This year was a year of expectation for the New York Mets. There is no ifs and or buts about it. And the doom and gloom Mets article is a daily occurrence at this point. So, rather than lament why the Mets are the way they are, it occurs to me that for the Metropolitans, the 2017 season begins today.
Though the Mets have been ravaged by injuries and plagued by sloppy defense and enough non-baseball stories to make poor Jay Horwitz’s head spin, the Mets sit at a fork in the road. Today marks the return of two key pieces of the Mets projected roster. The first is their unquestioned star. Mr. Lion King himself, Yoenis Cespedes.
Before going out with the same hamstring injury that plagued him last year, Cespedes sat pretty in the middle of the Mets lineup. And today, for the first time since April 27th, with two games against a rebuilding Braves team the Mets can count on his presence. The other addition will come in the second game of the double header, when Steven Matz, one of their group of young aces, takes the mound for the first time in 2017.
Today is just the start. In the near future the troops will keep on coming. Seth Lugo is set to return Sunday after a partially torn UCL he sustained during Puerto Rico’s run to the championship in the World Baseball Classic. Lugo and his curveball, the Statcast Spin Rate darling, will hope to build upon a strong rookie campaign in 2016 where he played a huge part in bringing the Mets to the Wild Card Game.
Soon, it will be Rosario time as the Mets will likely promote the number three prospect on MLB.com’s list, Ahmed Rosario. The young shortstop, that has been in the organization since 2012 is crushing the ball at AAA Las Vegas and according to almost any baseball person you ask is ready to make the jump. With a steady and consistent hand at short to stabilize the defense, the Mets are suddenly looking like they can get this thing back on track.
Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto have been fantastic. Lucas Duda has come back from the DL with a vengeance and Wilmer Flores has pleasantly surprised everyone. On the pitching side, Zack Wheeler just turned in his best start since 2015 and Matt Harvey followed it up last night with five shutout innings. The possibility that this team can gel back into a cohesive unit is not just wishful thinking.
Of course it’s rather easy to sit here and project what could happen. Obviously it will come down to staying healthy and the team’s ability to execute. They are playing in a weak division with the exception of the Nationals, so for the Mets if they beat up on the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins and focus their attention on another trip to the Wild Card game, they can still make lemonade out of a season that started looking a lot more like a lemon farm.