As we get closer to the start of the season, we are going to spend some time focusing on the opponents on the Red Sox schedule for 2020. In this strange season, Boston will be playing only nine teams, so we will go one by one and look at each individually. Today, we look at the New York Mets.
The Mets seem to be the forgotten team in this Eastern conglomerate of team. They won 86 games last year, and with some of the additions made to the roster this year they could catapult themselves into a legitimate playoff run in 2020 and it wouldn’t surprise anyone. Their offense is deep, and they may be the team most helped by the addition of the DH in the National League. The rotation and solid and led by arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball. The bullpen is solid with a potential for a top-tier one-two punch in the eighth and ninth innings. This is a strong team, but it’s also the Mets. So, you know. Anything could happen.
The Mets have a deep offense with a number of bats who can be very good, but Alonso came out of the gates with a huge rookie year in 2019 and has emerged as the clear top bat in this Mets lineup. The 2019 Home Run Derby champ smacked a whopping 53 homers over the course of the 2019 season that helped mask a strikeout rate that is a little bit higher than you’d like. Add in a high walk rate, and you get a 143 wRC+. It’s possible his power is going to come down a bit, but he could also improve his contact rate to counteract that. There are few signs to me that point to Alonso being anything but the face of this Mets lineup for years to come.
Best Starting Pitcher
I mentioned that the Mets may have the best pitcher in all of baseball, and that was a reference to deGrom. The other ace in New York certainly may have something to do with that, but deGrom is in the conversation. Wherever you want to put him, he is undoubtedly Capital-E Elite. His last two seasons have featured ERAs of 1.70 and 2.43, respectively, and he’s paired them with similar peripherals. As he enters his age-32 season, there is always a risk of things slowing down for deGrom, but until we see it on the field we have to assume he’s as good as ever. We’re talking about a guy who consistently puts up low ERAs with strikeout rates above 11 per nine innings and walk rates below two per nine. That’s as good as it gets.
Best Relief Pitcher
One of the big additions for the Mets prior to last season was the trade for Edwin Díaz, but that did not go according to plan. At all. The righty still featured his elite strikeout stuff, but his command fell off a cliff and he finished a miserable season with a 5.59 ERA. Even his FIP was elevated to 4.51. He still takes the top spot for me here, and even beyond that I think he can get back to being an elite reliever in this league. The biggest thing is that his stuff didn’t take a step back, still striking out over 15 batters per nine innings last year. His biggest issue was the long ball — he allowed 15 in 58 innings — and that can be the flukiest stat year to year. If I’m buying low on any reliever this year, Díaz is probably the guy.
It has been a long time since we’ve gotten to really see Céspedes in action after the outfielder missed all of last season and played in just 38 games in 2018. In fact, he hasn’t hit the 100-game mark since back in 2016. That said, there is still some talent left in his bat. We have no idea how he’ll come back after playing so little in recent years, but we’ve seen him be one of the most exciting bats in the game. That he can play DH a lot of the time certainly makes things easier for the Mets. If they can get something in the vicinity of prime Céspedes to pair as a big power bat next to Alonso, they all of a sudden have a scary middle of the order with those two and Robinson Canó, to say nothing of Jeff McNiel at the top.
Andrés Giménez, David Peterson
As a team that is looking to contend this year, the Mets are not carrying too many of their top prospects on their 60-man player pool this year. Giménez is the guy to watch here, though. A middle infielder, he hits a lot of line drives while showing off plus athleticism at shortstop and on the bases. I could see him being a valuable piece off the bench down the stretch. Peterson, meanwhile, is a depth arm who could potentially come up and help if there are a couple of injuries.
I already mentioned him, but did you remember he played for the Red Sox? He’s definitely the best player to play for the team that I always forget about.
Looking at the Red Sox rotation, it is curious that they let Porcello walk even with his maddening inconsistency. He’ll be in the middle of a Mets rotation, coming in after deGrom and Marcus Stroman and looking to take the number three spot ahead of Steven Matz and Michael Wacha.
Lowrie’s career has been marred by injuries unfortunately, and that is how things are expected to start this year as well. The utility man is struggling with some knee issues right now and is likely to start the year on the IL.
Nunie is back! He didn’t get another chance in the majors last year after being released by the Red Sox, but he’s back with the Mets this year and will be on their 60-man player pool. He’ll need a couple injuries to get back to the bigs, though.
Ramírez spent most of last season in Pawtucket, though he did get one three-inning appearance in the majors for Boston.