2023 New York Mets Preview: Embrace Oddity


As we are only mere days away from MLB’s Opening Day, it is the perfect time to preview what this season of New York Mets baseball could have in store.

Last season did not feature an “Amazin’” conclusion. Despite winning 101 regular season contests, the Mets were defeated by the San Diego Padres in a three-game Wild Card Series. New York would not have had to play in the entry round if they had outlasted the youthful Atlanta Braves and won the National League East crown. But a dreadful three-game September set in Atlanta saw the Mets fail to win a single game and lose control of the division.

2023 figures to be a direct continuation of 2022 for Flushing’s finest, but this may not be the most advantageous news for Mets fans. Even with injuries and new additions, New York’s holistic pitching staff remains one of baseball’s best, but their lineup’s lack of power could once again be detrimental as they attempt to win a feisty NL East and make a legitimate World Series run.

Two-time Cy Young award winner and longtime Met Jacob deGrom departed for Texas this offseason when he signed a five-year deal worth $185 million with the Rangers. Shortly thereafter, New York owner Steve Cohen and general manager Billy Eppler finalized a two-year, $86.7 million deal with nine-time all-star Justin Verlander. The 40-year old ace is still widely considered one of the best pitchers in the game and could even be considered an upgrade over deGrom. Last season as a member of the Houston Astros, Verlander posted an 18-4 record and a 1.75 ERA en-route to winning his third Cy Young and second World Series. He’ll join Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation and aim to solidify the nastiest 1-2 punch in the game.

Chris Bassitt signed with the Toronto Blue Jays this winter, but the middle part of the Mets’ starting rotation is still a legitimate group of solid arms. Japanese right hander Kodai Senga penned a five-year deal to bring his talents to Queens. In his 11 seasons as a member of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, Senga posted a 2.59 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. The Mets also signed journeyman José Quintana, but he will remain out until at least July due to a rib ailment.

The back end of the Mets’ rotation will feature Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill. Carrasco is a known veteran who has remained effective in spite of the fact he’s faced multiple injuries throughout his career. Peterson posted an impressive 3.83 ERA last season and will start the year with the Mets, and even though Megill will begin the year in Triple-A, his services will certainly be needed as the summer heats up.

The Mets’ bullpen will not be nearly as strong as their rotation and could potentially take a step back from where it was last season. Star closer Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon during an on-field celebration at the World Baseball Classic earlier this month. Diaz excelled in 2022. The right-hander finished the campaign with a 1.31 ERA and 32 saves while ensuring that late inning leads remained intact.

With Diaz out, newly signed reliever David Robertson will likely be the Mets’ closer. The Alabama native holds a career ERA of 2.40, but is not a dominant arm with “lockdown stuff.” In many ways, Robertson fits the Mets’ current bullpen perfectly. Without Diaz, they are a collection of decent pitchers who are by no means elite. Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, Drew Smith, Tommy Hunter, John Curtiss and others will join Robertson in handling the late innings. Ottavino and Smith in particular should be key as the Mets will try to adapt to Diaz’s absence.

The 2022 New York lineup was hurt by a lack of pure power. They finished with baseball’s second best team on-base percentage, but were below league average in terms of home runs. 2023 could present the same challenge. Outside of first baseman Pete Alonso, third baseman Eduardo Escobar and designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach, the Mets everyday lineup will mainly consist of players who prefer to take a nuanced approach at the plate. In other words, players like shortstop Francisco Lindor, right fielder Starling Marte, left fielder Mark Canha and second baseman Jeff McNeil, who won last season’s NL Batting Title, focus more on grinding out tough at-bats instead of bashing home runs. While this brand of hitting generates a great deal of traffic on the base pads and limits the opposing pitcher’s ability to breeze through innings, it does not necessarily result in a number of quick runs on the scoreboard. New York has three players in the minors (Brett Baty, Mark Vientos and Francisco Alvarez) who could add a jolt of power later this season, but none of them will begin the year at the major league level.

If the 2023 New York Mets are going to compete for a championship, they must embrace the oddity of their circumstances. A top flight starting rotation will surely help keep them from falling out of NL East contention, but their bullpen configuration and offensive identity will require some creativity. Even if Robertson is able to serve as a reliable closer, there will undoubtedly be situations that force Mets manager Buck Showalter to call upon different and surprising names to shut the door. The offense will have to accept a similar fate. Regardless of whether or not their power hitters can carry the team across certain stretches, New York is designed to play small ball. It is unlikely they will slug their way to a title, so they must instead accept the roster they’ve built and employ a uniquely gritty approach.

The Mets should not be favored to win the NL East over the imposing Atlanta Braves, but their wealth of starting pitching, fascinating lineup and serviceable bullpen could put them in prime position to snag a top Wild Card slot, bring October back to Queens for a second straight year and attempt to claim the franchise’s first World Series Championship since 1986.