Mets 2024 season preview: Welcome to The Show [Me] season

Mets Pirates
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

David Stearns spent his first winter as Mets president of baseball operations meticulously weighing the level of the scale he was holding — the same kind of scale adorned on the New York State flag. 

On one end is the weight of expectation that comes with playing in the Big Apple. The Mets were a 101-win team two years ago and believed to be a World Series favorite heading into 2023 before the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion. 

There is still a highly talented foundation still in place, and the postseason is very much an objective because of it even with first-year manager Carlos Mendoza taking the reins after a decade and a half across town with the Yankees.

On the other end to ensure things bob to as close to level as ever is what has been elusive throughout this franchise’s entire existence: Long-term sustainability. 

Despite Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, Stearns did not go out and make blockbuster, big-money signings as the Mets had done in previous seasons. Instead, he sees the crop of young talent brewing toward the bottom of the lineup, on the fringe of the roster, or down in the minors as the path toward building a team that competes for the playoffs every season. 

That is Stearns’ No. 1 priority. After all, the Mets have made the postseason in consecutive years just twice in their entire existence. 

So this leaves the Queens club starting 2024 in limbo. Are they the best team in their division? On paper, clearly not. Are they a postseason-caliber team? They could be.

Mets projected 2024 lineup

1) Brandon Nimmo, LF- The evolution of the Mets’ lead-off man continues in 2024. He took “the fat out of his swing,” last year to bop a career-high 24 home runs, but his on-base percentage (.363) was the lowest it has been since his rookie year. This year, he moved from his normal spot in center field to left after the acquisition of Harrison Bader.

2) Francisco Lindor, SS- One of the game’s premier shortstops had one of the finest seasons of his All-Star career last year, becoming an exclusive member of the Mets’ 30/30 club. Expect him to be in pursuit of that same benchmark again in 2024. 

3) Pete Alonso, 1B- No one in Major League Baseball has hit more home runs than Pete Alonso since his rookie year in 2019. His assault on the Mets’ record books will continue this season, but will it be his last in Queens? His contract is up at the end of 2024 and a monster season will only add more bucks to what will be a big contract.

Pete Alonso Mets
Pete Alonso (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

4) Jeff McNeil, 2B- Mendoza has gushed about McNeil’s versatility to produce anywhere in the lineup, so putting a guy who won a batting title two years ago in the cleanup spot will be an interesting experiment. McNeil is healthy after dealing with an elbow problem that saw a significant regression in his numbers last season and a biceps issue earlier this spring.

5) Starling Marte, RF- A healthy Marte is a game-changer after complications from double-groin surgery, a neck injury, and migraine problems limited him to an ineffective half-season in 2023. His best spot in the order is No. 2, as he showed in 2022 when he was an All-Star, but Mendoza looks set in batting Lindor there.

6) DJ Stewart, DH- Stewart’s place on the roster is not set in stone with JD Martinez working his way up to game shape in the minors after he signed late. The lefty was one of New York’s most valuable bats down the stretch last season, albeit when things did not matter, but it helped get him a second look under a new regime.

Francisco Alvarez Mets
Francisco Alvarez (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

7) Francisco Alvarez C- Alvarez is expected to take the next step toward stardom this year to become one of the very best catchers in baseball. His defense continues to improve — his framing and arm are top-notch. The only thing standing in his way is consistency. Last season saw him put together one good month followed by a very poor one offensively. 

8) Brett Baty, 3B- Ronny Mauricio’s ACL injury eliminated a competition at third base during spring training, which could help settle Baty down a bit. He has a sweet left-handed swing and his defense is coming along, but he has to show Stearns a lot to prove that he can be the everyday third baseman on a contending team moving forward. 

9) Harrison Bader, CF- Bader was one of Stearns’ first acquisitions during the offseason and he is here because of his glove. The center fielder is one of the best defensive talents at his position, which helps bolster the Mets even further up the middle. If his bat can take a step forward as he stays healthy, this could be a vital signing.

JD Martinez Mets trade rumors
JD Martinez (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Coming Soon: JD Martinez, DH- Stearns played the market perfectly and had the All-Star designated hitter fall into his lap just a week before the start of the regular season. Martinez hit 33 home runs with 103 RBI last season, providing the promise of delivering a competent, potent DH to a Mets team that has not had that. His introduction to the lineup could change the order quickly. We see him as a No. 4 option behind Alonso or — if Marte gets a look at batting second — a No. 5 option to lengthen the lineup.


Mets projected 2024 starting rotation

Jose Quintana, LHP- The veteran southpaw struggled this spring, but he is healthy after his debut season was cut in half by rib surgery. Over his past two seasons, he has a 3.13 ERA and proved to be a steady presence for the Mets when he made his debut in July. 

Luis Severino Mets
Luis Severino (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Luis Severino, RHP- Severino arguably has the most to prove on this team after his Yankees career ended in disaster. Injuries remained an issue as did pitch-tipping problems, resulting in a career-worst 6.65 ERA. This was once a two-time All-Star who finished in the AL Cy Young Award voting’s top 10 twice. If the Mets can get anything close to that, the middle of their rotation looks much better this summer. 

Tylor Megill, RHP- The Mets have been mired in a similar song and dance with Megill in recent years: A promising start in spring before it all comes crashing down. The righty will try to buck that trend this season after winning the final spot in the rotation left vacant by Kodai Senga’s injury — the same pitcher who helped him develop his “American Spork,” which is expected to be his premier pitch in 2024.

Sean Manaea, LHP- A new, impressive sweeper allowed Manaea to escape the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen down the stretch last year and get to the Mets’ starting rotation. The 32-year-old put together a nice spring, including a five-inning, seven-strikeout showing against the Yankees on Monday in which he left Juan Soto flabbergasted by an 88-mph changeup. Another pitcher who descended from a high ceiling with the Oakland Athletics, Manaea is ultimately another low-risk, high-reward option in Queens.

Adrian Houser, RHP- What you see with Houser is what you will get: a reliable No. 5 starter with an ERA hovering near 4.00. The name of his game is creating weak contact, but there will be a lot of it, which is why a signing like Bader to improve outfield defense is so important.

Kodai Senga Mets
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Coming soon: Kodai Senga, RHP- The Mets’ ace will begin the 2024 season on the injured list after suffering a shoulder strain toward the start of spring training. He was cleared to throw by doctors last week and has begun his program. A May return appears likely, which will supply New York with a bonafide No. 1 arm after his brilliant rookie season.


Mets projected 2024 bullpen

Closer: Edwin Diaz, RHP- Baseball’s most dominant closer in 2022 is back and healthy to provide an insurmountable lift to the Mets’ bullpen. Diaz’s freak injury at the World Baseball Classic last year was a blow that proved too great for Buck Showalter’s men, as the bullpen never recovered — partly because ex-GM Billy Eppler did not do anything to address the loss. Mendoza, though, has the centerpiece of his relief corps and Diaz should star once again.

Set-up man: Adam Ottavino, RHP- Ottavino struggled last season amidst the chaos following Diaz’s loss. Forced to wear different hats from set-up man to closer after the team dealt David Robertson at the trade deadline, Ottavino’s ERA jumped 115 points from the year prior and his WHIP bloated by 300 points. A solid, consistent role should help bring those numbers back down.

Edwin Diaz Mets bullpen
Edwin Diaz (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

7th-inning man: Brooks Raley, LHP- Raley was as advertised in his debut season with the Mets, which made him one of the team’s most valuable relievers. He posted a 2.80 ERA across 66 appearances despite a WHIP that was over 1.200.

Drew Smith, RHP- This feels like Smith’s last chance to prove that he can stick around with the Mets. He was suspended for a sticky stuff violation last summer and when he was on the hill, he was unreliable, posting a 4.15 ERA. 

Jake Diekman, LHP- A 37-year-old veteran southpaw, Diekman rediscovered his stuff when he was traded by the White Sox to the Rays last season, posting a 2.18 ERA across 50 appearances. He’s a versatile arm that can pitch anywhere between the fifth and eighth innings — the latter providing a legitimate secondary option should Ottavino struggle.

Michael Tonkin, RHP- A middle-innings reliever that can eat up frames, Tonkin will be an important bridge arm from a starting rotation that collectively has not had a large workload in recent years to the late-inning arms of the bullpen. 

Jorge Lopez, RHP- Which version of Lopez will we see in 2024? He was an All-Star in 2022 after posting a 1.68 ERA in 44 games with the Baltimore Orioles before getting traded to the Minnesota Twins. He played for three different teams in 2023 and his ERA blew up to a 5.95. Perhaps some stability can help him get back to his All-Star tendencies.

Mets 2024 prediction

Stearns’ track record has shown he can get the most out of a roster that does not appear to possess the most depth. He got the most out of a small-market Milwaukee Brewers team for the last decade. So in 2024, we will give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

The National League East is a top-heavy powerhouse headlined by the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies — the undisputed 1-2 punch of the division. The Mets are miles from the Braves and have a lot to do to prove they can hang with the Phillies, but they could legitimately be the No. 3 team in this division that can compete for a Wild Card spot. 

If one of Severino or Manaea can find their stuff and Martinez provides the much-needed pop the middle of the order has lacked, the playoffs should be on the docket.

Prediction: 83-79, 3rd place in NL East, 3rd NL Wild Card spot

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