The Mets are dealing with injuries to their second-most important starting pitcher (Carlos Carrasco) and second-most important reliever (Seth Lugo).
While both pitchers are expected back at some point in May, their absences have created spots on the 26-man roster for Opening Day that would’ve otherwise been locked up.
Meanwhile, the lack of a designated hitter in the National League (there can still be an agreement, but it doesn’t appear likely) continues to hamper the Mets’ flexibility.
With Opening Day coming soon, here is our 26-man roster prediction 3.0…
James McCann, C
Pete Alonso, 1B
Jeff McNeil, 2B
Francisco Lindor, SS
J.D. Davis, 3B
Dominic Smith, LF
Brandon Nimmo, CF
Michael Conforto, RF
Unless there is a last-second agreement on the universal DH, the only real decision the Mets have to make here is whether to start J.D. Davis or Luis Guillorme at third base.
Given how often Davis is starting at third base, it’s fair to believe that he is likely to be there most days when the regular season starts.
Or perhaps the Mets simply want to get as many looks at Davis at the hot corner as possible during spring training to see if he’s improved, since they already know that Guillorme will give them elite defense there.
Either way, things are largely set when it comes to the regular lineup.
Jacob deGrom, RHP
Marcus Stroman, RHP
David Peterson, LHP
Taijuan Walker, RHP
Joey Lucchesi, LHP
Luis Rojas has all but confirmed that David Peterson will be in the rotation to start the season, which always felt inevitable and like the smart move — even before Carlos Carrasco‘s injury.
With Carrasco out, there is one spot left, with Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto vying for it.
While both have been impressive in spring training, Lucchesi has the better big league track record and appears to have an inside track at the No. 5 spot.
It should be noted that Peterson is No. 3 in the rotation above simply to break up the two left-handers.
The top five relievers listed above are locks, and Robert Gsellman — despite uneven results over the last few seasons — seems like a lock.
That leaves two spots left (assuming the Mets carry eight relievers and five bench players, which is likely). One of those spots would’ve probably gone to Drew Smith, but he’s dealing with a shoulder issue. And while Smith might be ready to return soon, he seems like a long shot for Opening Day.
Dellin Betances‘ spot isn’t guaranteed. But despite him not showing enough life on his pitches to be relied on (which is alarming and makes his spot in the bullpen long-term possibly untenable), it will still be a surprise if he is left off the roster.
And if Betances is on the team, that leaves one spot, with Jacob Barnes, Stephen Tarpley, and Jerry Blevins among those fighting for it.
Luis Guillorme, 3B/SS/2B
Kevin Pillar, OF
Albert Almora Jr., OF
Tomas Nido, C
Jonathan Villar, INF/OF
The Mets really don’t have anything to decide here.
If Jose Martinez hadn’t gotten hurt, the Mets would’ve likely had to make a tough decision that could’ve left Martinez or Albert Almora Jr. as the odd man out. But with Martinez out until at least the middle of the season, the bench appears set.