The goal for every team is making the playoffs. For the New York Mets that is no easy task. However, after more than half a decade of losing seasons, the Mets do have a chance for postseason baseball. This is what it will take to get there:
1. Continue road success while improving at home
The Mets were one of the few teams who finished over .500 on the road in 2013 going 41-40. Generally speaking, that is exactly where a team wants to be–perform at .500 on the road and use home field advantage to put distance between yourself and other teams. While able to do the first part, the Mets struggled at home. An ideal home record would be inverse from the 33-48 that the Mets put up last year. An improvement to get to around the .500 mark at home while maintaining road success could get the Mets another 7 to 10 wins.
2. Solidify the bullpen
Over the first week of the season, the Mets bullpen has struggled mightily and now Bobby Parnell will miss the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. To be successful, the Mets need to find answers in the ‘pen. Jose Valverde will be the closer, likely for the remainder of the season, and has pitched well in his first three outings. Many other pitchers have not. Kyle Farnsworth may find himself with the team for the long term now, after an early demotion, albeit a brief one. Young arms such as Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen or Vic Black will have to step up their game this season to fill the void left by Parnell.
3. Hit for power
One area of weakness in the past few seasons for the Mets has been hitting for power. While not officially a reason, the lack of home runs by the home team certainly contributed to the now shallower fences at Citi Field. This was a big reason for the signings of both Curtis Granderson and Chris Young this offseason. In the first week, the team managed to launch quite a few home runs, from both expected and surprising contributors. While this is a team that is able to manufacture runs, the long ball will have to play a significant role in the offense. If they keep up the performance from this past week, this season will be very promising. Look for David Wright, Lucas Duda/Ike Davis and Curtis Granderson to be the big contributors in the power department.
4. Keep everyone else healthy
This has been the thorn in the side of the Mets since the start of the decade. Key guys need to play for an entire season. Over the last few years the Mets have lost David Wright, Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes and now Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell for extended periods of time. To compete this year, most of the roster, or at least the main starters, needs to play upwards of 150 games. Keeping players like Wright and Granderson in the lineup will have huge impacts both offensively and defensively.
5. Consistent production from the young guns
The Mets are a team whose success will depend upon plenty of raw talent. Players like Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia are going to be key both this season and going forward. High expectations and importance will carry over to the inevitable midseason call ups: Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. David Wright and Daniel Murphy alone are not enough to carry the Mets to October.
6. Beat the National League East
This seems both obvious and self-explanatory, but that doesn’t make it any less important. The Mets opened the season on the wrong foot after being swept by the Washington Nationals. They have to play better against the teams in their own division, particularly the Miami Marlins. The Mets have struggled to beat the Marlins in big situations dating back to 2007 and the Marlins have been on the bottom of the division for just as long. These are the wins that the Mets are going to have to lock up to make the playoffs. Of course, improved performance against the Nats, Braves and Phillies wouldn’t hurt either.
While unlikely, the Mets certainly have a chance to compete and should be much improved this season. If the Nationals or Braves falter towards the end, the Mets could swoop in and move on to October for the first time since 2006.