5 Bold Predictions for the New York Mets' 2017 Season
After winning the pennant in 2015 and losing in the National League Wild Card Game in 2016, this is the year the New York Mets go for it all.
They'll have to get past the NL East rival Washington Nationals, and to do that, they will need a full, healthy campaign from their vaunted, oft-injured starting rotation.
There's the thumbnail sketch of New York's season. But what about some bold predictions?
The prognostications that follow won't all necessarily come to fruition. In fact, it's a near certainty that some (or all) of them won't, though I'm not predicting an MLB breakout for Tim Tebow.
April, however, is all about forward-gazing. Plus, you can tweet me in six months to point out how wrong—or possibly right—I was.
Zack Wheeler Will Be Healthy and Effective
Once upon a time, this would have been anything but a bold prediction.
The sixth overall pick in 2009, Zack Wheeler looked like a future ace when he debuted with the Mets in 2013. Tommy John surgery, however, derailed his rise, and he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2014.
Now, the 26-year-old right-hander is in the Mets rotation. His innings will be closely monitored and likely limited, per Matt Stypulkoski of NJ Advance Media.
At the same time, he'll have a chance to contribute, joining Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in a super rotation that's been more theory than practice because of injuries.
It says here he'll rise to the occasion and offer Mets fans a new cause for optimism.
Amed Rosario Will Get Rookie of the Year Votes
The Mets' top prospect, according to MLB.com and essentially everyone else, Amed Rosario is beginning the season at Triple-A.
Rosario is primarily a shortstop but will also get reps at third base, per Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via CBSSports.com).
If injured captain David Wright remains on the shelf, that gives Rosario another potential path to big league playing time.
Assuming he rakes in the minors, the Mets will be compelled to call him up before September.
Nothing is guaranteed with young players, but Rosario has flashed the tools to be an instant-impact player and to snag Rookie of the Year votes in the process.
Jay Bruce Will Be Benched or Traded
Before re-signing slugger Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets exercised their $13 million option on Jay Bruce.
It's a call New York may come to regret.
Yes, Bruce clubbed 33 homers between the Cincinnati Reds and Mets last season. But the 30-year-old adds to a veteran logjam in the outfield and is blocking 24-year-old Michael Conforto.
He also didn't play well after a deadline swap to New York in 2016.
"Obviously, I know my first month here last year wasn't very good," Bruce said, per Newsday's Steven Marcus. "It's a new year."
True enough, and the Mets have 13 million reasons to cut him slack. This prediction becomes extra bold when we note Bruce is 3-for-6 with a double and a homer through two games this term.
If or when his performance lags, however, he'll become either an expensive pinch hitter or a sell-low trade chip.
Lucas Duda Will Hit 30 Home Runs
Lucas Duda played just 47 games last season while battling a stress fracture in his back. That, after he hit a combined 57 home runs in 2014 and 2015.
Now, after clubbing three homers in the Grapefruit League, the 31-year-old is on the comeback path.
Reaching 30 homers would be a feat. Duda dealt with a sore hamstring earlier this spring but appears to have his health and stroke going. He could be moved up the lineup to benefit from Cespedes' protection.
Oh, and did I mention he's playing in a contract year?
That's often quite a motivator.
Noah Syndergaard Will Win the NL Cy Young Award
I'm borrowing this bold prediction from another prediction I made: Noah Syndergaard will win the NL Cy Young Award.
It's rough bordering on reckless to bet against Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. There are other studs in the Senior Circuit, including the Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer, San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner and Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta.
If anyone is going to challenge Kershaw, though, it'll be the Mets' beefed-up, bolt-throwing Norse god.
Still just 24, Syndergaard is the triple-digit face of baseball, and this may be the year he gets the hardware to back that up.