1. Aces High
If you dig deeper into the numbers, the Mets most likely path to the postseason will be through Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom winning 60 percent or more of their games while the rest of the staff treads water. If the Mets can accomplish that, this is a team that can win near 90 games and make the postseason.
Given those parameters, this season could not have gotten off to a better start.
In his Opening Day start, Syndergaard became just the second Mets starter to strike out 10 on Opening Day (Pedro Martinez did it in 2005). That was the seventh 10 strikeout, no-walk performance of his career, which leaves him trailing only Tom Seaver in the Mets record books. What is remarkable is that Seaver only has three more of those starts than Syndergaard.
For his part, deGrom was great pitching 5.2 innings allowing just one run on four hits. Like Syndergaard, he had a great strikeout to walk ratio, striking out seven and walking just one.
2. Tandems Working
With Michael Conforto starting the season on the disabled list, and the Mets wanting to have Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki split time behind the plate, the team has to figure out how to split time for both of these tandems. In the opening series, the Mets did their to perfection.
In the opening series against the Cardinals, the Mets catchers combined to go 3-for-9 with four runs, a double, homer, two RBI and four walks.
If these tandems are going to keep producing at a high level, the Mets are going to have a special season.
3. Callaway’s Decision Making
Well, the critics didn’t wait long to come down hard on Mickey Callaway. After a great Opening Day win, Callaway revamped the lineup to match not just the opposing pitcher Michael Wacha having reverse splits, but also to get Lagares’ glove in center because of deGrom’s fly ball rate.
If you thought it was unconventional to have Yoenis Cespedes batting second and Amed Rosario batting ninth, it was really unconventional to see Asdrubal Cabrera batting lead-off. It may have been even more unconventional to see the team take Nimmo out of the lineup after he had a great start to the season.
Well, Callaway looked like a genius right off the bat as Cabrera hit a double in the top of the first. Overall, he would go 3-for-5 with a run, two doubles, and an RBI.
Lagares would also respond going 2-for-4 with a run. In fact, Lagares’s bat has been one of the most pleasant surprises to start the season.
We have seen Callaway is going to be an unconventional manager, but he is going to be one with a sound basis for his decisions. It worked on Saturday, and it may fail another day. However, so long as the Mets have a manager making informed decisions, he is going to put his team in a position to win time and time again, and the Mets opened the season winning two of their first three.
1. Homers Allowed
Across all of Major League Baseball, there has been an effort by seemingly every hitter to increase their launch angle. As a result, there were more homers hit in 2017 than there was in any other season.
Even with this backdrop, it did seem like Mets pitching gave up too many home runs. It is more problematic when you consider how difficult it typically is to hit homers in April in Flushing.
In the three game series, the Cardinals hit six home runs. This included Syndergaard allowing his first two home run game since May 11, 2016.
W0rse yet, we had to watch Yadier Molina hit two homers, which is something that should always be scarring for Mets fans to see.
2. Matz’s Troubles
On Easter Sunday, Matz had to battle not just the St. Louis Cardinals, but he also had to battle home plate umpire CB Bucknor.
With that said, Matz wasn’t great. He was still leaving the ball up, which in part, led to two Cardinals homers. He needed 89 pitches to get through just four innings and dealt three walks. Overall, the one thing you can say about this start is Matz never made the adjustments he needed to both get the ball down and to respond to the strike zone given to him by the home plate umpire.
It’s still early for Matz. If you recall, Matz had one of the all-time horrible starts to open his 2016 season. In that start against the Marlins, he lasted just 1.2 innings, and allowed seven earned.
This start was considerably better than that. Hopefully, Matz’s 2018 will be considerably better than his 2016 and especially his 2017 season.
3. Bullpen Hiccups
One of the best parts of the opening series was seeing Jeurys Familia look like the Familia of 2015. That was the Familia who was available for multiple innings seemingly every night. That was important because he was needed to mask many of the deficiencies present in that bullpen.
It was also great to see Robert Gsellman step-up. In his first relief appearance of the season, he struck out the side. His second relief appearance did not go as well with Anthony Swarzak having to bail him out of the first and second one out situation.
The Gsellman hiccup was part of the general bullpen hiccups the Mets saw in their opening series.
Swarzak allowed an eighth inning home run to Matt Carpenter in the second game of the season, and he had to leave the game with an oblique injury. Time will tell how severe that injury is.
No, this is not to say the Mets bullpen is an issue. With the return of a dominant Familia, you will be hard-pressed to make that argument. However, heading into the season, the Mets bullpen depth was an issue, and this opening series did little to ease anyone concerned about it.