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NL East Preview: What to expect from the Mets

Taking a closer look at New York

Wild Card Game - San Francisco Giants v New York Mets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

2016 Record: 87-75, Second in NL East

2017 Projection (courtesy of Fangraphs): 84-78

The New York Mets enjoyed a fairly successful season in 2016, reaching the postseason for the second consecutive year via the wild card. The Mets fell to the Giants last October at the hands of Madison Bumgarner, who was in his usual postseason form. For a team that lost in the World Series the year prior, getting ousted in the wild card game may not be considered a successful season, but when taking into account the adversity the Mets faced last season, Mets fans have a lot to be excited for in 2017.

The Mets rotation, which is arguably one of the best rotations in baseball, was decimated by injuries in 2016. The Mets would lose ace Matt Harvey for the season and have their young superstars, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz pitch through bone spurs. Through all of that, the Mets still found themselves in the thick of the playoff race and in position to win the wild card down the stretch. The Mets, needing to acquire a bat to make up for the ailing Yoenis Cespedes and feeling that they were one piece from achieving what they fell just short of the year prior, made perhaps one of the biggest moves of the 2016 season and emptied their pockets for Jay Bruce. The acquisition of Bruce was an exciting one for Mets fans, but he would go on the be nothing short of disappointing in New York, hitting .219 with eight homers in 50 games.

The acquisition of Bruce gives the Mets a potentially very crowded outfield in 2017. Re-signing Yoenis Cespedes was the priority of the Mets offseason and brought back their biggest bat, but Curtis Granderson is coming off his best season in years and Michael Conforto is in need of consistent plate appearances, leaving Bruce as potentially the odd man out. The Mets could look to move Bruce before spring training, should the outfield market improve.

The Mets have been relatively quiet this offseason, which could be due to the fact that they believe that they already have what it takes to win. Potentially the biggest acquisition this offseason for the Mets could be the acquisition of health. With Cespedes, Wright, Matz, Syndergaard, and Harvey all finally getting time to recoup, the Mets could finally be a complete unit come opening day and that is a scary prospect for the NL East.

The Mets rotation is of little concern, with 4 out of the 5 spots locked up and a 3 man competition of Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellmen and Seth Lugo for the final spot. The Mets bullpen, however, is another story. With Jeurys Familia likely facing a lengthy suspension at the beginning of the season, set up man Addison Reed will be forced to step up into the closer role, familiar territory for him. The rest of the Mets bullpen appears to be a question mark. Jerry Blevins is said to be seeking upwards of $20 million over 3 years, a price the Mets increasingly seem less than inclined to match. This leaves Hansel Robles as the only other somewhat proven arm in the Mets bullpen, though Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo will likely slide to the bullpen if Gsellman wins the fifth rotation spot as I expect.

The Mets line-up has the potential to be a force in 2017 should it stay healthy. Cespedes enjoyed an all star season last year, Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker provided plenty of power up the middle combining for 46 home runs last season and Curtis Granderson returned to his all-star form. The wild cards for the Mets will be whether David Wright can remain healthy and if Jay Bruce remains in New York, whether he can return to his old form. If not, Michael Conforto will need to step in and perform at the level the Mets front office believes he will.

Should the Mets bolster their bullpen and stay healthy, I believe they could be the team to beat in the NL East this coming season. Guys like Matt Harvey, David Wright, and Jay Bruce (assuming he is not traded) will have a lot of pressure to bounce back to old form and the success of the Mets in 2017 could ride on it.