Sports

Mets Aim to Make Playoffs for Third Straight Year as the Season Begins

The New York Mets look to build off of last year’s Wild Card loss to the Giants with a fully loaded roster

By: Eric Ransom

As the winter comes to a close and spring is upon us again, so is Mets baseball. After falling short of their goal to reach the World Series again after a solid 2016 season, the boys of Flushing look to make it three trips in a row to the Postseason for the first time in team history in 2017.

The Mets, led by manager Terry Collins, finished last season 87-75 after an unlikely capture of the first Wild Card spot which resulted in a 3-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Disappointment permeated from the team, leaving them with a hunger and desire to get back to the World Series even more so than the year prior. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook gives the Mets 12/1 odds at winning the World Series this year, the seventh highest odds in baseball.

This year’s Mets will be headed by a rotation full of aces, carried by 24-year-old flame throwing Norse God Noah Syndergaard, otherwise known as “Thor,” as well as Jacob DeGrom, injury prone Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and rookie Robert Gsellman. Lefty Steven Matz and righty Seth Lugo will start the season on the disabled list.

Cuban slugger Yoenis Céspedes, resigned to a new four year $110 million contract from the Mets, has his focus on hoisting that coveted World Series trophy and said that “I feel that [Mets’ fans] deserve a championship. That is my goal this season.” Second baseman Neil Walker and right fielder Jay Bruce returned to the Mets as well, both on 1-year deals.

As for the rest of the Amazin’s, they are just as amped up. Neil Walker holds his 2017 teammates and coaches in high regard: he said “This is about as talented of a group that I’ve been around.” Third baseman and Mets legend, Jose Reyes, said “We had a very good [team] in 2006, but talent-wise, I think this one is the best team that I’ve ever had.”

With many positives heading into 2017, there looms some concerning questions about this year’s team, headed by the dwindling health and career of Mets third baseman David Wright. Plagued by spinal stenosis and neck injuries, Wright will begin this year on the DL with a shoulder issue after only playing in a combined 75 games over the last two seasons.

Health concerns also hover over the young Mets pitchers, especially Matt Harvey who is looking forward to pitching for a full year after suffering through thoracic outlet syndrome and Tommy John surgery in 2013. Steven Matz will be sidelined due to elbow irritation, but with a negative comes a huge positive: Zack Wheeler will finally pitch again after missing two years due to Tommy John surgery. The wait for the 26-year-old righty is finally over, but caution still remains as his innings this season will be monitored.

Closer Jeurys Familia was recently suspended by Major League Baseball after a domestic dispute with his wife last October, sidelining him for the first 15 games of the 2017 season. Reliever Addison Reed will fill in as the closer until Familia can return. This was an easy choice; after Reed put up a terrific 2016, posting a 1.97 ERA in 80 appearances.

One final but glaring issue this season will be the pushing aside of young slugger Michael Conforto. After Jay Bruce was re-signed by the Mets last offseason, following his acquisition at the trade deadline, Conforto will now be considered as the fourth outfielder for the Mets, limiting his playing time. Although the Mets feel he is the outfielder of the future, the budding star will have to play sparingly as the outfield is set with Céspedes, Granderson and Bruce.

Some players who have departed the Mets include fan favorite Bartolo Colón, who joined the Atlanta Braves on a one year deal. James Loney, Kelly Johnson and Jim Henderson left their orange and blue jerseys behind this past offseason as well.

The Mets will face a tough challenge in the Washington Nationals this year, coming off of their 2016 N.L East Championship. This year the Amazin’s will have to improve their splits against their division rival, after finishing with a lackluster 7-12 record against them in 2016.

Noah Syndergaard will face off against Julio Teheran and the Braves to kick off the season at Citi Field on April 3rd at 1:10pm.

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