5 Things We Learned About Mets in Spring Training
Opening Day is a little more than a week away, so that means it's time to recap spring training and see what we have learned from the New York Mets in the past month.
The Mets currently have the best Grapefruit League record at 16-11. Of course, these spring training games do not count at all for the regular season, but the Mets' offense has hit its stride lately, and hopefully this will carry over into the regular season, which begins on April 6.
Here are five things we have learned about the Mets in spring training.
1. Matt Harvey Is Back
Any concerns regarding Matt Harvey's arm after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013 should be put to rest. The Mets' ace is back and should pick up right where he left off before the injury.
In 18.2 innings pitched in spring training, Harvey has a 1.45 ERA and has allowed three earned runs, while striking out 17. According to Tim Rohan of The New York Times, Harvey has regained his velocity, which consistently blew away hitters in 2013, and has exhibited the same control he had when he allowed only 31 walks in 178.1 innings that year.
It's critical for the Mets that Harvey is healthy and back to his old self, because they will need a huge season from him in order to contend for the playoffs. He is scheduled to pitch in the Mets' third game of the season against the Washington Nationals in his first start since 2013.
2. The Lack of Left-Handed Relief Pitching Is Still a Concern
I wrote last week that Josh Edgin's Tommy John surgery has exposed the Mets' lack of left-handed relief pitching beyond him. Based on what we have seen from the Mets' southpaw relievers in spring training, this is still a concern.
Among the Mets' incumbent left-handed relievers, Sean Gilmartin has a 5.19 ERA in 10 appearances and 8.2 innings pitched, allowing five earned runs and five walks. Dario Alvarez has a 4.91 ERA in 10 appearances and 7.1 innings pitched, allowing four earned runs and five walks.
Scott Rice has a 9.64 ERA in seven appearances and 4.2 innings pitched, with five earned runs and two walks allowed. Last but not least, Jack Leathersich also has a 9.64 ERA in eight appearances and 4.2 innings pitched, with five earned runs and five walks allowed.
Again, these are spring training stats that will not carry over into the regular season, but they should raise a red flag that this could turn into a problem in the regular season as well. The Mets would be smart to seek an upgrade if possible.
3. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz Are Closer to Being Ready
The Mets' top two pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz both have a great shot at making the major league roster this season. Exactly when this will happen is unknown, but both pitchers have shown over time that they are almost ready.
In three spring training appearances, Syndergaard has a 4.91 ERA and has allowed four earned runs and three walks, while striking out nine in 7.1 innings. Matz has a solid 2.08 ERA in four appearances, two earned runs and two walks allowed to go along with four strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched.
The loss of Zack Wheeler for the year due to Tommy John surgery was a big blow to the Mets for the upcoming season, but fans can be assured that Syndergaard and Matz could both potentially have a big impact in his absence. Hopefully, they will make the most of their opportunities once they arise.
4. The Lineup Has the Potential to Drive in a Lot of Runs
Thus far into spring training, the Mets lead the Grapefruit League with 35 home runs. Michael Cuddyer leads the team with five round-trippers. This is all nice, but does it mean that the team will definitely hit a bunch of home runs in the regular season as well? There is no guarantee that will be the case.
The Mets were tied for ninth in the National League in home runs in 2014 with 125. Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Travis d'Arnaud were the only batters to hit over 10 home runs. In other words, there was room for improvement last year, and hopefully the Mets will show more power at the plate this season.
So while the Mets may be leading the Grapefruit League in home runs, they most likely will not beat out slugging teams like the Cubs or Rockies and lead the NL in the category at the end of the regular season.
However, this display of power in the sunny skies of Florida at least shows that the Mets' lineup has the potential to hit more home runs and be more productive than last season. Whether that ends up happening, though, remains to be seen.
5. David Wright Looks Like He Has Recovered from His Shoulder Injury
David Wright is still the most significant hitter in the Mets' lineup, and his spring training numbers (.268 AVG, .888 OPS, 4 HR, 11 RBI) are a good sign that he has gotten past the shoulder injury that plagued him through much of the 2014 season.
Wright's 2014 season ended up featuring career lows of eight home runs and a .698 OPS. Those are simply not numbers that one would expect from Wright in any given season.
Just as Matt Harvey is the key to the Mets' success on the pitching end, Wright is the key to their offense. If he can get back to being the All-Star third baseman he has been for many years, he can carry the Mets into their first postseason appearance since 2006. But if he gets injured again or does not hit well at the plate, the Mets will likely struggle to score runs.
So while it's great to see that Wright's shoulder is not bothering him anymore, he will need to take the next step in the regular season and eliminate any lingering doubts over a potential decline by having a bounce-back season this year.
If Wright can hit 20-plus home runs and drive in 90-plus RBI, both of which he has done six times in his career, he will prove that he is back to being the David Wright of old—and the Mets will certainly need the David Wright of old if they want to make the playoffs this fall.
All statistics shown are courtesy of MLB.com, unless otherwise noted.