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Jason Douglas Lewis - Five reasons why the Mets will compete for the NL East title

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Five reasons why the Mets will compete for the NL East title


It’s pretty obvious that the Nationals are the favorites to win the NL East. They are loaded from top to bottom. But the season must be played, and the Mets have constructed a pretty good roster with a lot of home grown talent. It’s not far fetched to believe that this ball club could give the Nationals a run for their money. Photo: Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

 

Originally published by FOX Sports http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/lists/new-york-mets-nl-east-title-5-reasons-022515

By Jason Lewis
FOX Sports Digital Content Producer (2014- present)

 

Starting pitching



With limited funds, GM Sandy Alderson set out to rebuild the Mets through their farm system. After years of patiently holding on to young and talented pitchers instead of trading them for more established players, the Mets are finally reaping the benefits. They arguably have a top ten starting rotation. Last season Jacob deGrom came out of nowhere to win the Rookie of the Year award, Zach Wheeler made major strides in his first full season in the Majors, and they will be getting back their ace Matt Harvey after he missed 2014 while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. The Mets biggest problem with this unit is that they have too many starters, as Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Bartolo Colon will battle for spots. And don’t forget about Noah Syndergaard, the prized player of their farm system. He may make the bigs this year. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

The bullpen



The Mets’ bullpen has been an issue for years, but those problems may be a thing of the past. This unit has greatly benefitted from the farm system being rebuilt, as home grown talent started to impact the ball club last year. Vic Black, who played his first full Major League season last year with the Mets, excelled in middle relief. Jeurys Familia, who was developed in the Mets’ farm system, was very effective in the set-up role, and Jenrry Mejia, who came up through the minors along side Familia, stepped in nicely in the closer’s role after Bobby Parnell was lost for the season early on. With Parnell returning, it can be argued that the Mets have the best bullpen in the NL East. Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Citi Field’s right field fence was moved in



Last year the Mets were pretty average offensively. Left-handed hitter Curtis Granderson was signed to a $60 million contract last offseason to add power to the lineup, but he had an incredibly disappointing season. With the Yankees, Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011 and 43 in 2012. But in his first year with the Mets, he only hit 20. Moving the fences in should enhance his totals. Also helping the slugger out is the hiring of former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who is credited with turning Granderson into a power hitter. Another player who will benefit from the shorter right field fence is lefty Lucas Duda, who had a breakout season in 2014, hitting 30 home runs. Opposing batters will try to take advantage of the closer fence too, but the Mets are counting on dominant pitching to counteract that. Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Good mix of young and veteran players



Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda, and Travis d’Arnaud had breakout years last season.  Couple that with all of the Mets’ young pitchers, the youth movement is driving this team. To go along with that, the ball club has just enough veteran leadership to make this all work.  Daniel Murphy made his first All-Star Game appearance last year. David Wright is feeling healthy after an injury plagued 2014. Curtis Granderson looks to recapture his power with a shorter fence and the hitting coach who he succeeded with while playing with the Yankees. And the addition of veteran Michael Cuddyer will add some pop to their lineup. Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

Wilmer Flores is the team’s weak link



The one glaring weakness with the Mets is at shortstop, where they spent the offseason looking for a replacement for Wilmer Flores. But they were unwilling to trade any young pitchers, so they are stuck with Flores for now. If that’s their biggest problem, things aren’t so bad. The young shortstop is only 23 years old, and last year was his first extended action in the Majors. He is known as a capable hitter, which is a premium in today's game. His defense has been questioned, but pitcher Jon Niese recently gave him a vote of confidence, saying that, “He's not flashy at all, by any means, but he gets the job done. He's made some great plays behind me last year down the stretch.” Flores is going to get better and will more than likely be a serviceable player. If he’s their weak link, than they have a really good ball club. Photo: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
 

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