An eventful offseason has concluded, and the new baseball season is finally here. The Mets, who are coming off a 101-win season but a brief playoff stint that ended unceremoniously in the Wild Card Round against the Padres, will look to set a positive tone early with a four-game set against Marlins. New York won 13 of its 19 games in the season series with Miami last year.
A lot has happened since our last series preview. To sum up an entire winter would take far more words than anyone is interested in reading, quite frankly. Steve Cohen, who once promised a title in the first three to five years of his ownership of the franchise, spent a lot of money and will foot a hefty luxury tax bill in an effort to make sure the Mets maintain their success from last season. Jacob deGrom departed for the Lone Star State, but he was replaced with 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. The team also inked Japanese phenom Kodai Senga, brought back Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Díaz on long-term contracts (as well as Adam Ottavino on a one-year deal), and fortified the bullpen by adding Brooks Raley and David Robertson.
It wasn’t all good. As previously mentioned, the team lost long-time ace deGrom to the Rangers. The Carlos Correa saga brought about one of the highest highs and, ultimately the lowest low of the offseason, as he eventually re-signed with the Twins after medicals raised red flags with New York (as well as the Giants). Finally, the team lost Díaz for the season following an injury in the World Baseball Classic. Despite all that, the team is among the odds on favorites to win the World Series and has been picked by many experts to win the NL East or, at the very least, return to the playoffs as a Wild Card team for the second consecutive season. Barring disaster, it should be another exciting season for Mets fans.
The team will once again be led by Francisco Lindor, who had a stellar spring and shined in the WBC for Puerto Rico, slashing .450/.500/.500 with five runs batted in over his five games. After a subpar first showing in Queens, he broke out last year, hitting .270/.339/.449 with 26 home runs, a career-best 107 runs batted in, 98 runs scored, and a 127 wRC+ in 161 games, which is good for a 6.8 fWAR and a ninth-place finish in NL MVP voting. Pete Alonso, meanwhile, finished one spot ahead of him in NL MVP voting as he crushed 40 home runs and set a franchise record for 131 runs batted in while hitting .271/.352/.518 in 160 games. It’s safe to say these two will help determine just how far the team goes in 2023, but if they can replicate their 2022 success, the team should be just fine.
Miami, meanwhile, is coming off a season in which they won 69 games and dropped 93, but they made some solid additions in the offseason. For starters, they acquired the 2022 AL batting champion, Luis Arraez, which is the headline move. They also added Mets killer Jean Segura, as well as starter Johnny Cueto and reliever JT Chargois. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that they have the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Sandy Alcantara.
With the new MLB schedule, these two teams (and all teams within divisional matchups) will face each other a fewer number of times than we are accustomed to. Given that all teams will square off against one another in a given season, the Mets will now face the Marlins (and their other divisional rivals) 14 times per season (four series) as opposed to the usual 18 or 19 times (six series).
There are also a lot of new rules coming this season. Most notably, we will get our first look at the pitch clock in an MLB game that counts. It garnered mixed reviews during spring training and had its proponents and detractors. There’s also bigger bases, the banning of the shift, and the permanent addition of the runner on second to start extra innings, to name a few more. Away we go!
Thursday, March 30: Max Scherzer vs. Sandy Alcántara, 4:10 p.m. on SNY
Scherzer (2022): 145.1 IP, 173 K 24 BB, 13 HR, 2.29 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 0.91 WHIP WHIP, 5.2 bWAR
Despite missing roughly eight weeks with an oblique injury, Scherzer had a stellar first season in Flushing, finishing with a 2.29 ERA and a 2.62 FIP in 23 starts. He limited opponents to one earned run or fewer in 14 of his 23 starts and was his typical dominant self for much of the year. Unfortunately, the lasting impression will be his final two starts, in which he tagged for four earned runs in 5 2⁄3 innings against the Braves in a season-defining series, and was then blasted for seven earned runs, including four homers, in 4 2⁄3 innings against the Padres in Game 1 of the Wild Card round. But the team’s hopes will largely depend on him and Verlander pitching to their career norms, which he mostly did in 2022.
Alcántara (2022): 228.2 IP, 207 K, 50 BB, 16 HR, 2.28 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 8.00 bWAR
Alcántara was the unanimous NL Cy Young, and with good reason. He led the NL in innings pitched (228 2⁄3) and complete games (6). He’s always had the stuff, but he put it all together last year and dominated from start to finish. At one point, he went 13 straight starts that lasted at least seven innings. His durability was the most impressive aspect of his season. He pitched very well against New York, posting a 3.33 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 27 innings across his four starts. The sky’s the limit for Alcántara who, at 27, is one of the rising young stars of the game.
Friday, March 31: David Peterson vs. Jesús Luzardo, 6:40 p.m. on SNY
Peterson (2022): 105.2 IP, 126 K 48 BB, 11 HR, 3.83 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 0.9 bWAR
Peterson will get his chance to impress with José Quintana set to miss the first half of the season. Peterson and Tylor Megill battled during spring training for the right to take the fifth spot in the rotation, and the left-hander easily came out on top. In 12 spring innings, he surrendered just one hit and didn’t allow an earned run, though he did walk eight while striking out 13. Peterson has been frustrating and enigmatic over his first three seasons, but his last season did feature some high points amid some low points as well. It’s now or never for Peterson, who will get his best opportunity to prove he belongs in the big leagues.
Luzardo (2022): 100.1 IP, 120 K, 35 BB, 10 HR, 3.32 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
Luzardo came over to Miami in a trade with the Athletics in 2021, and he struggled in his first go-around with the team. However, he was much better last season, although he missed significant time thanks to a left forearm strain. He finished the year with an impressive 3.32 ERA and showed some terrific stuff, which helped him earn the second spot in the team’s rotation behind the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. The Mets handled Luzardo well last season, and he finished the year with a 6.75 ERA in 9 1⁄3 innings across two starts versus New York.
Saturday, April 1: Justin Verlander vs. Edward Cabrera, 4:10 p.m. on SNY
Verlander (2022): 175.0 IP, 185 K, 29 BB, 12 HR, 1.75 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, 5.9 bWAR
Returning from Tommy John Surgery is often unpredictable. Doing so late in your career can often be incredibly difficult. Verlander made it look easy. After missing all of 2021 following one start in 2020, all the future Hall of Famer did was lead the American League in wins (18), ERA (1.75), WHIP (0.83) and H/9 (6.0) en route to winning his third career Cy Young Award and his second World Series title with the Astros. Now he will embark on a new challenge, switching over to the National League after spending his entire career in the AL. He will also look to become one of the few pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues. He also has big shoes to fill, replacing a two-time Cy Young winner and homegrown favorite following the aforementioned pitcher’s defection in free agency. But it will be incredibly exciting watching two future Hall of Famers pitch every five days.
Cabrera (2022): 71.2 IP, 75 K, 33 BB, 10 HR, 3.01 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, 2.1 bWAR
Cabrera had a solid sophomore season for Miami, pitching to a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts. He earned his first career win in his first start of the year on June 1 against the Rockies. He struggled with walks, issuing 33 free passes in 71 2⁄3 innings. In his one start against the Mets, he earned the victory after allowing three earned runs on five hits over 5 2⁄3 innings.
Saturday, April 1: Kodai Senga vs. Trevor Rogers, 1:40 p.m. on SNY
Senga (Japan, 2022): 148.0 IP, 159 K 50 BB, 7 HR, 1.89 ERA, 1.04 WHIP,
Senga and his ghost fork are ready to take the league by storm. It’s difficult to predict how Senga will perform in the states, but there’s no reason to think the team won’t be getting a really good pitcher. Among all the big names the team signed over the winter, his remains perhaps the most intriguing one, and one that has flown under the radar, in many respects. He did give the team a scare during the spring, as he suffered from tendonitis in his finger, but he appears to have overcome that and is ready to make his debut.
Rogers (2022): 107.0 IP, 106 K, 45 BB, 15 HR, 5.47 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.51 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR
After finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and making the All Star team in his first full season, Rogers suffered from a sophomore slump in 2022. He had a disastrous season, finishing with a 5.47 ERA in 23 starts. The Mets also tattooed him in his two starts against them. He finished the year with a 5.79 ERA in 9 1⁄3 innings against New York.
Prediction: The Mets will take three out of four, much like they did in 2022, to start the new season!
How will the Mets fare in their season-opening series against the Marlins?
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The Mets kick off 2023 on a high note with a sweep in Miami!
Like they did last year, the Mets begin their season with three of four on the road.
The Mets and Marlins earn a split to start the year.
The Mets drop three of four to the pesky Marlins to kick things off.
The Mets sink in their season-opening series, suffering a sweep in Florida.
Pizza! (First slice of 2023!)