It’s easy to be pessimistic about the Mets, especially after years of disappointment. But we’ve decided to start the season off with some old-fashioned, foolish hope. So, here are the BP Mets staff’s bold predictions for 2018:
Michael Conforto will return as good as new
Michael Conforto’s career trajectory has been a headache-inducing rollercoaster, alternating from great to terrible and back again. Then his shoulder gave out on a fluke swing and the rollercoaster came crashing down. I think he’ll be fine. It’s not about the revamped training staff (they’re not really all that revamped) or some secret medical knowledge that I got from “Grey’s Anatomy.” This is about blind faith, because Conforto deserves the chance to be a star and Mets fans deserve the chance to watch him be a star. – Kate Feldman
Seth Lugo will be the third-best pitcher in the rotation
This felt like the Mets-iest prediction for me, since it foretells unexpected success for one pitcher, while spelling doom for several who seemed like they would be lockdown starters for a generation. It’s not that I don’t want Matt Harvey to be the first pitcher to regain his truly dominant form after Thoracic Outlet surgery, or that I don’t want Steven Matz to be healthy enough to start 30 games. It’s just that I’ve been burned so many times before, I’m not willing to go out on those limbs. Seth Lugo had a fine spring, which may mean nothing, but I think he’ll be healthy and effective enough to become the team’s third most reliable starter behind Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. – Jordan Rabinowitz
Three Mets throw 200 innings
Injuries to starting pitchers are a perpetual worry around these parts, but I’m confident Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland can begin to stem the tide. To me, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are arguably the best 1-2 rotation duo in baseball and I firmly believe both will be in the discussion for NL Cy Young in the fall, although playing for the same team may hurt them when it comes to the local vote. My bold prediction centers around a third pitcher stepping up to give this team significant innings and consistency, and while I’m not willing to commit to a name, I think several guys could be candidates. Jason Vargas was brought here to be stabilizing presence in the middle of the rotation, Matt Harvey looked promising in the spring and has the motivation of being in a contract year, and Seth Lugo is a fan favorite of mine who could become a potential wild card on this staff. – Justin Mears
The Mets bullpen is a strength
The Mets have been plagued by mediocre, bad and just plain awful bullpens for as long as anyone can remember and on the surface, there’s not much to suggest that this year will be all that different. Jeurys Familia had a rough spring, their lone offseason acquisition is a potentially fluky Anthony Swarzak and Jerry Blevins’ status as the sole lefty ensures that he will hit 70 innings pitched by July.
But ‘tis the season for boldness, and the Mets are finally showing something new: depth. They sold off half the roster last season for a song and a bevy of young arms and they don’t need a sky-high success rate to strike gold on at least a couple of them. Jacob Rhame pitched himself onto the Opening Day roster with impeccable control and the hard-throwing Tyler Bashlor may not be far behind. When the injuries come – and they will come – the Mets have solid options lined up instead of another season scraping the bottom of the roster barrel. This is going to be the year fans don’t have to fear the reliever. – Maggie Wiggin
Matt Harvey will have an ERA of 3.70 or below this season
I’m going to be honest here: there really isn’t much in the way of numbers that back this prediction up. Matt Harvey was one of the worst starting pitchers in the league last season, but I believe that 2018 will be the year “The Dark Knight Rises.” Now almost two years removed from his surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey enters a contract year in 2018 looking to rebound. New manager Mickey Callaway has talked about changing Harvey’s mechanics, and I’m buying it. Expect those changes to result in an ERA below 3.70 on the heels of an improved K/9. – Alex Rosen
Matt Harvey gets traded by August 15 for small return
Less than three years ago, Matt Harvey was the ace of the New York Mets. Today, a shell of his former self after thoracic outlet surgery in 2016, Harvey will look to rebound in 2018. Unfortunately, his predicted performance is poor and with pressure from Jason Vargas, Robert Gsellman and Zack Wheeler to take that fifth spot in the rotation, Harvey will likely be out of a spot by mid-August. As a free agent following this season, the Mets should look to move him at the trade deadline or during the August waiver period just to get any kind of return either in the form of cash or a low-level prospect. – Seth Rubin
The Mets will make the World Series
So, you’re thinking, in what world do the Nationals-Cubs-Dodgers triumvirate cede control of the National League in the 2018 playoffs? In the best of all possible worlds? Maybe that one, but certainly in one that echoes past happenings: the Nationals failing to win a postseason series, the Cubs continuing their regression from the stratosphere and the Dodgers finding themselves against a superior pitching staff. All three teams are great so this is a huge ask of probability, to say nothing of the need for the predictions from my fellow staffers coming true. But as long as you make the postseason, you’re uniquely positioned to benefit from the chance that, however small, it all lines up in your favor. – Brian Duricy
No Met will accumulate 600 plate appearances
I considered this a bold prediction until I did a modicum of research and learned that no Met accumulated 600 plate appearances last year, either. (Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m trying to remove it.) Last year’s leaders were Jose Reyes, who played in 145 games and came to bat 561 times, and Asdrubal Cabrera, with 135 and 540, respectively. Injuries killed the 2017 team’s chance at contention, along with the injured players’ ability to reach 600 PA. That in turn led to trades of the relatively healthy Mets like Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce before they reached the milestone.
My “bold” prediction that no Met will collect 600 PA doesn’t anticipate another rash of injuries. It’s that there are too many outfielders to expect any one of them to play every day and too few competent infielders to expect any one of them to last the entire season as the starter. This is at heart a prediction that Amed Rosario’s .271 OBP in 2017 is for real, and that he’s going to end up back in Las Vegas. Sorry, Amed. – Scott D. Simon
The Mets win 90 games
Backed by two 20-game winners and Cy Young contenders in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets rotation wind up staying remarkably healthy for bulk of the season and buoyed this club on its journey to the top Wild Card slot. Resurgences from Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes carry the offense, while consistent production off the bats of Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier keep their offense in games all summer. Amed Rosario takes the next step to becoming the star we believe he will become. Unfortunately, somehow Ray Ramirez returns in a consultant role and still manages to permanently ruin the arms of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. – Justin Birnbaum
David Wright will get playoff at-bats
This prediction is a two-fer of sorts, because it assumes the Mets make the playoffs and David Wright is healthy enough to join them there. Wright will likely never play a significant on-field role again for New York due to his age and spinal stenosis, but he sure will try. It would be mildly unsurprising if Wright never saw another pitch at any level, but to see him healthy in the postseason one final time would warm the hearts of Mets fans that have canonized him as the greatest third baseman in franchise history. – Zane Moran
At least 10 pitchers start games for an above-average rotation
When the Mets signed Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal, they showed a commitment to adding and using depth to the rotation. Vargas’ bounce-back 2017 may not be sustainable (he’s projected at -0.2 WARP), but he’s currently slotted as the No. 5 starter after a short DL stint. Zach Wheeler was sent to the minors after dragging his poor 2017 in to Spring Training. This means Seth Lugo will get the first shot at what I expect to be a rotation in constant flux. Ten starters seems shocking, but it shouldn’t be. The Mets used 10 starting pitchers in 2015 and 2016, flipping through minor leaguers to fill rotation holes until someone found short-term success. They probably have the depth to fill the rotation again in 2018. – Noah Grand
Zack Wheeler will return strong… as a reliever
I am ready to try something new with Zack Wheeler; hopefully the Mets are too. The 27-year old, who was reassigned to Triple-A Las Vegas ahead of Opening Day, has the talent, but the control and health just simply haven’t been there.
This has been my feeling for quite a while. His run-in with Tommy John, his consistent lack of command – it rubs me the wrong way. However, he has always had top level stuff. Look at guys like Archie Bradley and Wade Davis who made the switch. Davis, especially, was moved there at age 26 after struggling as a starter and look where he is now. He always had the stuff, but not the control.
Of course, this depends on another bold prediction: The current Mets rotation will stay healthy. But that’s for another time. – Tyler Oringer
Photo credit: Joe Nicholson – USA Today Sports