The 2021 New York Mets finished June with a 42-36 record, holding a 2.5-game lead over the Washington Nationals. They did this with a flurry of first-half injuries and with Francisco Lindor, one of their stars, struggling badly at the plate.
Fast forward three more months since that point, and the Mets finished third in the division after an ugly second-half collapse. Their final record was 77-85, meaning they went 35-49 since the start of July. It was hard to watch.
Steve Cohen, the Mets’ owner, together with team president Sandy Alderson, decided to overhaul the entire organization. There is a new general manager, Billy Eppler; skipper, Buck Showalter; and lots of new faces on the roster.
The Mets brought a co-ace, Max Scherzer, to join Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation. The former National and Dodger remains highly effective at 37, having finished with a brilliant 2.46 ERA in 179.1 innings last year. As his 34.1 percent strikeout rate suggests, he is still dominant.
deGrom will need to show his elbow is fully healthy after the team reportedly found a partial ligament tear in his right elbow that “healed itself” last year. When he was active, he was the best pitcher on the planet: he posted a 1.08 ERA in 92 innings, with a 45.1 percent strikeout rate and a 3.4 percent walk rate.
An Impressive Rotation With Some Offensive Reinforcements
Losing the talented Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman hurt, but if deGrom and Scherzer can make 60 starts between them, it won’t matter. The Mets will be very hard to top in the division, especially considering that they added a rock-solid third starter in Chris Bassitt (3.15 ERA in 157.1 innings in 2021) and Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker should be healthy and ready to go in the back of the rotation.
The Mets also brought reliever Adam Ottavino, who is death to right-handed hitters, and will likely sign a top left-hander (Andrew Chafin?) to complete a solid bullpen that also has Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Miguel Castro, Seth Lugo, and others. The Aaron Loup loss could sting, however.
The Mets added talent to an offense than ranked 27th out of 30 teams in runs scored with 636 last season. They lost Michael Conforto but brought dynamic top-of-the-order bat Starling Marte and on-base machine Mark Canha, plus Eduardo Escobar for the infield. Additionally, Robinson Cano will be returning from his year-long suspension to make things interesting.
Pete Alonso (37 homers, 133 wRC+) should once again be an underrated middle-of-the-order producer, and Brandon Nimmo (137 wRC+ in limited action) will contribute his usual elite eye at the plate. The Mets need much more out of Lindor (.230/.322/.412, 103 wRC+), Dom Smith (86 wRC+), and Jeff McNeil (93 wRC+), though.
Win Total Prediction: 96-66 (.592)
Overall, the Mets are looking much improved considering where they finished last year. The Phillies, Marlins, and Nationals still have some time to make moves, but the NL East is looking like a two-team race between the Mets and the Braves anyway.
Atlanta won’t have Freddie Freeman, but they traded for star first baseman Matt Olson and made an underrated move in their bullpen, bringing in Collin McHugh. They will also have Ronald Acuna Jr. ready to go soon and a myriad of young arms in their pitching staff.
Unless all the struggling bats of 2021 can have rebound seasons, reaching 100 wins sounds awfully difficult. But it’s not impossible, and if their top two starters are healthy for the whole year, the rotation could be something special.
At long last, the New York Mets look poised to compete and make a deep playoffs run.
Andrés Chávez loves the game of baseball and writes about it at Beyond the Box Score, Pinstripe Alley, and other sites. He is on Twitter as @andres_chavez13