New York Mets 2022 Season Preview: Plan With Caution


Max Scherzer and the Mets enter 2022 with hope, but the injury bug has already started to rear its ugly head. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Colin Loughran , Staff Writer

Being as MLB’s Opening Day is only a day away, it is the perfect time to check out how the New York Mets are looking and what fans should expect this season. Flushing’s finest held the NL East’s top spot for a whopping 103 days last season, but failed to reach the postseason. The team’s horrendous West Coast trip all but sunk their championship hopes and forced fans to endure yet another silent October. However, most expected that under the new regime of Steve Cohen and company, changes would be coming to ensure that postseason baseball would make its grand return to Queens sooner rather than later. Indeed, this offseason was busy for the Mets. The hiring of Buck Showalter as the new manager adds a mature presence to a young team that has no real postseason pedigree. 

Further, the additions of Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Chris Bassitt, Adam Ottavino and Eduardo Escobar give the Metropolitans an element of depth that is needed on any competitive roster. Perhaps most importantly, the signing of Max Scherzer solidifies the starting rotation as one of the best in baseball when healthy. Overall, the Mets front office has put a plan in place that should bear fruit. However, factors such as health and consistency could bring the master strategy to a screeching halt in 2022. 

Heading into spring training, the Mets starting rotation was the talk of the town. Jacob deGrom and Scherzer headline the act, and were supposed to serve as a sort of “two headed monster.” Before being shut down due to injury, deGrom posted a 1.08 ERA with a 5.0 WAR in 2021. These impressive marks came over 15 starts, and were a primary catalyst for the Mets’ early success. Scherzer spent his 2021 with the Nationals and Dodgers. He ended the campaign with a 15-4 record and a sizzling 2.46 ERA. Mad Max was a key piece of the Dodgers’ run to the NLCS and may have carried them to a World Series appearance if not for a “dead arm.” The plan was for these two aces to lead the charge at the top of the pitching staff, but reality has already snubbed Mets’ fans once more. 

Last week, it was reported that deGrom would miss significant time due to a stress reaction in his shoulder. To make matters worse, Scherzer is currently dealing with a “bothersome right hamstring” that could keep him off the mound for a bit. Where does this leave the Mets? Around the same spot they were in at the end of last year. Taijuan Walker, Chris Bassitt, David Peterson, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Williams and Tylor Megill will all likely get starts at one point or another, especially if deGrom and Scherzer struggle with injuries. While these starters have each had some bright moments, none of them are legitimate “number one” options that have been particularly consistent in the past. 

The only one who may be able to right the ship is Chris Bassitt. His career numbers are more than respectable, but one cannot help but wonder if he will embrace the New York spotlight from day one — the Big Apple is a much different animal than Oakland after all. The rotation was built to have a scary 1-2 punch with some streaky backend options. Now, the latter will have to step up early and hope that the big guns come back in time to help manage the load. As game one of 162 fastly approaches, it is clear that the Mets rotational plans have not gone smoothly. Fans will have to hope that injuries do not completely derail Scherzer or deGrom’s seasons.

For the better part of the past 20 years, the Mets have had a shaky bullpen. In fact, it has become a summer tradition for angry Mets fans to call into WFAN radio shows and let out their frustration with the pen. All kidding aside, this year’s rendition seems promising, but its success will ultimately be determined by Showalter’s ability to manage overworked arms. As we have established, the starting rotation will be challenged very early in the season. This means that middle relievers like Adam Ottavino and Sean Reid-Foley will have to “bridge the gap” on days when the starters streakiness sets in. 

The late innings will be defined by names such as Trevor May and closer Edwin Diaz. May had a decent freshman stint with the Mets, putting up a 3.59 ERA and four saves. However, there were certainly times when he was hurt by the long ball. This will have to change as while the Mets have plenty of options for the middle innings, they do not have this same luxury in the bottom of the bullpen. May must step up as a reliable set up man. Diaz will also have to improve. He has blown 17 saves since 2019, and has a tendency to get rattled easily. This year’s Mets bullpen is solid, and ripe with arms that can compete. But, they will most likely have to eat a lot of innings early, and hope to find stability in late game situations.

In 2021, the Mets were a below league average team in terms of home runs, RBIs, batting average and on-base percentage. The lineup never seemed to get hot. They did not get the season they wanted from Francisco Lindor, and were too reliant on home runs from Pete Alonso and other role players. The lineup has improved on paper, and should be a force to be reckoned with. Marte will join Brandon Nimmo in the outfield and form a pesky tandem in the lineup that can simply find ways to get on base. 

Additionally, under the radar pieces such as Escobar and Canha add a brand of depth and experience that is often undervalued in a league that is getting younger by the day. The marquee names will have to perform. Thankfully for the Mets, it is not hard to imagine Lindor having a bounce back year. He smacked 20 home runs in what was considered a down year for him. If he can improve his overall on base percentage and batting average, the Amazins’ will get the star they signed for. Alonso has gotten consistently better at “waiting for his pitch,” and Jeff McNeil plays exactly like a Lenny Dykstra-esque spark plug when he’s right. Fans should feel confident about this lineup. Each member can hit for power when necessary, and with the inclusion of Marte, they now boast a number of potential table-setters that could give the lineup some truly fascinating variations. 

 Historically speaking, the New York Mets are not a franchise that competes for championships. Unlike the rival Yankees, they have had many “lost seasons” that fans would rather forget. The previous administration was more than willing to wager that “slow and steady wins the race,” but Steve Cohen is not that patient. From the moment this past off-season began, it was evident that he wanted to implement a plan that would catapult the Mets to the top of the NL East. On paper, he’s done just that. The plan is in place, but if the Mets want to make any sort of noise in 2022, they will have to get their star aces back from injury, receive solid innings from a streaky bullpen and correctly utilize a theoretically diverse lineup.