Rolling out the one of the NL's strongest rotations, our handicapping expert explains why we should look for the Mets to make another run at the World Series and back them with our MLB picks.
The Mets surprised nearly everyone last year reaching the World Series. After suffering six-straight losing seasons, they cashed in their chips at the trade deadline while hovering around a .500 winning percentage in late July. Bringing in most noticeably OF Yoenis Cespedes, the Kings of Queens morphed into the hottest second-half team in MLB, reaching their first postseason since 2006. Now bettors are wondering if they can contend for a spot in this year’s Fall Classic.
Oddsmakers sure think so. Outside of the Giants (90) and Cubs (89), New York’s over-under for wins at 88 is the third highest in Vegas among National League. Its price to win the World Series ranges anywhere from 8.5-to-1 odds to 16-to-1 at some offshore locations like Bovada. A similar variance is found in futures prices, which are as short as 5-to-1 odds up to 8-to-1.
The Mets roll out arguably the best three-starter rotation in the bigs with fireballers Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard. Baseball analysts often view this as the golden key to unlocking postseason success, at it is often critical in securing best-of playoff series. Steven Matz and the seemingly immortal Bartolo Colon lock down the fourth and fifth spot.
Harvey and deGrom are top-tier, no doubt about it. Along with Syndergaard, the trio beat up on lower-scoring teams last season, going 31-13 against opponents averaging less than 4.2 runs per game.Versus those knocking in more, the Mets went 26-24. It may be worth following the trend again this season.
Question marks surround the rotation’s longevity, though. Syndergaard and Matz have yet to put in a full season of MLB work. The former, built like a Norse warrior, should have no problem with the wear-and-tear of the grueling 162-game schedule. Matz, however, who has struggled with injuries in the minors, may be vulnerable. Moreover, deGrom and Harvey have yet to reach 200 regular-season innings in their young careers. Only the ageless wonder, Colon, has done so (eight times!).
Nevertheless, no National League rotation pitched more innings than the Mets’ last year. There seems to be an endless stream of elite pitching prospects flowing out of the farm system, and when starter goes down, the front office plugs in another potential MLB veteran. This season the Mets will likely turn to new addition SP Zack Wheeler first to fill-in once he returns from Tommy John surgery midseason. Working deep into ballgames keeps the always-fragile bullpen well rested for the end of the year and playoff run. Oh, and Jeury’s Familia retains his closing duties after picking up the third-most saves last season with 43. This staff is solid and looking like a foundation for many winning seasons to come.
New York sorely missed a right-handed power bat for several seasons until acquiring Cespedes from the Tigers. Including the postseason, the Mets scored 5.2 runs per game following his arrival, prior it was 3.5. Cespedes went on a tear upon his arrival, hitting 17 HR and knocking in 44 RBIs in the months of August and September alone. When the Cuban national registered a hit, the Mets went 29-15, scoring 6.3 runs per game on average. The OVER hit a remarkable 31 times out of 44 games. When held without a hit, the NL champs settled for a 15-12 record, knocking just 3.5 runs per contest. His production was invaluable, and his off-season retention the best move the Mets made for 2016.
Gone is postseason hero 2B Daniel Murphy, OF Micahel Cuddyer, IF Juan Uribe and IF Kelly Johnson. In are two veteran middle infielders that can hit: 2B Neil Walker and SS Asdrubal Cabrera. Outside of Cespedes, the outfield is a tad weak on the corners. RF Curtis Granderson continues to age, and LF Michael Conforto, expected to do big things in the future, has only 150 career at-bats at 22-years old. Can he play everyday? That is the big question for those looking to place MLB picks on this team. Moreover, he struggles mightily against left-handed pitching.
The other concern with the Mets' lineup is their health, and it all starts with 3B David Wright. The former All Star has suited up for a total of 150 games since 2012. Cespedes, Granderson, and C Travis d'Arnaud tend to pick up injuries often as well.
Sports investors better believe the Mets will mount another postseason challenge. Although it may pang New York fans to hear it, but the young starting pitching nucleus is akin to the Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz-led Braves that made Atlanta a contender for years. Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard will keep the Mets in just about every contest, whether the lineup produces or not. Playing in the NL East alongside the rebuilding Braves and Phillies should make their path to the postseason an easier one. Get the best number you can on a World Series triumph on the MLB odds board, cause New York is not too far away.