The rebuilding effort is in full swing for The New York Mets. After a good start, the club had a terrible second half in 2012. But with solid pitching on the roster and continued dealing for young talent by the New York front office, fans won’t have to wait much longer for a contender in Queens.
It probably won’t be this season, but with a pretty solid pitching rotation, anything is possible. Here’s a look at five players to watch on the Mets. Collectively, they will hold the keys to short-term success for the club.
Matt Harvey (SP) Harvey was 3-5 with a 2.73 and a 1.15 WHIP in 10 starts with the Mets. He showed both a lightning arm and a poise that managers like to see. As a rookie, he was one of the best in the league in getting hitters to swing-and-miss. He held batters to a .194 average, struck out 10.6 per nine innings, but he did walk 3.9. He’s already a number two-type starter in the majors, but fantasy managers will be able to get him later than that. The Mets will rebuild around his arm for sure.
Travis d’Arnaud (C) He is not likely to start the season on the Major League roster, but should see the majority of his season there. Widely considered the best catching prospect in the game, d’Arnaud hit .333 with 16 HR and 52 RBI in just half a season in AAA. John Buck, who came to the Mets along with d’Arnaud in the R.A. Dickey trade with the Blue Jays, will hold down the fort with the young Mets staff until his arrival. He is a significant piece of the rebuilding formula for the Mets and could excite fans in the second half.
Dillon Gee (SP) When people talk about the Mets’ young staff, it’s usually Harvey, prospect Zach Wheeler, and Jonathon Niese who are mentioned. However, do not overlook Gee, who is a fine pitcher in his own right. His control and strikeout rates improved last season, as did his groundball rate. He pitched to a 6-7 record, with a 4.10 ERA and 1.25 WHIP before a blood clot in his shoulder shut him down in July. His skill-based statistics say he deserved an ERA closer to 3.50. If he can manage that and boost his K rate (8.0 K/9 last season), he won’t be overlooked for long.
Lucas Duda (OF) The Mets outfield might be the worst in the majors, but Duda could have something to say about that. Expected to settle into LF, Duda has considerable power and has hit for much higher averages than last year. Between David Wright, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, the Mets do have good power in the middle of their lineup, but because Duda brings almost nothing to the table defensively, he has to hit better than last year (.239 last season after hitting .292 in his rookie campaign). If he can make more contact, he can be a star. If not, he can be Kevin Maas.
Ike Davis (1B) Davis admitted to being tired last year as he battled Valley Fever in the spring. In 2011 he missed most of the season with a nagging ankle injury. If he can get a full healthy season, he could be a real force for the Mets. He managed only a .227 average, but from June 9th on, he hit 27 of his 30 HR and managed a .265 average. A popular sleeper in fantasy leagues, Davis can be a significant source of power in the middle of the Mets lineup.
The Mets have the ability to surprise in the National League this season. They will have to do so with strong pitching, a good infield and an OF that might rely on players such as Marlon Byrd, Mike Baxter, and Collin Cowgill to be much better than expected. Fans should expect growth – and growing pains – in 2013, but there is talent on this Mets roster, and more is on the way.