo is one of the most underrated young Mets on the roster. Lugo may have had a disappointing season after falling victim to injury, but he was a huge help in the 2016 season and he pitched brilliantly throughout the World Baseball Classic. I’ve also discussed Lugo in length in a previous post, so I’ll summarize it like this: Lugomania WILL be running wild in Spring Training and he WILL be a starter for the Mets in 2018. Take that to the bank.
Alright, we’re at the tail end of this prediction and It’s been a lot harder than I thought it was. You’ve probably noticed there’s a couple names missing from the rotation discussion, but don’t worry we’re about to discuss them. Hang tight, we’re almost there. It’s time to discuss the bullpen.
1. Zack Wheeler – Wait what? Zack Wheeler? Relief pitcher? Yeah. Wheeler in my opinion is someone who is beyond repair because even when he was healthy, he was never a guy who went deep into a game. Having him come in to pitch an inning or two is a much better spot for him. With the Mets looking to keep most guys (anyone other than Jake and Noah) at 5 innings, a guy who could throw 1 or 2 innings like Wheeler is an important piece to a bullpen and I think he could be impressive at the role.
2. Robert Gsellman – Robert Gsellman had a short stint of relief appearances in 2017 and he was quite impressive in the role. While it wasn’t many appearances, he looked comfortable during the times he was. He actually pitched the 9th inning for the Mets 2017 opening day. Much like Wheeler, having a guy who can be a long relief pitcher is something good for the Mets to have in their back pocket. If someone gets hurt, or just isn’t having a good day on the mound, Gsellman is a guy who could come in and throw 3 or 4 innings if necessary.
3. Paul Sewald – God I love Paul Sewald. When he first made his MLB debut he got his “tits lit up.” But when he had his second stint with the Mets in April, he buckled down and ended up being one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen. He’s usually a 1 or 2 inning guy, but he’s gone 3 before and he was a key part of the bullpen in 2017 and I think he’s going to shine in 2018.
4. Anthony Swarzak – Okay, I’ve actually never seen Swarzak pitch. Well, I might have and not even realized it. The name didn’t stick out to me when the Mets signed him early in the off season. But I did some research, I looked at his numbers, I watched some clips and I think he could a very important part of the bullpen. With guys like Blevins, Familia and Ramos, Swarzak is going to fit in quite fine with them. Likely being a 6th inning pitcher, he’s got some impressive numbers and I think he can be a key component to keeping the bullpen together.
5. Jerry Blevins – Hello, Jerry. Jerry Blevins is the man and my god does he throw a filthy curve ball. Since coming to the Mets in 2015, he’s had impressive numbers and was one of the key players in the Mets bullpen last season. Blevins is someone you can call on in a pinch and get outs. Blevins will likely continue to be a 7th inning relief guy and help get the Mets into the set up stages.
6. AJ Ramos – The Mets getting AJ Ramos was a very confusing transaction. They were selling at the deadline, and had just gotten rid of Addison Reed but then picked up AJ Ramos from the Marlins who was under team control through 2018. It was a strange pick up, but a good one nonetheless. He had a few rough outings as the closer for the Mets but with him likely being the set up guy for Familia, I think he can be a good replacement to Addison Reed. His numbers aren’t all that great but he always looks confident on the mound and for good reason, because when he’s on, he’s on.
7. Jeurys Familia – Watching Familia pitch can be one of the scariest things in the world. I think back to the game against the Cubs where he loaded the bases with no outs and somehow got out of it without giving up any runs. He’s a guy who can be absolutely dominant and get a quick save, or he can walk 2 guys and give everyone in the crowd a heart attack. But, he usually comes out without giving up the game. He did hold the NL record for most saves in 2015 and had a 35 for 35 save record in 2016. Familia is a guy who might not always be lights out, but he’s impressive enough as a closer that he’s more than likely going to be closing out the games for the Mets.
I know there’s some guys missing from the list, but some of them are either injured or just don’t offer enough to the team to justify a spot on the Opening Day roster to me (With the exception of Dom Smith, who I think should be the first baseman but Sandy doesn’t think so and I wanted to keep this list as probable as possible). Also, TJ Rivera is likely to be back on the 25-man roster after fully recovering from his Tommy John surgery.
Of course I have no real insight to what the Mets are planning on doing this season. All I have is what I read online, but these are my predictions for the Mets 2018 Opening Day roster. I’d love to heard what you think of the list and what your opening day line up or rotation would be. As always, drop a comment below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @keiths_mustache . And if you’d be so kind to share the post with your fellow Mets fan friends, I’d appreciate it very much. Thanks for reading!