When you think of the 2019 Mets, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the ridiculous run the team went on in the second half of the season. They were 40-50 at the All-Star break, and it seemed as if everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Mets.
Every decision former manager Mickey Callaway made in defeats was heavily criticized at that point of the season. It seemed as if the Mets were going to have a tough losing season.
Then the next thing you know, the Mets were able to go on a 15-1 run including sweeps of the Pirates, White Sox’s, and Marlins. Unfortunately, the Mets did not do enough to get a playoff berth, but a lot of big moments in the second half of the year give fans confidence for what can happen this year.
With some important players struggling and others not being available last year, the Mets have a few important factors that can get the team back to the playoffs.
Factor #1: The Bullpen
Reflecting on last season, when you think of the Mets struggles over the course of the 162 games, the first thing that comes to mind is their bullpen. During big stretches of the season, the Mets could only rely on Seth Lugo to get outs from the bullpen. Two Mets relievers that really need to bounce back in the 2020 season are Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
Diaz, who was the key piece that came to New York in the deal between the Seattle Mariners and Mets, struggled for nearly the entire year. It seemed like anytime Diaz came into a close game, he was going to blow it.
Familia, who came back to the Mets after being traded to the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 season, also had a lack of confidence for most of the year. Familia believes he is in the best shape of his life after losing 30 pounds from last season when he was listed at 270 pounds.
Another big wild card for the Mets bullpen comes from a pitcher who already has experience pitching in New York. Dillin Betances, a former Yankee flamethrower, joined the Mets in the off-season on a one-year deal that can last till 2022 depending on how he performs.
Betances, who dealt with a Torn Achilles last season, is looking for a bounceback season after his crosstown move. If the Mets can get good seasons from Diaz, Familia, Betances, along with the talent Lugo has shown so far, there is no reason why the Mets cannot have one of the most dominant bullpens in 2020.
Factor #2: Yoenis Céspedes
When the Mets traded for the star outfielder at the deadline in 2015, the team was hoping he would be playing in Flushing for years to come. Unfortunately, the word that best describes Céspedes’s Mets career is “injuries”.
The worst of these injuries came in May of 2019 when Cespedes suffered multiple fractures while rehabbing his heel issues. Céspedes has not played in an MLB game since July 20, 2018. With Cespedes joining the Mets for Spring Training healthy this offseason, any production he gives the team will be a major boost.
Céspedes can be one of the most dominant hitters in all of baseball when healthy, like when he had a career high 35 home runs and 105 RBIs with the Tigers and Mets in 2015. Yes, there is no guarantee that Yoenis Céspedes produces consistently for the Mets this year, but if he does, it can go a long way for the Mets’ playoff hopes in 2020.
Factor #3: Deeper Rotation in 2020
In an off-season where the Mets lost Zach Wheeler to their division rival Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets were able to get two verteran starters looking to bounce back from tough 2019 campaigns. Rick Porcello, previously with the Boston Red Sox, struggled last year despite a good record.
Porcello finished 2019 with a 14-12 record, but a 5.52 ERA. Throughout his career, he has been very durable starting at least 27 games every year since his debut season in 2009.
The Mets also signed Micheal Wacha, a 28 year old starter who was previously with the St. Louis Cardinals. Wacha struggled with injuries the past few seasons, which has led to bad performances and stints in the bullpen for St. Louis.
When healthy, Micheal Wacha can be a quality starter, which all Mets fans are hoping will leas to better outings in 2020. I believe Wacha will be the Mets sixth starter and will fill in if any starters get injured.
Having six starters capable of performing extremely well is something the Mets have not had in a long time, but it makes the Mets a better overall team. If the Mets rotation stays healthy throughout the season, it can be one of the best in baseball.
Factor #4: The health of Robinson Cano and Brandon Nimmo
When the Mets made the blockbuster trade with the Mariners in December of 2018, the biggest question mark was certainly Robinson Cano. The second baseman only appeared in 107 games last season with multiple leg issues hindering his first season with the Mets.
Cano only had 13 home runs and 39 runs batted in giving people doubts that Cano will be better as he gets older. 2019 was one of Cano’s worst seasons in the MLB, so Mets fans need to hope that he will not be any worse than last year.
I believe that Robinson Cano will be able to stay healthier and be more productive for the Mets in 2020. Besides the last two seasons where he was sidelined by injuries and suspension for use of an illegal substance, Cano has been consistently healthy.
Before 2018, Cano had played 150 games or more in every season since 2010. If the Mets can get a solid 140 games of Cano this season, that will make a huge difference for the talent of the Mets in 2020.
The Mets have to be ecstatic to have Brandon Nimmo back fully healthy for this upcoming season, as he struggled with a neck injury last season. Nimmo began the 2019 season as the Mets starting center fielder, but missed a big portion of the year after colliding with an outfield wall in April.
Nimmo was only able to appear in 69 games last season having eight home runs and 29 RBIs to go with a .221 batting average. Nimmo, who is only 26 years old, will be a big part of the Mets success this season.
With his neck injury completely gone, Nimmo should be expected to build on his campaign in 2018, where he played in 140 games. I predict Brandon Nimmo can be healthier this year, and hopefully play a great center field for the New York Mets.
Factor #5: Progression of the youth
Last season, the Mets relied a lot on their younger players to produce at the biggest moments. Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso was the most impactful of them all by being an All-Star and winning Rookie of the Year with 53 home runs and 120 RBIs.
People questioned if Alonso would even make the team going into Spring Training, yet he was one of the Mets best players in 2019. Another Mets All-Star who burst onto the scene was Jeff McNeil, who played all over the field for the team.
McNeil batted .318, with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. His fantastic batting average placed fourth in the National League in 2019.
On the Mets roster, the team also has a former All-Star in their outfield. 26-year-old Micheal Conforto, who made the All-Star team in 2017, had a very underrated 2019 season. Conforto had 33 home runs and 92 RBIs giving Mets fans hope that he can be an All-Star again in 2020.
Mets fans will also be excited for the continued progression of 24-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario. Rosario has two full MLB seasons under his belt, and 2019 was a great step for the shortstop.
A batting average of .287 with 15 home runs and 72 RBIs showed that Rosario can be a force offensively. He struggled defensively at the beginning of the year, but got better throughout the season. Rosario had 12 errors before the All-Star break and only 5 after the break showing a lot of improvement towards the end of the season.
One more important piece of the Mets core that will look to improve in 2020 is J.D. Davis, who was traded from the Houston Astros prior to last season. Davis was not expected to produce a lot for the team, as Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil were expected to get most of the playing time at third base.
Just like McNeil, Davis played an unfamiliar position throughout the year with both men playing the outfield for the first time in their careers. Davis batted .307 with 22 home runs and 57 RBIs playing in 140 games.
In 2019, the Mets had a lot of positive seasons from younger players including Alonso, McNeil, Conforto, Rosario, and Davis. If these five and the other star players produce throughout the entire 162 game season, I predict the Mets will make the playoffs and be a contender to make the World Series in 2020.