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Predicting the Mets Opening Day Roster

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With just under a week until the Mets open up the season at Washington, most of the roster questions have answered themselves. Still, there are a few spots up for grabs, so let’s try to predict the 26 men that will suit up in orange and blue come opening day.

Infield

Pete Alonso, 1B – The Polar Bear has enjoyed a prolific spring, hitting .333 with four home runs, 14 RBI and an OPS of 1.106. Plate discipline was Alonso’s biggest question entering 2021 and his approach has looked excellent throughout March.

Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF – McNeil will enter the season as the everyday second baseman and maybe a bit of a forgotten man in the Mets new-look powerful lineup. Whether at the top of the order or in the six-hole, McNeil isn’t to be overlooked, as he’s been near the top of the league in hits and average since he entered the majors in 2018.

Francisco Lindor, SS – Mr. Smile, the centerpiece of the Mets offseason, has shown why he’s considered one of the premier players in the game, not just in the field and at the plate, but in the clubhouse as well.

JD Davis, 3B – How does a bottom-of-the-order hitter that finished with a .307 average and 22 home runs in 2019 sound? There will always be questions about Davis’s glove at third, but as long as he’s not a liability in the field, his bat from the right side is a serious weapon.

Outfield

Dom Smith, LF/1B – A Gold Glove caliber first baseman, Smith will play left field most of the time with the lack of the designated hitter in the National League. Like Davis, as long as Smith can make the routine plays, his bat – he hit .316 with 10 homers and 42 RBI in 2020 – dictates he be in the lineup every day.

Brandon Nimmo, CF/LF – The plan for manager Luis Rojas is to start the season with Nimmo in the leadoff spot, where he has thrived in his career. A hyper-patient hitter, Nimmo bounced back from a down 2019 to hit .280 with an OBP of .404 in 2020. Playing deeper this season, Nimmo hopes to take a step defensively, especially with Smith’s limited range in left.

Michael Conforto, RF – The former first round pick of the Mets looked to have taken the step into stardom in 2020, hitting .322 with an OPS of .927. The only question for Conforto (and Lindor) heading into the season is whether the team can lock each up long-term.

Catcher

James McCann – The first signing of the Steve Cohen era, McCann has showed off his defensive skills and rifle arm behind the plate throughout the spring. The 30-year-old is also hitting .313 and has shown the ability to use all fields.

Bench

Tomas Nido, C – While Nido probably won’t ever be a true threat with the bat, he’s a capable defensive backup to McCann.

Luis Guillorme, 2B/3B/SS – The super-utility infielder is probably the best fielder on the Mets roster. Rojas hasn’t shied away from using defensive replacements late in games, and Guillorme should see extended action in that role. At the plate, the 26-year-old had a breakout season in 2020, hitting .333 in his reserve role.

Jonathan Villar, 2B/3B/SS/OF – Like Guillorme, the veteran Villar has the ability to play all over the field, with the added threat as one of the prolific base-stealers in the game. Villar is nursing a minor groin injury, but hopes to be ready for Opening Day.

Kevin Pillar, OF – The former Gold Glove caliber outfielder may have lost a step defensively, but still is plenty good enough to patrol all three outfield spots. Pillar enjoyed his best offensive season as a pro in 2020, slashing .288/.336/.798 for the Red Sox and Rockies.

Albert Almora Jr., OF – A one time blue-chip prospect with the Cubs, Almora’s bat has never translated to the MLB level. Still, the 26-year-old outfielder has shown this spring that he’s an elite defender capable of playing all three outfield spots. Almora also has flashed a bit of power, hitting two home runs this spring.

Rotation

Jacob deGrom, RHP – The best pitcher in baseball has looked like, well, the best pitcher in baseball throughout the spring, already touching 102 MPH on the radar gun.

Marcus Stroman, RHP – After opting out in 2020, Stroman has looked sharp all spring, mixing pitches and his delivery to keep hitters off balance.

Taijuan Walker, RHP – The big righty had a career year in 2020, posting a 2.70 ERA and has looked good in limited game-action during the spring.

David Peterson, LHP – The lefty was the Mets most consistent starter outside of deGrom as a rookie in 2020. Innings may be a concern for Peterson as the season wears on, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Joey Lucchesi, LHP – After a 2020 to forget that saw the lefty give up five runs in 5.2 innings, the 27-year-old will have an immediate chance to bounce back due to injury to Carlos Carrasco. Lucchesi has been impressive throughout the spring and is key piece to holding down the fort until Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard return from injury.

Bullpen

Edwin Diaz, RHP – Despite a nightmare 2019 and rough start to 2020, Diaz was stellar last year, pitching to a 1.75 ERA with an absurd 17.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Sugar has thrown five innings this spring, striking out seven and not allowing a run.

Trevor May, RHP – The Mets signed May to solidify late innings after posting 2.94 and 3.86 ERAs in 2019 and 2020. May will likely get the first shot as set-up man in a traditional execution of late-game situations.

Miguel Castro, RHP – The Mets acquired Castro in a trade with the Orioles last season and the hard-throwing righty has been untouchable this spring. Reaching triple digits on the radar gun, Castro hasn’t allowed a run in 5.1 innings and has struck out seven.

Aaron Loup, LHP – The 33-year-old lefty specialist pitched to a 2.52 ERA with the Rays a season ago and has struck out nine batters in 5.2 innings of work this spring.

Jeurys Familia, RHP – The former closer, who once saved 51 games in a season for the Mets, had a solid 2020, pitching to a 3.71 ERA in 25 games. As always, Familia’s control will dictate his contributions in 2021.

Dellin Betances, RHP – A one-time elite reliever with a high-90s fastball and knee-buckling curve, Betances is still trying to find himself after suffering catastrophic shoulder and Achilles injuries. His velocity is way down, sitting somewhere in the low-90s, and he was a question mark to even make the team before Rojas gave him a vote of confidence earlier in the week. Still, it seems as though Betances will be pitching for his job in the early going.

Jacob Barnes, RHP – A waiver claim by the Mets, Barnes has pitched extremely well of late, not allowing a run in his last five innings or a baserunner in his last four. With several players vying for the last two bullpen spots, Barnes has the advantage of no minor league options, meaning if he doesn’t make the team out of spring, he likely won’t be a Met.

Jordan Yamamoto, RHP – This may not be a popular pick, but since Peterson hasn’t pitched a full big-league season and Lucchesi saw extremely limited action a season ago, I’m giving the final spot to the young starter. Having Yamamoto on the staff out of camp gives the Mets a long-relief option, as well as the ability to piggy-back starts of Lucchesi. Despite being optioned to Triple-A earlier this week, Yamamoto was certainly impressive all spring, pitching to a 1.08 ERA in three games.

Notable IL players

Seth Lugo, RHP – Lugo was the prime candidate to be the set-up man before undergoing surgery to repair a bone spur in his pitching elbow in February. Lugo is almost ready to resume throwing and could be ready for game action in May.

Noah Syndergaard, RHP – Thor missed all of 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring but hopes to make his return to the top half of the rotation sometime in June. Syndergaard was already throwing 97 MPH in a bullpen session on Friday.

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Part of the trade that landed Lindor, Carrasco was set to give the Mets a veteran with a top-of-the-rotation experience in the middle of theirs. Unfortunately, Carrasco tore his hamstring while undergoing conditioning drills and will miss at least the first couple months of the season.

Jose Martinez, 1B/OF – Set to be the Mets primary right-handed hitter off the bench, Martinez tore his meniscus in a freak collision with an umpire during a spring training game. He’ll miss at least the first half of the season.

Anthony is an award-winning sportswriter born in Texas and raised in Connecticut. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University and a Master's from Sacred Heart University, where he's also an adjunct professor. Sports remain his passion despite constant heartbreak from the teams he roots for. Anthony is a staunch detractor of the Oxford Comma and when he's not watching sports can usually be found playing golf poorly.

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