New York Mets 2021 Season Preview
It’s safe to say that the 2021 New York Mets season has some high expectations. With the team having new ownership for the first time in decades and the acquisition of star shortstop Francisco Lindor, Mets fans are more excited than ever to watch the Amazin’s. Now that Opening Day is almost here, it’s time to look at the team thoroughly and come up with a good idea of what they can accomplish this year. Obviously, things will change throughout the season but we can still get a good idea of the talent this roster has.
Last year’s starting rotation was rough, to say the least. However, this year’s rotation looks totally different. Bringing in new guys such as Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker while also seeing a returning face from the 2019 season with Marcus Stroman, the rotation has undoubtedly changed for the better. Of course ace Jacob deGrom is also returning for his eighth season as well. The injury bug has already bit the rotation with Carlos Carrasco tearing his hamstring in Spring Training, although the Mets do have some good depth with Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto. Carrasco will likely be out for six to eight weeks so Lucchesi is going to have time to prove himself in the big leagues while Yamamoto will be ready in Triple-A. David Peterson will also likely have a spot after an impressive 2020 rookie season.
As mentioned earlier, Francisco Lindor is now a New York Met which not only changes the infield, it changes the whole team. His defensive play is amazing and his hitting is just as good. It’s safe to say this team should be comfortable at shortstop. However, the entire left side of the infield isn’t so amazing. J.D. Davis is returning to third base which is worrisome. While the Mets do have Luis Guillorme as another option, third base is still a problem on this team that needs to be addressed. Second baseman Jeff McNeil is returning for his fourth season in the big leagues and at 28 years old he is still very much in his prime. Injuries have been an issue for Jeff so it’s imperative for him to stay healthy this year.
Pete Alonso is returning for his third year in the big leagues and is looking to bounce back from the 60-game sprint that was the 2020 season. Alonso has talked about the short season last year hurting his performance and how he feels that a full 162 game season will help him get back to normal. If Alonso is right and this season gets him back to his 2019 numbers, he will give the team a huge boost towards a potential postseason run. The final piece of the infield is the new catcher James McCann. This will be McCann’s eighth season in MLB at 30 years old. He’s a career .249 hitter and is easily the best defensive catcher the Mets have seen in years. If he stays healthy he’ll be an important piece of this team for the next few seasons.
With Dominic Smith in left-field and Brandon Nimmo in center-field, the outfield defense is a huge question mark. Michael Conforto is returning to right-field for his seventh season and is coming off of the best season of his career. As long as he stays healthy he should put up another good year for the team. Smith has only played 68 games in left-field his whole career, so there’s still hope that he can be reliable in left. Nimmo on the other hand has played 147 games in center over a five-year period. There’s still time for him to get better, but with the Albert Almora and Kevin Pillar signings, it’s clear that the Mets have their doubts that he can get it done.
The Mets made very few changes to the bullpen for the 2021 season despite their lackluster 2020 performance. The only newcomers currently are Trevor May and Aaron Loup. Loup is also currently the only LHP in the bullpen. Edwin Diaz, Miguel Castro, Jeurys Familia, and Dellin Betances fill out the rest of the pen. This bullpen is obviously extremely important to the team’s success this year. Particularly Diaz. If Diaz can be as good as he was in 2020 then the Mets have nothing to worry about. However, there is obviously concern given Diaz’s history of blown saves with the team.
Another concerning player in the pen is Dellin Betances. He had a horrendous 2020 season and did not have an impressive spring. Despite all of this, manager Luis Rojas confirmed that Dellin is staying with the team for now. One interesting player to look at is Jacob Barnes. The 30-year-old was claimed off waivers by the Mets in October of 2020. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported that he will likely start off the season having a role in the bullpen. He cannot be optioned to the minors so that’s likely a factor in the team’s decision. In spring he was used as an opener in a game, which the Mets have expressed interest in experimenting with. This 2021 team has an opportunity to break the long cycle of dreadful Mets bullpens.
This Mets team has the chance to do something special—or be a huge disappointment. Right fielder Michael Conforto said this is the “most talented team we’ve had” and he was on the 2015 team that went to the World Series. Regardless of what happens, the fact that the team has new ownership and a completely revamped front office should give Mets fans some comfort. To close this out, here’s Pete Alonso’s outlook on this season.
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Trevor May Aaron Loup, Edwin Diaz, Miguel Castro, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, Luis Rojas, Jacob Barnes, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Albert Almora, Kevin Pillar, J.D. Davis, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, James McCann, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, Marcus Stroman, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Francisco Lindor, and David Peterson.