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How the Mets could lose this opportunity

For the first time in a while, the Mets seem to be in a position to compete. Their success is no guarantee, however.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This year, the Mets aim to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2008. After a string of fruitless seasons, the roster finally resembles that of a contending team. Young players have developed into everyday major leaguers, while aging, productive veterans help to round out what seems to be a complete ball club in a relatively weak division. Despite general optimism surrounding the team, the Mets' success is far from a guarantee. Let's take a look at potential pitfalls for the 2015 New York Mets.

Lack of consistency/improvement from unproven players

In 2014, strong performances from the youth of the team helped fuel a strong second half of the season. Lucas Duda put together a very strong campaign, posting a 136 wRC+ and mashing 30 home runs. After his recall from the minors on June 24, Travis d'Arnaud hit .272/.319/.486 with 10 home runs. The recently extended Juan Lagares won a Gold Glove for his defensive prowess in center field, but he was unspectacular at the plate.

For the Mets to have success this year, they'll need to have repeat performances from Duda and d'Arnaud, while getting an uptick in production from Lagares at the plate. Duda's struggles against lefties are well documented. Although he has hit them well in spring training, he must hit them in real games or be platooned accordingly.

The track records aren't all that long for these three players. If all three take steps back from last season, the negative impact on the Mets' offense will be profound.

No bounce back for the captain

After a dreadful 2014 in which he failed to slug .400 for the first time in his career, David Wright is looking to prove that last season was a fluke. Hampered by injury, the captain of the Mets only hit eight home runs before his season ended in early September. It's likely that his struggles were a result of his injured shoulder, but it may have masked a different issue. The 32-year-old may not be able to recover from an injury as quickly as he has in the past. It's unlikely he'll become a shell of his former self, but his days as a five-WAR player could be over. With age comes decline in performance, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that his decline is on the horizon.

Rough first year back for Matt Harvey

The Mets are getting their ace back, as Matt Harvey is making his return from Tommy John surgery. Expectations are high for the man who once captivated New York, but they may be outlandish. Furthermore, despite his spring training performances, he might not be fully ready to dominate major league competition once again. This is perfectly reasonable, but it would put a damper on the team's overall performance. After losing Zack Wheeler to the same injury that sidelined Harvey for a full season, the Mets' rotation is in need of an ace-like season from Harvey.

Inability to win within the division

To put it lightly, the Mets did not fare well against the Washington Nationals last season. After putting up a 4-15 record against the reigning National League East champs, the Mets aim to win some games against the team which they'll likely be chasing. However, the Nationals improved their 96-win club, adding ace Max Scherzer to their already stacked rotation. They seem to have the Mets' number. Washington won all but one game at Citi Field in 2014. The kryptonite may still be in the hands of the Nats.

The Miami Marlins, too, made upgrades in the offseason, such as Mat Latos, Michael Morse, and Martin Prado. And with the impending return of Jose Fernandez in mid-season, the Fish may be neck and neck with the Mets. Therefore, the Mets must make the most of their season series with Miami. A failure to do so could put the team in a third-place hole.

As for the Braves and Phillies, the Mets' job is clear: Take care of business. Atlanta and Philadelphia may have two of the worst three rosters in the majors, so taking advantage of the 38 games against the two is imperative. All but one series in the month of April is against National League East.