MLB: New York Mets at San Francisco Giants

Projecting the Possible Mets Wild Card Roster

There are two and a half weeks left in the season, and that’s going to feel like a long, long time. While the world sits and watches and bites their nails to see if the Mets will stay in their skin-of-their-teeth second Wild Card spot, the team will be struggling to needle out every possible victory. If everything breaks according to plan–and realistically, Jarrett!–the Mets will be either ensconced in a comfortable first Wild Card berth, or the slightly-less-comfortable second Wild Card berth. Either is perfectly okay by me. (But home field advantage would be lovely.)

In the interest of getting ahead of myself, I’d like to take this time to make an educated guess about the roster the Mets might have to compose if (not when!) they were to make the playoffs. I’m not entirely certain that the team that the Mets face will dramatically affect their roster construction … but we’ll get to that later. With the WC game on October 5–and hopefully the Mets’ NLDS battle against the Cubs on October 7–we can expect the team to go full-out in order to maximize winning this one single game, then worry about the Cubs later. Most WC playoff teams go with a 16/9 split–nine pitchers and 16 position players–on their 25-man roster, and I think that’s what the Mets do as well. However, they are a team that I could also see leaning on a 10th pitcher if need be.

Barring injury, this my expectation as to who makes the Mets’ 25-man Wild Card Game roster.

Starting Pitcher

  • Noah Syndergaard

There’s no chance it’s anyone else, right? If the timing lines up like I think it does, then Thor pitches on September 19, September 24, September 29 or 30, and then is ready to go on October 5 in the WC game. Even if deGrom and Matz were perfectly healthy, Syndergaard is going to likely score a top-three Cy Young finish, and he’d be a tough hack for the Giants, Cardinals, or any other team the Mets might have to face in a one-game playoff. He is, in fact, The Man.

Extra Starting Pitcher(s)

  • Jacob deGrom (or Steven Matz)
  • Seth Lugo

Here’s where it gets tricky, and we get to play the “what the heck is going on with the Mets’ pitchers” game. One has to assume that, even if deGrom or Matz make their unlikely comebacks, the team may be hesitant to throw one of the walking wounded out in Game 1 of a NLDS. Bartolo Colon and Robert Gsellman are more than likely the team’s additional starting pitchers for the playoffs in addition to Thor. But, I have a little faith that Stetson’s Finest will be able to at least throw a relief inning or two as he works his way back up to full health. Under the best of circumstances, maybe deGrom will be stretched back out enough to be a factor in the NLDS. Even then, I could certainly see him active for this Wild Card game. On the other hand, neither deGrom or Matz may be healthy here. If that’s the case, I’d expect Gabriel Ynoa to fill in.

(Later Friday Update: deGrom is now scheduled to start on Sunday, September 18. Hooray! That would certainly put him in line to pitch in the Wild Card game, or Game 1 of the NLDS.)

Lugo is probably the right combination of rested and effective to back up Syndergaard in case things go south in a hurry. I like him as a two-inning reliever in case Syndergaard is gassed or getting hit around and the Mets want to go to the ‘pen early, or as an insurance policy in case the game goes to 14 innings. His 2.40 ERA belies his 4.47 DRA, but I’d rather see his curveball than anything Logan Verrett has to offer these days.

(Sunday Update: deGrom is done, needing ulnar nerve surgery and out for the year. Time to play Gilmartin-Ynoa roulette!)


  • Jeurys Familia
  • Addison Reed
  • Jerry Blevins
  • Josh Smoker
  • Fernando Salas
  • Hansel Robles
  • Jim Henderson

A couple of these are easy, the rest are hard. The top six relievers here all feel like no-brainers: Familia and Reed are the nightmarish one-two combo that the Mets need from the right side. From the left side, Blevins has been crazy effective and Smoker gets strikeouts like Jack Leathersich was supposed to. Robles has been Terry Collins’ default for much of the season (62 appearances!), while Salas brings “veteran experience” but has also been killer in his eight innings with the Mets so far. They’re all in.

Henderson probably gets in on the strength of his story and veteran-ness, even though his last four outings with the Mets have been something like hot garbage. (Most of his season has been bad, but maybe you pop him in to get one key strikeout?) I’d probably rather have Sean Gilmartin here … even though he hasn’t been good either … because he gives the team another lefty to throw, and can eat three or four innings compared to Henderson who would likely struggle to go one. But we’re talking about the last guy at the back of the bullpen here–if either is pitching in the Wild Card game, chances are that the Mets have already lost it. And, of course, if anyone above gets injured, I have to imagine he’s the next guy up.


  • Rene Rivera
  • Travis d’Arnaud
  • Kevin Plawecki

If the Mets are smart, I’d certainly see them rolling with three catchers for the big game. This allows the team to start d’Arnaud against the Cardinals and Rivera against the Giants; d’Arnaud’s oft-criticized arm wouldn’t matter against the Cardinals and their NL-worst 32 stolen bases. (Yes, I know Thor is bad at slowing down the running game, I’ll still take Travis’s bat.) If Rivera does have to start, at least the team can use TdA as a pinch-hitter in a critical position, and Terry won’t have to worry about an emergency catcher due to the presence of Plawecki. Everyone wins, except Plawecki.


  • Jose Reyes
  • Asdrubal Cabrera
  • Wilmer Flores
  • James Loney
  • Kelly Johnson
  • T.J. Rivera

Let me come right out here and say this: it’s not what I would do. But this isn’t about what I would do*, it’s about what I think the Mets will do. Reyes, Cabrera, and Flores have to be no-brainers if they’re all healthy–an open question with Flores–and technically all three can play shortstop. That’s probably enough to keep the team from pulling in Matt Reynolds or Gavin Cecchini (ha!) as a backup six, and gives them the freedom to go with T.J. Rivera or Ty Kelly as the sixth infielder.

(* – What would I do? Swap out Loney for Cecchini–and make sure he gets a few big-league PA before October. Pray Wilmer gets real healthy real fast. And think long and hard about swapping Rivera out for Brandon Nimmo, while using Conforto or Bruce as the first baseman against right-handers.)

James Loney is still the top first baseman on the depth chart, inexplicably, so he’s in. The guy who should be the starting first baseman, Kelly Johnson, will continue to be Terry’s dynamite pinch-hitter. The only real question here is if the team goes with the hot hand of Rivera over the switch-hitting of Kelly.

(Later Friday Note: Lucas Duda looks to be back with the team starting this weekend. It’s a no-brainer to replace Loney with Duda if he’s even at 75 percent capacity. Loney is an inferior hitter and stiff af.)


  • Yoenis Cespedes
  • Curtis Granderson
  • Jay Bruce
  • Alejandro De Aza
  • Michael Conforto
  • Juan Lagares

You’d hope that the team would be allergic to starting Bruce at this point, but I imagine it will be a cold day in hell before the team sits him–even if Madison Bumgarner is the opposing starting pitcher. While I remain hopeful that the Mets roll with a Cespedes/Granderson/Conforto starting outfield against the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez, hope is for the weak. If the Mets are faced with Bumgarner, none of the team’s “hard-hitting” options of Bruce, Conforto, Granderson, or even De Aza are good ones. That would be an extremely challenging game. In the end, I expect TC to pencil in good old Yoenis in left field, and then two of Granderson, Bruce, or De Aza in center and right. Michael Conforto should be available off the bench, unless something happens over the next two weeks that causes Terry to renew his confidence in the team’s once and future second-best hitter.

Lagares, ostensibly, is just here to run and play defense. In a one-game playoff, that’s okay. But I sure wish he could hit if the team is going to match up with Bumgarner. I’d feel a whole lot better with a healthy Lagares in center flanked by Yo and Grandy (or Conforto!) against a lefty than any other grouping. I mean, I’d feel a whole lot better if this roster was wildly different, but they’ve gotten this far …

Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

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