5 Things To Watch: New York Mets Spring Training

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Thanks to a stable of young, impressive starting pitchers, the future is bright for the New York Mets. New York’s starting rotation is anchored by Matt Harvey, who will return after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Without Harvey anchoring its rotation last season, New York still won 79 games, which was an impressive mark for a team so dependent upon younger players. The Washington Nationals ran away with the National League East crown, but New York has the makings to challenge Washington in the near future. New York’s infield is comprised of catcher,Travis d’Arnaud, first baseman Lucas Duda, second baseman Daniel Murphy, shortstop Wilmer Flores, and third baseman David Wright. New York’s outfield will be manned by Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, and Michael Cuddyer. Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Zach Wheeler will anchor New York’s starting rotation. Here are five things to watch during Spring Training.

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Storyline #1: The Health of Matt Harvey

When healthy, Harvey has demonstrated the ability and skill to become a future Cy Young Award winner. During 2013, Harvey struck out 191 hitters over 178 innings while posting a 2.27 ERA. Due to lackluster run support, Harvey won just nine games. Expect that number to drastically increase during 2015. Since his last start, New York has added better offensive players to its lineup. New York will likely monitor Harvey’s pitch counts and innings counts, but keep an eye on his velocity during Spring Training to see whether he’s still throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s.

Storyline #2: Upgrading Shortstop?

Wilmer Flores is currently slated as New York’s Opening Day shortstop. Flores is a very good defensive player, but would be better suited in a utility infielder role. New York has been linked to Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond, but has not pulled the trigger on any major trades. New York has not been able to find a suitable replacement at shortstop since Jose Reyes opted to leave the Big Apple. It’s likely the Mets will wait to address the position during the season if a trade doesn’t happen before spring training, but an in-spring trade is still a possibility.

Storyline #3: Is deGrom For Real?

Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom won the National League Rookie of the Year award during 2014. deGrom stepped up and filled the void left by Harvey. In 22 starts, deGrom struck out 144 hitters over 140 innings while posting an impressive 2.69 ERA. Opposing teams have likely seen deGrom at least one time, so expect those teams to make adjustments. Can deGrom remain one step ahead of his competition and have an encore season?

Storyline #4: Cuddyer’s Impact

Outfielder Michael Cuddyer rejected a $15 million qualifying offer from the Colorado Rockies in order to sign a two-year, $21 million deal with the New York Mets. The 36-year-old Cuddyer only appeared in 49 games last season as he dealt with a myriad of injuries. Still, Cuddyer won the National League batting title with a .332 batting average during 2013. While the sample size was smaller, Cuddyer did post a .331 batting average during 2014. Cuddyer’s above average line drive rate should play well at Citi Field, but the move indicates that New York is ready to compete in 2015.

Storyline #5: Wright’s Leadership

David Wright posted career lows during 2014 as he dealt with an ailing shoulder injury that cost him the final three weeks of the season. Wright posted career lows in home runs (8), on-base percentage (.324), and slugging percentage (.374).  Despite his poor season, Wright remained optimistic and has declared himself as healthy for the 2015 season. Wright is the face of the franchise and was instrumental in the signing of Cuddyer. Expect Wright to bounce back in a big way during 2015.

Mets spring training tickets have an average price of $54.69 on the secondary market for 15 games at Tradition Field.

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