It's time to start the 2015 regular season! After a whole winter of waiting for the Mets to freaking do something, and then an amazing two days in which they made some moves, we are here at the doorstep of Opening Day. A whole season's worth of wondrous possibilities await.
That's always how I start to think about the beginning of the season, anyway. I hope you do, too, because it's fun. Then I start to think about the inevitable scoring droughts, losing streaks, and times when I forget the Mets have a game at one o'clock on a Thursday.
There's a very good chance that all those annoying things happen again this year, but until they do, the Mets are going to defy the odds and win all their games. And if not, there's a whole community of Mets fans right here to commiserate with! Anyway, on to the Opening Day storylines.
If you asked a baseball expert to bet his or her life on a team winning its division this season, that pick is probably going to be Washington. This team was loaded with a balanced offense and a powerful pitching staff, and that was before general manager Mike Rizzo opened the checkbook to sign Max Scherzer to a contract that has no chance of ending poorly at all.
With Scherzer, the Nationals don't even have room for Tanner Roark in their rotation, and he was really good last year! There are some issues with the lineup, though. Projected to start the season on the disabled list are starting third baseman Anthony Rendon (knee), starting outfielder Jayson Werth (shoulder), and starting center fielder Denard Span (core). Washington has a deep enough lineup to survive the maladies (even if it didn't sport such a stout pitching staff), but there are some interesting decisions for manager Matt Williams to make.
For example, does he go with offense in left field with 28-year-old slugger Tyler Moore or opt for the defense of former Met Matt den Dekker? Right now it looks like Moore is getting the starts, but he's struggled to hit big league pitching since his exciting debut in 2012. den Dekker makes sense given that the Mets aren't throwing a lefty at the Nats and that he'll provide much stronger defense than Moore. Watching den Dekker make a great catch in the outfield while Jerry Blevins gives up a home run to Bryce Harper would be a troll's dream come true.
Replacing Span in center will be rookie Michael Taylor. You might remember his cup of coffee in the bigs from last season.
That was delightful. Taylor just turned 24 years old, but he struck out nearly 30 percent of the time at Double-A Harrisburg in 2014. He's probably not as polished as the Nats want him to be, which is yet another reason we could see some den Dekker in April.
Finally, Danny Espinosa is supposed to play second base while Yunel Escobar moves over to third to fill in for Rendon. That could be fun for Mets pitching since Espinosa was only a slightly better hitter in 2014 than in his nightmarish 2013 season. That leaves room for a possible Dan Uggla cameo! The former All-Star second baseman was beyond dreadful with Atlanta and San Francisco last year, but he's hitting .261/.433/.457 in spring training. Hopefully no one will tell Williams that he might be better off rolling the dice with Uggla than hoping for Espinosa to finally turn into a big league hitter.
Bartolo Colon doesn't stink
I swear, if the hefty right-hander was built like Chris Capuano, he'd be a perfectly suitable Opening Day starter for the Mets. Instead, we're still making jokes about his figure and whining about have to wait a couple of days for regular season Harvey Day. Okay, maybe we're not doing those things, but some people are! And it's not fair. Bartolo Colon is freaking awesome.
Seriously, stop focusing on poor Colon's body and start focusing on his control, efficiency, and 2.8 fWAR from last season. We may be living in a pitching-rich era, but a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5:1 doesn't just grow on trees. Even if the stats don't impress you, Colon is still fun to watch because he doesn't fool around outside the strike zone. And his offense, of course, provides its own brand of entertainment.
Matt Harvey, by the way, is also debuting this week. It would be more fun for the national media if he was starring in an Opening Day showdown against Scherzer, but Mets fans should be just as happy to see him lock horns with Stephen Strasburg during the series finale in a rematch of 2013's famous "Harvey's better" game.
There's not too many strikeouts in that video, but it's made all the more awesome by the fact that Jordany Valdespin is playing center field. We've come a long way.
One of the best parts of spring training was watching Harvey dominate opposing batters just like he did prior to Tommy John surgery. The right-hander routinely threw his fastball in the upper 90s and allowed just three runs in 22.2 innings. We know that small sample sizes and thus spring training stats are virtually meaningless, but Harvey looking like he's rounding into form is something that feels very good.
|Date||Time||Television||Mets starter||Nationals starter|
|April 6, 2015||4:00 PM||ESPN, SNY||Bartolo Colon||Max Scherzer|
|April 8, 2015||7:05 PM||SNY||Jacob deGrom||Jordan Zimmermann|
|April 9, 2015||1:05 PM||SNY||Matt Harvey||Stephen Strasburg|
The eight-man bullpen
After the final roster adjustments were made on Saturday, the Mets' Opening Day roster includes four bench players and eight relief pitchers instead of the more common five and seven. While just two weeks ago we were wondering if the team would bring even on left-handed reliever north, the Mets now had three on the current roster: Blevins, Alex Torres, and Rule 5 Draft selection Sean Gilmartin.
The short bench is an interesting decision because it leaves Ruben Tejada as the only reserve infielder even as second baseman Daniel Murphy was very close to starting his campaign on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury. With John Mayberry Jr. and Michael Cuddyer able to play first base in a pinch, the Mets still have every position backed up, but one has to wonder if the flexibility they sacrificed by sending utility man Eric Campbell down to the minors was worth having a stretchy arm like Buddy Carlyle in the bullpen. No matter what the team is thinking with this move, it would be surprising to see the Mets stay with four bench players for an extended period.
Prediction: Mets win two of three to get the season off to a positive start!
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