Reason #1 – Their Starting Rotation
Talk about what could have been.
After extending ace Jacob deGrom, arguably the best pitcher in the game today, to a $137.5 million, five-year deal prior to the start of 2019, the Mets were poised for a successful season with Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Stephen Matz (most notably) following deGrom in the rotation.
However, after a lackluster 40-50 first-half start, their success wouldn’t come to fruition until mid-July, following the All-Star break. From top to bottom – thanks to the addition of Marcus Stroman – their starting rotation had the talent and depth to compete with any ballclub in a best of 7 series.
Despite Stroman’s early struggles playing under the New York lights, Mets fans have seen what Syndergaard can be like in the playoffs, citing his masterful 2016 WC performance against the San Francisco Giants, during which he finished with a 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 10K pitching line on the night.
And the year before in his rookie season, he dominated in the 2015 playoffs, most notably against the Chicago Cubs while coming out of the bullpen at times during the Mets 4-0 series romp. He also had the lone win against Kansas City in the World Series that year.
Without a playoff berth this season, we’ll unfortunately never know Wheeler would have performed in his postseason debut (and possibly his last year as a Met), or how Stroman would have pitched in a Mets uniform, having pitched in the postseason in 2016 on his former team.
On the bright side however, at least we won’t have to see how the beleaguered bullpen would have fared against the dominant lineups of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, or how their relievers would have pitched in pressure-cooker late-inning matchups against the Houston Astros, who I think will be the team to beat in the American League.
If there is one area of concern that needs to be addressed in the offseason, it is the bullpen. Think where this team would have finished if they had only converted half of their blown save opportunities into wins.