New York Mets: 3 Most Important Players For 2021

As Spring Training begins, the New York Mets will enter the 2021 Major League Baseball season with some pretty high expectations after an active offseason.

First, they changed ownership and multi-billionaire Steve Cohen became the new owner of the Mets, replacing Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Cohen didn’t waste any time trying to improve the team after a disappointing 2020 season. He probably executed the biggest trade this offseason with the Cleveland Indians, acquiring superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and also starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. He also signed James McCann to be the Mets’ new catcher and made other moves to improve the team’s depth in the starting rotation, bullpen, and outfield.

The New York Mets are expected to be the biggest challengers to the Atlanta Braves in winning the National League East division. The Braves won the NL East the last three years.

In order for the Mets to take the next step to go to the playoffs and be a World Series contender, three of these players need to step up the most and they could be huge factors in the team’s chances.

In no particular order, here are these three players.

1) Marcus Stroman

Stroman is back with the New York Mets after missing all of last season due to opting out because of safety concerns with the pandemic. Stroman was a free agent after last season but decided to take the qualifying offer to stay with his hometown team for at least one more year. He has vigorously been training in the offseason and has thus looked physically sharp and has been throwing nonstop in order to stay sharp on the mound. Stroman who’s never lacked confidence in his demeanor has sounded confident in his interviews of having a bounceback season. The question is, will he.

Stroman has been a fairly reliable starter during most of his career with good stuff. He was an All Star with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019 before being traded to the Mets in July of that year. As a Met that year, he got off to a slow start but pitched well down the stretch with an ERA under 2.00 in September. 2021 will be his first full year pitching for the orange and blue.

With Noah Syndergaard not coming back until midway in 2021, Stroman will likely be penciled in as the Mets No. 2 starter behind 2 time National League Cy Young winner in Jacob deGrom. So Stroman’s performance will be a big factor. After missing all of last season, Stro’s outings will be looked at closely. If he can have a solid year, the Mets rotation will be in good hands with deGrom leading the way, along with also Carrasco, David Peterson and just newly acquired Tajuan Walker.

2) Pete Alonso

Alonso had a rookie season for the ages back in 2019, hitting 53 home runs which became the new rookie record for most home runs in a season. In his sophomore year last season, he struggled. He only hit .231 and struck out 61 times in 57 games. He did hit 16 home runs in a two-month span. Most of his home runs were hit in September, so he finished strong in the power department.

Alonso’s 2020 struggles were mainly due to him chasing more balls out of the strike zone, which he did more often than he did in 2019. Alonso needs to consistently lay off more pitches outside of the strike zone and be a little more patient. He appeared to be pressing more at the plate especially after starting slow last year. So he needs to relax more at the plate and getting off to a good start in 2021 would definitely help matters. Alonso certainly has the power to be a great home run hitter for years to come.

If he can come close to duplicating his rookie year, that would be a huge boost to the Mets lineup. He doesn’t have to necessarily hit 50+ home runs again but hitting 40 or even 30 home runs and raising his batting average would still be a sign of progress for him in his young season. The Mets already have a deep lineup with other players who can contribute, like Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Dom Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and the newly acquired Lindor and McCann. But if Alonso can bounce back and be more of the hitter he was a couple of years ago, that would make the lineup even more feared for opposing pitchers.

3) Edwin Diaz

Diaz will be the Mets closer once again this season. He was acquired from the Seattle Mariner after saving an MLB high 57 games in 2018. But in his first year in Queens, he had a nightmarish season in 2019. In his infamous 2019 season, he was 2-7. He only saved 26 games and had 7 blown saves. He had a 5.59 ERA and gave up 15 home runs (all in the 9th inning). Opponents also batted .258 against him.

He was so bad, that he lost his closer role down the stretch when the Mets were playing for a wild card playoff spot. In 2020, he was much better overall. He saved 6 games but had a 1.75 ERA. He had 50 strikeouts in 26 games pitched and only gave up two home runs. Opponents also batted .191 vs Diaz. He became the Mets full time closer again. So statwise, he was much better overall and wasn’t as shaky as he was in 2019.

However, watching the New York Mets closely all season, he still had a few hiccups. He still blew 4 games in 10 opportunities. Control was Diaz’s downfall in 2019. It was better in 2020 but he still walked 14 batters in his 26 games pitched, which won’t instill full confidence in the Mets brass. Diaz throws a fastball and slider. He had trouble controlling his slider in 2019. It was better last season but he still was a little wild at times. The Mets would certainly prefer the 2020 Diaz more.

Final Thoughts

The New York Mets did add a few new pieces in their bullpen with righty Trevor May and lefty Aaron Loup, making their pen deeper. However, Seth Lugo who’s been the team’s most reliable reliever when he’s in the pen is out for the beginning of the season with an injury. That would make Diaz’s performance even more crucial. If Diaz can be sharp and consistently save his opportunities, it would be a huge boost to the Mets bullpen.

What do you guys think? Are these three the biggest X-factors to the Mets in 2021? Leave a comment below.

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