With Mets Opening Day less than a month away, our Rising Apple’s season previews continue to roll in. Our staff will be weighing in on various topics over the next few weeks as we tick off the final days to March 29.
Check out Part 1: Which Mets pitcher will get the Opening Day start?
For our second preview, we’re talking about which Mets player is most likely to surprise us in 2018. This could be a player that’s had success before and lost it, or a player that most are simply not expecting to make a big impact on this roster that actually will.
JT Teran, Editor
I know most people have written off Matt Harvey for good, and I honestly can’t blame them. His best pitching days seem to be behind him after his great season in 2015, and he looks like a shell of himself. I still think he has something left in the tank though and this will be the season he shows it.
For the first time in a couple of years, Harvey is actually healthy, and had a normal offseason that didn’t involve any type of rehab. This offseason also featured a big mental shift in the way he’s looking at himself as a pitcher. He knows – or should know – that the days of throwing 98 m.p.h. past every hitter he faces are gone. He has to work on his craft, and I believe he did just that this winter.
Harvey will also be working with some of the best baseball minds in the business. Manager Mickey Callaway was highly regarded before coming on board, and Dave Eiland has made a reputation of his own with his previous staffs. I think both of these guys will have a huge impact on Harvey’s confidence and approach. Eiland has already given Harvey a small vote of confidence and hope that we all needed to hear.
This year is also Harvey’s final arbitration-eligible season. After 2018, the Dark Knight will be a free agent. If he wants to be able to cash in, he has to perform well this season. Otherwise, he may end up as The Joker instead.
Christina Cola, Editor
Steven Matz is going to surprise us all this year. Third time’s the charm for this Long Island native. This is the year Matz figures out how to keep himself healthy and finally shows us what he can do over the course of the year. We’ll finally see the man who showed us a flash of brilliance as he carried that no-hitter into the 8th inning two years ago.
His velocity has dropped a bit, but there’s no reason Matz can’t adjust and become a different type of successful pitcher. With Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland at the helm this season, Matz has more than enough help to reinvent himself into that pitcher. His ground ball percentage is already at 47 percent as oppose to his fly ball percentage at 17 percent. His K/9 is down to about 6. But as I mentioned before, he doesn’t need flashy strikeouts to get batters out. Maybe I’m just hopeful that the hometown kid can turn it around.