Mets 2022 season preview: Projected lineup, rotation and three questions facing baseball’s biggest spenders

Steven Cohen’s first season as New York Mets overlord didn’t go in keeping with plan. The Mets spent 103 days in first place but nonetheless managed a shedding report, probably the most days in first place for a sub-.500 group in historical past. Marquee addition Francisco Lindor, who signed a 10-year deal value $341 million earlier than even taking part in his first sport with the Mets, had a down season, and franchise pitcher Jacob deGrom was restricted to 15 begins by arm accidents. It was a disappointing yr for a lot of causes.

“I am prepared, for the correct offers and proper free brokers, to go get the gamers we want,” Cohen told ESPN’s Jeff Passan in November. “We wish to be aggressive. We wish to win our division and be within the playoffs and get deep into the playoffs. I’ve let (GM Billy Eppler) and (group president Sandy Alderson) know: It is no matter they want.”  

Within the weeks following that adopted the Mets went on a free-agent spending spree that reshaped the lineup and introduced in Max Scherzer to play Robin to deGrom’s Batman. Or, extra precisely, to be co-Batmans. The opposite 29 homeowners have been so shook by Cohen’s spending that they created a fourth aggressive stability tax penalty tier within the new collective bargaining settlement in an effort to sluggish him down. “I am OK with it and I am prepared to dwell with it,” Cohen mentioned after the lockout.

The Mets are an improved group heading into 2022. Improved sufficient to unseat the defending World Sequence champion Braves and win the NL East, if not make a run on the Fall Traditional? That continues to be to be seen. This a lot is obvious: Cohen did not commit this a lot to payroll ($285.5 million per FanGraphs) to have one other disappointing season. If the membership wants assist on the commerce deadline (and even earlier than Opening Day), they will get it. Let’s preview the season in Flushing.

Win complete projection, odds

  • 2021 report: 77-85 (third place in NL East, missed playoffs)
  • 2022 Sportsline projection: 84-78
  • World Sequence odds (through Caesars Sportsbook): +1100

Projected lineup

  1. RF Brandon Nimmo
  2. CF Starling Marte
  3. SS Francisco Lindor
  4. 1B Pete Alonso
  5. DH Robinson Canó
  6. LF Mark Canha
  7. 3B Eduardo Escobar
  8. 2B Jeff McNeil
  9. C James McCann

Bench: C Tomás Nido, IF Luis Guillorme, 1B/OF Dominic Smith, IF/OF JD Davis

Final yr the Mets gave over 600 plate appearances to Billy McKinney, José Peraza, and Kevin Pillar, three gamers who would not sniff New York’s roster in 2022. Smith and Davis are overqualified bench gamers (Smith had a down 2021 whereas taking part in by way of shoulder and wrist accidents) who present depth within the occasion of accidents or underperformance. It additionally must be famous the Canha, Marte, and Escobar additions enhance what was one of many sport’s worst defenses a yr in the past.

Projected rotation

  1. RHP Jacob deGrom
  2. RHP Max Scherzer
  3. RHP Chris Bassitt
  4. RHP Taijuan Walker
  5. RHP Carlos Carrasco

Scherzer was the large pre-lockout signing and Bassitt the large post-lockout commerce. There may be nonetheless fairly a little bit of threat in that rotation, it must be famous. DeGrom didn’t pitch after July 7 due to his accidents, Scherzer is now 37, Carrasco was restricted to 12 begins by accidents (and wasn’t all that efficient when he did pitch), and Walker light badly within the second half. Nonetheless, the Mets have quite a lot of expertise of their rotation, and David Peterson and Tylor Megill will go to Triple-A till wanted. Final yr they mixed to make 33 begins.

Projected bullpen

The Mets lack a shutdown lefty reliever (Shreve is in camp as a non-roster invitee together with fellow southpaws Alex Claudio and Mike Montgomery) and so they’re most likely going to wish to discover one seeing how they share a division with lefty mashers like Bryce Harper, Matt Olson, Kyle Schwarber, and the nice Juan Soto. Andrew Chafin would have been a high-quality addition, methinks. Total, the late-inning crew will rack up strikeouts, although Díaz and Ottavino have a knack for premature meltdowns. They will make your coronary heart race a bit within the eighth and ninth innings.

And now, three questions dealing with the Mets forward of 2022 Opening Day.

1. How a lot will they get from deGrom and Scherzer?


The one largest query for the Mets in 2022. On paper, deGrom and Scherzer are the perfect 1-2 punch since not less than Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander with the 2018-19 Astros, and presumably since Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee with the 2011 Phillies. They rank one (Scherzer at 29.1) and two (deGrom at 29.0) in pitching WAR since 2017 and it isn’t shut both. Aaron Nola is a distant third at 22.9 WAR. DeGrom and Scherzer throwing within the bullpen side-by-side was a spring coaching sight to behold:

So long as they’re wholesome, there is not any motive to assume deGrom and Scherzer can be something lower than two of the perfect pitchers in baseball, if not the 2 finest. DeGrom had a 1.08 ERA with almost twice as many strikeouts (146) as complete bases allowed (75) in his 15 begins final yr. Scherzer completed third within the NL Cy Younger voting, and nobody would have questioned it if he received.

DeGrom and Scherzer usually are not with out well being questions, nevertheless. A number of accidents, together with forearm points, restricted deGrom to 15 begins final season, and though he mentioned his elbow is “completely high-quality” final week, just a few spring coaching bullpen and dwell batting observe periods do not imply he is out of the woods. DeGrom has but to actually stress take a look at probably the most prized elbow in baseball.

As for Scherzer, he needed to skip his Sport 6 begin in final season’s NLCS as a result of he was fatigued. Scherzer pitched 4 occasions within the earlier 12 days, so the fatigue was comprehensible, although it was one thing new for Scherzer. He has been a workhorse of the primary order all through his profession. It is a yellow flag greater than a purple flag, however it’s a flag.

Given deGrom’s harm points final yr and Scherzer’s age, giving them further relaxation on occasion would not be a nasty concept this yr. They do not need to skip begins or something, however for those who can squeeze one or two further days between begins now and again, go for it. So long as they’re wholesome, I am assured they will be nice. It is as much as the Mets to ensure they keep on the sector.

2. How a lot can Canó give them?


Now 39, Canó didn’t play final season as he served his second profession performance-enhancing drug suspension. There was some thought the Mets would launch him within the offseason, however they owe him over $40 million over the following two years, so it is sensible to see whether or not he has something left within the tank earlier than paying him to go away.

“I believe the perfect lesson you possibly can have is from your self, once you make errors your self,” Canó instructed reporters, including Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, final week. “There is no why or how. There is no excuses for that. All I know is that I can not dwell previously. Simply transfer on to any extent further and simply go on the market and maintain being the identical Robbie Canó that I’ve all the time been.”  

Canó apologized to his teammates final week and is slated to function New York’s DH this season (McNeill will play second). The final time he was on the sector, Canó was actually good! He hit .316/.352/.544 in 2020. That was additionally a 60-game season and one PED suspension in the past, and the growing older curve for gamers of their late-30s could be steep. Canó’s expertise could have deteriorated since then.

If Canó performs poorly and the indicators level to him being accomplished (like accomplished accomplished), then Cohen can eat the cash and the Mets can transfer on. I do not assume the person who paid $141.Three million for this will assume twice about consuming a tick over $40 million unfold throughout two years. However, if Canó hits nicely, the Mets all of the sudden have an effect middle-of-the-order bat they did not have a yr in the past.

The Mets do not want Canó to supply. They added sufficient to their lineup over the winter they’ll primarily roll the cube on him, and see whether or not he has something left within the tank. If he does, nice. If not, then they’ll transfer on and plug Davis and/or Smith in at DH. There’s an opportunity, albeit a small one, Canó makes an actual distinction for a group attempting to return to the postseason.

3. Have they got one other transfer in them?

Apart from discovering a dependable lefty reliever, the Mets’ roster seems fairly set. That mentioned, Smith and Davis (and McNeil) have popped up in commerce rumors all winter. All of them mission to make $Three million or so by way of arbitration, and whereas cash is not any object for Cohen, it’s honest to wonder if the roster spots could be higher used. Smith particularly is a superb change-of-scenery candidate seeing how he’s capital-B Blocked at first base, left discipline, and DH.

My hunch is the Mets are accomplished making main strikes however will tinker with the margins of the roster earlier than Opening Day. I believe Smith or Davis lands elsewhere earlier than the season begins and the Mets usher in a extra versatile bench piece who provides protection with out being a zero on the plate. A Jonathan Villar reunion would have made sense. Maybe Brett Gardner as a New York battle-tested fourth outfielder? 


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