Las Vegas put out their odds to win the World Series in 2017 and not surprisingly the Cubs are overwhelming favorites to repeat as champions, at 15-4. The Red Sox follow that at 11-2. Rounding out the top five are the 2016 American League Champion Indians (8-1), the Nationals (10-1) and the Dodgers (14-1). The Mets, coming in 8th at 18-1 odds, also trail the Astros and Giants (15-1 each).
Note: all odds were derived from VegasInsider.com, and while different sites had different specific odds the Mets were generally between 14 and 18 to one and the Cubs were heavy favorites in all.
Vegas usually has an excellent handle on team’s chances and clearly of all top teams the Mets are the hardest to gauge. There are just too many variables in the starting rotation to make an accurate guess as to where the team will wind up in 2017.
The Mets, for the most part, return an offense which was below average all the way around in 2016. The Mets were 25th in batting average and 26th in runs scored in 2016 and have added no players to improve on those numbers. Instead, they are relying on bounce back year from key underperformers in 2016 (Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto) and hope that other players will be able to stay on the field long enough to contribute (Lucas Duda, David Wright).
Their bullpen has many more questions than answers. The fantastic AddisonReed/JeurysFamilia 8th to 9th inning will be returning, but there is little doubt that Familia will serve some kind of suspension to start the 2017 campaign (think in the neighborhood of 30 games). Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins, the only other consistent arms in the pen from last season, remain unsigned.
There is no left-handed specialist currently on the roster who has had any major league success over a season, and right-hander Hansel Robles showed flashes of potential and other periods of wild inconsistency. Will some pitchers who has success as starters toward the end of the year be converted to the bullpen (Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman?). The bullpen is still a work in progress and hopefully Sandy will have answers to those questions by the time spring training comes around.
So the strength of this team is not with the bats or the depth of the bullpen. It’s with five arms, four of which are coming off injuries. Most of the talk this off season has been positive and the hope is all will be ready by spring training. The Mets need to be cautious with them, but at the same time accept that this window when these pitchers (and the amazing Noah Syndergaard) are under our control is narrow.
In order to challenge the Cubs (and Nationals) we will be relying on these arms. If Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler can come close to putting together 100 starts between them that 18-1 bet will look pretty good.