While the Cincinnati Reds may not be looking at a shot to make the postseason this year, for the New York Mets, it’s World Series or bust.
New York (90-72, 1st in NL East, Lost W.S. 4-1 to Royals)
Key Additions:Antonio Bastardo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker
Key Departures: Kelly Johnson, Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese, Juan Uribe, Tyler Clippard, Bobby Parnell
Reds Dates @NY April 25-27, Sept 5-7
Manager Terry Collins went from being in the hot seat to leading his club past the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS and into the World Series for the first time since the Mets took on their cross town rival in 2000. Much like the Subway series, the Mets were on the losing end, this time to the Kansas City Royals were making their second straight World Series appearance. That sets the standard for the Mets this season as they look to make it back-to-back trips to the postseason for the first time since they did it under Bobby Valentine in 1999 and 2000.
Collins will have the luxury of returning a very strong pitching staff anchored by Matt Harvey. He came back strong after missing the entire 2014 season and even worked his way through a controversy surrounding how many innings hew would pitch in 2015. He ended up pitching all the way through the World Series and had the Mets poised to win Game 5 and stay in the series, but a late inning rally allowed the Royals to stun New York 7-2 in 12 innings. Harvey was one of three Mets pitchers to record double figure wins along with the ageless Bartolo Colon and youngster Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard also collected nine wins.
The only pitcher not returning to the starting rotation is Jon Niese who was traded to Pittsburgh. Steven Matz, who went 4-0 in his six starts last season will take the place of the Ohio native in the rotation. The player the Mets received for Niese helped fill the void left at second base by Daniel Murphy, who is now with the Washington Nationals. That man is no stranger to Reds fans, as Neil Walker has spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates before they stunned their fan base by trading the Pittsburgh native to the “Big Apple.” Last season he hit 16 homers with 71 RBI and in 2014 picked up a Silver Slugger when he blasted 23 homers.
Walker isn’t the only new middle infielder for the Mets as former Indians shortstop, Asdruabal Cabrera, will also make his New York debut this season. Cabrera spent last season in Tampa Bay hitting .265 with 15 HR and 58 RBI. They’ll play in between two familiar faces in first baseman Lucas Duda and team captain David Wright at third.
The outfield will give the Mets a full look at Michael Conforto while veterans Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson flank him to his left. Duda led the team with 27 homers, but Granderson was right behind him at 26 while Cespedes finished third on the team despite coming over midway through the season from Detroit. He went on a torrent pace picking up from the 18 homers he hit in 102 games with the Tigers to blasting 17 homers in just 57 games for the Mets.
The Reds and Mets will get an early look at each other as Cincinnati travels to New York in late April. Not matter where they played in 2015, it didn’t go well for the Reds as the Mets won all seven contests and outscored Cincinnati 47-16. Only the Rockies suffered a similar fate, while the Pirates and Cubs combined to go a perfect 13-0 against the Mets in the regular season. Here’s a look at what the Mets may look like when camp breaks (as of 3/24).
Starting Rotation (2015 stats):
1. Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71 ERA)
2. Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54 ERA, All-Star)
3. Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24 ERA)
4. Steven Matz (4-0, 2.27 ERA)
5. Bartolo Colon (14-13, 4.16 ERA, turns 43 on May 24)
IR. Zack Wheeler (DNP in 2015)
Closer: Jeurys Familia (2-2, 1.85 ERA, 43 saves)
C. Travis d’Arnaud (67 games played, .268 avg, 12 HR, 41 RBI)
1B. Lucas Duda (135 GP, .244 avg, 27 HR, 73 RBI)
2B. Neil Walker (151 GP, .269 avg, 16 HR, 71 RBI w/Pirates)
3B. David Wright (38 GP, .289 avg, 5 HR, 17 RBI)
SS. Asdrubal Cabrera (143 GP, .265 avg, 15 HR, 58 RBI w/Rays)
LF. Michael Conforto (56 GP, .270 avg, 9 HR, 26 RBI)
CF. Yoenis Cespedes (159 GP, .291 avg, 35 HR, 105 RBI w/Tigers and Mets)
RF. Curtis Granderson (157 GP, .259 avg, 26 HR, 70 RBI)
C. Kevin Plawecki
IF. Wilmer Flores
2B. Dilson Herrera
SS. Matt Reynolds
OF. Alejandro De Aza, Juan Lagares