Posted by David Whitman at 8:00 AM
Sandy Alderson thinks the 2015 Mets are capable of winning 89 games. I'm going to go one win better and say 90 wins are possible; but, for this happen several things have to go right including healthy seasons from key players and a successful return of Matt Harvey. Here are 5 Keys to the Mets returning to the postseason for the first time since 2006. I also make a few predictions on how they achieve this outcome.
Pitching is expected to carry this year’s Mets. A formidable rotation supported by a young and talented group of bullpen arms has the potential to be one of the top 5 pitching staffs in baseball. That’s even without factoring in stud prospect starters like Noah Syndegaard and Steven Matz.
In this 90-win Mets world Matt Harvey comes back close enough to 2013 form to allay any post-TJS fears. Zack Wheeler continues the maturation he showed in the second half last season. Jacob deGrom’s sophomore season even eclipses his ROY debut, Jon Niese’s shoulder holds up for 30 solid starts and a combination of Bartolo Colon, Dillion Gee holds down the back end. “Thor” and Matz excel at Vegas and pitch some crucial innings down the stretch in the playoff drive.
Out in the bullpen Parnell comes back as an effective closer, Familia and Meijia are a perfect 7th and 8th bridge to the 9th, with Vic Black stepping in effectively when needed. Josh Edgin’s left arm holds up for a heavy workload and his helped out later by Jack Leathersich.
Knocking off the NL East competition, setting the tone early
They play the Nats tough all season, go about .500 vs. the Marins while dominating the Phils and Braves. The Mets end up going 45-27 record vs NL East, aided greatly by 26-10 mark against Atlanta and Philly.
They set the pace early running off to a 13-7 record vs. division foes in the opening weeks en route to 15-8 opening month and 1st place in the NL East.
The Captain and Granderson rebound, Cuddyer delivers solid ROI
This isn’t the David Wright of old, but he avoids the DL-playing around 145 games, drives in 90 runs with 15 HRs and is hitting around .300 heading into August. He finishes around .280 with a 5.0 WAR. Defensively, he isn’t a Gold Glover but plays a well above average 3B. Granderson returns to his 3.0 WAR of 2013, doesn’t hit for average but smacks 25 bombs, surprisingly steals a dozen bases drives in 85-90 runs and doesn’t embarrass himself in the OF. Cuddyer turns the clock back to 2007, when he was a Twin, putting up almost identical numbers-including a WAR a little above 3.
Wilmer is far from Ozzie Smith at SS but hits well enough for the experiment to work
Although he produces some head shaking plays in the field and displays limited range, a relaxed Flores gets off to a torrid start at the plate-for a time ranking among the league leaders in BA-before cooling off in June. But as his average corrects Flores’ power increases and he ends up swatting 15 longballs, 30 doubles and plates 75 Met runs with a WAR between 2.0-2.5.
A strong finish punches their ticket to the Wild Card
The Mets make the Wild Card on the strength of a 13-7 September record against division foes, clinching their playoff berth with a September 29th victory behind the arm of Matt Harvey in a shutout of the Phillies. They will host the surprise Cubs a few days later at a sold-out Citi Field.