EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 17th of 30 at-bats for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. On deck Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays)
With the 2018 version of the New York Mets, it’s all about how many batters get on base and how many the pitchers keep off.
Manager Mickey Callahan, without much fanfare, was brought in to rescue a multi-million dollar staff full of Cy Young prospects that became a M.A.S.H. unit.
The Mets have surrounded the starting rotation with a solid offense and much improved defense, especially in the infield. Now it’s up to Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom to produce. If they can, then management will be more patient with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, whose productivity fell off dramatically due to a multiple of ailments.
Never in the history of baseball has a starting five been more scrutinized and less seen. Thor, as Syndergaard is known, has been electrifying this spring. But everyone knows that the Washington Nationals have dominated the NL East in recent years and the rest of the division is chasing.
Plus across town the Yankees have brought in Giancarlo Stanton and further established themselves as the headline makers in the local newspapers.
In this decade, 85 starters have struck out at least 21 percent of opposing batters. The Mets have five of those pitchers: Syndergaard (28.4 percent, seventh), deGrom (26.6 percent, 11th), Harvey (23.5 percent, 32nd), Wheeler (21.9 percent, 55th) and Matz (21.2 percent, 73rd). So you can see why Callahan, a pitching and health guru, was brought in.
Of course, the injuries keep coming. It wouldn’t be the Mets without them. Yoenis Cespedes has an aching wrist and Michael Conforto is not due back until May 1 as he recovers from shoulder surgery. That said, the offense is solid with Jay Bruce back from his short stay in Cleveland and Adrian Gonzalez joining Todd Frazier from the free agent list to anchor third and first base respectively.
But the game isn’t played on paper or in the Mets case paper mache. The Amazins’ are penciled in for 82 wins, which is a safe number. Healthy it’s likely to be a lot more. Not healthy, considerably less. The Mets play St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington to start the season.
Encore: The Tim Tebow experiment has been a colossal flop. This spring he’s batting .056, which earned him a one way ticket to minor league camp. And for those hoping for a David Wright return, he’s reportedly a long way from being ready to go.
2017 record: 70-92
2016 record: 87-75
2015 record: 90-72
World Series win odds: 30-1
Odds to win NL East 5-1 (2nd)
2018 season win total: 82